THE ART OF THE CON: The craziness of Donald Trump's steaks!


Part 3—The craziness of Matthews and Dowd:
Yesterday, in the 5 PM hour, we're fairly sure we saw Mark Preston make an unusual statement.

Preston is "executive editor for CNN Politics, reporting on campaigns, polling and politics across the network's platforms, including CNN, CNN International and" We're fairly sure we saw him compliment Donald J. Trump for the way he had dropped all that "Lyin' Ted" blather.

We say we're fairly sure we saw Preston compliment Trump because CNN has failed to post a transcript for yesterday's 5 PM hour of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

The transcript doesn't appear on CNN's site. It hasn't appeared through Nexis. As sometimes happens, yesterday's 5 PM hour has disappeared from the earth.

We're fairly sure we saw Preston make the remark we've described. We were surprised by his normalizing statement, because, just one day before, Trump had made one of the craziest statements of his entire campaign.

We refer to the crazy statement in which this apparently crazy person tried to link Ted Cruz's father to Lee Harvey Oswald and, apparently, to the murder of President Kennedy. In our view, that was about as flat-out crazy as anything Trump has said.

In fairness, Trump has made many ludicrous statements and done many ludicrous things. Yesterday, Jonathan Chait recalled what we would regard as the craziest previous moment from Candidate Trump. It involves the table which groaned beneath all those alleged Trump Steaks.

Chait went into some detail about that prior event. In doing so, we think he showed an eye for the type of craziness which has long been swallowing our national discourse.

What happened in that previous crazy event? After winning the Mississippi and Michigan primaries, Trump appeared for a press event next to a table piled high with steaks.

Chait's account starts like this:
CHAIT (5/4/16): The most surreal and characteristic moment of Trump’s presidential campaign may have taken place two months ago. That week, Mitt Romney had mocked Trump’s business acumen, highlighting his many failed ventures, including Trump Steaks, in a well-regarded and highly publicized speech that articulated both the horror with which Republican elites regarded Trump and their strategy for preventing him from capturing the nomination. A few days later, having won a series of victories, Trump appeared in his Mar-a-Lago resort to insist Trump Steaks were indeed a going concern. “Do we have steaks? We have Trump steaks. He said the steak company, and we have Trump steaks. And by the way, if you want to take one, we’ll charge you about, what, 50 bucks a steak?”
To us, this bizarre behavior provoked an obvious question—is Donald Trump mentally ill? That said, Chait hadn't yet described the full-blown craziness put on display that night.

As Chait proceeds with his account, so does the apparent lunacy of Trump's behavior that night. What follows didn't occur in a dream. It happened in a prime-time victory event staged for the national press corps:
CHAIT (continuing directly): It was not only a blatant lie, but a lie that required no sophistication at all to see through. One did not need a grasp of economics or public policy to understand that Trump Steaks is a no-longer-extant product. There are no advertisements for these steaks. They are not available for purchase anywhere. They do not exist. Trump simply had his staff purchase a bunch of steaks at a supermarket and display them on a table, and call them “Trump Steaks.” But—and here is the most incredible detail of all, the one that reveals just how blunt the Trump con is—his campaign did not even bother to completely remove the wrappers from the steaks they purchased. The steaks still had the labels from the local butcher from which they were purchased.
Yes, you read that correctly! Trump had posed beside a table piled high with those great Trump Steaks. Except the steaks in questions weren't Trump steaks, a fact which was visibly obvious—and the truth gets even worse.

In fact, there are no Trump Steaks at this point; Trump Steaks no longer exist! The candidate had decided to pose beside a table piled high with raw meat while discussing the greatness of a product which no longer exists.

At the time, we asked a fairly obvious question—is Donald Trump mentally ill? On Tuesday, this question again came to mind again when we saw Trump linking Cruz Senior to Lee Harvey Oswald.

At long last, is there no end to this crazy man's craziness? The very next day, we're fairly sure we saw Preston praising Trump for his new, improved decorum.

In fact, a fair number of cable players criticized Trump last night for the weirdness of the Oswald play. That said, we think the weirdness of that behavior might serve as a defining event for those who want to understand their failing nation's failing political culture.

To a large extent, we think Chait's aim was true in yesterday's post. In that crazy appearance beside those Trump Steaks, Candidate Trump displayed the art of the con, and that's how Chait defined it. That said, he also displayed the craziness which has largely swallowed American discourse in the past several decades.

Let's be fair to the pundits! If a journalist was truly concerned with Trump's behavior, it would still be hard to deal with a person as crazy as Trump.

That said, many journalists don't seem to be hugely concerned with Trump's apparent craziness or with his apparent lying. We'll offer one possible reason:

The crazy dissembling which rules our discourse largely started with the press and within their horrible guild.

Liberal pundits like Chait are happy to note Trump's apparent lying and his love of the con. They will never note that Trump is building on a style of dissembling which was largely invented and normalized within their own broken-souled guild.

Trump has said many crazy things in the course of this campaign. But so have many major "journalists" over the past twenty years.

The art of the con has long been central to the way our political "journalism" works. One example: In his relentless behavior in 1999 and 2000, Chris Matthews was every bit as crazy and dishonest as Candidate Trump has been in this past year.

At the time, Matthews was waging war against Candidate Gore and against Candidate Hillary Clinton; she was running for the Senate against Matthews favorite Rudy Giuliani. Matthews' craziness matched that of Trump, as did his ugly name-calling and his endless dissembling.

We've posted the highlights many times. To review just two crazy days in the life, see the fairly detailed report we posted in June 2008.

Even at book length, it would be hard to capture the full extent of Matthews' craziness and dissembling during the years when he served the interests of CEO Jack Welch—the years when his salary suddenly jumped from $1.2 million to $5 million per year.

