A critical discourse analysis of Donald trump’s language use in the US presidential campaign, 2016
Blog post 1: Pre- production and project planning
I have set out to produce a mini-documentary style podcast on Donald Trump focusing on gender, race and xenophobia. I will investigate arguments supporting Trump’s negative impact on society and hate crimes towards certain ethnic groups and women in society. I will be analysing the presidential debates between himself and Hilary Clinton, whilst also observing his victory speech and CPAC conventional speeches 2017 and 2019 whilst in office.
According to statistics released by Edison Research (2019), 197 million American’s are familiar with podcasts, with 51% of the population having listened to one. The findings conclude that 74% of people listen a podcast to learn and 60% use podcasts as a tool to stay up to date with the latest topics. My podcast will be factual and interesting to meet the demand for the reasons of people listening to podcasts.
The podcasts Serial and This American Life inspired me to produce audio like these because I really enjoy listening to them. They appeal to a wide range of listeners; the Podcast Consumer report concluded that 36% of monthly listeners are interested in news/informational topics, and 28% enjoy true crime podcasts (taken from Edison research2019).
Serial is an investigative journalism podcast delving into crimes. Sarah Koenig presents facts, interviews with the man in question, family members and people that are connected to the case. Theme tune music always starts the podcast off with a recorded clip of an interview… typically between Sarah and the accused Adnan Syed. The podcast presents information from all angles to stay impartial, but the Sarah offers her opinion. With new evidence always coming to light, you hear the presenter changing her mind as to whether she believes the accused is innocent or not. Serial has made worldwide fame by bringing the case to the forefront of the media eye. Adnan Syed had a retrial as the podcast highlighted a serious case of injustice. Koenig, however, has been criticised for assuming the audiences ‘understanding of Muslimness (Durrani et al 2015).’ From the success of the podcast and lack of representations in the media of Muslim Americans, ‘Serial has become a form of public anthropology about these minority communities (Durrani et al 2015).’
This American Life is also a documentary style investigative podcast recording cases in Chicago. Speaking to police officers, lawyers and the defendants, the show aims to give an insight into the criminal justice system, to see if cases have been treated fairly.
In my opinion, a podcast is the most easily accessible type of media, allowing the listener to multitask.Again, the Edison Research concluded that 65% of podcast consumers use portable devices to listen to the medium. My target audience would be young professionals or people that have a keen interest in world politics, or true crime series. The production side of the podcast started with listening to various podcasts with the same style (documentary/ true crime) to base my podcast on. The equipment I will need to produce my podcast is a microphone, to record myself presenting the information I have collated. Editing software Burli or Audacity would be used to assemble my audio, and useful as I can record from YouTube or other outside sources.
I would like my podcast to fit in the documentary genre, but also could be likened to more of an opinion podcast like ‘The Guilty Feminist’ as I will aim to talk around the evidence presented in the speeches and apply current affairs. Aiming for my podcast to be five minutes, the podcast will have an intro using audio clips from Trump speeches. His slogan, famous quotes and chants from his rally’s will be included, to break speech up and give the podcast structure.
Blog post 2: Literature Review
Investigating Trump’s rhetoric towards women, he is infamous for being misogynistic and is known for his regressive views. ‘Sexism is making a comeback under the president and his heavily male administration, sparking a renewed war over gender equality (Heer 2017 pg 192 in Baird 2019).’ Unequal pay, and lack of women holding positions of power in the workplace are to name a few issues characterized by Baird, Lawler and Billig as ‘identity politics.’ McCall and Orloff 2017 discuss that Democrats believed many (especially white) women would vote for Clinton in the election, as she could relate to that segment in society. Democrats had a female leaning agenda; Clinton supported ‘paid parental leave, expanded child services, strengthened equal pay regulations and reproductive rights’ in the 2016 Presidential Campaign. ‘Blatantly sexist statements and behaviours’ of the Presidential candidate didn’t deter ‘white women without college degrees shifted more decisively toward Trump.’
