Representations of Donald Trump in the Media

The 2016 US election has been a core topic throughout media outlets for the majority of the year. Presidential candidate Donald Trump is continuously making headlines for his unique, straight forward campaign technique and disrespect for women. Ben Jacobs’s “’You can do anything:’ Trump brags on tape using fame to get women”, a news journalism article and Charles M. Blow’s “Donald Trump, the worst of America”, a views journalism piece, were both produced in the coming weeks of the election. Although different in their journalistic style, both articles characterise Trump in a negative light, positioning readers to adopt the same view.


Described as being a “sex offender” and a man of a “disordered personality”, a tape caught on a live microphone was released to the media of a conversation between Trump and a television host in 2005, where he explicitly describes various sexual encounters with women. Trump describes how “when you’re a star they let you do it”, going on to state that he “did try fuck her, she was married.” This is just one instance where Trump has been highly criticized for his disrespect of women.


The majority of media published after the release of the tape was highly negative, as authors expressed their disgust. However, it is not only this scandal which has attracted negative media attention towards trump, his public verbal attacks at various women have also sparked anger within many. Trump’s words of Hilary Clinton, “When she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed,” is just one example which has left many questioning whether he is fit to be the President of the United States.


When analysing both Jacobs’s and Blow’s articles it is evident that both authors have evaluated the actions of Trump negatively, based on the moral standards of how one should conduct themselves if they are employed in a highly regarded position within the world. Although Jacobs’s article is a news journalism piece, his choice of quotation and supportive videos are an indication of his negative view towards Trump. Alternatively, Blow’s piece is a highly subjective views journalism article, which also shares the same negative view as Jacobs, however, uses different linguistic techniques to achieve his argument. Thus, it is evident that the values of both authors are mutual, where Trumps morals and transparent campaign techniques are regarded as abnormal and unfit for presidency.


Jacobs article, “’You can do anything:’ Trump brags on tape using fame to get women” communicates a negative characterisation of Trump through the use of facts, which are used as evidence to back up his argument. Evident from the title, this news journalism article conveys a negative reaction to the released footage of Trump “bragging” about his sexual encounters with women and how his fame allows him to do this. As this news journalism piece operates objectively, Jacobs uses facts ad quotations to position his audience.


Jacobs’s vilification of trump after the release of the tape can be seen in the first line of the article. “Donald Trump was hit by an outraged backlash from allies and opponents alike after a tape emerged of the Republican candidate bragging about using his fame to try and “fuck” women and groping them without waiting for their consent.” The use of quotation marks around the word “fuck” illustrates Trump’s poor use of language. Jacobs highlights Trumps failure to word phrases appropriately, therefore belittling any women who was involved in this affair. Jacobs further illustrates the vulgarity of this incident through the phrase “groping without consent”, where he highlights the seriousness of this offence. This works as a strong opening statement, where Jacobs’s choice of words is used as a tool to negatively portray Trump to his audience.


Jacobs is selective when including quotations of the tape. Although it is necessary for a news style report to be completely objective, Jacobs use of these snippets “When you’re a star they let you do it,” “I did try and fuck her, she was married,” and “grab them by the pussy”, which implicitly act as “attitudinal triggers”. These phrases quoted by Trump are not entirely evaluative, however, it is the shared moral standards by society which allow readers to understand that the act of grabbing a woman “by the pussy” and trying to “fuck” her while she is married conveys barbaric and animalistic behavior. Therefore, Jacobs negatively characterizes Trump through the reference of evidence.


In addition to this, Jacobs positions readers to perceive Trump negatively when he suggests that Trump “dismissed” the tape recording and labeled it as “locker room banter.” However, the main tool which Jacobs incorporates into his article to construct a negative representation of Trump is his inclusion of quotes by various authoritative government personnel condemning Trumps behavior. He asserts a seriousness towards the objectification of women, identifying how the House speaker Paul Ryan canceled Trumps attendance to a republican event. The inclusion of Ryan’s’ statement solidifies Jacobs negative characterisation of Trump, expressing through emotive language that he is “sickened” by what he heard. Ryan then goes on to state that “women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for woman than this clip suggests.” It is through this quote that Jacobs communicates a worldview that the objectification of women will not be tolerated by anyone, despite their status in society. Thus, through implementing these quotations into his argument, Jacobs is likely to sway readers, especially females to collectively accept that Trump does not treat women with adequate respect, creating negative characterisation.


