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Monday, January 23, 2017

Trump's travelling salvation claque

by digby

According to Henry Farrell in the Washington Post,  Trump's habit of putting paid audience in his crowds is a well known tactic:
When Donald Trump visited the CIA over the weekend to make a speech, many commentators noted that his audience clapped and cheered enthusiastically. Now, according to CBS News, intelligence sources are pushing back:

Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump’s campaign. An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams. The Trump team expected Rep. Pompeo, R-Kansas, to be sworn in during the event as the next CIA director, but the vote to confirm him was delayed on Friday by Senate Democrats. Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.

Still, as CBS notes, some of the CIA employees who turned up at the speech were probably real Trump supporters; they had to come into their workplace on the weekend to see him, which suggests that some at least were real fans.

So was this real applause, or was it fake? If the applause was, as it appears to have been, partly engineered, the difference is less important than you might think.

This isn’t the first time Trump has done this

This isn’t the first time that Trump has engineered applause. When he first announced his candidacy, he got wild cheers — from actors who had been paid to applaud him (Trump then stiffed the company that hired them for four months). When he gave his first news conference as president, he filled the back of the room with aides to cheer for him, and jeer at the journalists he was attacking.

There’s a specialist term for rent-a-clappers

Trump is actually reviving a very old tradition — the tradition of the claque. A claque is a group of people whose job is to generate applause. In the description of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, a claque is:

an organized body of professional applauders in the French theatres. The hiring of persons to applaud dramatic performances was common in classical times, and the emperor Nero, when he acted, had his performance greeted by an encomium chanted by five thousand of his soldiers. … The recollection of this gave the 16th-century French poet, Jean Daurat, an idea which has developed into the modern claque. … There are commissaires, those who learn the piece by heart, and call the attention of their neighbours to its good points between the acts. The rieurs are those who laugh loudly at the jokes. The pleureurs, generally women, feign tears, by holding their handerkerchiefs to their eyes. The chatouilleurs keep the audience in in a good humour, while the bisseurs simply clap their hands and cry bis! bis! to secure encores.

Trump, probably without knowing about the historical precedent, has revived this old tradition.

Read on for interesting stuff about how birds do it and bees do it too.

I always thought of this as" salting the crowd", but apparently that phrase isn't exactly apt. "Papering the house" is evidently another phrase that describes this phenomenon. The fact is that Trump does this because he is phony and a con man and he seeks to give the impression that he's much more popular and successful than he is so he can gull his marks. That is what he cares about more than anything on earth.