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I'm Obsessed With This Cable News Cash Grab
You gotta respect the hustle.
Ed. note: today is Cros’s birthday! Happy birthday Cros!
Donald Trump’s continuing legal troubles, which have now culminated in several federal and state indictments, have been one of the greatest stories for 24-hour cable news in the past year. Public interest is high, and the stakes are higher. The indictments, like many legal documents, are dense, confusing, and ripe soil for speculation as to their eventual results. You might think that wall-to-wall coverage of these indictments would be enough to satisfy the titans of cable, but no. No no no.
Instead, they have spawned something even more incredible: a cash grab that has my genuine wonder and respect. Here is the latest and most pure example of this:
Look upon it. Incredible!
In case the point of all this is not immediately sinking in, this is a book—sold by Mariner Press for $17.99 in paperback format— which contains the publicly available and already widely released content of the federal Department of Justice, Georgia and New York state indictments of former President Trump. The only new content in this “book” is an “introduction” by MSNBC Chief Correspondent Ali Velshi. To be clear: the entire text of this book is available online besides Velshi’s introduction and whatever other notes or annotations he’s provided—essentially a blog.
Here. I will link to the content of this book. Here is the federal indictment over January 6. Here is the federal indictment over Trump’s handling of classified documents. Here is the Georgia state indictment in Fulton County over the Trump campaign’s attempts to sway Georgia state election officials. Here is the New York state indictment over Trump’s hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
To be fair, I see Velshi’s point! If I were to print all these out and carry them around, it would be kinda inconvenient. (Is Velshi actually doing this? Unlikely. That is what producers and even…computers are for.) But the idea of someone needing to carry around all four indictment documents is very very funny, as some of my pals noted earlier today (identities have been obscured so I can post their funny little riffs and no one gets mad at me):
The fact that this is just so openly a quick cash grab is kind of beautiful, in a way. It’s content with almost no value created with almost no effort, and sold at a pretty decent price. If this book sells even like, 10 copies, it’ll probably be worth the work that Velshi and his publisher put into it. Almost every publication has already published far more helpful and far more intensive annotations and breakdowns of the indictments. Velshi himself has probably read most of them and understands them! He’s a smart guy! He has explained things about them on air! You can get all the information that this book would provide you in so many cheaper and, frankly, more convenient ways already! And yet: $17.99 on Amazon.
The grift here is so simple and easy that I can’t even be mad at Velshi. If I had the platform and foresight to do this, why not? Is it taking money out of gullible peoples’ pockets? Sure, but so is basically every other consumer good that’s not strictly necessary. If people get entertainment or utility out of having a hard copy of the indictments around their house (though why they would need such a thing is beyond me), then so be it. If it feels like $17.99 well spent then maybe it was.
Still, the book is a little more than 5 by 8 inches big and three-quarters of an inch thick, which means it probably wouldn’t fit comfortably in a pocket or stop a bullet, but I guess will be a bit more compact than a massive stack of printer paper. Just don’t count on it saving your life.