“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t.”–Polonius. William Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2.

In an interview with Sean Hannity, Trump once again complained about the Saturday Night Live sketches mocking him:

“It’s a failing show, it’s not funny. Alec Baldwin’s a disaster, he’s terrible on the show and, by the way, I don’t mind some humor but it’s terrible.”

People have again expressed amazement at how thin-skinned the guy is.  And he is, but there’s actually a bit more going on here besides that.

SNL isn’t exactly the only shop in the Trump-mocking business. Making fun of the President isn’t a niche or novel concept, and Trump is currently very unpopular. Lots of comics and satirists are mocking him. MAD magazine mocks the hell out of him, and I’ve yet to hear him complain about it.

If Trump were just hellbent on responding to everyone who mocks him, he’d never do anything else. No, he singles out SNL.

Why?

I have a theory: NBC, which broadcasts SNL,  is also the network that aired Trump’s show The Apprentice. I suspect Trump has some feud with the upper management at NBC, and so is fighting a proxy war against them by attacking one of their shows.

Another frequent target of Trump’s wrath is CNN, which he repeatedly attacks as “dishonest” or lately, “fake news”. But CNN isn’t the only news organization to report negative stories about him–CBS does that too, as does ABC.  And PBS does too. (Yes, I know he plans to shut that down, but that’s a standard Republican wish-list item. I don’t recall him tweeting about it.)

It makes more sense once you know that the President of CNN is one Jeff Zucker, who had been President of NBC until a few years ago.  In fact, Zucker originally signed Trump for The Apprentice. I don’t know all the details, but it seems likely that Trump had some sort of falling out with him.  I hear Trump can be temperamental, believe it or not.

My point is, Trump isn’t just randomly lashing out at any group that insults him.  Rather, he is deliberately lashing out at specific organizations tied to people whom he most likely personally dislikes.

Read Richard Branson’s account of meeting Trump–it indicates that Trump has personal animosity towards specific individuals. Most of the people Trump personally knows, whether as friends or enemies, are wealthy men like himself. So I’m guessing that when he starts attacking something, it’s usually because it’s owned or managed by some personal foe of his.

Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip “Dilbert”, has been getting attention for his numerous blog posts praising Donald Trump’s persuasion skills.

It’s hard to argue against it. Trump has persuaded millions of Republicans to vote for him, despite never holding political office, and despite running a campaign that few political experts even took seriously ten months ago.

Trump has indisputably had more political success than most pundits expected. So, whatever your opinion of him, I think most people can agree he is very persuasive.

But is he really as good as Adams claims? I am skeptical.

Trump is good at commanding media attention. And he is good at leveraging that media attention to get what he wants.

But he also constantly makes a critical mistake: he complains about–and therefore draws additional attention to–bad press about himself.

For example, recently the New York Times published some accounts of Trump’s mistreatment of women. Trump responded by tweeting repeatedly that it was a false “hit piece”. The result was that for a time, if you went to his Twitter page, all you saw was a bunch of denials that he had done bad stuff.

Trump says bad publicity is better than no publicity. Maybe so, but good publicity is better still, and since Trump has full control of his Twitter page, he should seek to fill it with good publicity. When people come to the homepage for your brand, you do not want them to know that negative opinions about it even exist.

But Trump is so thin-skinned that he can’t help it. He has to respond to the NYT, even if it makes no sense to do so.

The irony is that even as Trump attacks the Times for “failing” because it is losing readers, he is unintentionally helping it by drawing attention to the article. How many Trump followers would have never even heard about the NYT article if he hadn’t brought it up?

Note that I am not even discussing the issue of which is more reliable: the New York Times or Trump’s tweets. That’s because in the world of persuasiveness, truth is a secondary concern. Trump has never really claimed to be 100% honest; rather, he has campaigned on his ability to sell stuff. He is now selling himself based on his ability to sell himself. It is the ultimate confidence trick.

But he is not even as good at marketing as he thinks he is. He makes plenty of PR mistakes. The only reason he has gotten as far as he has is that the other politicians are even worse at selling than he is.

The other day I had my most successful tweet yet. The hashtag “DullDownAMovie” had been trending, challenging users to change a movie title to make it boring, and I tweeted “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce”. (Long ago, I volunteered at a Chamber of Commerce. Nice people, but boring work.)

The Twitterati agreed. I got a lot of re-tweets of that little quip. Personally, I didn’t even think it was the best suggestion I made. I preferred “Jane Got a Gnu”.

I also got a lot of “likes”, which brings me to the point of this post: what is the purpose of “likes” on Twitter? They seemingly don’t provide increased visibility at all, unlike re-tweets. (Quick summary for those unfamiliar with the medium: if a person retweets something, all their followers see it. If they like it, they don’t unless they make the additional effort to see their list of “likes”.)

Given that the platform exists to give people greater visibility, why is there a feature that does nothing to enhance visibility?

Yes, my friends, it’s time I came clean and admitted: I’ve been forced to make a Faustian bargain with the Dark Forces of Social Media.  I have a Twitter account. I put it off as long as I could, but when you are trying to promote something, as I am with my books, you sort of have to explore every avenue that you can.

Long-time readers must be wondering why I’ve been so gung-ho about this book business lately.  Well, it’s always been my dream to be a writer, and over the past year and a half, things have happened that made me realize it’s best not to put off trying stuff you always wanted to do–you never know what’s going to happen to you, so it’s best to take every opportunity.

Sorry, I know that sounds as corny as a Hallmark movie; but what can I say?  It’s actually true.

Twitter is, by the way, every bit as annoying to use as it is to read.  I am rather verbose, and Twitter does not lend itself to forming even complete sentences.  “Hey, look!  A thing!” is about all it can express.  So far, using it has done nothing to alter my original assessment of it.