OPINION: Trump purposely misdirects nation from valid concerns with absurd actions

Don’t fall for the trick

Jonathan McCollough | Staff Writer

Donald Trump is playing Magician-In-Chief, and we are letting him get away with it.

On November 27, the New York Times published a thorough, high quality article entitled “Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for Trump, the Businessman President.” It presented details, country by country, about the plethora of business interests that Trump has around the world and how they could conflict with his job as President.

The same afternoon, Trump sent out his notorious tweet claiming that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for the “millions of people who voted illegally.”

This ridiculous and entirely false claim is not purely ignorant ー it’s a magic trick.

Instead of talking about his potential conflict of interests, his Trump University Settlement, or his choice to fill some positions in his administration with racists and billionaire insiders, his 140-character distraction consumed the 24-hour news cycle.

Misdirection is not a new strategy in politics; politicians are known for their ability to dodge questions and manipulate our attention. When we protested the Vietnam War, politicians reframed the anti-war protests to be anti-troop protests to distract from the actual message of the anti-war movement. The same can be said about the Black Lives Matter movement which politicians have framed as a anti-cop movement to discredit it and distract from its actual goals.

Donald Trump takes this strategy a step further, using Twitter to move attention away from negative press and, instead of reframing the debate, he distracts the country by making statements so blatantly false and controversial that our media is forced to focus on them instead of issues that actually matter.

Then as soon as the public gets tired of his latest controversy, out of nowhere he tweets that flag burners should lose citizenship or be jailed. This random statement consumed the media once again, ensuring that they cannot talk about the fact that Republican and House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz has been seemingly ignoring the President-elect’s potential conflict of interests, despite his pledge to investigate Donald Trump with equal fervor to Hillary Clinton.

This kind of misdirection can likely be expected for the next four years. We can expect Trump to meet every legitimate criticism with a ridiculous Tweet.

We need to start paying attention to the substance behind the smokescreen because if we don’t, we will all fall for another one of Trump’s magic tricks.