Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: Our National Obsession Edition

Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: Our National Obsession Edition



Everyone in the media promised.

Everyone promised not to give him air time, the defacto publicity, shout-outs, updates, breaking-news breaks, and special reports. And here he is, once again, dominating every news story in print and broadcast. His GOP competitors are reduced to making comments on Him, while Democrats are... what the hell ARE they doing?

He's a national Obsession and not the Calvin Klein smell-good kind. Quite the opposite.

In the 2016 presidential campaign, The Donald received an estimated 2 billion to 5 billion dollars worth of free media in the run-up to the election.  These figures represent the value of his constant appearances and the (free) editorial attention paid to him in various media. How much does a thirty-second commercial cost vs. a (free) five-minute live news interview?  How much does a quarter-page ad cost in the Washington Post cost vs. twenty or thirty column inches of a reporter's story about him? Recall that Trump was everything everywhere all at once, to steal a recent movie title. Interviews and photo ops were non-stop. So compelling was his appearance on television, that he would often just telephone directly into a cable TV news show. No need for him to travel to a studio, or even meet a reporter/photographer... pick up the phone and you're LIVE!

After he was elected, a somewhat shocked media-verse held a collective post-mortem on whatthehellhappened. FoxNews and the like celebrated a victory and openly congratulated themselves for the role that they played in electing a president. The mainstream media and progressive outlets bemoaned how their 24/7 blanket coverage only served to keep Trump, the candidate, in front of every person (and voter) in America. The collective guilt that an entire industry experienced was conveniently mitigated by the piles of money that they had all raked in. The TV and cable ratings, print subscriptions, and social media growth were astronomical. Even though almost a quarter of the "free media" was negative, Trump's provocative, alpha-male style appealed to his base and beyond; he always drew a crowd.

There was a small paradox - while viewership/readership increased, some ad revenues slipped. Trump spent a fraction of what the other candidates did on paid advertising. Most of that was made up by state and local political races as well as democrats trying to break through Trump's news cycles.

And Trump dominated social media like no candidate had ever done before:  

Remember Taco Bowl?

Just on Twitter alone:

During the election, Trump got about 50% more coverage than Clinton across all media but outdid her by 150% on Twitter. The platform delivered $402 million in free attention for Trump and $166 million for Clinton. The self-described billionaire generated the most Twitter buzz in May, generating nearly $195 million in free attention compared to $23 million for Clinton. The explanation: the taco bowl tweet. Trump's now infamous Cinco de Mayo message fueled an enormous amount of chatter. -The Street

The media's self-reflection and pledge to do better was evident during Trump's presidency - HA! I kid! "BREAKING NEWS" segments interrupted my soap operas, constantly. (How can I follow 'my story'?) Every day there was a crisis, a personal attack, or a moronic policy idea that was vomited out of the Oval Office. He couldn't even get past his own inauguration day without a furious tantrum challenging the photographic evidence that Obama's inauguration was better attended than his.

His administration did have to deal with a worldwide pandemic, a pandemic that he denied was real, or was a problem. A pandemic that he said would "magically disappear." News coverage was certainly warranted. Still, the mainstream and even the left-leaning media failed here, desperately trying to play "both sides" of every issue, even when it came to Covid case counts, vaccine efficacy, quack cures, and dubious medical sources.  

The 2020 election was just as much a media sensation as 2016. It ended in a Biden victory and an immediate challenge by Trump and his goons. We all remember what followed. A violent insurrection that was primed and pumped by Trump himself. He was impeached, but not convicted for his role in the coup attempt.

The multiple lawsuits he filed over "election fraud" would fizzle out after no evidence was ever produced to prove any kind of conspiracy. Trump loyalists kept up the attacks on the Biden administration and his red-hat-wearing MAGA tribe vowed to run Biden out of office and put The Donald back on his throne. Just when the public thought they could take a small break from 24/7 Donald, it was discovered that he had taken boxes of Top Secret government files to his personal residence. When asked to return them, he lied about which documents were in his possession, refused to turn them all back over to the FBI, and actually hid several boxes of files. Unsurprisingly, cameras recorded his staff moving the documents around, and he was recorded discussing how he knew that he could not declassify the files and was aware he had them.

