How Trump's Tweets Manipulate You (& The Media), Explained In One Chart

Ad failed to load

Time and again, Donald Trump has been cited as the reason why the news cycle in America has changed for the worse. But one tweet shared on Wednesday by a linguistics philosopher, George Lakoff, cracks the code of just how Trump uses social media to easily manipulate you. With the help of the linguist's taxonomy, you can see how the president's tweets are more about strategy and less about the substance in his words.

"Trump uses social media as a weapon to control the news cycle. It works like a charm. His tweets are tactical rather than substantive," Lakoff tweeted. You may not know who Lakoff is; as a cognitive linguist, author, philosopher, and former professor of linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, he studies, analyzes, and writes about how human beings create and use language in culture, society, and politics. He now works as the director of the Center for the Neural Mind and Society.

In his tweet, Lakoff shared four categories in which Trump influences his American audience and the news media. Those four categories are "preemptive framing, diversion, deflection, and trial balloon." Lakoff presented his thoughts in a detailed graphic created with the help of a visual designer, Greg Gibilisco, of MAYA Design:

Ad failed to load

Using Lakoff's taxonomy, readers can approach and decode Trump's tweets without being taken in by them. He gives real-life examples to explain how those four categories work in Trump's favor. As an example of what he calls preemptive framing, Lakoff shared a Trump tweet from January 2017 where he framed the Democratic National Committee's hacking as its own doing. "The hacking of the DNC was the DNC's fault and the Democrats lost by a wide margin [according to Trump]. In fact, it was one of the narrowest margins in U.S. history," Lakoff said.

There's also diversion and deflection. Lakoff found an example of Trump doing this with a tweet about actress Meryl Streep (who he called "overrated") during a moment of increased national interest in possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race.

Ad failed to load

Lastly, there's the "trial balloon," which Lakoff said is how Trump tests the public's reaction to something — and perhaps their tolerance for aggression. Possible examples of such tweets could include Trump's retweeting of a far-right Islamophobic group in the United Kingdom last year, or his retweet of an anti-Semitic Twitter account in 2016.

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Lakoff's analysis not only can help people read the context behind Trump's tweets, but also read into his possible intentions. The linguistics philosopher said:

Ad failed to load
Imagine if we took a different approach to Trump’s social media antics. Imagine if we put them in a small, quiet corner of the newspaper. Imagine if they were only a minor throwaway item at the end of the newscast. Imagine greeting them with calm clarity, not instant outrage.

He added: "We have the power stop him. But we must stop letting him control our media -- and our minds. It’s time to give Trump a Twitter Time Out. Let’s shrink him down to size. Let’s take this weapon out of his hands."

The linguist's breakdown of Trump's news cycle manipulation strategy via Twitter seems to be a great (and free!) resource for American citizens. With the help of Lakoff's analysis, you can see how Trump frames an idea; directs mainstream attention away from critical issues of the moment; deflects by attacking personalities and institutions (especially by calling them "fake news"); and then tests the public's patience and reaction with aggressive declarations. It may sound like a lot of steps for one person to go through when reading every Trump tweet, but it works, as Lakoff said, "like a charm."

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

These Are The Beauty Products That Came Out In May That You DEFINITELY Need On Your Radar

For beauty lovers, months aren't just months: They're 28 to 31 day periods, wherein any and all product and brand launches can happen — and when they do, it feels like your birthday, no matter what time of the year you were actually born. The May 201…
By Amanda Richards

Everything Leaving & Coming To Netflix In June To Help Get Your Summer Started

Summer is right around the corner, and so is another batch of streaming options to get excited about. On Wednesday, everything leaving and coming to Netflix in June 2018 was announced by the streaming platform. And don't worry, there's something for …
By Jamie Primeau

The 5 Rom-Coms You Need To Read This Summer, According To Someone Who Writes Them

'Tis the season for rom-coms. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and everyone is rocking the flirtiest items in their wardrobe. I don't know about you, but summer always takes me back to my teenage years — and that automatically makes me want t…
By Cristina Arreola