Baird (2019) and Billig (1995) referenced by Lawler 2015 indicate the impact of the President’s behaviour through political movements in the UK and USA, to rebel against regressive laws. Lawler references Kenny 2004 and Bernstein 2005, that movements in the western world include gay and lesbian rights (in 2019 movements include all individuals under LQBTQIA+), struggles of class and women’s movements. ‘An increase in sexist and aggressive behaviours among (some) male negotiators will provoke a stronger feminist counter- movement (Baird 2019, pg 193).’ Recent examples include #metoo and the slogan ‘War on women.’ The War on Women ‘names a set of conditions, challenges and barriers, opportunities, escapes and narrow misses (Estes 2018 pg 36)’ that American women face in society. These policies are ‘designed to limit women’s rights and equality.’ This academia goes into depth how gender discrimination has caused ‘widespread anger’ and ‘the most marginalised among U.S. society (Estes 2018, pg 40)’ since Trumps inauguration.
Newly enforced abortion laws heavily impact women’s rights. In 2019, the state of Alabama banned abortions from the 1st week of pregnancy, and several other states have introduced a ‘Heartbeat Bill;’ banning abortion from whenever a heartbeat can be detected from the foetus. This alone, has sparked fury from both sides of the spectrum, pro-life and pro-abortion. ‘For women, the personal is political (Estes 2018 pg 37).’ Religion has been influential when making laws, this linking to extreme Christian views.
Trump: views, power and social media
Trump has 66.7 million twitter followers and is a very frequent user on the social media site. Free to use, instant and able to reach mass audiences globally, the site was crucial in the 2016 Election, as Schuhmeier 2019 states. ‘@therealDonaldTrumpEFFECT’ article highlights the engagement of political movement. ‘Many politicians use twitter to spread information… and political support’ with the functions of retweeting and staying up to date.
The nature of Trump’s retweets has been scrutinised and labelled as ‘anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim, (Wildman & Kirby, 2017 pg 2 in Edwards and Rushin 2018).’ Muller and Schwarz 2018 referenced in (Edwards and Rushin 2018) ‘found that counties with particularly high Twitter usage experienced the greatest increase in hate crimes against Muslims.’ Donald used the platform to tell four congresswomen to ‘go back where they came from.’ Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (who the tweet was aimed at) replied ‘Mr. President, the country I “come from,” & the country we all swear to, is the United States (Quilantan and Cohen 2019).’ Nancy Poleski, (the house speaker) stated that ‘the President’s “xenophobic comments” reaffirm his plan to make “America white again” (Quilantan and Cohen 2019).’
Maas et al 2018 analysed the use of Twitter specifically on the topic of sexual assault through #notokay. Findings indicated that political leaders can be important ‘symbols of rape culture.’ The President was videoed using derogatory language that he could do anything to a woman, because he is a ‘star’…. Including “[grabbing] them by the pussy.” Maas et al 2018 quote Trump as agreeing to his daughter being a “hot piece of a…” proving he objectifies women.
Twitter can be used as a tool to facilitate social change. The Black Lives Matter movement was a direct response from Michael Brown and Eric Garner being shot dead by police officers. ‘Exchanges on social media also reveal the emergence of a few dominant ideological positions, emphasizing how different groups viewing the same media coverage interpret issues of race and police violence in drastically different ways (Smith et al 2014 in Carney 2016).’
In the first Presidential Speech 2016, Donald speaks about racial profiling. ‘Policing practices such as ‘racial profiling’ that associate racialised persons with criminality (Fraser, 2001: 24-5 in Lawler 2015 pg 166).’ Many scholars discuss this, as it has a very negative impact on the section of society targeted. Lawler quotes Brown (1993) and Nietzsche (1969) that ‘resentment’ plays a part in politics, or the thought of wrongdoing causing ‘imaginary revenge.’ ‘The damage inflicted by gender and race results from both a lack of resources and a lack of value attached to those who gendered and raced identities were understood as differing from a (male, white) norm (Fraser 1997, Lawler 2015).’
