'Traitor, appeaser': Era of Twitter's hysterical ‘hot-take’ comes of age after Putin-Trump summit
Donald Trump's news conference with Vladimir Putin gave Twitter's angry analysts the chance to vent, and they really went for it. The question they need to be asking themselves really, is can they get angrier than this?
You could argue that short of attempting a citizen's arrest on Putin whilst adorning a new stars and stripes toupe, there was little chance of America's mainstream media and rent-a-quote twitterati giving Trump any credit for at least opening talks to ease tensions with Moscow.
The hot takes on the chosen social media platform for spleen-rupturing fury were truly something to behold. It was treason! The darkest hour! Appeasement!
The unspoken truth is that it's far more lucrative and, dare I say it, fun for so-called experts to simply dump on Trump, than to try and come up with a more considered take on what happened. Social media ‘hot takes’ are another way of describing an ill-thought out opinion, usually one that has been conceived before an event has taken place.
In the bad old days, it would take at the very least a few hours of contemplation to decide that a news conference involving a football being thrown at the first lady, but in which no one actually died, was the worst moment in US history. Nowadays though, history is written by twitchy trigger fingers with 280 characters to play with in a matter of seconds. In the era of the ‘hot take,’ there were some absolute classics of the genre.
One of the best came from chess master and one of the West's Putin-critics of choice – Garry Kasparov. He tweeted: “I'm ready to call this the darkest hour in the history of the American presidency. Let me know if you can think of any competition.”
Hmmm, what do you think Richard Nixon? Got any ideas George Dubya? People of the Middle East or south east Asia, can you think of any competition for the darkest hour of the American presidency? Twitter and perspective are not easy bed fellows.
Former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh called Trump a traitor within minutes of the president’s news conference with Putin. Walsh was commenting shortly after a comedian had shown him supporting the arming of toddlers to take out school shooters, so this is a man with an ill-thought out take on most issues.
Trump was a traitor today. I cannot & will not support a traitor. No decent American should.— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) July 16, 2018
David Corn is an analyst for MSNBC and Washington Bureau chief for Mother Jones. Within minutes he declared: “This may be the worst moment in US foreign policy history that does not directly involve a war or another act of violence.” So in other words, not all that bad then.
This may be the worst moment in US foreign policy history that does not directly involve a war or another act of violence.— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) July 16, 2018
Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul wrote a tweet (actually he wrote lots of them, all of a theme) that really cut through the nonsense to highlight the real problem.
Trump says we are all to blame for tensions in US Russia relations. What specifically did US do wrong?— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) July 16, 2018
This may be the most telling piece of hot take analysis you'll find anywhere. A former senior US official still genuinely has no idea what America may have done wrong.
Former CIA Director John Brennan took the opportunity to engage in his favorite pastime of recent months, and that is to empty his thesaurus of invective on the current US president. Trump’s words at the news conference amounted to “high crimes & misdemeanors. It was nothing short of treasonous.”
Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) July 16, 2018
A few months back Brennan tweeted that Trump would end up a “disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.” Ultimately his comments are unlikely to come without just a pinch of subjectivity, although after dropping the ‘T-word,’ he hasn't got much more room for linguistic maneuver in the future.
So this is where political discourse is at the moment in the US. Trump behaves as he always has (the way that got him elected), and the usual suspects who don’t like it respond as they always do. When it happens and Vladimir Putin is in the room, the hyperbole reaches fever pitch and, before you know it, an expression of opinion during talks aimed at easing tensions between nuclear rivals ends in accusations of treason – in no small part because it's so easy to get your opinion out there thanks to social media. Anyone who is anyone is hot-taking online, so get on the bandwagon but make sure it's the same opinion as everyone else, just with a little more hysteria.
By Simon Rite
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