Web Culture

Clicking Consequences: Why Donald Trump Is Your Fault

Mihir Patkar 05-08-2015

Donald Trump, realtor, reality show star, candidate for President of the USA, is the most talked about person on the Internet today. And it’s your fault. Every time you click an article about Donald Trump, the media thinks that is what you want to read, and so it spends more time talking about Trump.


Stop clicking!

Trump is up against more established politicians, with actual policies, like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush. But if you look at social media or any major news website, Trump dominates the space available.

Trump Has Crazy Media Coverage, And He Milks It


Donald Trump is unlike any Presidential candidate the online world has seen. He is loud, he makes sweeping generalizations, and he has an opinion on everything. He is a textbook examples of how to go viral on the Internet How To Make A Facebook Post Go Viral [Weekly Facebook Tips] You want your posts to get seen, right? But do you know how to actually get your posts to go viral? We've got some ideas for you that will improve your chances. Read More . Media companies know that talking about Trump leads to more page views, so they are happy to keep talking about him.

In the past month, CNN had 80 headlines with the word “Trump” in them. The Washington Post had 98 headlines. Trump knows how to be outlandish and get in the press, and he is using all the tricks in the book to do it. He is also a master of turning lemons into lemonade.


After Trump publicized a rival’s phone number to the public, Gawker went to the unusual length of publishing Trump’s phone number on their site, asking people to call him and question him about his ideas. What did Trump do in retaliation? Trump knows how celebrities should react to mean tweets: Beat the Bullies! How Celebrities React to Mean Tweets Twitter isn't always a land of love and kindness; sometimes things can get nasty. So, we've compiled a list of celebrities reacting to mean tweets, thus beating bullies at their own game. Read More

Genius. Even The Onion is ready to satirize Trump’s media coverage, while knowing fully well that writing about Trump means more pageviews for The Onion. And we at MakeUseOf would be lying if we didn’t admit we hope some of that mojo helps this article.

Is There Merit to Covering Trump?



While the first reaction is that there is too much Trump, there is a case to be made about his coverage. In every Republican Presidential candidacy poll so far, Trump has been first or second.

Given his legitimate chance at winning his party’s nomination for the presidency, doesn’t it make sense to write about him? If it wasn’t Trump, wouldn’t you want to know about the candidate?

“In my view, making decisions solely according to who may win the nomination is the worst way to cover a presidential election,” Steven Ginsberg, senior politics editor at The Washington Post, told Politico. “A whole lot happens on the way to the nomination and you can’t explain what’s happening with the candidates or the country without being on top of all of it.”



Katy Culver, associate director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin, had similar ideas when talking to The International Business Times. Culver dislikes clickbait, but says editors and news directors would logically need to cover a declared and recognizable candidate for the presidency who is doing and saying the things that Trump is.

Ginsberg adds that Trump’s rise in the polls says a lot about America in 2015, and the current state of the Republican Party. It also raises the question of who are the people who are attracted to him as a leader.

The Bottomline: It’s About Numbers, Not Feelings


A report by The Wall Street Journal finds that Trump has dominated conversations on Facebook, compared to his major political rivals. However, the report also points out that Facebook merely tracks public interest, not public sentiment.


The spikes around July 6, July 13 and July 18 were all related to events that could be perceived as negative for the Trump campaign.

  • On July 6 and the week before it, news was filtering in about big brands like NASCAR, Macy’s, NBCUniversal, ESPN and others distancing themselves from Trump.
  • On July 13, Clinton made a tongue-in-cheek comment saying she had one word for Trump: “Basta”, the Spanish word for “Enough”.
  • On July 18, Trump made derogatory remarks about former Republican Presidental candidate John McCain, questioning his war hero credentials.