Eddington 2018 investigates if #makeamericagreatagain directly links to white supremist hate groups, as Trump is a ‘mouthpiece for hate speech.’ Neiwert and Posner 2016, quoted in Eddington found a correlation ‘between far-right extremists and the Trump campaign… Holocaust denial, anti- Muslim invective, and other expressions of bigotry and racism.
The article ‘Framing and praising Allah on YouTube’ by Mosemghvdlishvili and Jansz 2012 goes into detail about how Islam is portrayed online. After taking a random sample of YouTube videos centred around Islam, scholars concluded that the religion is portrayed in a negative light. References are made towards ‘threats, violence, and terrorism (Karim, 2000; Poole, 2000, 2002, 2006).’ Immigration and extreme political movements are causes in such a negative view.
The Trump Administration page proudly states that his ideologies are there to ‘Protect the people of America;’ communities and jobs. He refers to illegal immigrants as ‘aliens,’ not acknowledging them as part of humanity. His ideologies have been criticised to be targeted at white-working class males. Many texts float around ‘white supremacy’ and this odd ideology being challenged. ‘Racist claims that white people in the USA are now disadvantaged by the presence of minority ethnic groups are not demands to right an unjust balance but demands to further intrench injustice in the form of white privilege (Fraser 2001 in Lawler 2015).’
McCall and Orloff (2017) discuss that the Democrats were pro people of colour, and that many may have felt threatened. Trump appealed to voters because of ‘attachment to a white racial identity, privileges and threats (McCall and Orloff 2017, pg 40).’ Analysing the results of the Presidential election, after women were presumed to vote for Clinton, the statistics showed that the racist ideologies of Donald Trump won over women and highlighted the apparent racism and sexism of white working-class men (McCall and Orloff 2017, pg 39).’ ‘Issues of multiculturalism come to be seen as new threats to a supposedly pre-existing whiteness (Skey, 2010; Condor and Fenton, 2012; Leddy-Owen, 2013 in Lawler 2015).’
‘Podcasting’ originally from the tech giant Apple and is defined as ‘a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar programme made available on the internet for downloading to a personal audio player (McKean 2005 pg 2, in Sterne et al 2008).’Lindgren and McHugh 2013 discuss that documentary can be described as factual, using interviews and written records telling stories of ‘real life.’ The text explores how there is a growing interest in the field and globalised means of listening. Sterne Et Al 2008 explore the ease and simplicity of accessing a podcast ‘distributed over the internet.’ This is problematic for the population that can’t access the internet.
Lindgren and McHugh analyse a study of podcast users, conducted by McClung and Johnston 2010. The results suggest that a podcast audience doesn’t have a geographical limit, but a focus on the individuals taste that may impact the download of a podcast. They also investigate how the ‘podcast’ is a topic of conversation in social situations. Analysing the findings of ‘Share of Ear’ from their large-scale audio survey (2019), they found that the number of American consumers that listen to a podcast in a 24-hour period has risen by 122% in the past five years. That indicates a consumer market that is vastly growing, with the medium accessible in over 100 languages.
The article titled ‘The Documentary Real: Thinking Documentary Aesthetics’ written by Le Roy and Vanderbeeken (2016) state that ‘interest in the documentary form has undoubtedly been on the rise’ and ‘the documentary is seen as the best means to produce works that reflect critically on the political, social and cultural reality we live in.’
Le Roy and Vanderbeeken’s literature concluded that the documentary genre is flawed, provoking arguments around truth and reality, production and representation. Producers must be aware that despite intentions to be objective and truthful, the project may lean to either side of the discussion. ‘From the moment of gathering raw material, to the process of composing and editing, documentary works establish a specific point of view that reflects the bias of the author or the specific geographical of temporal context in which it was made.’ However, Richard Berry (in Sterne et Al 2008) describes podcasting as a form of ‘grassroots radio,’ empowering podcasters, reaffirming freedom of speech and democracy. Podcasts offer more of a level playing field to individuals that don’t work in broadcast, which presents the audience with a different point of view and flow of new content.
