THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2022
...tell a familiar tale: A familiar headline appears above a front-page report from this morning's Washington Post:
Prosecutors in Trump probe quit after new DA seems to abandon plan to seek indictment of former president
A similar headline appears on the front page of the New York Times:
2 Manhattan Prosecutors Quit, Putting Trump Inquiry in Doubt
Back at the Post, Philip Bump analyzes the events in question. The headline on his piece says this:
Once again, Trump appears to evade a legal trap
Bump's text actually says that Trump seems to have evaded a legal threat. Whoever wrote the headline added an unfortunate, perhaps suggestive wrinkle to this latest rather familiar turn of events.
We're speaking here about journalistic product line. Let's explain this matter again:
Over the course of the past six years, it has been a best-selling model on Our Town's car lot:
Trump will soon be frog-marched away! He's on his way to the slammer!
Night after night after night after night, we were aggressively sold this product during the Mueller years. We were told that Mueller, a dogged gumshoe, almost surely had the tax records!
Eventually, the real Mueller appeared, not quite as advertised.
Corporate hustlers sold us that fully loaded model. For our part, we went to the car lot and purchased each new model as each new model appeared.
Now, Cyrus Vance's possibly performative criminal probe seems to be collapsing during the reign of his successor. Vance's successor seems to think that he can't make a criminal case. In the face of that disinterest, two prosecutors have quit.
Will the former president, Donald J. Trump, ever be charged with a crime? We have no way of knowing. But until he has been charged with a crime, we are possibly being played when our corporate stars go on TV and sell us this product line.
By the way:
As they burn away their evenings speculating about these topics, those TV stars aren't talking about other matters of actual interest. They're selling us our favorite dream—and they're lining corporate pockets.
Vladimir Putin's war has briefly forced our cable stars to discuss a real news event. They've been forced to stop their round-the-clock speculation about when Trump will be put away.
For what it's worth, it's a dangerous day when democracies start charging their former leaders with crimes. Sometimes that may have to be done, but it's amazing to see the cavalier way our corporate stooges approach this sensitive issue.
Will Donald Trump ever be charged with a crime? We have no idea.
Should he be charged with some sort of crime? We can't answer that either.
In the meantime, we can offer you one diversion, but also one hope for the future:
As a diversion, here's the (slapdash) transcript of the Maddow Show from February 18, 2021. On that day, the New York Times reported that a former prosecutor named Mark Pomerantz had been hired by Vance to work on the criminal probe of one Donald J. Trump.
Rachel went on and on, then on and on, about the miraculous Pomerantz's mafia-busting ways. We're not going to copy and paste. You can read her gushing for yourselves.
Rachel has been selling this product line every step of the way, a product line in which we're always going to nail him sometimes next week. So far, it hasn't worked out—and as our stars direct us this way, we're being directed toward a discussion most voters don't much care about.
These criminal probes are actual news, but they aren't the only actual news. Health care costs and schools and crime are news. So are quite a few other topics.
When we focus on locking up Trump, we're signaling to many voters that we don't actually care about the issues affecting them. When our stars behave in these ways, The Others can see them do it.
The latest criminal probe of Trump may be on the way out. Or maybe not—who knows?
The war in Ukraine will help our stars get past this latest bit of bad news. But if no such war was underway, they would be selling us this latest bit of hope:
Ivanka Trump in Talks With Jan. 6 Panel About Being Interviewed
What a perfect headline! Ivanka is engaged in talks about maybe agreeing to talk!
Absent the war in Ukraine, our cable stars would be talking that up. Prison for the whole Trump klan would be just a few moments away.
The saddest graf of them all: The saddest graf in the Times report goes exactly like this:
RASHBAUM ET AL (2/24/22): The district attorney’s criminal investigation into Mr. Trump began in the summer of 2018 under Mr. Vance, who initially looked into the Trump Organization’s role in paying hush money to a pornographic actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.
Sad! According to Stormy Daniels, she had consensual sex with Donald J. Trump on exactly one occasion, back in 2006. Now she was shaking him down for some hush money—and our pitiful tribe thinks the 2016 election should have turned on this.
Have you ever seen anyone tell you why Daniels wasn't charged with a crime? We don't favor sending people to prison unless it's absolutely necessary, and it wouldn't have been in this case. But given the way our favorite stars love the idea of locking folk up, why wasn't Daniels guilty of extortion as she shook the candidate down?
Our pitiful tribe thinks our elections should turn on matters like this. Along the way, we fell in love with Daniels' attorney—with the obvious nutcase who ended up being convicted of stealing from her!
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our self-impressed tribe has its flaws.
We're said to mean well, but our skills and our savvy can sometimes be hard to spot. Despite that, we tend to be quite self-impressed. Some have begun to call this trait our distinguishing characteristic!