Authority (de)legitimation in the border wall twitter discourse of president trump

Damian J. Rivers, Andrew S. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The construction of a wall along the US/Mexico border was one of the main political platforms upon which the 2016 US presidential election campaign was fought. Ahead of the upcoming 2020 US presidential election, and with the border wall still not yet built or funded, this article uses the authorisation component of Van Leeuwen's (2007) framework for the discourse of legitimation to show how President Donald J. Trump has sought legitimacy for the construction of the border wall. Data is taken from Trump's @realDonaldTrump Twitter postings between October 18th, 2018 and February 3rd, 2019, a period inclusive of the longest federal government shutdown in US history. We show how Trump's Twitter language is frequently accompanied by evidence-less attacks on sources of rival opinion or information, while the president tends to reaffirm himself as the exclusive source of credible and truthful information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-856
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes


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