A Different View with Dave O’Connell
The most astonishing story of last week wasn’t the Ryanair debacle or Brexit or Leo Varadkar lobbing abuse at Mary Lou McDonald across the floor of the Dáil; by a distance it was the news – coming out of Galway, as it turned out – that Donald Trump wasn’t the king of Twitter after all.
A study, led by Dr Trevor Clohessy from the JE Cairns School of Business and Economics at NUIG and published last week, looked at the number of tweets from the three main candidates in last year’s US Presidential elections.
And he found that, in the six months leading up to Election Day, the Donald’s 1,904 efforts were dwarfed by Hilary Clinton’s 2,906.
Even Green candidate Jill Stein thrashed Trump, with 2,604 tweets during that time.
It was, the research points out, the first US Presidential election, where Twitter played such a key role – despite Barack Obama’s tentative toe in the water last time out.
“Twitter was a novelty in American politics in 2009, a necessity in 2012 and predicted as a medium for facilitating a more progressive and inclusive politics for the 2016 Presidential campaign,” said Dr Clohessy.
“However, our findings demonstrate that in the six months prior to the 2016 US Election Day, Twitter was used as a powerful tool to deliver messages which were underpinned by magical realism elements aimed at eliciting partisan animosity and widespread popularization,” he added.
Dr Clohessy does recognise the difference between quantity and quality of course – and, by the latter yardstick, Trump was quite clearly a different kettle of fish.
“Whilst both other candidates may have been more active on Twitter, the divisive, incendiary and almost unfiltered nature of Donald Trump’s tweets were more successful in generating global media news coverage,” he pointed out.
And still, while the message may have been misogynistic and the sentiment outrageous, the President didn’t appear to be blessed with an expansive vocabulary – either that or he makes a conscious effort to steer clear of hyperbole.
That’s not to suggest that he doesn’t think and say mad things; it’s more that the worst insult he can think of for anyone or anything is that they are ‘bad’.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.