Facts of the Matter:
Over the past few weeks, Donald Trump has been releasing tweet upon tweet making claims from mass voter fraud to suggesting that individuals who burn the flag should face the punishment from serving a year in prison or loss of citizenship. The controversial tweets have sparked debate over the actual purpose behind the tweets considering the other news surrounding the imminent Trump administration.
Trump is the first President to utilize social media in the way he has been using it. Not only is he the first President to use Twitter to directly address his supporters in a campaign about other people, but he is also the first President to not have a social media team controlling all things that are displayed on platforms representing him. Because of this, he is not regulated or restricted by the handlers who would otherwise advise against his more unorthodox PR strategies. He is able to tweet anything without being told "no" or "that's not a good idea".
However, while unorthodox and the source of much criticism, the President-Elect's tweets have speculated by some to have an ulterior motive besides just sparking controversy and expressing Trump's often outrageous responses. The tweets come around the time headlines have been popping up regarding Trump's cabinet picks and his potential conflicts of interest, should he choose not to put his funds in a blind trust. Not only are these headlines more controversial and embarrassing in the long run, they have the potential damage Trump's legitimacy as President.
Another theory that has been circulating is that Trump may be using his tweets to circumvent the media when it comes to his policies in rhetoric. This theory comes in the wake of his statements regarding the New York Times and several other media outlets running what he believes is dishonest, unfavorable coverage of him. It is this narrative along with the historically low trust in mainstream media and his large twitter following, that gives him a legitimate, widespread platform to broadcast outrageous and often false claims without legitimate sources immediately debunking it.
This has also led to many even in his own party questioning the legitimacy of facts. Chief of Staff and RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, in an interview when asked about Trump's false statements on millions of illegal votes cast that all cost him the popular vote he said: "I don't know that's not a fact, and neither do you." Vice President-elect, Mike Pence, echoed a similar statement in an interview saying "It's refreshing to the American people that the president shares his opinion." With fake news becoming an increasing problem on social media accounts, and nearly 44% of the country getting their news exclusively from Facebook, some wonder if Trump's blatant disregard for the truth is taking advantage of this growing trend as well.
Through My Eyes:
Trump's campaign strategy is one that was not only savvy, it could arguably only be carried out by Donald Trump. An outrageous ‘Billionaire', who's populist rhetoric (albeit massively disingenuous based on the campaign promises that have already been walked back) was so controversial and announced at such a frequent rate, that it was almost difficult to keep track of the lies and half-truths that he even said, let alone check to see if those statements were true. This was mainly due to the fact that most politicians have been on the opposite side on this where they have tried to produce the most factual information without lying or at the very least, not caught lying. Donald Trump is able to be caught in a lie and just moves past it, because he, and several people in the Republican party who serve Trump, know that the feelings that they get when they hear Trump speak are far more important than the facts that are presented to them.
Look at his tax returns; he still hasn't released them. In spite of every other President the last 40 years doing so, and Donald Trump has said multiple times that he will do so as well after he's done being audited. However, once another story about Donald Trump, whether stiffing veterans, telling his supporters to check out a non-existent sex tape, or throwing a baby out of his rally, the media and the American people seem to be incapable of focusing on everything at once. More importantly, neither the media nor the American people seem to be able to discern which among these endless scandals is the most important. The lies also require a substantial amount of time to fact-check and debunk. It is almost meaningless to state so because even after Trump releases a statement and it is debunked, people only seem to accept the lie rather than the fact-check of said lie.
This is where we will need to direct our focus most. In addition to making sure people aren't easily swayed by fake news, we must make a concerted effort not to be distracted by sensationalism and scandals as we were this election. Donald Trump's "hot mic" on access Hollywood was a pretty egregious story but no one seemed to make as big a deal when he advocated for the assassination of terrorist relatives regardless of innocence (which, to be clear, is terrorism itself).