Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dissecting a prank meme on Trump

As many of us peruse social media, we come across memes - pictures with words on top, to get a message across. Today, I'd like to demonstrate one of the pitfalls of these memes: they may not be correct. Sharing a false meme can damage your reputation, which is particularly important if you want to have any influence on the internet.

So, the other day, I found this meme:


This is the one I posted and subsequently, someone else did some research on it and busted me with a Snopes article to show that it's not true. After reviewing the evidence, I agree, it's not true, and posted my agreement in the comments. Rather than take down the post, I left it there with the comments for others to see. I want others to know the folly of not checking your memes, or for that matter, anything you share again with your followers.

But what I also want to show you is that here, art imitates life so well. We know from the Snopes article that the first sentence in the meme is false. Trump never called GOP voters dumb as in the quote above. Researchers of People Magazine could not find any quote of the text in the meme in any article published by People Magazine.

The meme really speaks more as commentary on the GOP as observed today. It could almost certainly be satire if not for the nuggets of truth in it. Take the second statement, "They love anything on FOX News." FOX News is widely regarded as part of what is know as the "conservative echo chamber". According to this New Republic article, that echo chamber exists and it's fairly well documented. FOX News is a big part of the conservative echo chamber, but local radio also figures in as a source of daily consumption of conservative leaning news for many conservatives.

To be fair, there is a similar echo chamber for liberals, but the New Republic article linked to above found that there a bit more diversity in their sources and it's not all liberal. I myself like to read both liberal and conservative articles on the same topic just to see which facts match or corroborate.

"I could lie and they'd eat it up." That's the next sentence in the meme. According to Politifact, of the statements made by Donald Trump that were checked, 0% were completely true. 5% were mostly true, 13% were half true and the rest, about 76%, were mostly false or completely false ("Pants on fire" false). This is a serious consideration for any supporter of Trump as a candidate for president. Since we can't read his mind, we don't know for sure if he's lying through his teeth or he is just ignorant like many of his followers.

"I bet my numbers would be great." That's the last sentence, and by any measure, for much of the campaign so far, Trump has had and maintained a solid lead over all other candidates for the GOP nomination. RealClear Politics has surveyed all major polls and confirms that Trump has been in the lead since July 21st of this year. Trump is now 17% ahead of the distant 2nd, Ted Cruz.

While this meme isn't true, I think it rings the bell for satire and truth. It's an interesting reflection of politics in America and many people would be duped by it were it not for fact checking sites that have the research to show if claims are true or not. The most significant aspect to this meme is that of the statements that are true in the meme, they are attributed to a man who could be president. 

I think it's also very important to understand the GOP. Their leading candidate for president is not speaking the truth to his followers and supporters. If they are aware of the fact checking done on Trump's statements then it is possible that they're willing to overlook the outright lies by Trump just to have someone in the White House who is not an insider. 

While it is possible that Trump is serious about running for president, there are some who believe that he may be intentionally blowing up his campaign. Why? The president's job is unbelievably difficult compared to developing property as a business. It's possible that this campaign is all about publicity so he can sit back and sell a few books. 

I have wondered if Trump is running a prank campaign on the GOP, you know, to show America the true colors of the GOP. Then maybe he can hand over a victory to whoever wins the Democratic nomination. Someone like Hilary. Maybe, maybe not.
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