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Playing the Trump Card: A qualitative rhetorical analysis of President Trump’s crisis communication on Hurricane Maria
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Media and Communication Studies.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In this study, a qualitative rhetorical analysis is done on U.S. president Donald Trump’s crisis communication on Hurricane Maria, which was an Atlantic hurricane that struck areas such as Puerto Rico and Dominica in the autumn of 2017. Given that the former is an unincorporated territory of the U.S., the need for effective relief measures by the Trump administration became of particular importance there. However, in the media, the actual response by the administration was widely criticised as being slow and inefficient by actors like the relief group Oxfam and the humanitarian organisation Refugees International. Therefore, this study critically evaluates Trump’s crisis communication strategies on the hurricane to assess their success. The material consists of statements by Trump in both traditional and social media through official remarks and tweets, which are analysed through the crisis communication theories of image repair theory and situational crisis communication theory. In doing so, of interest is also to examine whether any differences can be seen in the strategies used by Trump in these two kinds of media channels.

To address the hurricane, the findings showed that Trump mainly used the crisis communication strategies of corrective action, bolstering, defeasibility and attack accuser from image repair theory and compensation, reminder, ingratiation, excuse and attack the accuser from situational crisis communication theory. Moreover, no distinctive differences were found in which strategies Trump used in the respective channels, even if the attacks on Twitter were often more aggressive. While both positive and negative evaluations could be made of how Trump used these strategies overall, the main conclusion of the study is that his crisis communication was largely ineffective due to the strategies sometimes being contradictory and inconsistent.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 50
Keywords [en]
Crisis communication, image repair theory, situational crisis communication theory, qualitative rhetorical analysis, populism, Donald Trump, Hurricane Maria
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-40509ISRN: JU-HLK-MKA-2-20180192OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-40509DiVA, id: diva2:1220329
Subject / course
HLK, Media and Communication Studies
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2018-06-29 Created: 2018-06-18 Last updated: 2018-06-29Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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