Monday, October 23, 2017

Twitter as speech act

You've probably noticed in recent months that Fox's frontpage story selection looks a lot like the good old days of the authoritarian press: Whatever the Big Man is doing is good enough us. 

The Monday page has a bit of a twist, though. The Big Man's morning Twitter outburst is given a performative effect in the No. 2 and No. 4* stories. At upper right, it manages to quash fears all by itself (the public apparently having learned to take him at his word). And at lower right -- kids, that's why we still teach the stuff about "refute" and "rebut." On the weekend's developments, the Times saved "refute" for when it works: "After Video Refutes Kelly's Charges, Congresswoman Raises Issue of Race." Even Fox is tamer on the inside; Trump merely "denies Army widow's claim he struggled to remember soldier's name."

It's probably always been true that Twitter could have an illocutionary function. If you're going to declare that "a state of war exists with Freedonia," there's no particular reason it has to be on radio rather than Twitter. It's kind of neat to see the perlocutionary function laid out as well.

* The new design usually has a top story, with four featured below it. It's more Fox for the buck!

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