Buzzfeed News echoes the data. It claims that that Trump drew 25 million interactions in the first week of July. Hillary Clinton, in second place, managed 8.5 million interactions. Buzzfeed also says that it’s not all negative news, and much of the reaction is positive, which it illustrates with this chart:


However, the dates of the last spike match the time when several brands were dropping Trump, which doesn’t entirely make sense. MakeUseOf’s Managing Editor Ryan has previously questioned Buzzfeed’s journalistic credibility Why Buzzfeed's Business Model is Doomed to Fail BuzzFeed's really popular now, but their business model ensures no one will trust or like them in the long term. Read More , so maybe take that chart with a pinch of salt.

Indeed, election analytics firm Gallup’s latest poll found Trump’s favorability dropping, but the numbers are still positive overall.

Your Fault or Media’s? The Chicken and the Egg


In the digital age, click bait headlines are a real problem. For news organizations, click bait refers to headlines that entice the reader into clicking them, even if there is no journalistic merit in the article. For the organization, that’s one more click, which translates into one more viewer for an ad—their primary revenue source.

Who is to blame here? Readers want to blame the media for making them fall for clickbait 10 Sure Signs You've Fallen For Click Bait With The Onion's new satirical publication, Clickhole, the social webs have finally taken a good look in the mirror. If you were unconscious to click bait, it's time you woke up. Read More with precisely engineered headlines. The media wants to blame social networks like Facebook, where such headlines drive traffic.

After ranting about the state of the media, Facebook’s director of product Mike Hudack summed it up pretty well in the comments:

Is Facebook helping or hurting? I don’t honestly know. You guys are right to point out that Facebook sends a lot of traffic to shitty listicles. But the relationship is tautological, isn’t it? People produce shitty listicles because they’re able to get people to click on them. People click on them so people produce shitty listicles.

Maybe there’s no clear answer.


What do you think? Is the solution to the Trump problem for people to stop clicking on headlines about Trump, thereby “voting with your click”? Or is it an unsolvable chicken and egg problem?

Image credits: Gage Skidmore (1) / Flickr, Gage Skidmore (2) / Flickr, George Skidmore (3) / Flickr, Gage Skidmore (5) / Flickr, Gage Skidmore (6) / Flickr, Michael Vadon / Flickr

Related topics: Facebook, Politics.

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  1. Anonymous
    August 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    I'm glad you mentioned this. I will click on every Trump article I see.

    Trump 2016

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 21, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      Hahaha I love this comment :D

    • Caro W
      March 2, 2019 at 11:52 pm


  2. Anonymous
    August 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    I do NOT subscribe to MakeUseOf for politics! We don't care what your political views are!

    I, and I suspect most of us, get swamped with the political rhetoric from all sides and are pretty much fed up with ALL OF IT!

    MakeUseOf is not a place where we expect to see this crap so KEEP YOUR POLITICS TO YOURSELF!!!

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 21, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      Sorry to hear your disappointment, Bill. MakeUseOf is expanding its scope of articles now. There will be times when an article isn't something you are expecting to read here. I hope you'll simply ignore such an article and click the other articles which you do find useful. Our coverage of what we always did will never change; we're just adding other subjects. Thanks for subscribing, I hope we'll find more things to agree on than disagree :)

      • Anonymous
        September 3, 2015 at 5:18 pm

        I can't believe you guys at MUO LITERALLY FORCED this poor man to read this article. That poor, poor man. Having to read and stuff.

        • Mihir Patkar
          September 3, 2015 at 5:48 pm

          Hahaha I'm a big fan of the "If you don't like it, switch" argument too, dragonduder, but I think in this case, Bill was surprised to find content like this at a website he goes to often. As a fan, he's expressing an opinion when something about the place he likes has changed. I'd rather not chastise him for that.

        • Anonymous
          September 3, 2015 at 5:50 pm

          You guys are awesome, never change.

        • Mihir Patkar
          September 3, 2015 at 6:01 pm

          Back at you!

  3. Anonymous
    August 18, 2015 at 4:50 am

    You say "Trump is up against more established politicians, with actual policies, like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush. But if you look at social media or any major news website, Trump dominates the space available."

    Look at where these established politicians and their failed polices have gotten us. Hillary shows contempt for our laws as if she is above them. Can you cite one example of what she has done as secretary of state that has benefited the average American citizen? Can the USA afford being drawn into any more wars based upon lies of the Bush Dynasty?

