“They purposely show the absolutely worst pictures of me”, the former President “truthed”, presumably as store-brand ketchup dripped from the walls around him, “especially the big ‘orange’ one with my chin pulled way back.”
Like most people, my initial reaction to Donald Trump’s rant was incredulity: does he think there are GOOD pictures of him?
I guess it should be obvious that the man is vain. After all, he won’t even go out in public unless he’s first been lowered into a vat of melted orange sherbet and then allowed a family of ferrets (big, strong ferrets, with tears in their eyes!) to turn what’s left of his spindly, cotton-candy hair into a thatchy nest.
But there’s something odd about this particular vanity, especially as it comes on the heels of a few other recent Truth Social controversies.
Earlier this week, the former president’s social media site, which is best described as “Twitter if it was powered by a slow hamster, leisurely jogging on a wheel”, made news when Trump issued a post that ended with an all-caps “RIGGERS”.
He was referring to “election rigging”, but given that his history with anyone not the same color as he is (and let’s be clear, NO ONE is the same color as he is), it set social media speculating as to whether “riggers” was the exact spelling he was going for.
Between these two posts and the apparent tacit approval of Truth Social members attempting to dox members of the grand jury that recently indicted him, Trump has been spending *a lot* of time on his even-more-crumbling, pretend version of the crumbling twitter.
Why would he spend so much time on this? The former president is currently being inundated with indictments like he was Mr. Dursley and just ripped up Harry Potter’s Hogwarts invitation. On top of that, he’s also running the first presidential campaign to be conducted entirely from golf courses and courthouses.
The man is busy. Far busier, in fact, than he ever was as president, when he had 18 hours a day set aside for “executive time”, napping, toilet tweeting, and not taking Eric’s phone calls. He *should* be too busy to care about which photos are being shown behind Sean Hannity’s giant, vape-scented head.
Further, while Trump might not have a firm grasp of history, science, math, history, or the names of his grandchildren, he most certainly has an almost preternatural understanding of the media. He had to know that, by talking about the picture without linking to it, he would set off a massive Streisand effect, with every social media account in the world whirring to life like the WOPR in War Games to try to guess which picture it might be.
And, hey, if your particular kink is seeing orange makeup flecking off of gnarled, 70-something-year-old skin like kitchen Formica inside an abandoned RV rotting in the woods, this has been a banner day for you. Twitter has been alight with 4-Panel pictures of Trump at his worst, each one answering the question, “What if Andy Warhol had decided to paint covers for EC horror comics?”
So why would this very busy, very vain man take time out of his various arrests to send the world searching for the worst of the many, *many*, horrifying pictures that exist of him?
Donald Trump has figured out that the social media news cycle isn’t driven by huge, hard-to-grok stories that require anti-MAGA skillsets like “reading” and “comprehension”. Instead, it’s driven by bite-sized, sensationalistic, visually-driven, little stories like… “which bad picture of Donald is the one that upset him?”
Trump is no genius and regardless of how fast he stabs his little tater-tot fingers at his phone, he won’t be able to tweet his way through the avalanche of justice swiftly approaching him, but the skills that allowed him to distract his way into the presidency are still there.
Consider this: during a week when the former president of the United States was hit with his FOURTH indictment (and a RICO indictment, no less, like he was a mafia boss nicknamed “Big Marmalade”), the biggest story of the morning has been trying to figure out which of Donald’s many terrible photos made him the most sad.
See, what Donald Trump understands is that the best way to distract from the big picture is to send people searching for the little one.
Jay Black is a comedian, writer and actor from New Jersey.