He was indicted for obstruction of justice. It was a 49-page, 38-count indictment. He was accused of holding key documents including some involving sensitive nuclear programs and others that outlined top secret military information. The indictment was made available to the public, and even conservative attorneys were shocked at the seriousness of the allegations (and the evidence that the Justice Dept. supposedly has to support the charges.)  

He had already been indicted in New York for his role in a scandal over hush money paid to a porn star. He faces other potential indictments. In Georgia, prosecutors claim they are preparing to go after Trump and his thugs for their interference with the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state. Jack Smith, the special counsel pressing the documents case, is also looking into Trump's attempts to reverse his 2020 defeat, and is still investigating his leadership role in the January 6th insurrection.

But you know all of this. You're still traumatized by much of it.

And here I am, opening the wound again. Hypocritically complaining about our Obsessive media coverage... while writing about Trump and creating more Obsessive media coverage. This morning, the bright red "Breaking News/Special Reports" graphics went up, accompanied by deep, ominous music. The Trump plane was taking off from Bedminster, N.J.! The plane was landing in Miami! His motorcade was picking him up! His motorcade was on the freeway! Donald Trump has been fingerprinted! I once again expected to see a White Bronco.

(and speaking of O.J., did you see the advice that Simpson tweeted to Trump?)

So Trump is back. He never went away, really. Between the insurrection and his promises to run again, we knew there would be no peace. A few have tried to ignore him. After CNN ran the Trump Cheerleading Rally a week or so ago (the one that ended the CEO's career there,) one of the MSNBC anchors refused to acknowledge it.

Stephanie Ruhle of MSNBC said Wednesday that Donald Trump’s CNN town hall was “not news,” so she ditched a post-mortem on the former president’s prime-time “lies, smears and bigotry.”
...The “11th Hour” host began:
“Okie dokie, folks. It is not news what happened tonight at 8 p.m. on another network. And there is no sense in fact-checking or replaying the highlights. We are not going to analyze the former president of the United States repeating lies, smears and bigotry. We’ve all heard it many many times before.
“What we need to do tonight is solve for how news organizations will cover Donald J. Trump, the twice-impeached, indicted, liable-for-sex-abuse private citizen,” the host said. “If he does in fact win the Republican nomination, it has nothing to do with what he did tonight. He did what he has done countless times before. The question we need to answer is what we are all going to do next.” -Ron Dicker at Yahoo News

Sadly, predictably, and like the rest of us, MSNBC has been wall-to-wall Trump coverage today, Tuesday, as Trump was arraigned. Ruhle's show was no exception. Every news outlet followed his every move. The motorcade, the tarmac, the Trump-branded jet. Even as he stopped his motorcade to step out and mingle with the crowd gathered at Versailles Restaurant, a popular hangout for Hispanics in the Miami "Little Havana" neighborhood. There, his supporters cheered him on as he paused to take selfies with Miamians of Cuban, Central and South American heritage. After he returned to Bedminster golf club in NJ, he proclaimed it a "a day of infamy" for America. He railed against special counsel Jack Smith, calling him a “thug” who does “political hit jobs.” It never stops.

It's tough to blame the media, it's their job. Back when Bill Clinton was under fire for an alleged affair with an intern, a semen-stained blue dress was rumored to exist which would prove those allegations. The rumor first surfaced with the old Drudge Report, an early muckraking internet news and news aggregator site. Within a day or two the mainstream media began to report what few details were known. I recall that a couple of news outlets refused, at first, to report the story at all. CBS felt that the story was salacious and with very little reputable sourcing, just an ugly partisan attack on the president, (albeit a president with a reputation for having a zipper problem.) Within a day or two, the story was a sensation, and they knew that even without DNA test results, they had to report it - it was all the nation was talking about. (And we know the rest of the story, to paraphrase Clinton himself, he "did have sex with that woman.") Clinton too, would be impeached (for perjury and obstruction in relation to the affair) but not convicted. Clinton however, was reelected.

That was in 1998. Yes, partisan ugliness was on the rise (Clinton's affair was revealed during a partisan-motivated investigation into a real estate deal that the Clintons had participated in.) But by today's standards, it almost sounds quaint, right?

