All along I’ve promised you two things. First, the DOJ would end up criminally indicting Donald Trump on serious felony charges, no matter how many pundits went on TV or Twitter and screamed that it would “never happen no matter what.” And second, once it became clear to audiences that the DOJ was indeed indicting Trump, these same pundits would immediately turn around and move the goalposts with some new line of outrage-inducing defeatism.
At this point you’d have to be in a coma not to be able to see that the DOJ is indicting Trump. So naturally, all the people who built their brands on insisting it would never happen are scrambling to move those goalposts. Because this is such a huge and embarrassing thing for these doomsday pundits to have gotten wrong, and everyone can now sort of see that they were probably getting it wrong all along on purpose, they’re having to really work to move those goalposts. We’re seeing some real doozies.
Yesterday a narrative went viral on social media about the DOJ supposedly considering offering Trump a plea deal that included no prison time. Even though it’s so plainly obvious that this would never ever ever ever ever ever happen on such serious charges, it sent so many people into a panic that the words “no deal” began trending on Twitter because so many people were frantically begging the DOJ not to cut this imaginary deal.
Then there were predictable pundit claims that Trump’s indictment won’t matter, because he’ll just be able to push the trial past the 2024 election, as if he can just magically decide when his trials are going to take place. How’d that work out for him in Manhattan? It’s funny how many of these doomsday narratives are still centered around Trump having the kind of magical powers that the average fifth grader knows don’t exist in the real world. But that’s because these kinds of narratives are specifically designed to instantly make you so scared and/or outraged, you just stare at your screen in such a paralyzed panic that you’re not even able to take a second and logically think it through.
When you look at the big picture, it’s remarkable how easy it is for the media and pundit class to keep covering up one dishonest doomsday prediction with yet another dishonest doomsday prediction. They tell you all along that the DOJ will never indict Trump, knowing that when it does happen you’ll probably be too relieved to even realize they were playing you. And then they immediately pivot into claiming that the indictment won’t matter, so you’ll be too focused on that new doomsday claim to even realize that their previous doomsday claim was a lie.
This is nothing new. People have been crying wolf to get attention for so long, there are thousand year old fables about it. But the existence of such ancient fables suggests that society got wise to this kind of thing a very long time ago. So how is it possible that when nearly the entire political media and pundit industry keeps crying wolf over and over again, and keeps getting caught in the act over and over again, most audiences keep falling for it?
It’s probably worth pointing out that cable news and social media didn’t exist back at the time Aesop’s Fables were written. Just imagine if the boy who cried wolf had been able to go on television and spend all day every day working audiences into a heart pumping lather over that imaginary wolf, and even had a bunch of panelists who all came on the air and pretended to agree with him so he’d plug their latest projects. And really, imagine the retweets that the boy who cried wolf could have gotten. In this era, that kid would have a million followers, a reputation for speaking hard truths, and a lucrative book deal.
I’m going to such great lengths to point all of this out because this is the week the goalposts will officially get moved. The people who claimed to know with certainty that the DOJ would never criminally indict Donald Trump are now tasked with picking out their new lines of bullshit. And in order to get those lines to sink in, they’ll have to spent the week chanting them, in unison, all day every day, until these false things “sound true” to audiences.
So even as the media and pundit class spends this week trying to present Trump’s DOJ indictment as a shocking twist that no one could have seen coming (they all saw it coming all along), and then tries to hit us with new shocking twists about how Trump is still going to somehow magically get away with it all, let’s remember that these narratives will all be manufactured bullshit. Sorry, there’s just no other word for it. These people who built their brand by insisting this indictment would never happen, all knew this indictment would happen. There’s just no excuse for how this industry operates.
But remember, you can change the way this industry operates. There’s not one political pundit on TV or Twitter who can get anywhere without your help. They all need your eyeballs, your engagement, your clicks. You are literally the “ratings” they seek. And if they see that you’ve become too savvy and grounded to fall for their constant misdirection, they’ll have to find a more honest way to operate.
The vast majority of political pundits on MSNBC and Twitter told you that Alvin Bragg would never indict Donald Trump. They told you that we were likely to default on the budget deal. And they told you that the DOJ would never indict Trump. You see the pattern, right? Even if they ever got one of these kinds of doomsday predictions right, it would be by mere coincidence, because they’re never even trying to get this right. They just baselessly insist that the unlikely or unrealistic Worst Thing Possible is definitely going to happen, so you’ll be too transfixed to look away from your screen. And in this week where they have more egg on their faces than ever, they’re counting on being able to pull yet another fast one on you. I beg of you, don’t let it happen.
Donald Trump doesn’t have magical powers for shaking off an espionage indictment. This indictment will not magically make Donald Trump stronger. In the real world, things that weaken you make you weaker, not stronger. Such things shouldn’t even have to be spelled out. But this is what we’re up against, and we will be for as long as the political media and pundit industry continues to be dominated by those who keep crying wolf and getting away with it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report