Blog Post 3 – Thematic Analysis of Trump: An American Dream
Thematic analysis gives the researcher the creative licence to depict what they see and apply theory. ‘Qualitative data collection is usually dependent on interpretation (M.I Alhojailan 2012)’ and will ‘result in a narrative, descriptive account of a setting or practice (C. Guest, K MacQueen, E E Namey 2011 pg5).’ I am studying the third and fourth episodes of ‘Trump: An American Dream.’ Originally broadcast on Channel 4, I have accessed both episodes on Netflix. Thematic analysis uses qualitative data, identifying, analysing and interpreting patterns. Using ‘visual data collection techniques (C Guest 2011 p4) I chose to analyse ‘Citizen Trump’ and ‘Politics.’ By breaking down the discourse into codes, the researcher can highlight reoccurring themes involving ‘any research that uses data that do not indicate ordinal values. (Guest et al 2011).’
After watching each episode, I made notes and categorised the discourse into subgroups. Politics and power (with that comes money, celebrity status, and media attention) were dominant themes, but also gender and racism. These themes help to build my argument that Trump is racist and misogynistic, who’s values align with hate groups, as he is a ‘mouthpiece for hate speech (Eddington 2018).’ The qualitative analysis of Trump: An American Dream is confirmatory, as information will support beliefs that Trump is racist, misogynistic, and has no respect for women. I am focusing on racism and gender (Trump’s behaviour towards women). I will also note anything I deem as xenophobic and ‘othering’ as it helps to support my practical project.
Episode three starts with a clip from Trump’s favourite film ‘Citizen Kane,’ where the audience hear his voice explaining the movie. He says that as the protagonist gets wealthier, a divide is drawn between himself and his wife “perhaps I can understand that.” The interviewer asks Trump what he would say to Citizen Kane, to which Donald replies, ‘get yourself a new woman’ and smirks. As the documentary unfolds, Trump’s misogynistic, egotistical and controlling behaviour becomes evident. Rumours surface that he has a ‘mistress’ who ends up on the same holiday as his wife and kids. Creating the situation where both women were in the same place indicates a need for power to be in complete control and such little disregard for his wife.
In a ‘exclusive’ interview, Ivana tearfully says, ‘Donald doesn’t want me any more…’ Trump had objectified and discarded her like rubbish. His ‘reasoning’ for wanting a divorce was ‘I don’t want to sleep with a woman that’s had children….’ (even though they were his own). ‘Blatantly sexist statements and behaviours’ (McCall and Orloff 2017) didn’t stop women being seen with Trump or wanting to date him. When being interviewed on a talk show, he says to the interviewer ‘I like beautiful women, you’re a beautiful woman…’
Sexism appears to be dominant in the documentary as Trump’s love life attracted heavy media coverage. ‘Abandoned wife’ and ‘best sex I’ve ever had’ were front page headlines. He was infamous with women, having a‘model of the week.’ Footage of him at a party shows him drunkenly dancing with blonde, slender females. The academic Baird 2019 quoted Heer 2017 (pg 192) that ‘Sexism is making a comeback under the president and his heavily male administration. On stage, Trump exclaims ‘my supermodel, where’s my supermodel?’ to which Melania responds by smiling and waving proudly. By saying this, Trump objectified Melania. Melania became not her own person, but ‘his supermodel,’ and trophy wife.
Many interviewers, some women, were only interested in the sexual aspect of their relationship. ‘He can keep it up, easily’ as they were discussing the age gap between Trump and Melania. Howard Stern phoned Trump live on his show saying “Let me talk to that girl in your bed… Melanie … you’re hot, what are you wearing right now?” Stern pronounced her name wrong, Melania laughed and replied with “not much.”