When analyzing this news journalism piece, it is evident that Jacobs is unsure of the positioning of his readers and therefore implements facts into his argument to further persuade them negatively towards Trump. Jacobs only slightly touches on any counter argument, including quotes from Trump’s twitter account defending himself. In doing this, he does not give his readers much opportunity to think positively about Trump, positioning them to adapt the same negative viewpoint as himself.


Throughout the majority of the article, Jacob references various members of parliament who condemn the actions of Trump, implying that he should “step aside”, and reinforcing that “no woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.” Jacobs also includes quotes by recognized senators and leaders which include emotive language. Trump’s actions are criticized as being “vulgar”, “egregious”, “repugnant”, “offensive” and “despicable”. In doing this, Jacobs attitudinal positioning is created via facts, which may include the use of evaluative terms. Thus, it is evident that the negative characterisation of Trump is not treated as a “given”, however, needs to be argued for. Alongside these negative and evaluative terms, Jacobs includes a fact which further implicates Trump’s position. He describes how a “number of Trump campaign members have problematic histories with women,” whereby members were asked to step down from the network as they faced sexual harassment allegations and domestic violence charges. Jacobs uses this statistic and cites authoritative sources to further position readers to take a negative stance on Trump, an example of how facts are used as arguments to persuade the reader without explicitly stating a direct opinion.


Throughout the article there are two links to watch the video and tape recording where Trump is caught saying these claims. Both videos include the use of subtitles which allow readers to not only hear the dialogue for themselves, but follow along. (Available:  The use of these links allows a person to evaluate the tape for themselves and also becomes more personal to readers than reading a quote in an article. Thus, by using a video source to support the content within the article, the audience is given an opportunity to visually interpret the topic at hand and are more likely to pass the same judgement as the author if the video is seen as a reliable source, through an appeal to emotion. When analyzing this article, it is evident that there is also a link to another Trump related story with the headline, “Jill Harth speaks out about alleged grouping by Donald Trump,” which is used as a tool to further validate Jacobs’s point of view.


The underlying assumption embedded within this article, reinforces that any behavior that is derogatory to women is not acceptable, regardless of one’s place in society. This is reinforced in the last line of the article, “The Illinois senator Mark Kirk, who has vowed not to support Trump, went further, saying on Twitter that Trump “should drop out” and the Republican party “should engage rules for emergency replacement,” and Jacobs’s use of selected quotes which position the audience against trump, creating a negative characterisation.


Similarly, Blow’s article “Donald Trump, the worst of America” presents a negative representation of Trump; however, the author is more derogatory, as it is an opinion piece. As indicated by the title of the piece, Blow’s article is also constructed against Trump, making evaluative negative judgements of him, labelling him a “lunatic”. Blow does not only focus on the released tape of Trump. However, Blow touches on other instances where he has mistreated and disrespected women, together with examples of his fiery campaign techniques which in his opinion makes Trump “the worst of America.”


Although both Jacobs and Blow exhibited a negative characterisation of Trump, Blow adopts a more explicit and evaluative way of communicating this. This is seen where Bolt implies that Trump knows the end is near, and therefore aims his anger at “all within reach.” He goes on to say “as his path to victory grows narrower, his desperation grows more pronounced.” This phrase, accompanied with the main image associated with the article paints a negative picture of Trump.

Image 1:



This image illustrates an intimate, close up of Trump. Dressed in a business suit, this candid shot of Trump is very serious. He is engaging eye contact with the camera; however, is extremely passive, looking or thinking. Trump’s facial expression is not happy, but alternatively does portray a sense of desperation, uncertainty and vulnerability, which Blow implies within the opening paragraphs of the article. Thus, when an audience looks at this photo they are not welcomed or encouraged to to create a positive relationship with Trump, making it easy for Blow to position them negatively towards Trump.


In conjunction with Jacobs, Blow also touches on Trump’s sexual assault allegations, highlighting his poor response to the allegations of inappropriate behaviour. Blow asserts that Trump’s response has “been marked by a stunning lack of grace and dignity, let alone contrition or empathy, a response much like the man himself.” To accompany this, Blow lists many examples whereby Trump has belittled or disrespected women. This is seen in his response retaliating to a woman from People magazine who accused him of forcibly kissing her; “Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.” In including demeaning quotes by Trump himself, Blow is negatively characterising him, and further positioning the reader to go against Trump. Further stating his opinion of Trump’s response to the charges, Blow uses evaluative language, such as “callow”, “mocked”, “whined”, “Chided”, “bemoaned” and “belittled” to show Trump’s “emotional ineptitude”, reinforcing his negative opinion of Trump. Through this use of evaluative language, Blow positions the reader to accept his worldview that Trump is a “lunatic”, who is not fit for presidency, a view explicitly stated in the headline.


