Felix Salmon is among the most respected of financial journalists, part of the media elite by any definition. In that capacity, Salmon does incisive work in an article at Fusion entitled The Real Danger of Donald Trump, where he explains Trump’s effect on American political discourse. Salmon recounts how Trump channels rampant economic frustration to undermine the media and political elite, speaking directly to his supporters through social media where the messages aren’t “intermediated.” Trump has expanded the Overton Window, says Salmon, using a term for what constitutes acceptable subjects for debate. Because Trump says things that no other powerful influencer seeking public office says — that he’ll ban all Muslims, for example — such ideas gain a legitimacy (or at least a status) that an “intermediated” media wouldn’t allow them.
For his disruption of the establishment’s influence, Salmon calls Trump a “Chaos Monkey.” It’s a term popular in Silicon Valley to describe the emphasis on “disruption” in complacent industries — Uber and Airbnb are famous disruptors of industry. Antonio Garcia-Martinez, author of the bestselling Chaos Monkeys, an insider’s take on Silicon Valley describes Silicon Valley’s style in a way that eerily echoes Trump’s strategy. “The Silicon Valley vibe is like democracy, or religion,” Garcia-Martinez said in an interview. “If everyone believes in it, it sort of becomes true.” Widening the Overton Window and repeating things that are demonstrably not true, Trump knows just how chaos works.