    This country doesn't need another established politician in the White House. We need someone new with a track record for creating jobs. Someone who will protect our southern border and someone not sold out to special interests. If our clicks help Donald Trump, I say "Click Away" and don't stop clicking. Let's click Donald Trump to become the Republican candidate and then click him all the way to Presidency of the Republic of the United States of America!

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 18, 2015 at 8:05 am

      "New" doesn't always mean "good". And politics isn't the same as running a big business empire, imo.

  4. Anonymous
    August 17, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    By the very act of clicking on this article you are helping to promote Donald Trump and his taking over the media.
    Stop clicking!

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 18, 2015 at 8:05 am


  5. Anonymous
    August 15, 2015 at 10:51 am

    CLICK, CLICK, CLICK, CLICK!!! Trump is what we need in politics right now!!!! Wait, this isn't CNN, or NBC, or Fox, why is MUO getting into politics?

    • Anonymous
      August 15, 2015 at 10:54 am

      Yep, MUO About says "MakeUseOf is the world’s leading destination for learning more about technology and the many ways that it can improve your life." Nothing about politics... makes one wonder.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 18, 2015 at 8:07 am

      It's not about politics, it's more about how online media works, with Trump as an explanation point. People often say, "I don't know why journalists are writing about XYZ, that's not journalism, no one wants to read that" -- but the statistics say otherwise. In Trump's case, this has been said even more often, but I wanted to provide the counter argument that despite what many might think about him, he is a legitimate candidate for president and deserves the coverage he is getting.

  6. Anonymous
    August 15, 2015 at 10:26 am

    A917 AC for The Don? Oy vey! Any self-respecting, elitist, arrogant,bigoted ahole New Yorker wouldn't be caught dead without a 212 number.

  7. Anonymous
    August 6, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    "Stop clicking!"

    "And we at MakeUseOf would be lying if we didn’t admit we hope some of that mojo helps this article."

    It's a vague, wavering line to walk, isn't it?

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 11, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      Indeed it is.

      • Anonymous
        August 11, 2015 at 7:52 pm

        Mihir, I believe this subject illustrates the incongruity with which we choose our politicians too. For instance, many will vote for Trump because even though he rubs people wrong, blurts out libelous statements and appears to have checked his common sense at the door in so many situations...he believes he can affect change on many subjects which are actually near and dear to the average middle class American's value system. And by the proof of his ability to amass a personal fortune and run successful business, many many people do have the opinion that he's got his caca together.
        I'm not turning this into a major political viewpoint debate because I'm just as leery of Big Don as anybody, but I promise I am getting to a point here. Point being that just like in MakeUseOf's stance on printing a Trump article, sometimes we vote for the distasteful candidate because he or she leans in our favor on so many...to us...more valuable ideas.
        That explains the, "I just can't understand why they voted for THAT guy!", statement that every single one of us has made at some point over the years. My best advice is to really STUDY each candidate, look past what may be imagined intelligence OR ignorance, and feel out the person behind it all. I haven't jump on the Trump train, but I haven't totally discounted him either because I do believe he's a deeper character than what we're really seeing. I plan to give each and every candidate in all parties the same vetting.
        Nice day to you all. :-)

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 13, 2015 at 6:34 pm

          I love your measured responses, Kelsey! I do think you have a point in looking past the facade and understanding the appeal.

          To me, Trump often comes across like Bill O'Reilly. The guy is obviously smarter than what he's saying, but he's playing a part that gets him what he wants.

        • Anonymous
          August 13, 2015 at 6:44 pm

          High praise! Thank you very much for that. I try to be the "Antitroll" as much as possible lol. :-)

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 13, 2015 at 6:47 pm

          Haha I like the antitrolls around here, I hope we'll see more of you!

      • Anonymous
        August 11, 2015 at 7:57 pm

        And I'd give quite a bit for a simple edit button on these posts...spell a word wrong and it's there for eternity.

