If you doubt for a moment that Donald Trump has been coaching his lawyers to do Perry Mason-level histrionics in the courtroom, (which I’ve been opining for some time) please let me disabuse you of all doubt. Here’s what Trump posted on Truth Social a short while ago:

“SleazeBag Attorney Michael Cohen, New York State’s Primary Witness, ADMITTED TODAY THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP NEVER TOLD HIM TO INCREASE ASSET VALUES,” Trump said. “He also got caught lying on numerous occasions. He was totally discredited, like a Perry Mason moment. The A.G. Witch Hunt should be dropped, immediately!”

It was “a Perry Mason moment,” but goddamn go to hell, it didn’t work! Now here is a lesson for us all but mostly for Donald Trump. Our part of the lesson is that this man is television incarnate. I mean to say, he is the living, breathing, incarnation of illuminated dots on a cathode tube. Everything he knows — which is very little — he learned from TV. He is a creature of TV. He mastered TV. And the power of TV in our culture is such that if you master TV, you don’t need to master anything of substance. Being the wizard of the form of the two dimensional illuminated dancing static dots, is the dogma in this religion. You need not know anything, just look and sound like you might. And if the TV cameras like you (and they don’t like a lot of people, Hillary is one of them) then You Are Blessed. In Trump’s case, the only thing he’s ever had going for him is that he comes across on TV. Even Pat Nixon saw this back in the day and told Dick, and Dick wrote Trump a letter about it. I venture to guess that Pat also said something to the effect of, “He’s totally full of shit but he could get elected anyway.” She was no dummy.

That’s our lesson. The lesson for Trump is considerably more substantial, elusive, and infinitely more depressing. This isn’t Perry Mason. These lawyers are not going to be able to act or improvise their way out of this corner. And under no circumstances, whatsoever, is an “Ah HA! Gotcha!” moment going to save Trump’s bacon.

And this is why: Perry Mason is just like Donald Trump. He also is a fiction, dreamt up by a screenwriter. And the screenwriter cobbled together a good formula that worked week after week for nine years. A writer named Earl Stanley Gardner is the father of Perry Mason. He perfected the sudden revelation in the 11th hour that solves the case, just like Rod Serling invented the surprise endings in Twilight Zone.

The law in real life doesn’t work that way. It never did. It never will. But Donald Trump didn’t know that and never learned it — until today. And he STILL can’t believe it! That’s why he’s banging out insults with his tiny thumbs on his phone and posting them to his soon-to-be defunct social media platform. He has to process out all his negative feelings and right now he feels betrayed.

And make no mistake, he’s also complaining and railing at the heavens WHY!! WHY did the “Perry Mason moment” not WORK! ARRRGGGG!!! (pounds tiny fists and convulses, foaming at the mouth)

Because it’s not real, Donald. It’s a sham and a fiction, albeit an enjoyable one. It was actors speaking lines. And just by the by, I chatted with Barbara Hale about this once, many years ago. (The gal who played Della Street, Perry Mason’s secretary.) I had a temp job for two weeks working for her estate planning attorney and she called one day and we chatted about the show. She told me how Raymond Burr relished the chance to play the good guy because he’d played a lot of heavies (go check out his performance in Rear Window sometime, he’s very scary.)

But Donald doesn’t know any of this. You see, the reason he himself is so convincing in the illusionary world of television is because he’s part of the TV cult, the people who know little or nothing about life except what they see on TV. And Trump is able to manipulate them by putting things on TV that they will believe. And he knows what they will believe, because he is one of him. That’s his dubious genius. He is a dumb ass who knows nothing but TV and McDonald’s. He watches TV seven hours a day. If you do anything seven hours a day, you’re bound to be a pro at it. So if Trump has his pulse on the lowest common denominator in this country, he comes by it honestly. He is the lowest common denominator. He’s a TV watching, gourmand, moron.

This is why Newsmax, RSBN, all the right-wing outlets love him. Fox News loved him for many years. Trump knows how to do television. Other politicians may have known how to go on TV, but Trump knows better than probably any human being who has ever lived, how to DO TV.

And he has done TV this week in court. And it wasn’t enough. Because Trump’s crimes were not committed by a character named Trump in a TV show (other than this one right here, shot in the 1950’s, which if you haven’t seen you need to see right now.) No, they were committed by a real man named Trump, him, in the real world. And he’s going to have to be accountable now, in the real world.

And that scares the living hell out of him. That’s why he ran from the courthouse today and muttered his exit line, “We won,” even though no such thing had happened.

The play didn’t go the way he staged it. The actors/lawyers he hired did their parts, just as he paid them to do. But it didn’t work.

And so now Trump stares into the abyss of a future where he’s not in control and his money and his manipulations can’t save him. And his genius Perry Mason moment didn’t end the nightmare. And now he does not know what to do.

Stay tuned.

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  1. I’d argue that Trump does NOT know how to “DO TV.” He lucked out on there being a far-right extremist entertainment channel posing as a news network that fawned over him constantly and because that network managed to increase its ratings with that coverage (and who wants to bet that a good portion of his “interviews” on the network endured countless hours of editing to “improve the product?”), the mainstream networks that ostensibly had genuine news programs (although, interestingly enough, most of those networks have folded their “news divisions” into their “entertainment divisions” over the last couple of decades) decided they needed to give the man the same kind of coverage. ANY TIME he called for some “rally,” the major networks were there, covering the event from start to finish.

    I mean, we all know the tricks that TV uses with celebrities who may be reluctant to make a TV appearance and, with Trump, they just, well to borrow from “This Is Spinal Tap,” ramped it up to 11. NO ONE ELSE has gotten away with the kind of kid gloves that Trump got–Trump, especially after becoming President, simply pushed aside any real news organizations, punishing their reporters if they were perceived to be anything less than subservient to Trump. Can you imagine how mainstream news networks would’ve been chastised if they gave Obama the same kind of “kid gloves” that Trump got? (I mean, FOX “News” constantly complained that Obama was being treated like a messiah by the mainstream media but, you know, FOX “News” made up for any such treatment by demonizing him at every turn.) Dubya only got by with the kid-glove treatment after 9/11 and, by 2006, even right-wingers were starting to get tired of him. And Bill Clinton? Please. The “liberal” media seemed to be going after him just as much as the far-right was (even the most genuinely liberal media folk criticized him. though mostly on policy matters rather than his personal shenanigans).

  2. Funny you mention Spinal Tap…the republican caucus…er…conference is telling American viewers they’re seeing Stonehenge on stage. Meanwhile, two foot foam replicas skip on stage to ominous music. LOL. Great movie. Yeah they went to eleven and explain it as well as Christopher Guest did! What a bunch of coconuts.

  3. In Real Life,as opposed to Reel Life, there are not Gotcha Moments because both sides are required to turn in all their evidence. It’s called discovery. You would have to have an extremely good reason to pull your surprise witness out of your ass. Something like your witness was in the hospital in a foreign country the entire time the entire timer and just got back, reads the paper and calls the defense to say he was with the defendant for the entire week.when the murder happened.

    Perry Mason had that happen every week.Hell, even Boston Legal. whose creator and producer was actually a lawyer,used that trope often. I am not a lawyer, just a paralegal.with a M.S. in TV and Radio. I know the difference between what makes an exciting story and how things actually work.


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