Trump Tweets Teen's Critique Of CNN Journo

Even before he takes office, every day of Donald Trump’s impending presidency offers up an exciting new phenomenon. In the latest twist, ordinary folks can become instant social media stars by hurling themselves into the midst of the president-elect’s many pissing matches with the mainstream media over their “unfair” coverage.

On Monday, a 16-year-old Trump supporter from California joined the candidate’s attacks on CNN journalist Jeff Zeleny, who had asked Trump to provide evidence backing up his claim that widespread vote fraud occurred in the 2016 presidential election, denying him a majority of the popular vote.

The teenaged supporter, using the Twitter handle @Filibuster, tweeted at Zeleny in a style very similar to Trump’s own: “Pathetic - you have no sufficient evidence that Donald Trump did not suffer from voter fraud, shame!” Trump later copied and pasted (rather than re-tweeting) the text from the tweet, including Zeleny’s handle, which was in turn shared by his many Twitter followers.

In good social media fashion, the teenage Twitter user soon became the main story, with mainstream news journalists expressing incredulity that the president-elect was rallying teenage conspiracy theorists to his banner, while on the other side Trump’s social media followers celebrated @Filibuster’s pluckiness and mocked reporters for their patronizing attitude towards non-journalists and young people.

Inevitably @Filibuster himself got in on the act, criticizing the press for focusing on his background rather than the allegation of voter fraud, again mimicking Trump’s famous telegraphic style: “Dishonest @CNN continues to show my tweet. Why is my age relevant? I thought that I was allowed to freely voice my concerns.”

As with many other subjects, Trump’s statements on social media regarding voter fraud present an interesting philosophical assault on the traditional factual basis of news journalism. Many mainstream news orgs have noted that Trump has not provided any evidence that voter fraud occurred, but as @Filibuster’s tweets demonstrate, his supporters do not consider an absence of evidence to be evidence of absence – instead, it is simply proof of the news media’s refusal to find and report the evidence, reflecting its collusion with the political “establishment” in general, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in particular.

While it is hardly surprising that Trump supporters take this view, it’s difficult to imagine any amount of proof being sufficient to dispel the allegations of voter fraud, given their entrenched distrust of the news media. Thus any apparent “engagement” by Trump and his followers with mainstream journalists, as for example with @Filibuster’s tweets to Zeleny, should be seen as part of a continuing effort to shape his followers’ views and stamp his interpretation of events on the news, rather than actually engage in debate or dialogue.
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