How Silicon Valley's virtual monopolies helped Trump

Immediately after the Jan. 6 demonstrations at the Capitol, the cabal of "woke" Silicon Valley communications platforms — led by Twitter — banned President Donald J. Trump from ever posting again.  This was meant to be punitive.  After all, Amazon did roughly the same thing by banning Parler, a civil liberties alternative to Twitter, from the giant firm's pervasive server farms.  That was clearly punitive. 

But was the move against Trump really hurtful?

With the impeachment trial now going on in the Senate, and because a super-majority is highly improbable, this exercise in manufactured outrage is a farce.  A non-starter.  DOA.  However, if the president hadn't been banned from virtually all social media platforms, it's almost inconceivable that he wouldn't be back in the fray on a daily basis.  Instead, he's been quiet for the past month, something almost equally inconceivable, considering the Twitter track record President Trump has created since he first announced his candidacy, way back in 2015.

In many ways, Donald Trump is a remarkable populist, a billionaire "everyman" who not only didn't profit from his presidency, but even gave back his annual salary as president, nearly half a million dollars.  However, his one glaring weakness was his seeming inability to control his tweets.  Take those away, and Trump would have been considered a change-agent president in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt.  Teddy was essentially a Washington outsider who dramatically changed the way government monitored and regulated the rapacious American monopolies and cartels rampant at the dawn of the 20th century.

But right up until the very end, Trump had almost unfettered access to Twitter and other social media platforms, and he used that access for good and for ill.  Some of his better tweets allowed him to circumvent a hostile media establishment and speak directly to the American public.  This is very much akin to President Franklin Roosevelt, who also had a hostile, partisan (conservative) press.  Through his brilliant fireside chats, FDR made use of the most dramatic new communications technology (radio) in ways never before attempted.  Like his fifth cousin, Teddy, and unlike Trump, Roosevelt was a consummate communicator who didn't make many (maybe not any) serious political gaffes. 

However, President Trump — in addition to his insightful and politically powerful tweets that bypassed the media to get his views directly to the electorate — also "vented his spleen" on topics far removed from his legislative or leadership priorities.  These tweets became President Trump's "Achilles heel," his one area of real vulnerability.  These tweets churned up a great deal of vitriol among liberal media (about 90% of all media), as well as among true believers who hated him on principle.  Each over-the-top tweet just added fuel to the fire of their outrage, making it harder for Trump-supporters to express their support publicly.

If Twitter and its fellow corporate censors hadn't colluded in blocking Trump completely from their social media platforms, we can only imagine how Trump's raging tweets in the month between the Capitol Hill crisis and the beginning of the impeachment trial would have fueled the flame of a self-inflicted auto-da-fé — the act of being burnt at the stake.  This was the most popular death sentence during the Spanish Inquisition and has come to mean, metaphorically, being burnt at the stake.  Instead, he was — not by choice — silent.

With no fuel being added to the fire, America lost interest.  Reflecting this, Rasmussen Report noted on Feb. 9 that "Most Voters Don't Expect Senate to Convict Trump, Won't Watch Impeachment Trial."  In brief, only 11% of likely U.S. voters think it is very likely that the Senate will convict Trump, and 20% think it is somewhat likely.  However, 28% think it's not very likely, and 36% says the conviction is not likely at all.  At the same time, Trump's stature has risen.

This negative expectation among American voters the day before the Senate trial began reflects the fact that other news was more immediate, especially after Biden was sworn in.  No president was ever impeached after he left office, since impeachment merely removes a president from office.

Immediately after the Jan. 6 rally-turned-violent at the U.S. Capitol, Rasmussen reported that half of all voters supported removing President Trump from office before President Biden's inauguration.  However, two weeks later, the Rasmussen Report noted that "57% of Voters Say Trump Impeachment Will Further Divide America."  This is a dramatic switch from just two weeks before, and it reflects the fact that Trump had largely faded from the news.  Since most Trump-created news was linked to his most incendiary tweets, his absence from the national stage showed this remarkable reversal.

So, with President Trump unable to "stir the pot" with his public Twitter announcements, the very idea of his impeachment faded from view, until people were not expecting anything to come of the trial beyond some political grandstanding and more division among Americans.

Ned Barnett is a communications specialist and political commentator based in Nevada, where he runs Barnett Marketing Communications.  A regular contributor to American Thinker, he is currently working on his latest book, The COVID Diaries, a fictionalized diary recording the appearance and impact of COVID during its first full year in America.  It will be published by Sidekick Press in May of this year.

Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License.