In his use of Twitter, is President Trump performing a classic bait-and-switch scam to confuse Americans?
Well, yes, of course.
“Bait and switch” is a dishonest marketing tactic where consumers (we Americans in this case) are encouraged to believe something about a product (here, the product is Trump). The terrible truth is that the product is vastly different and of significantly less quality than what was promised. It’s often easy to identify a bait-and-switch maneuver. Thus, be wary when someone says, “Believe me”—a favored Trump expression.
I couldn’t help but think about bait-and-switch while watching the March 20 congressional hearing by the House Intelligence Committee. The hearing focused on hacking, Putin, cabinet members’ ties to Russia, and, of course, Trump’s crazy Twitter tweets claiming President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. (I took the liberty of adding the word “crazy,” by the way, for his accusatory tweets were just that.
I found it interesting that Trump conducted a tweet storm as the hearing was underway. He used the official Twitter account of the President of the United States. More than 1.6 million Americans received the tweets.
These tweets contained partial truths, at best, as well as grossly misinterpreted accounts of what was said in the hearings. Predictably, this was the same fantasy pattern that many of his tweets have followed since the inauguration.
As a person who spent the last half of his 50-year professional career in marketing, I am well-aware that Trump—the quintessential marketer—fully operates on a certain assumption. Americans, especially those who voted for him, will unquestioningly believe information from such a traditionally respected source as a U.S. president.
Think back to your history and civics classes. Many of us were indoctrinated in high school and college classes to believe certain positions in America are above lying. The presidency is supposedly one of the sacred positions. For my generation of Baby Boomers, this myth of total truthfulness was shattered by Nixon.
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The problem now is that many Americans don’t peer beyond tweets and eye-catching headlines. As a society, we are victims of 140 characters and information overload. Fake News is a stake aimed at our intellectual heart. We fear Fake News so much that many of us will believe, without questioning, a president who tweets “Fake News” whenever someone disagrees with him, whether it’s individuals, the media or intelligence agencies.
Trump knows our fears and plays upon them by telling us in his tweets—without presenting any evidence—that information from such reliable sources as the FBI is wrong. He also keeps the tweets coming as a way to divert the thoughts of Americans away from other issues—his denial of global warming, defunding Meals on Wheels and Planned Parenthood, appointing to his cabinet inept and incapable billionaire friends rather than experts, and the likely loss of health care for 24 million Americans, to name just a few issues. Rather than draining the swamp, Trump is filling it with moccasins and alligators.
The impacts of bait-and-switch in tweets? Many Americans have learned they are unable to trust the person sitting in the Oval Office. Strife is perpetuated in society and politics, continuing to divide the nation. The Office of the President of the United States—the world’s most powerful position—is belittled in the eyes of Americans, as well as people and governments around the world. Important issues are overshadowed. Democracy is undermined. Confusion reigns.
How do we avoid the bait-and-switch of Trump’s tweets? We must cast our vision beyond what we read in his tweets. Seek out at reliable sources. Fact-check information.
Here are reliable fact-checking sites:
Also look at The 10 Best Fact-checking Sites.