Trump is known to have Christian influenced far right-views. Under the Trump administration, strict laws around abortion have been implemented. He explains in the documentary that he has always been surrounded by great working marriages and hates the idea of divorce. “Marriage is a great institution – all trumps are happily married” and has been shown a great example from his parents, where his dad was the breadwinner, providing for his family in the 50’s and 60’s.
Marla fell pregnant with Trump’s child. Coming from a family that has Christian values, Trump’s dad advised him to marry Marla, as a baby out of wedlock was bad for his image and went against religious practice. A T.V. reporter commented that Trump “was in room for delivery of 4th child, … he even cut the umbilical cord,” implying that Trump is too higher status, or that it is not a man’s job. Coinciding with the thought of Trump cutting the cord, the documentary moves to an interview where he says, “a guy cannot be successful unless he cuts ties.” Trump implies that he is being nagged and controlled by a woman.
Before Trump was a serious contender for President, he flirted with the idea in the media spotlight to run as a Reform Party candidate but concluded that to win you would have to be either a Democrat or Republican. Patrick J Buchanan ran in 2000 for the Reform Party. In the documentary, Trump say’s it’s ‘incredible how people can embrace this guy,’ as he is a ‘Hitler lover, anti- Semitist anti- black and anti- gay.’ However, the hypocritical President was proven by Wildman & Kirby, 2017 (pg2) to be ‘anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim’ quoted in Edwards and Rushin 2018.
Trump hosted ‘The Apprentice’ which revived his ‘celebrity status’. The show rode on Trump’s lavishness and wanted to portray that the winner would be propelled into a world that reeked of ‘success.’ He has always portrayed himself as a hard worker that came from nothing (portraying the idea of the American dream) hence ‘The Apprentice’ becoming so successful. (In harsh reality, Frank Trump came from nothing, making his money building social houses). The Apprentice winner, (who features in the documentary) Randall Pinkett is Black American. One may think thathe was in search of the ‘the American dream.’ Under Trump’s presidency, he has enforced harsher immigration laws to people seeking the American Dream, willing to work hard… especially immigrants that built the Trump Tower in New York for cheap labour.
Despite Trump not being heavily involved with politics at the time, he managed to turn attention to Obamas birth certificate. News channels report on the issue, asking the viewer ‘does Barak Obama meet the requirements of the constitution that only a natural born citizen is eligible to be president?’ and ‘some of the right-wing hatred of Obama being president due to his ‘foreignness.’Some overtly racist Americans latched onto the idea that Obama’s nationalitywasn’t American and had an ‘attachment to a white racial identity, privileges and threats (McCall and Orloff 2017, pg 40).
Speaking at the American Conservative union Trump lightly says ‘came out of nowhere… people who went to school with him don’t know who he is…. no record,’ insinuating that Obama came to America as an illegal immigrant, or ‘alien.’ Whoopie Goldberg “no one has ever said to George Bush … I have never known any white president be asked to show their birth certificate. To become the president of the United States you know that he is American.”
Calling a press conference as soon as he lands, Trump comments ‘We can get back to bigger issues like china ripping off this country … I feel like I have accomplished something really really important.’ The statement above is a prime example of Trump othering, and scapegoating countries for the current climate of the United States. Nancy Poleski, who has played a vital role in the recent impeachment proceedings of Trump, and the house speaker stated that ‘the President’s “xenophobic comments” reaffirm his plan to “make America white again” (Quilantan and Cohen 2019).’One could liken Obama’s birth certificate to Trump’s outburst on Twitter, where he urged congresswomen to go home and sort their countries out.
Retaliating to Trump’s public humiliation and witch hunt, Obama starts his CPAC speech as “my fellow Americans … Mahalo” (Hawaiian word meaning gratitude). Truly scapegoated for being an African American president, Barack uses the platform to get the upper hand on Trump.
