The former president's existence is mediated mainly through press releases, but is anyone listening?
If the internet cancels you, do you still exist? That's a question that must be playing in the mind of former US President Donald Trump.
Former President Donald Trump says CNN made up yet another story about him, and notes Eric Swalwell continues to serve on House Intel Committee, after relationship with Chinese spy. pic.twitter.com/cAmxS7Sv91— Mollie (@MZHemingway) April 13, 2021
Since losing the Presidential election in November, Trump set about discrediting the results, calling them fraudulent. But it was the ransacking of Capitol Hill on January 6 of this year that turned much of the Big Tech giants that had unwittingly facilitated his rise to power against him.
Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook flexed their muscle and banned Trump for life on their platforms, silencing a powerful voice on the American political right.
A plethora of other companies also ended up banning Trump, including YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, Reddit and Pinterest. But also payment platforms like PayPal and Shopify in a bid to throttle Trump's revenues.
The almost airtight silencing of Trump has revealed an uncomfortable truth about the power of Big Tech and its ability to muzzle and mediate voices on its sites.
In an example of how far Facebook is willing to ensure that Trump is not given any air time, it took down a video of him giving an interview in late March.
How is Trump communicating with the outside world?
The most-watched late-night show host Stephen Colbert shortly after the November elections, stopped saying or printing the former Presidents name in full but only expressing it as an expletive "T****."
Study Finds the ‘Single Largest Driver’ of Coronavirus Misinformation Was Donald Trump https://t.co/Pwr5KLFGfg— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) April 13, 2021
Without much fanfare, the move was meant to deprive Trump of the oxygen he derives from becoming such an infamous household name.
Like a monarch deposed from power, Trump is now holed up in his $160 million Mar-a-Lago estate planning and plotting his return to the political frontline and would-be kingmaker in the Republican party.
His online megaphone-like presence has been reduced to a whimper. The former president now relies on press releases being fired into the inboxes of journalists he spent his presidency abusing.
In a recent interview on NewsMax, one of the most influential TV channels amongst conservative circles, Trump swore that he didn't miss Twitter and press releases are the future.
"Frankly, they're more elegant than tweeting, as the expression goes. They're really much more elegant. And the word is getting out," he said, adding, "the tweeting gets you in trouble."
In a bid to remain relevant, the former president has taken to sending out pithy press releases resembling the language he would often use in his tweets. However, lacking access to Twitter and, by extension, directly communicating with voters, Trump is now at the mercy of his old nemesis, journalists.
But even Trump realises that press releases fired into the void are sticking plaster for his wider need to garner more attention and, by extension, power.
Rumours that he could start his own social media site have become increasingly louder. Trump's pulling power amongst conservatives would undoubtedly generate the necessary millions of followers to get it off the ground.
Trump would also have to contend with one hurdle that has consistently befuddled his tenure as president, and that's his legendary ability to be distracted and lose focus or even get bored. A prospect that could afflict a social media startup if it's ever to be a successful venture.
Even as Trump's media presence has become low energy, the psychological hold he maintains over the Republican party shows no sign of receding.
As midterm elections in 2022 draw closer, Republicans seek to curry favour, money and the necessary baptism by Trump to carry conservative voters.
While the broader American public continues to deal with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, Trump's spectre flickers over the politician scene biding its time.
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