3 Clues Trump’s NASCAR & NFL Tweets Are Meant To Manipulate And Distract Us (And It’s Working)

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Trump's Upset Over NFL Players 'Taking A Knee' Was Another Example Of Ruling By Distraction
Entertainment And News

Chances are that over this past weekend you saw, shared, commented on or otherwise noticed multiple posts and articles circulating across social media and news sites about the National Football League (the NFL), specifically, in relation to three trending stories:

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  • Trump's tweet in praise of NASCAR and its supporters.

Two other news stories that were also trending, but which received significantly less attention and coverage:

If you follow conspiracy theories and/or political science, you're probably familiar with the notion of "control by chaos" or "ruling by distraction."

As explained in a blog for the non-partisan Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA):

"To rule by distraction is a time-tested tool of autocratic and authoritarian regimes. It is a go-to move for non-democratic regimes when faced with a challenge, domestic or international. As the name suggests, this approach is simple but effective. The idea is to create enough chaos and distraction that all eyes remain on that. The key is to make 'normal' a moving target (i.e. change what it means to be normal on a regular basis). Doing so allows for drastic steps to take place behind the smoke screen and distractions."

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Political activist Noam Chomsky spoke to this phenomenon within the Trump Administration this past summer, citing the very makeup of Trump's Cabinet as evidence.

“Take a look at the cabinet. The cabinet was designed that way. Every cabinet official was chosen to destroy anything of human significance in that part of the government. It’s so systematic that it can’t be unplanned. I doubt that Trump planned it. My impression is that his only ideology is 'me'. But whoever is working on it is doing a pretty effective job, and the Democrats are cooperating – cooperating in a very striking way.”

And as Catherine Rampell wrote in The Washington Post in July of 2017: 

"Focusing on the terrible things Team Trump did during the campaign and transition conveniently distracts you from all the terrible things Team Trump is doing during the presidency."

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Here are 3 major clues that Trump's dramatic tweets about the NFL players "taking a knee" was a carefully manufactured way to distract us all from FAR more dangerous goings-on.

1. Trump's own tweet from 2013.

On October 8, 2013, Trump went after then-President Barack Obama for making this statement during an interview with the Associated Press:

“If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”

Trump's take as a civilian?


CNN's Alisyn Camerota pointed this out on her show New Day

"Well, why now? Why is he weighing in on the culture... Why is he throwing a GRENADE into the culture wars? And, you know, a lot of people have speculated it's the art of distraction. If healthcare isn't going well... If the Russia investigation seems to be encroaching on Paul Manaforte... Time for a culture war."

This does make a great deal of sense when you think about it.

2. NASCAR's position on the notion of peaceful protest.

Although Hall of Famers Richard Petty, 80, and Richard Childress, 72, both spoke out in favor of anyone who protests during the national anthem making their way out of the country immediately after, Yahoo sports writer Nick Bromberg pointed out that

"NASCAR itself had been silent on the issue of anthem protests and other team owners contacted by journalists at the track Sunday morning did not go to the lengths Petty and Childress did about anthem protests, but that clearly didn’t stop the president from attempting to frame their comments as a representative sample."

In fact, Bromberg noted, "It was just 20 years ago that NASCAR drivers didn’t stand for the anthem. They spent pre-race ceremonies strapped in their cars."

So why on Earth would Trump bring this organization into the conversation if not to inflame the masses?

The subtle nod to deportation by Childress and Petty sure could be seen as a nice touch (or demonic inside joke maybe?) as the world was kept glued to Twitter and blissfully ignorant of the brand spanking new travel restrictions.

And in case anyone missed it, NASCAR sweetheart Dale Earnhart Jr. elegantly staged his own peaceful protest against Trump's incessant tweeting.

3. The overt obviousness of this pattern in Trump's political strategy.

As stated in an article that appeared in The Nation just weeks after Trump's inauguration"Never in the history of the media has a single figure — one human being — been able to focus the 'news' in this way, making himself the essence of all reporting."

After all, before he became the President of the United States of America, Trump was already supremely well-versed in putting on a good show for the sake of completely meaningless public entertainment.

Over at Forbes, Brett Edkins summarized Trump's possible motivations and his success to date:

"Trump has effectively diverted the media’s attention from other big stories, including the national elections in Germany, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and the latest Republican effort to repeal Obamacare... Trump has good reason to distract the press. His preferred candidate is poised to lose Tuesday’s Senate primary in Alabama. The Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill is one vote shy of failure, and Robert Mueller's Russia investigation is picking up steam.

The media has largely taken the bait. The NFL controversy is the top headline the New York Times and Washington Post. Brian Stelter called it 'the day’s big story' on CNN’s 'Reliable Sources' today. The Sunday morning news shows led with the story (CBS’s 'Face the Nation') or devoted significant time to it (NBC’s 'Meet the Press')."

Of course, not everyone will buy the concept that these "distractions" are part of a complex and comprehensive strategy on the part of the Trump Administration.

Plenty will say Trump isn't intelligent enough to pull something like this off, or that this distraction theory is just that — a distraction.

Only time will truly tell.

To quote Catherine Rampell once again

"And second verse, same as the first."

RELATED: 17 Best ‘Take A Knee’ Memes And Tweets About Donald Trump’s Stance On The NFL Players Kneeling During The National Anthem

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Senior Editor and happily-former divorce coach/mediator Arianna Jeret is a recognized expert on love, sex, and relationships (except when it comes to her own life, of course) who has been featured in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Yahoo Style, Fox News, Bustle, Parents and more. Join her Sundays at 10:20 PM EST for answers to ALL of your questions on Facebook Live on YourTango and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.