Even The Biggest Of Trump Scandals Just Don’t Stick On Twitter
It's been three days since Pissgate and we've already moved on
Not to pee in the Corn Flakes of anyone thinking (or, rather, hoping) the latest allegations surrounding President-elect Donald Trump would stick, but it seems that the Twitterverse has already moved on.
On Tuesday, users flocked to the social media platform to discuss and make jokes about the more sordid details included in an unsubstantiated 35-page dossier alleging an intelligence exchange between the Trump campaign and Russian sources. Suddenly, everyone was talking about golden showers, aptly naming the debacle “Pissgate.”
One might think that these types of allegations — albeit totally unverified — would dominate the public consciousness for weeks, but it seems we’ve collectively laughed it off already. This is but the latest example of how improprieties just don’t seem to stick when it comes to Trump, and numerous pundits, comedians, and writers throughout the course of the election have said as much in regard to his political and ethical missteps. Yes, even the ones confirmed to be entirely factual, and including ones he’s copped to like the now famous hot mic incident known as the Trump Tapes.
“I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not,” Trump said in a YouTube video last October after news broke that he made lewd comments about women in an Access Hollywood tape leaked to the Washington Post. “I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am.”
It’s hard to say exactly why Trump has been able to avoid defeat in the face of his many gaffes and scandals, though Late Night host Seth Meyers had one theory that now sounds especially prescient:
“He has no shame,” Meyers said. “In fact, when confronted, he just doubles down. He’s like a dog that pees in the house, and when you rub his nose in it, he says, ‘Mmm, I love the smell of my own urine.’”
Seeing as Trump has been spewing controversial rhetoric since the very announcement of his campaign (actually, his entire life in the media spotlight), it’s also fairly reasonable to suggest that we’ve become somewhat desensitized to even the most potentially damning of claims about him.
Whatever the reason, a Vocativ analysis of the Twitter outpouring following some of the most jaw-dropping moments of Trump’s presidential campaign shows just how short our attention span has been.
One of the most shocking moments of Trump’s presidential campaign was when he called for the “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” The day his campaign released the statement, over 19,000 tweets with the words “ban on Muslims,” “Muslim ban,” “shutdown of Muslims,” or “Muslim shutdown” were posted to Twitter, with another 67,000 added the following day. The country was reeling from an attack in San Bernardino, California, where a married couple of Pakistani descent killed 14 people at a Christmas party. As people debated the ethics and constitutionality of Trump’s statement in the wake of the massacre, discussion on Twitter remained fairly fervent for the next couple days. But by day six of the fallout, usage of these terms were down 87 percent from its peak. And this turned out to be the Trump scandal with the most staying power on Twitter.
While the “Trump Tapes,” was initially heralded as the scandal that might just be big enough to ruin Trump’s campaign, mentions of them (and the phrases he was recorded saying) dropped by 97 percent within the week.
Vocativ also analyzed fallout following Trump’s disparagement of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and Megyn Kelly, claims that rival Ted Cruz’s father Rafael killed John F. Kennedy, and mockery of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski by tracking usage of their names on Twitter. While it’s difficult to say without a shadow of a doubt that all of the tweets referencing them in the days following their Trump “shout-outs” were in direct relation to him, the same pattern could be observed.