The violent rhetoric in support of Trump is ramping up again. A few hours after his indictment last week, AZ congressman Andy Biggs went on Twitter and called for retribution. “We have now reached a war phase,” he said. “An eye for an eye.” So yes. As much as we wish they weren't, Trump stories are newsworthy. And more than a bit scary. Don't think so? Here's the graphic that FoxNews threw up on Tuesday night after the arraignment.

None of us can turn away from a train wreck. This train wreck seems never-ending. And this train wreck IS consequential to all of us. Trump has pledged to run for a second term even if he is found guilty and imprisoned. He has indicated that he will pardon himself and those convicted for their crimes committed during the Jan. 6 insurrection. The rhetoric from his loyal stooges and his red-hatted base calls for vengeance, once again.

And every day, you will hear and read about every detail.


<In a sexy, pefumed, Calvin Klein whisper...> "He is our OBSESSION."

Try as he might, Roger Gray simply couldn't avoid the former President either. And despite all the excuses you've heard, Roger claims that the defenders have the law wrong. So, this isn't just shooting yourself in the foot, this is taking aim with an AR15 and unloading a mag.

Take a deep dive into just what this documents indictment is all about.

An Indictment Mardi Gras | Texas Outlaw Writers
We’ll clear some stuff up, but you’ll need to pay attention.

We've only begun to Trump. (So let's throw in some Paxton, too!)

Outlaw Jim Moore** has been talking to his political colleagues from his decades of reporting on Texas and Washington, and has had some interesting conversations. They have been about everything from Trump’s problems and their impacts on the Texas GOP to the Ken Paxton impeachment and where that might be going for the Texas attorney general. One of those conversations was on text and was between Jim and Deece Eckstein, (DeeceX!) whose experience runs deep in the Texas Capitol Building and electoral politics. The entire transcript is shared with us here………

Tex-a-Tete | Texas Outlaw Writers
A fantasy: Angela Paxton sits through the whole impeachment trial, and when it comes time to vote, rises from her chair and gives a big thumbs down. The crowd in the gallery swoons; Paxton’s mistress cries out, Ken!” and then a process server walks on the floor and serves Ken with divorce papers!!!

Myra Jolivet would just like us to call out the right-wing extremist movement for what it is. a progression toward authoritarianism to ensure White male rule in the wake of changing U.S. demographics. In light of Nazi flags (and DeSantis posters) being carried by protestors outside of Disney World this week, it's getting harder to disagree with her.

Extremists are Not Conservative-They’re Just Evil | TX Outlaw Writers
If evil lasts for a long time, it will become a tradition. (Igbo Proverb, southeast Nigeria)

**Speaking of James Moore, we've got some fun stuff to report. Jim Moore had a streaming series drop on Netflix last week. The deets from Jim: "This is a new Netflix show developed by Gary Wilson, Jeff Brown, and myself. We sold the idea to the streamer and they produced it. We conceived the show, and we're listed as executive producers. All eight episodes are available for streaming today. Originated from an idea we had on the border more than eight years ago. I had hoped for a road trip show with more culture and history but Netflix wanted another car show. But still, here it is, from talk over beers in El Paso to a streamer on Netflix."

I've seen a couple of episodes, and it's great. Got the usual "let's rebuild this car" vibe, but also a lot of flavor as "Scooter" and the gang travel to Mexico to find rusty old car bones to restore. And don't let Jim sell himself short, he ran across a couple of these guys and developed the concept for the show.

"Tex Mex Motors" 

One more plug for Moore. I include it because it's timely, and any writer worth his keyboard is a fan of Cormac McCarthy, the author of such works as "Blood Meridian," "All the Pretty Horses," "The Road," and "No Country for Old Men." (Plenty of readers are fans, too!)  

You may have read that McCarthy died on Tuesday.

Jim is more than just a fan. At times he idolized McCarthy, and as he tells it, sometimes resented him. Here's a link to a tribute piece that he wrote. (Jim has his own, personal Substack - the guy just never stops writing. I figured this memorial piece was important enough to include here.)

Only One of His Kind
In Praise of a Departed Transcendent Writer