- A new study has identified President Donald Trump’s most embarrassing moments, based on tweets analysed between June 2015 and December 2017 related to words like “embarrassment” and “embarrassed.”
- Some particularly embarrassing moments include when Trump denied German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handshake during a meeting in March 2017, the June 2017 announcement that he would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and his statements about the August 2017 Charlottesville rally – in which he didn’t condemn white supremacy.
- Researchers noticed a considerable increase in tweets about embarrassment since Trump took office, with a 45 per cent increase in such language when describing the president, compared to former president Barack Obama.
- It’s important to note that just because someone tweeted about embarrassment, it’s impossible to know if they are actually feeling embarrassed.
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It’s difficult to forget the moment in May 2017 when President Donald Trump appeared to shove Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Marković as world leaders headed over to take a group photo at the NATO summit in Brussels.
The video of the incident shows the president pushing past a surprised Marković, then proceeding to adjust his suit while triumphantly taking his place at the front of the group. While the White House told reporters that Trump was just making his way to a predetermined spot, the incident quickly went viral on social media – with some people taking to Twitter to express their embarrassment about the incident.
President Trump shoved the Montenegro prime minister at NATO – Can he do any more to embarrass our Country? https://t.co/DE2e8HUdWv
— Lisa Gerrish ???????????? (@GerrishLisa) May 26, 2017
Waking up like who did Trump upset/shove/embarrass today? (Hint: everyone…)
— Jenny Goodfellow ???????? Be a Mensch, Wear a Mask. (@JayGoo) May 26, 2017
@realDonaldTrump good luck at the G20!!! Don't shove anyone or embarrass us like last time
— Alex Ramos???????? (@AlexRamos____) July 1, 2017
According to a recent study in the journal Frontiers in Communication,they aren’t alone:a lot of Americans seem to be feeling embarrassed about Trump.
To conduct the study, researchers analysed tweets in the United States between June 2015 and December 2017 that displayed expressions of embarrassment – think tweets that include words like “embarrassed” or “embarrassing.” From there, they began to notice certain peaks, all related to the president, in which people seemed to be particularly embarrassed.
“When they’re tweeting about embarrassment, they’re tweeting about Trump and what he’s doing,” Dar Meshi, a co-author on the study and assistant professor of advertising and public relations at Michigan State University, told INSIDER. “If your leader is doing cringeworthy actions, what we hypothesize is that that then induces this secondhand cringeworthy, vicarious embarrassment in American citizens.”
Some embarrassing moments, in addition to the Marković incident, include:
- The second presidential debate in October 2016 when he threatened to jail Hillary Clinton if elected
- The time he denied German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handshake during a meeting in March 2017
- His decision to drop the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan in April 2017
- The announcement in June 2017 that he would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change
- His statements about the August 2017 Charlottesville rally – in which he said there were “good people” on both sides
Researchers noticed a considerable rise in tweets about embarrassment since Trump took office, with a 45 per cent increase in such language when describing Trump, compared to former president Barack Obama. Words such as “disgust,” ” shame,” and “anger” were also positively correlated with Trump. Meshi told INSIDER that he was especially surprised to discover that “happiness” was negatively correlated with the president.
“So if people are tweeting about happiness, it’s likely they’re not tweeting about Trump,” he said.
While a Marist poll conducted in March 2017 found that 60 per cent of Americans were embarrassed by the president, it’s important to note that just because someone tweeted about embarrassment, it’s impossible to know if they are actually feeling embarrassed. Meshi also acknowledged that bot traffic wasn’t excluded from the real human traffic in the study, and that could have impacted results.
As sociologist Neil Gross wrote in a 2017 New York Times piece, “It’s a safe bet that few of the Americans embarrassed by President Trump are embarrassed for him … the more interesting suggestion, though, is that Americans embarrassed by President Trump are experiencing vicarious embarrassment not for him but for the country.”
The researchers included a few reasons as to why people may have that reaction toward the president. For one, they say that the president, compared to other politicians, seems to deliberately violate social norms. When former President George W. Bush tried to leave a 2005 press conference in China, only to awkwardly discover the door was locked and he was trapped, it was obvious that the incident was an accident. When Trump deliberately opted not to shake Merkel’s hand, he knew exactly what he was doing.
Another reason for people’s cringe is that Trump is seen as representative of all Americans. As such, other embarrassing moments found in the study include the November 2016 presidential election and January 2017 inauguration – when Trump transformed from brash New York businessman to president of the country.
“President Trump is not just a US citizen like others who identify as American. As an elected leader, he has an outstanding role for the common identity of US citizens: he is supposed to represent the US” the study states. “The deliberate trespassing of values and normative standards by Trump posts a specific threat for the social integrity of the represented.”
While the research has obvious limitations, it could be worthwhile for the president to pay attention to how his actions are perceived online. The full list of the president’s most embarrassing moments include:
- The October 2016 second presidential debate
- The November 2016 presidential election
- Trump’s claim of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 election
- The January 2017 inauguration
- The March 2017 incident when Trump denied Merkel’s handshake during a meeting
- Trump’s decision in April 2017 to drop the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan
- The May 2017 NATO summit when Trump appeared to shove Marković
- The announcement in June 2017 that the US would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement
- Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s July 2017 meeting at the G20 summit
- Trump’s statements in response to the August 2017 Charlottesville rally
- Read more:
- President Trump has personally blocked his critics on Twitter and a federal appeals court is deciding if that violates the First Amendment
- Donald Trump reveals he called Xi Jinping ‘king’ – and says Xi liked it
- A White House whistleblower claimed at least 25 Trump administration employees got a security clearance after initially being denied
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