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 13, 2015 at 6:34 pm

          We like your spelling mistakes to haunt you till the end of days. #SadisticMUO

  8. Anonymous
    August 6, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Great article, thankyou

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 13, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      Glad you liked it, Peter!

  9. Anonymous
    August 6, 2015 at 1:26 am

    "more established politicians, with actual policies"

    No politician has "actual policies". They just have talking points. They tell whatever group they happen to be addressing whatever that group wants to hear. "More established politician" means that the person is plugged into more good ol' boy networks, is beholden to many more contributors, has many more political debts to repay. IOW, is way more corrupt.

    Elections, especially those for president, are nothing more than a popularity contests. People vote for the better talker, the more handsome candidate, the candidate that make better promises.

    BTW - no matter how good the policies and promises sound, once the candidate is elected POTUS he has to contend with Congress. A President is not a dictator or a king so whatever he says does not automatically get done. Who can forget "Read my lips. No new taxes!" and the voters of America believed him!

    MUO constantly keeps stressing that everything should be done ONLINE. The Donald is trying to get elected online.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 6, 2015 at 7:36 am

      "Elections, especially those for president, are nothing more than a popularity contests. People vote for the better talker, the more handsome candidate, the candidate that make better promises." -- I find that far too cynical.

      • Anonymous
        August 6, 2015 at 12:41 pm

        "I find that far too cynical."
        Too cynical or too close to the truth? What do really know of what a politician really believes? We assume that (s)he stands for whatever the party stands for (hopefully). We know what (s)he says in their speeches Which are made to various demographic groups and are written by professional speech writers and are designed to get the group to vote for that candidate. When speaking to a group of Hispanic voters, by "immigration reform" the candidate may mean making it easier to become a US citizen. When speaking to a group workers that may lose their jobs because of immigration, by "immigration reform" the candidate may mean slowing down, if not stopping, the influx of immigrants.

        When it comes to the actual campaigning, the candidates pay lip service to the issues but mostly attack each other's character and sling mud at each other. Look at any election at any level. Sooner or later issues are forgotten and they all degenerate into ad hominem attacks.

        When it comes to the actual elections, we have very little substance to base our votes on. So we make our choice not on issues but on how well the candidate expresses himself, how does he present himself, how good looking is he, is he from the same ethnic/religious/economic group as us. Nixon had the experience but JFK was better looking and spoke better. Ross Perot had the better policies but he was ugly as sin and he was not diplomatic.

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 11, 2015 at 6:41 pm

          Too cynical.

  10. Anonymous
    August 6, 2015 at 1:12 am

    There is 461 days (yes 1 year 3 months and 3 days) until the election. You need to calm the F*** down! No where else in the world would an election campaign go for 460 days. If you keep up this frantic hair pulling you will wind up bald. I tell you what if Trump is on the Republican ticket then you can start pulling your hair out. Till then grab a beer and laugh at the show, John Oliver will be.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 6, 2015 at 7:37 am

      Haha Trump is actually perfect material for people like Oliver, isn't he? I can't believe Stewart is retiring this year.

  11. Anonymous
    August 5, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    I like him, but not because he is loud or obnoxious. I like him because I can't stand Politicians!!
    I was once a Republican, but they are just as bad as Democrats. They (Both) pander to anyone for a vote. I was against (Input Major Topic) now I'm for (Same). They do not get elected to change anything except their financial situation. There are exceptions on both sides of course, but very few who don't stand a chance.

    And don't get me started on Republicans and Democrats. I mean the voters. Always looking the other way when some one in "their" party shows his true (Rancid) colors. Greed and Depravity seems to be the one thing both parties can agree on!

    So Trump may suck, but anything is better than the last 28 years!!

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 6, 2015 at 7:39 am

      I empathize with that last statement. You're frustrated, disillusioned by the current political class and want an "outsider". I get that. Still, is this the right outsider?

      • Caro W
        March 2, 2019 at 11:59 pm

        No, no it wasn’t!!
        So sad to read these comments three plus years later.