Advertisement

The Big Standoff: Trump’s Handshakes and the Limits of News Values

  • Ben O’Loughlin
Chapter

Abstract

After an Obama administration committed to ‘unclenching fists’ in diplomatic affairs, global media have reported President Trump using his hands to greet leaders with vigour and aggression. These diplomatic encounters are conceptualised as standoffs: moments of uncertainty when nobody knows what will happen, including the people shaking hands. As subjunctive encounters, witnesses hypothesise about likely outcomes. Their speculation is tinged with emotion—doubt, hope, fear—that is personal, national and geopolitical. Against diplomatic norms, Trump seeks to ‘win’ each standoff. Journalists have shifted from amplifying, panicked shock to containing alarm through humour and pleas for serious diplomacy. But Trump is merely exploiting news values. Journalists must reflect: their news values are what enable Trump to maintain a standoff with the world system itself.

References

  1. Abramson, A. (2017). Watch Poland’s First Lady Pass By President Trump’s First Attempt at a Handshake. Time, 6 July. Available at: http://time.com/4847276/donald-trump-agata-kornhauser-duda-handshake/
  2. Baker, P. (2018). A Sober Trump Reassures the Davos elite. The New York Times, 26 January. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/world/europe/donald-trump-davos-speech.html
  3. Berenson, T. (2017). President Trump just directly contradicted his Secretary of State. Time, 9 June. Available at: http://time.com/4813247/donald-trump-contradict-rex-tillerson-qatar/
  4. Bially Mattern, Janice (2005). Ordering International Politics: Identity, Crisis and Representational Force. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Blagburn, F. (2017). ‘Clasp, yank, release’: the great Donald Trump handshake tracker. The Telegraph, 26 May. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/clasp-yank-release-great-donald-trump-handshake-tracker/?utm_content=buffer74fc6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
  6. Boden, D. and Hoskins, A. (1995). Time, Space and Television. Paper presented at Theory, Culture & Society conference, Lancaster University, 11 August.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, D. (2017). The Definitive Analysis of ‘The Handshake’ Between Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau. Vice.com, 13 February. Available at: https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/the-definitive-analysis-of-the-handshake-between-donald-trump-and-justin-trudeau?utm_source=vicenewsletterus
  8. Crowther, P. (2017). Oh my. White House pooler @PhilipRucker’s view of the Trump – Macron handshake in Brussels: knuckles turned white and faces tightened. @PhilipinDC, 25 May. Available at: https://twitter.com/PhilipinDC/status/867709667610374145
  9. Ferrari, F. (forthcoming). Metaphor and Persuasion in Strategic Communication: Sustainable Perspectives. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Graham, C. (2017). White House ‘misled over Russian photographer in Oval Office’ amid security concerns. The Telegraph, 11 May. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/11/white-house-misled-russian-photographer-oval-office-amid-security/
  11. Harris, M. (2016). A Media Post-Mortem on the 2016 Election. mediaQuant, 14 November. Available at: https://www.mediaquant.net/2016/11/a-media-post-mortem-on-the-2016-presidential-election/
  12. Hill, A. (2017). Why Donald Trump’s weird handshake matters. Financial Times, 26 May. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/ea244f6c-4219-11e7-82b6-896b95f30f58
  13. Hoskins, A. & O’Loughlin, B. (2007). Television and Terror: Conflicting Times and the Crisis of News Discourse. Basingstoke: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hounsell, B. (2007). Putin uses dog to intimidate Merkel. Foreign Policy, 14 June. Available at: http://foreignpolicy.com/2007/06/14/putin-uses-dog-to-intimidate-merkel/
  15. Kellner, D. (2016). American Nightmare: Donald Trump, Media Spectacle, and Authoritarian Populism. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lizza, R. (2011). The Consequentialist. The New Yorker, 2 May. Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/05/02/the-consequentialist (accessed 2 April 2015).
  17. Marcin, T. (2017). Trump-Macron Handshake: White-Knuckled, Finger-Crushing Male Peacocking. Newsweek, 25 May. Available at: http://www.newsweek.com/trump-macron-handshake-awkward-615423
  18. McCarthy, T. (2015). The CounterText Interview: Tom McCarthy. CounterText, 1(2): 135–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Moore, J. (2017). Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron Used Their Handshake to Fight Over Who Has a Bigger Penis. GQ, 25 May. Available at: http://www.gq.com/story/donald-trump-handshake-emmanuel-macron
  20. Nehring, H. (2017). Handshakes or Punches? What goes on behind closed diplomatic doors. The Conversation, 31 January. Available at: https://theconversation.com/handshakes-or-punches-what-goes-on-behind-closed-diplomatic-doors-72017
  21. Neumann, I.B. (2011). ‘Euro-centric diplomacy: Challenging but manageable’, European Journal of International Relations, 18(2), 299–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Obama, B. (2010). The National Security Strategy of the United States. May. Available at: http://nssarchive.us/NSSR/2010.pdf
  23. Obama, B. (2009). Inaugural Address, Washington DC, 20 January. Available at: www.whitehouse.gov/blog/inaugural-address
  24. Pedder, S. (2017). Macron’s powershake with Trump was “not accidental”, he says: “It’s important to show one won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones”. @PedderSophie, 28 May. Available at: https://twitter.com/PedderSophie/status/868749939668639744?s=03
  25. Roa, S. C. (2017). Watch: Key Pictures from Trump’s First 100 Days: The Reading the Pictures Salon. Reading The Pictures, 11 April. Available at: http://www.readingthepictures.org/2017/04/trump-100-days-salon/
  26. Scott, L. (2015). The Four-Dimensional Human. London: Penguin and Random House UK.Google Scholar
  27. Shugerman, E. (2017). Psychologists break down the mysteries of Donald Trump’s handshake. The Independent, 29 May. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-handshake-emmanuel-macron-nato-psychology-a7762026.html
  28. Steele, B. J. (2010). Defacing Power: The Aesthetics of Insecurity in Global Politics. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  29. Stein, S. (2017). The Madness And Science Behind The Donald Trump Handshake. The Huffington Post, 31 May. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-handshake_us_592adb83e4b0df57cbfc23fd?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004
  30. Strachan, M. (2017). Does Donald Trump Know How To Shake Hands? An Investigation. Huffington Post, 10 February. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/?icid=hjx004
  31. Wagner-Pacifici, R. (2000). Theorizing the Standoff: Contingency in Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben O’Loughlin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Politics and International Relations, Royal HollowayUniversity of LondonEghamUK

Personalised recommendations