Those headlines in the Post and the Times...


...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!


  1. Oh boy. Now the pooch is screwed.
    All those "economically anxious", and not at all bigoted, Republican voters are going to be so pissed-off that yet another elite is getting away with his financial crimes, they might burn Trump Tower to the ground.

    1. Never going to happen.
      When Trump gave the Establishment Elite, who were sitting on piles of cash, a HUGE tax break in 2017, almost 75 million "economically anxious" Republican voters went to the polls to vote for him in the next election.

    2. 3:22,
      Trump better watch his back. They tried to overthrow the US Capitol when black people's votes counted in an election. And that's not even something they care about.

    3. I wish I were brainwashed enough just to feel anxious about the economy. It's closer to dread for me. Someone please convince me that teaching evolution is dangerous.


  2. "The latest criminal probe of Trump may be on the way out. Or maybe not—who knows?"

    We've got the impression that your tribal prosecutors have been too enthusiastic about opening their dembot probes, and so the one that's being rolled back now is a mere duplicate of another, active one.

    So, no worries, dear Bob and dear dembots. No worries just yet.

  3. Stormy Daniels has not been charged with extortion because it was Trump who approached her about signing an NDA, not she who approached Trump. She says she was threatened if she didn't accept the NDA, which she was later able to overturn by going to court.

    Somerby has no evidence that she is a "grifter" or "extortionist" yet he has repeatedly called her that. It is one of his uglier vendettas and very revealing of his sexist attitudes toward women in general.

    The remainder of Somerby's column is gloating over the fact that the DA is apparently not going to charge Trump. Who gloats when a criminal evades justice? You tell me.

  4. “and our pitiful tribe thinks the 2016 election should have turned on this”

    Liberals did not expect the election of 2016 to “turn” on the Stormy Daniels story.

    As I recall, Hillary Clinton talked about issues, and I don’t recall her discussing Daniels.

    I also know that it is reasonable to think that an election should turn on whether a candidate exhibits a pattern of crookedness, grifting, and sociopathy, of which the Daniels story was a small part.

    Trump is entirely defined by his crookedness, grifting, and sociopathy, and those things should have been thoroughly investigated and publicized in any functioning democracy.

    And yes, they are legitimate issues to put before the voters.

    Or does Somerby think that for Trump voters, the 2016 election “turned” on issues?

    Laughable. Take Trump’s disgusting empty promise about health care. He did nothing to create what he said would be “better and cheaper” than Obamacare.

    Almost none of his voters gave a damn that his promise was laughably unfulfilled through lack of a single attempt to even lift a finger to do anything at all, and they voted for him again in 2020.

    So Somerby needs to rethink what he believes elections “turn” on.

  5. “We're speaking here about journalistic product line.”

    There is a difference between reporting on the facts of Trump’s criminality and wanting him to go to jail.

    There is also a difference between reporting on the facts and concluding that if true, Trump should go to jail.

    There is also a difference between concluding that Trump should go to jail based on the facts and wanting him to go to jail.

    These are distinctions that Somerby never makes.

    A lot of the journalism in the Times was of the first kind: simply reporting the known facts of trump’s criminality or of the state of the Mueller investigation.

    The media critic Somerby is a little premature here. I would want to know the full set of facts and why, if true, the investigation has been dropped.

    I would also wonder why people with Trump’s wealth and status so frequently evade accountability.

    But then, Somerby has that all taken care of by claiming that Trump is too mentally ill to know what he is doing and be held accountable.

    He never extended that possibility to Avenatti, or Harvey Weinstein. Wonder why?

    1. Have you seen Hillary Clinton lately? She looks like something you would buy in a live bait store. Her face is literally imploding.

    2. Rosy-eyed optimist thought only HALF the Republicans were deplorables.

    3. She's not a pretty woman.

    4. She looks like Kyle Rittenhouse but with better fashion sense.

  6. The problem is some seem to think this whole outrage culture is neutral, that you can just jump in and say "Stormy Daniels" and muscle your way into power. But you can't. Democrats don't have the infrastructure to set the terms of these moral panics. Republicans have politicians they brought up from the minor leagues of America's Christian evangelical movement. They have a massive radio presence and highly rated TV shows shamelessly selling fear, and newspaper editorial boards are not above baiting people into the melee, often perfectly consciously. It's almost as if diehard conservatives will literally take a Jesus pamphlet over a pay-raise. That’s an incredible achievement in propaganda.

    There is a silver lining though, the lie eventually becomes paper thin and invites some holes poked in it. Was it fair when Texas Republicans said the citizens of his state don’t mind going without electricity to show liberals how tough they are? If I were a Texas Democrat I would never live that down. The zealots might believe this, but the neighbors of these lunatics often do not want to be a part of this. That's a potential voting base. The field is wide open for Texas Democrats on this subject. The Republican elite won’t be able to win these fights on any reasonable grounds, being self-evident greedy pigs. We should talk to the people in Red States about their power bills, their water bills, their unions or lack of. What are Republicans going to do about? Just say "something something big city communists and brown immigrants." 
There might even be existing organizations to reach out to and support. Yes, go ahead, I'm giving you permission to be the "outside agitator."

    But there are also greedy pigs in the Democrats too. Big donors often take their money and go home, like the Manchin/Sinema vanguard did. Bill Maher and the suburban soccer moms could always turn away from whatever they like about the party in protest of a rich people tax. And with no comparable movement to the evangelical machine, this is a real problem for Democrats. Hopefully the next generations will change that.

    1. Another problem for these Democrats is that they don't have any values. The only value they have is that the other side is bad.

    2. We already have Antifa for that. They are anti-Republican Party. It's right in their name.

  7. Once in a while Bob gets something exactly right. He should print out this column, and compare everything he writes to it from now on.