Social Media at Play in Modern Politics: A 21st Century Agora or the Modern Theater of Dionysus?
From frequent scrum photos of the president holding up signed executive orders in the Oval Office to images of the president energetically sitting behind the wheel of a Mack truck parked outside his back door, like previous administrations, visuals have been central to Donald Trump's presidency. As previous research has documented, White House photography is an essential vehicle for storytelling, image building, and persuading. In important and revealing ways, Trump and his public relations team have both followed and deviated from best practices in visual political image-making. This paper will analyze the visuals on White House social media accounts (i.e., Twitter and Facebook) in Trump's first 100 days and explore these techniques and digressions. This paper will review and build on Schill's (2012) previous examination of the communicative functions of visual symbols in politics and apply that framework to the nascent Trump administration.
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