As discussed in my literature review, Trump relies heavily on the use of Twitter as a source of transmission. The documentary explains how Trump was first introduced to Twitter. What started out as an experiment and focus group, now is Trump’s main way of communication to his supporters. Trump’s advisor discusses how issues were presented to the president, to see how his followers reacted. If a tweet got 100 retweets it was a topic that they were ‘winning on.’ Schumeier 2019 concludes that ‘many politicians use twitter to spread information… and political support’ whether it be positive or negative. Topics included the idea to ‘build the wall… impenetrable wall’ which proved to be popular amongst the electorate and followers.
In summary, the documentary ‘Trump: The American Dream’ is a confirmatory hypothesis that Trump has always been misogynistic, and racist who thinks he can manipulate any situation to get what he wants.
Blog post 4: Production Diary
Having a rough idea of how I wanted my podcast to sound helped compiling YouTube videos to convert into audio. I watched a variety of YouTube clips of Donald Trump, which in turn suggested other infamous outbursts of the President. I have Audacity (editing software) on my laptop. Compared to Burli, I am more familiar with this software, enabling me to direct the podcast in the how I would like. I downloaded audio and edited it in Audacity, where I selected important clips. I prefer to edit as I go, adding to my practical work in small steps.
This resonates with Le Roy and Vanderbeeken’s theory that the documentary maker has the power to be prejudice towards one side or the other. ‘From the moment of gathering raw material, to the process of composing and editing, documentary works establish a specific point of view that reflects the bias of the author or the specific geographical of temporal context in which it was made.’ Producing the podcast, I am aware that I want to portray Donald Trump in a negative light. Le Roy and Vanderbeeken decided that the genre of documentaries is flawed, because of the human inability to be fully impartial.
From my original plans, my intro has changed. I envisioned that I would have a couple of significant quotes from Donald Trump for example ‘Grab her by the pussy’ and ‘Build the wall.’ Whilst editing the clips, I decided to make the intro a fast paced, quote filled introduction that would set the tone for the rest of my production work and support my arguments. Having made a montage of clips at the start of the podcast, I decided to split the audio up to introduce the next section.
I kept adding to the script and need to establish a coherent structure. I also wanted to apply the rhetoric in the speeches to current affairs, as Trump is constantly in the news.
I recorded my audio a few times to eradicate as many speech mistakes as possible. I edited any stuttering out, and phrased sentences differently to see how they flowed. After finalising the podcast, I listened to the audio back. I am aware that it is longer than the preferred time, but Trump creates a lot of talking points. I was debating whether to include lyrics from Eminem’s Heat, but again was pushed for time so decided against.
Blog post 5- Evaluation and Conclusion
On reflection, my podcast wasn’t how I initially how I set out. However, I feel that producing the podcast gave me the creative license to explore the President of the United States.
Depending on the audience and how engaged they are with American politics, the podcast could be informative or not as much in depth analysis. I would have liked to break my findings and the speech down but with a short amount of time I included what I thought was relevant and pressing points. Comparing my podcast to a professional one, like ‘The Guilty Feminist’ for example, mine could have been explored with a panellist and talk about how Trumps rhetoric made us both feel.
I believe that the textual analysis of Trump: An American Dream could have been more exploratory and applied more theory in a point evidence explain format. Thematic analysis focuses on the researcher’s interpretation, so I could have expanded on highlighted points.
This media project has taught me how important representatives are from gender to race, and how out of touch some leaders are. For example, as Trump is male, he makes decisions based on a religious or outdated point of view; he will never have to have or experience an abortion but yet he can pass laws, and use rhetoric to scare and bully people out of informed life choices.
To conclude, studying Trump’s speeches has added to the fact that I dislike him not only as a political leader but also a human being. He has no empathy, but also doesn’t try to understand other people’s perspectives. His statements back then have shaped current affairs now, which I thought was relevant to include on the podcast. It confuses me to think how he actually got into power but must have been scapegoating and his ability to pass the blame on to other people.
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Muller and Schwarz 2018????
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