11 Tiny Sunglasses That Will Make You Look Even Cooler Than Kylie Jenner

You know what they say — the tinier the sunglasses, the more stylish the outfit. OK, that's not really a saying, but it seems to be the case these days. Basically every celebrity, model, and It person has been spotted sporting tiny sunglasses as part…
By Sara Tan

9 Ways This Royal Wedding Was Way More Modern Than Past Ones

The newly named Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, made history with their storybook courtship and wedding. What's more, there are myriad ways the royal wedding 2018 was more modern than previous royal weddings. From deciding…
By Brandi Neal

10 Little-Known British Traditions Meghan Markle Will Learn When She Marries Prince Harry

As an American woman dating a Brit, I am no stranger to the mishaps that can result from the cultural differences between the U.S. and England. And while I'm sure Meghan Markle has a slew of royal traditions to learn, titles to remember, and fancy ha…
By Kristin Magaldi

I've Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000

It all became real the summer before my senior year of college. It was 2010, and my home phone still had a cord, which I wrapped around my fingers as I waited not-so-patiently for the apathetic representative on the other end to tell me the bad news …
By Kaitlyn Cawley

12 Personality Quizzes That Will Help You Determine Your Exact Strengths

Learning more about yourself can be tough. It's so easy to observe others to learn what makes them tick, what areas they really excel in, and the things they could be better at. Doing that to yourself, however, is a whole different story. That's exac…
By Jessica Booth

5 Brand New Short Story Collections You Can Finish In One Sitting This Weekend

Since 2013, May has been known by book-lovers by another name: Short Story Month. If you're ready to kick off this year's celebration the right way, make sure to pick up a short story collection to read over the weekend. Modern life moves more than …
By Sadie Trombetta

I Got Styled By 'Queer Eye's Tan France & Realized I Still Have A Lot Of Fashion "Rules" To Unlearn

When I walked into a New York City Express store on May 2 to get styled by Queer Eye's Tan France, I was ready for anything. And I mean truly anything. I am such a massive fan of the show and Tan that if he had instructed me to wrap myself in tin foi…
By Olivia Muenter

It Isn’t Bad To Have A “Princess Fantasy” — Mine Made Me The Woman I Am Today

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you were anything like me as a kid, at some point, the answer to that question was "a princess." Thanks to good old-fashioned gender stereotypes, most little girls born in the '90s (and even now) grew up in…
By Nicole Pomarico

Here’s How To Get A FREE 30-Minute Facial At Sephora That Sucks Your Pores Clean

Sephora has long been a mecca for both serious and amateur beauty lovers alike, where they not only have makeup artists that help answer questions about products, but free samples to let you play with new collections. But now they have upped the ante…
By Marlen Komar

Kris Jenner Is FINALLY Launching A Makeup Line With Kylie

Maybe you don't have a favorite sister of the Kar-Jenner clan, and that's perfectly fine. The one thing you can't deny, though, is that when it comes power, no one in that family has more than the world famous momager. Now, Kris Jenner x Kylie Cosmet…
By Shea Simmons

This Kendall Jenner “Diva” Moment Is Really Being Taken Out Of Context

The fashion always takes center stage at the Met Gala, but there's usually a little drama, too. And this time, a member of the Kardashian-Jenner family is involved. People are buzzing about how Kendall Jenner shoved someone at the Met Gala, but after…
By Nicole Pomarico

Feel Like You've Seen Everything On Netflix? Add These Movies To Your Watch List

The weekend may feel too far away, but if you're lacking formal plans, a Netflix marathon session is always a good idea. If you're an avid viewer, however, you probably feel like you've seen everything the streaming platform has to offer already. In …
By Ashley Rey

Hillary Clinton Says She's Ready To Fight Like A Republican — EXCLUSIVE

Hillary Clinton Is Not Going Away Quietly. Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly Into The Night? Unlike Losers Before Her, Clinton Is Not Going Gently Into the Night. These headlines, which appeared in various news outlets over the course of the last…
By Catherine Thompson and Jenny Hollander

Here's The Very Best Time To Book Your Summer Vacation If You're Trying To Save Money

Summer is a great time to travel, for obvious reasons. The weather is better. Many offices are more lax about time off. If you have kids, they’re out of school. But there’s one very important element that makes summer not a great time to travel: Cost…
By Emma McGowan