Matthews was crazy, and crazily dishonest, for a good many years. He was visibly crazy about the troubling number of button's on Gore's three-button suits. Assuming even minimal comptence, he viciously lied, again and again, about what actually happened at the Buddhist temple.

During this period, the poisonous influence of Maureen Dowd was also sweeping through the press. That said, this poisonous pair were just the tip of the pre-Trump journo iceberg.

Chait will tell you all about Donald Trump's crazy cons. He won't describe the way this destructive culture got its start within our "political journalism."

To this day, the Chaits won't tell you about the scripted insults and invented facts which constitute the recent history of our failed journalistic culture. That culture is built on the art of the con. Trump has simply advanced that culture beyond its pre-existing boundaries.

Tomorrow, we'll return to the new invented fact our heroes aren't talking about. People are dead all over the world because of the silence of players like Chait as this noxious culture took form in the recent past.

Nothing is going to change about this. The art of the con now lies at the heart of our post-journalistic culture. This unfortunate fact is true on both sides of the aisle.

Tomorrow: The liberal world and the art of the con


  1. "Chait will tell you all about Donald Trump's crazy cons. He won't describe the way this destructive culture got its start within our "political journalism." "

    Maybe he won't describe "this" because he is not crazy like the guy who keeps repeating "this" over and over ala The Donald, thinking that because he believes it and keeps repeating it, it must be true.

    That said, maybe not.

    1. I think Bob is on point about what he’s really referring to – media collaboration in pushing a narrative. If, as he writes is true, the mainstream media is actually trying to downplay Trump’s craziness, as Preston is said to have done, then this is a big deal.

      Sort of like when Matthews said on national TV that Al Gore would “lick the bathroom floor to be President.” Not equivalent, but a narrative was created, just as in this case. Remember, Matthews has often claimed the mantle of being “liberal.”

      I read an article about Chomsky recently. In it was a quoted remark:

      “I don’t bother writing about Fox News,” Chomsky said. “It is too easy. What I talk about are the liberal intellectuals, the ones who portray themselves and perceive themselves as challenging power, as courageous, as standing up for truth and justice. They are basically the guardians of the faith. They set the limits. They tell us how far we can go. They say, ‘Look how courageous I am.’ But do not go one millimeter beyond that. At least for the educated sectors, they are the most dangerous in supporting power.”

      Bob clearly writes in this vein, and like Chomsky, is tireless in pointing out the malfeasance of the media, directly ensconced as it is in the power structure.

      The article from which I copied the quote is an interesting read.

  2. If Trump bought the steaks in question, then aren't they technically Trump steaks?
    See, it depends on what your definition of is is.

    1. No, they are not then technically Trump steaks. And Trump didn't buy the steaks if he told his staff to go do it. It depends on what the name of his staff member is, see. Do all Trump supporters reason like this? It would explain a lot.

    2. If a staff member buys the steaks at Trump's order, the staff member is acting as Trump's agent and the steaks are Trump's.

    3. What if Trump Casino buys the steaks with borrowed money from Chase at Trump's orders and then he has the Casino declare bankruptcy.
      Then whose steaks are they?

    4. Were the steaks bought as an incentive or promotional gift or were they in any way compensatory? And if those steaks are not vacuum sealed and frozen they will spoil long before a court could make a decision. Of course, they would them become a frozen asset.

  3. When you call crazy behavior "a con", you normalize it. You make it seem like the person exhibiting craziness is instead doing something clever, knowingly deceiving others for his own benefit, a sharp operator. Craziness is not a con. The sad, crazy person does believe his own delusions. Because they are delusions, he cannot function competently in real life. Donald Trump is deluded, but he is shielded from the consequences of his delusions by great wealth. He is not running a con on us. He is sadly mistaken in his view of the world and his money encourages a fawning media and greedy populace to collude in his delusions.

    You cannot have this both ways. If Trump is crazy, he is not a con man. If he is a con man, he is not crazy -- he is a criminal. It is just as wrong to pretend his craziness is a con as it is to pretend his craziness is reality. Trump is dangerous because his craziness can lead to unpredictable actions that will take the country down with him. We will suffer consequences that no amount of billions can protect the world from.

    So lets not confuse the issue. Trump is crazy or a con man, but not both. I think he is crazy. We all need to start calling him that, pointing out the nature of his delusions. No more calling him a con man because that just enhances his stature among the white collar criminals and those who admire them.

    1. As a successful hard working white collar criminal I resent your implying we admire your common, run-of-the-mill con man. Next you silly liberals will be calling the rube runners "con-artists" as if they are Picassos rather than pick pockets.

    2. Dave the Guitar PlayerMay 5, 2016 at 1:08 PM

      I agree that trying to make the point that Trump is crazy *and* he is a con man muddies the argument. However, he probably is both. He is clearly delusional and believes things that are demonstratively not true, but he is very good at saying whatever it is you want to hear, like any good con artist, and he wants to win. As a strategy, it makes sense to just stick to "delusional".

  4. Something new, please, Bob.


    "We are going to political Siberia in a Transvestite toilet stall because Tribe Liberal stood up for "perceptual rights" in restroom selection."


    Just not recycled two decade old Chris Matthews shite!

    1. But you're not forced to read him, are you?

  5. Albert Einstein is in no way responsible for the art of the con.

    1. If a con strikes twice in the same place, do liberals wake up when the phone rings in the woods at 3am ?

  6. if trump is crazy or a con man what does that say about the people who voted for him

  7. I hope Somerby covers Tweety's latest sexist remarks. Because it is still OK to drop the M bomb. Except on wage issues.

    1. MotherF____, shut my mouth! Unless it is beef taco salads suggested by Trump whether bought by him or proxy

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