Analyzing Trump’s use of inflammatory rhetoric on the campaign trail

Lisa Desjardins:

One of the many reasons I’m glad I work at “NewsHour.”

Trump actually uses classical devices, one of them ad baculum, meaning try and bring in the idea of force, encourage force in your speaking. But the way he activates, I think, his followers is the most important. And I heard from a lot of different linguists that I spoke to talking about something called paraleipsis.

That idea is that I’m saying something, but I’m actually not saying. I’m inferring something, and then I have plausible deniability that I said it.

So Trump is activating his followers by implying something and then later fighting with the media over whether he said it or not. That has very strong consequences, not only for his campaign, but also for those kinds of statistics that Laura mentioned about violence. When he’s saying the situation is dire, when he’s saying democracy will end if I’m not elected, he is implying to some of his followers, violence may be OK.

And you saw that in Laura’s numbers.

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