Blow makes an appeal to comparison, comparing Trump to a pig, an act that “seems to be most natural to him.” Together with this, Blow uses a sarcastic tone to almost “make fun” of any counter arguments set out by Trump. This is evident when he describes how everything is “rigged against him”, and urges Clinton to “take a drug test before the next debate.” It is through his use of emotive terms and sarcastic tone that Blow makes an assumption that his audience does share the same view as him, and therefore he does not employ the use of facts often within his piece. Blow uses this notion to further emphasise his negative characterisation of Trump, labelling him a “logical extension of toxic masculinity and ambient misogyny,” a view which is also shared by Jacobs.


Finally, Blow’s last attempt at positioning his audience to embrace a negative view of Trump can be seen in the last paragraphs of the article where he states that Trump is “corrupting” American politics. The article ends with the line; “Republicans sowed intolerance and in its shadow, Trump sprang up like toxic fungi,” which labels Trump as toxic, an extreme use of emotive language which encourages his audience to think the same. Thus, Blow creates a negative characterisation of Trump through the use of explicit emotive language. In doing this, it is evident that he assumes his audience does hold the same world view and negative view of Trump as he does not employ an overwhelming use of facts to put forward his argument.


These articles provide a sample of texts which construct negative characterisations of Donald Trump. The difference in linguistic technique demonstrates that each authors assumed reader varies. However, both Jacobs’s and Bolt’s articles share the same ideology of Trump. An analysis of these very different articles shows the high standards of morals which are embedded into society, shunning anyone who does not act appropriately or respectfully. Thus, as a result of Trump’s actions, each article positions their audience to negatively evaluate their findings.



Article 1:

“’You can do anything:’ Trump brags on tape using fame to get women” By Ben Jacobs, published on The Guardian, 8/10/2016

Article 2:

“Donald Trump, the Worst of America” By Charles M. Blow, published on the New York Times, 17/10/16













Australia’s Violations of Human Rights

By Angelique Thompson

Australia and their violation of human rights has been a reoccurring topic within the media in recent years. After the recent release of the Nauru files by The Guardian, a collection of 2000 leaked reports revealing the scale of abuse of children in Australian offshore detention, as well as the Four Corners investigation into the abuse of Indigenous teenagers in juvenile detention centres, Australia’s human rights debate has regenerated. This sparked outrage and reheated media coverage. Two opinion pieces, We need to stop acting ‘surprised’ at Australia’s human rights violations by The Age writer Ruby Hamad and Why does international condemnation on human rights mean so little to Australia?  By The Conversation writer and Amnesty International member Amy Maguire, offer clear opinions on the breach of human rights within Australia. When comparing these two pieces, it is evident that both authors argue the same viewpoint, however, have a different assumption of their likely audience.

The two pieces are not different in their argumentative stance of the issue, but can be contrasted in their writing techniques. Hamad’s piece is very opinionated. The article is written with the assumption that her audience shares the same viewpoint and belief. It is through this idea that an appeal to ethics and sarcasm is used to further persuade the reader. In contrast to this, Maguire’s piece is strongly argumentative, assuming her readers do not hold the same belief. She spends the first third of her piece using facts to try to prove her case, which are all appeals to different authority. It is these writing styles which indicate a clear assumption of each author’s readership. Through these differentiating elements, there is a clear comparison in how each author has chosen to address their audience. However, both writers have addressed the same point of view.

Ruby Hamad’s piece We need to stop acting ‘surprised’ at Australia’s human rights violations published by The Age is written under the principal claim that Australian’s and government bodies ignore the human rights abuses which they engage in, which is most explicitly stated in the headline “We need to stop acting ‘surprised’ at Australia’s human rights violations.” This notion is also stated twice throughout the article.

“This shock we express betrays our failure to accept a vital truth about our history: that we hide our violations behind our progress and our civilised veneer.”

 “We have been turning a blind eye to this for years, just as we have turned a blind eye to abuses overseas that we have, to varying degrees, been complicit in.”

 Hamad’s use of pronouns repeated throughout the article can be an indication of her assumed audience. Through the use of pronouns, the author is able to collectively share her belief and create a clear indication that her assumed audience is well aware of the human rights violations within Australia and Australia as a collective nation condones this.

