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Twitter Politics' Roots in Tabloid-War Politics

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06.12.2019

Sometimes the latest new thing is something antique. That's especially true in American politics, which has had seriously contested presidential elections every four years (with one exception) since 1800 and competitions between the same two durable parties since 1856. We're even on our (lucky?) 13th presidential race since the nominating rules were changed, back in the 1970s, to favor primaries rather than caucuses.

It's even true that new technology can bring back old politics. Case in point: President Donald Trump's use of Twitter, which is often lamented and sometimes effective, and occasionally backfires. In 140 -- and then 280 -- characters, the unconventional candidate and president has communicated directly, over the heads of an almost uniformly hostile media, with the American people.

Where might he have gotten the idea and developed the knack? In the unique tabloid politics of New York City, which was raging hot and heavy when the young, outer-borough real estate heir made headlines in his quest to use political clout to enter the Manhattan real estate market at rock bottom.

From the 1920s to the 1980s, New York's tabloids' front-page headlines vied to attract subway riders' nickels and dimes each day, and their circulation peaked........

© RealClearPolitics