Rhetorical Analysis of Media Sources and Donald Trump’s Tweets Pertaining to Environmental and Energy Policies of the Trump Administration
Outlet: The Chicago Tribune
Author: The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board
Date: 16 January 2017
The Chicago Tribune is traditionally a center-right news source; however, The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board has been critical of the Republican Party’s standard-bearer, Donald Trump, since the commencement of his political career in June of 2015.
In this piece, the Editorial Board seeks to establish its credibility by quoting outside sources. For example, the article quotes two members from the Property and Environment Research Center in Montana: “Decades of fire suppression by the Forest Service have disrupted natural fire cycles and tur
ned many western forests into tinderboxes waiting to burn”. By utilizing outside information, The Chicago Tribune is able to support its claims. In addition, the very nature of an editorial board—a group of writers who help set the tone of the newspaper who and are frequently are well versed in the subject being detailed—adds to the trustworthiness of the article.
In order to elicit an emotional response from the audience, this article seeks to enumerate possible adverse consequences that could transpire as a result of anthropogenic climate change. For instance, this piece states: “Given the value of the regulations in moderating the long-term danger of global warming as well as protecting public health in the short term, we hope Trump decides not to reverse course [from the Obama Administration’s climate policies] … Climate change is not the sort of problem that will go away if the president ignores it”. Secondly, the Editorial Board seeks to play off the public’s distaste of high taxes, and overbearing government intervention in order to score points with the audience. This is done with a statement pertaining to a possible tax-related policy the Trump Administration could pursue: “The funds collected could be used to cut other taxes — corporate or individual — so there is no change in the total tax burden. That would enhance the benefits to the overall economy even as it reduces the federal role in our lives”.
Additionally, the piece seeks to appeal to the logical aspect of the human mind by providing a possibility that the Trump Administration may be wise to aspire to obtain. The policy is as follows: “By raising the costs of fuels according to the damage they do, this remedy would use market forces to get the biggest bang for the buck. By creating tangible incentives, it would eliminate the need for the government’s tangle of renewable-fuel subsidies, fuel economy requirements and various gimmicks meant to alter how people behave”. This method would encourage clean energy use. By including this possible
approach that the Trump Administration could undertake, the Editorial Board serves to please intellectual cravings.
This piece aims to appeal to typical Americans. The Editorial Board does this by mentioning the importance of climate regulations placed on businesses and removing regulations targeted at individuals. This would create more personal liberty, a hot-button issue for many Americans, while still protecting the environment.
While this article is written by experts, it still contains logical fallacies. First, the Editorial Board includes a bandwagon fallacy. The bandwagon fallacy suggests that popularity is related to correctness, whereas these two factors are unrelated. The Editorial Board does this with the statement “Many presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, are remembered long after for their achievements in preserving and protecting air, water, wildlife and wild places. The incumbent has made some valuable contributions”. This statement seems to claim that Trump should do what is popular, rather than what would truly be the right path to follow. This previous quote also contains a second fallacy: the affirming the consequent fallacy. This fallacy makes an assumption that a conclusion is not controlled by many factors. To explain, in this example, the article assumes Trump would be considered in the ranks of the aforementioned great presidents if he were to embark on a path of pro-environment policy, whereas these presidents are considered great as a sum of their total actions.
Finally, according to voyant.org, the most commonly used words in this essay in descending order of frequency are as follows: “environmental”, “Trump”, “Pruitt”, “best”, and “carbon”.
Connectible tweet: “Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air – not the same old climate change (global warming) b*******! I am tired of hearing this nonsense.” -Donald Trump, 28 January 2014
*Note this tweet has been censored.
This tweet does a lot to promote an angry fervor against those who believe in acting to limit the effects of global climate change. First, this tweet demands “clean, beautiful and healthy air”, which is a significant crowd pleaser.Secondly, this tweet uses an explicative to deprecate those who believe in climate change. In continuation, this explicative is followed by an exclamation point to add emphasis and to rile up the reader.
Trump aims to appeal to the wealthy with this tweet, as the wealthy are typically pro-fossil fuels and reject proposals to combat climate change. This is because, as is frequently claimed by the liberal left, the wealthy stand to benefit from deregulating industries.
First, this tweet utilizes the begging the question fallacy. Trump does this by failing to provide any evidence for his conclusion that climate change is “nonsense”. Secondly, this tweet demonstrates dogmatism by failing to even acknowledge the merits of the opposing argument.
According to snopes.com, Trump repeatedly makes claims similar to this tweet. He commonly refers to climate change as a hoax and criticizes the use of climate change in comparison to the misnomer, and more defunct, global warming. While Trump frequently asserts that climate change is false, or is not caused by humans, the majority of scientists have debunked this claim and affirm that climate change is, in fact, directly related to human activities. By making these false allegations, Trump damages his ethos.
Outlet: The Economist
Date: 15 November 2016
The Economist is a British news magazine with a stated goal of combating ignorance. The Economist is frequently rated one of the most trustworthy, and minimally biased, news sources.
This article is part of a blog that The Economist produces. This blog, titled The Economist Explains, aims to help explain certain complex topics to people in a relatively simple format. The writers of this blog are correspondents who specialize in the area respective to this topic. The nature of this blog establishes credibility for this article.
This piece uses strong and loaded phrases like “kill the Paris Agreement”, “Love of Coal”, etc. in order to elicit strong emotional feelings from the audience. Secondly, the final sentence of this commentary states, “Yet the greatest risks from climate change will emerge only long after President Trump has left office”. This sentence is designed to evoke a foreboding feeling from the audience and a slight atmosphere of worrying.
This column supplies ample facts and figures in order to provide evidence in support of the theory of global climate change. For example, the article states “although it (the Paris Climate Agreement) is more than halfway to meeting its own target of cutting emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 it is widely expected to miss the mark”.
Primarily, this article appeals to not those who are not massive news buffs, but more to the laypersons. This is displayed through the author’s attempt to cover the basics of the subject and to be thorough. Secondly, this article is designed to stir up the young and make them more conscious about the environment and the profound effects it could have them later in their life.
According to voyant.org, this article most frequently uses the words “Trump” and “America” by significant margins.
Connectible tweet: “Obama’s war on coal is killing American jobs, making us more energy dependent on our enemies & creating a great business disadvantage.” -Donald Trump, 3 June 2014
At this time, Trump’s ethos was based off of his career as a businessman. This helps to establish his credibility, as it is commonly believed that businesspersons have strong understandings of economics.
Primarily, this aims to enrage Americans would not want to lose their jobs or collaborate with their enemies. In addition, this utilizes language such as “killing” and “energy dependent”; two phrases that elicit negative emotional responses from the audience. This tweet calls to the working class to reject Obama’s environmental policies on the grounds that Democrats aim to harm business and take away jobs.
This tweet uses the Scapegoating fallacy. Trump assigns all of the blame to Barack Obama for the loss of jobs is creating a scapegoat opposed to attacking the validity of arguments against coal regulations.
According to politifact.com, Trump frequently blames the loss of coal-related jobs on liberal policies; however, this is also being driven by market forces such as higher demand for cleaner energies and the increased supply of natural gas. Once again, by making claims contrary to facts, Donald Trump hurts his own credibility.