We have been turning a blind eye to this for years, just as we have turned a blind eye to abuses overseas that we have, to varying degrees, been complicit in.”

 “The way we kill, with indiscriminate drone attacks and air strikes that care not for the guilt or the innocence of those they destroy, is the ‘right’ way. It’s only those ‘uncivilised’ barbarians whose killing is wrong; violence is only what others to do us, never what we do to them.”

 A key feature that has been implemented into this opinion piece is the use of language to further emphasize the author’s worldview. Hamad deploys a rather sarcastic tone throughout the piece, which is used to belittle and condescend any counter argument. Hamad references frequently to the historical human rights violations within Australia, through an appeal to facts. In doing so, her use of descriptive and emotive terms appeal to her audience’s emotional viewpoints. This argumentative tactic can be seen when she references to the “squalid”, “hostile” and “uncivilised” conditions asylum seekers are forced to live in when arriving on Australian shores. In addition to this, Hamad continues to make obvious remarks that her assumed audience holds the same belief as her, through beginning arguments and opinions with “we should all know by now”, “we know largely” and “we have known for half a decade”. Hamad goes on further to mock the views of the government through the use of inverted commas, where she patronizes and creates a sarcastic tone, almost “making fun” of counter arguments set out by the government. This is emphasized when she explains their “successful interrogation techniques” and their attempt to “save” East Timor. Another form of mockery is seen in the line, “Anyone would think the Indigenous population was morally obligated to welcome those who came to steal their land.” Through her use of emotive terms and sarcastic tone, Hamad makes an assumption that her audience shares her view, using an appeal to emotion.

Hamad’s strongest argument which is frequently referenced and argued throughout the piece, is that Australia as a nation has been ignoring its human rights violations since colonial times. In this argument, Hamad appeals to authority through organisations such as the UN and other Australian authorities.

“We should all know by now of the massacres of Aboriginal people in the early years of British invasion. Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who, with a city street and university named after him, is remembered as a “visionary and builder.”

 “Caro Meldrum-Hanna, the journalist who exposed the Don Dale detention centre on Four Corners, said at one point, “Is this Australia?” as if such a thing happening here was incomprehensible. Of course this is Australia, this – the brutalisation of Aboriginal bodies – is how we became Australia.”

 “We can’t keep pretending we are not a nation that enables human rights violations, when the UN and other human rights bodies have repeatedly stated that this is exactly what we are doing.”

 Hamad’s use of authoritative voice warrants the idea that because highly recognized organisations such as the UN condemn Australia, the rest of us should as well. What is important to note about the examples above is the use of pronouns such as “we”, where the author is directly talking to her audience and including them in her argument, reinforcing her assumption that they are aware of these human rights violations within Australia. A large portion of the article depicts examples where past governors and other authority figures have engaged in these human rights abuses. Hamad is quick to question their authoritative status, seen where she adds an excerpt of Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordering to “march into the interior and remote parts of the Colony, for the purpose of punishing natives.” Her repetitive questioning of the acts of authority are clearly used as mechanisms to further emphasise her argument to her audience, illustrating her principle claim that Australian’s and its government bodies ignore the human rights abuses which they engage in. Hamad also appeals to emotion and ethics when sharing the violent and shocking evidence of asylum seeker realities where they “sew their lips together”, “riot out of sheer frustration” and “set themselves on fire.” These examples are all evidence that the author has made an assumption about her audience.

The arguments presented in this opinion piece by Ruby Hamad are formulated using different techniques in order to appeal to an audience in which she assumes is aware of the realities within her argument. She appeals to ethics, authority and emotion, using past examples of human rights abuses within Australia to further her argument. The principle claim that Australian’s and its government bodies ignore the human rights abuses which they engage in, is explicitly stated in her headline and a couple of times throughout the piece, in an urge to raise this issue in an attempt for Australians to accept that these violations have occurred in history. Hamad’s piece is largely opinion, however uses facts to argue her worldview, which once raised to her audience will encourage change.

The article by Amy Maguire Why does international condemnation on human rights mean so little to Australia? published by The Conversation underlines the principle claim that Australian’s government and its citizens do not have a deep respect for universal human rights. Unlike Hamad’s opinion piece, this piece is largely argumentative with many appeals to facts and authority in an attempt to convince the audience.

