14 - Fake Alignments

Sylvia Sierra, Natasha Shrikant

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

3 Scopus citations


This chapter analyzes President Trump’s remarks at the 2017 Black History Month Listening Session, in particular his repeated discussion of the seemingly irrelevant subject of “fake news.” Through a framing analysis (Goffman 1974) of Trump’s language, we make sense of Trump’s seemingly non-sequitur topic shifts and illustrate how the actions he takes through these shifts function as strategic attempts to build relationships with African American participants in the session. Our analysis illustrates how Trump strives to build relationships with his African American interlocutors through first praising well-known African American figures and then shifting frames to commiserate about the news media. While praising such figures functions as Trump’s direct attempt to align with the broader African American community, making disparaging remarks about news media functions to indirectly align Trump with the politically conservative African Americans in this interaction, sometimes through their laughter at his jokes. Like many politicians, Trump elicits support as much from his implicit relational messages as from the content of what he says.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLanguage in the Trump Era
Subtitle of host publicationScandals and Emergencies
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781108887410
ISBN (Print)9781108841146
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Alignment
  • Fake news
  • Frames
  • Framing
  • Goffman
  • Laughter
  • Messaging
  • Race
  • Relationality
  • Topic shifts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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