Sunday, May 8, 2016
Twitterverse and Politics
In reading today’s Sunday New York Times, I was struck by how twitter is reshaping politics by issuing frequent 140 character tweets aimed at influencing political opinions.
In the lead front page column, two reporters, Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin, almost gleefully write that the GOP is unraveling, its establishment is shaken, and its grassroots are fraying. They credit Donald Trump “with amplifying his independent, outsider message, using social media..”
They cite Steve Case, AOL founder, who is an email, wrote “Trump has leverage a perfect storm: a combination of social media(big following), brand (celebrity figure), creativity (pithy tweets), speed/timeliness(dominating new cylces,” “He bypassed ossified gatekeepers and appealed directly to voters through a constant Twitter stream…”.
In doing so, he seemed to grasp that a new twist on direct democracy as in the offing: that disaffected voters who turn out traditional modes of political communication would might reached through their smartphones, and Twitter messages or Reddits.” Reddit, for those of you not in the know, a website service that calls itself the “Frontpage of the Internet,
The power of the twitterverse has been exploited by Ben Rhodes, Obama speechwriter and alter-ego, who as a former fiction writer, hour by hour and day by day shapes the storied told to the public (“The Storyteller and the President,” May 8, 2016, New York Times Magazine).
As the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, Rhodes writes the president’s speeches, plans his trips abroad, and runs communication strategy for the White House. He is said to have a “mind meld” with Obama, meaning he knows what the President is thinking at all times.
Rhodes tweaks and tweets the President’s stories to officials, talking heads, columnists, newspaper reporters. Rhodes bounces insta-stories across the Twitter universe “in the making of a digital news microclimate. “
He was responsible for the “selling” of the Iran Deal and the opening of Cuba. He uses alternative forms of communication using tweets and digital communication to explain foreign policy to Congress and to the public why Obama is withdrawing from the Middle East, engaging with Cuba, or killing people with drones rather than with troops on the ground.
Why the Twitterverse?
First, it conveys messages quickly in a timely manner to a vast audience , reaching over 300 million Twitter users in nanoseconds.
Second, it is pithy. In 140 characters you can headline and tell the essence of a story.
Third, you can use it to synchronize your message with the rapid changes in the news cycle.
Fourth, you are in tune with impatient Americans, who want their news quick and dirty without embellishment.