The article opens with an appeal to comparison, where Australia is compared to pariah states such as Saudi Arabia and North Korea. This is a strong opening, where it is evident that the author assumes that her readers do not hold the same worldview as her and implies that she needs to thoroughly convince them of her argument. By opening with such a strong comparison, the author is able to catch the reader’s attention and therefore persuade them to read the rest of the article.

“Australia’s human rights record is increasingly subject to international critique alongside pariah states like Saudi Arabia and North Korea. On the face of it, this juxtaposition is easily rejected. But strong evidence backs the increasing weight of international sentiment opposing Australia’s record.”

 Maguire’s piece has been divided into three sections where she outlines her three arguments. Maguire spends the first third of the piece appealing to facts, where she outlines many cases where Australia has violated basic human rights, under the heading “Australia’s behaviour condemned – again.” The author also appeals to authority several times, where she uses factual arguments, which are supported by reliable authoritative sources, to convince her audience that these well-informed, credible and honest sources also condemn Australia’s attitude towards human rights. This is an indication that Maguire assumes her audience does not share her point of view.

“Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2016 condemned Australia for its “abusive” approach to asylum seekers.”

 “In preparation for the 2015 Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a number of UN bodies expressed concern at Australia’s human rights position.”

 “Members of the UPR working group submitted more than 200 recommendations to Australia.”

 Maguire’s second sub-heading titled “The government’s stance” argues that the Australian government has “manipulated public fears about “boat people” and “terrorists” for political gain,” and therefore have rejected any international critiques. Maguire deploys the use of irony to illustrate how the Australian government has not acted upon its support and commitment to promoting human rights internationally. As Australia is an active member of the international community, Maguire appeals to comparison when revealing the realities of what Australia says they are doing compared to what they are actually doing. The author exemplifies how Australia has “a policy of commenting on the UPR reports of all countries” and then compares this to how they “routinely shy away from criticizing poor human rights records of important partners, like the US or Indonesia.” This comparison helps to emphasize Maguire’s worldview and principal claim that Australian’s government and its citizens do not have a deep respect for universal human rights. The author then goes on to appeal to emotion and ethics when questioning the limitations of judicial oversight as a result of the governments act to return 267 asylum seekers, including 39 children and 33 babies born in Australia to Nauru.

“It demonstrates the government’s capacity to shape the Migration Act to permit a wide range of rights violations, while limiting judicial oversight and the capacity of rights-bearers to challenge government actions.”

 Through this appeal to emotion and ethics, the author assumes that the majority of its readers have children of their own or children in their close family. Therefore, by including a fact that hits close to home for most people, Maguire can then persuade her audience to accept her viewpoint more easily.

Maguire’s third and final sub-heading “An emerging cultural norm?” uses a hasty generalisation/over generalisation argument against the people of Australia for having no respect for human rights practices. Maguire’s over generalisation of “the Australian human right to park,” states that many people simply do not care about rather “big issues”, however “care deeply about whether and where they can park their cars.”

“The romantic idea that Australia is a hard-working, self-made nation of people may be a myth that absolves collective guilt about the stolen continent on which Australia was formed. Within this narrative, Indigenous people are often cast as the beneficiaries of “handouts”, rather than the dispossessed first peoples who still experience colonisation’s impacts.”

 Maguire includes this fallacy in her argument to further exaggerate her principle claim to her audience. However, there is not enough factual evidence, or individual instances to justify this general statement.

In writing this opinion piece, Maguire has opted for a stronger argumentative approach. Assuming that her audience does not hold the same worldview, Maguire appeals to authorities and emotion in order to convince her readers of her argument, or even change their view. In order to accomplish this, Maguire appeals to emotion by including harmful facts about children, where she assumes most people will be affected or touched by this. Maguire also appeals to large authoritative bodies such as the UN, and questions Australia’s involvement in promoting human rights internationally. All of these techniques depict Maguire’s assumption that her audience does not agree with her principle claim.

An analysis of these two articles reveals two writers arguing the same point of view to two different audiences. Each writer uses different techniques and argumentative devices to further their argument to their assumed audience. While Ruby Hamad’s piece is presented as an opinion, where her assumed audience shares her worldview, Amy Maguire conveys an argumentative approach to writing, as she attempts to persuade her audience to share her belief. This difference in the nature and style of each argument, indicates that there is an underlying assumption of readership within these two publications. A study of each piece suggests that readers are indeed aware of human rights violations within Australia, whether they choose to ignore it or not.