Celebrity Apprentice 2024

Just when you thought there was no room for another classic television series reboot, Americans were “treated” to a revival of the Celebrity Apprentice.  Hosted by New York supreme court judge Juan Merchan, the format called for a series of Donald Trump associates to compete to see who best emulated the show’s namesake and original apprentice, who perfected his business and political skills at the altar of former Al Capone and Joe McCarthy attorney Roy Cohn.  Instead of Trump family members and Trump Organization executives, the judges consisted of a panel of 12 anonymous New Yorkers.

The following is a recap of the presentations made by each of the losing contestants.

  • American Media, Inc. president David Pecker.  Mr. Pecker wanted the judges to know how much he owed his own behavior to Trump’s tutelage, referring to him as “my mentor.”  Where else would he learn to create fake magazine covers than the man you adorned his office with manufactured Time “Man of the Year” awards?
  • Campaign and White House staffer Hope Hicks.  Ms. Hicks demonstrated how she had effectively mastered the “Trump Backtrack.”  Once Hicks realized she had bolstered the prosecution’s case by tying the Stormy Daniels payment to the 2016 election, she made a point to describe how Trump asked that newspapers that featured release of the Access Hollywood tape be banned from his Trump Tower residence, as if that would shield Melania from the on-coming firestorm.
  • Adult film star Stormy Daniels.  Trump’s lawyers, referencing Ms. Daniels’ “Make America Horny Again” strip club tour, books and anti-Trump merchandise, accused her of using the alleged affair to make money.  To which, she pulled the Trump “both sides do it” argument out of her hat.  When defense lawyer Susan Necheles asked Daniels about “an online store where you sell merchandise,” she replied, “Not unlike Mr. Trump.”
  • Defense witness and attorney Robert Costello. Mr. Costello chose one of Trump’s favorite distractions to make his case.  Throw everything against the wall and hope something sticks.  First, he demonstrated distain for the process.  Then he cherry-picked evidence, especially emails.  Under direct questioning, he felt no need to elaborate, claiming, “The emails speak for themselves.”  Finally, he likely committed perjury, testifying that his sole interest was to help Cohen navigate his legal problems. However, when other emails totally undermined his previous testimony, he adopted the Trump/Emily Litella defense, “Never mind.”

As we always knew, none of these also-rans had a chance against Trump Organization attorney and fixer Michael Cohen.  He had an insurmountable advantage, ten years with the Donald to hone his Trump-like bag of tricks which included.

  • Lying.
  • Tax evasion.
  • Bullying and threatening Trump adversaries.

However, the creme de la creme was revealed during cross-examination when Mr. Cohen admitted he had underpaid a contractor (Red Finch IT Consulting) and pocketed the difference because he felt entitled to it.  What could possibly be more Trumpian than that?  And but for the fact Cohen flipped on Trump, you can imagine the latter telling his protégé, “I’m proud of you boy.  Thanks for being the son I never had.”

POSTSCRIPT:  Minor League Justice

Watching cable news coverage of the trial took me back to my childhood.  I received my first transistor radio for my 10th birthday.  At bedtime, I would listen to baseball games featuring our hometown AAA Richmond Virginians, a Yankees farm team.  Due to budget constraints, the announcers did not attend away games.  Instead, they called the game based on teletype updates.  Crowd noise and the crack of a ball against a bat were added to the illusion the broadcast team was actually in attendance.

Coverage of the Trump trial was a throwback to those days.  Although the technology was more sophisticated, the underlying process remained the same.  Someone in the overflow room would transcribe the testimony, post it to the news anchors who then did their best to take the viewer “inside the courtroom.”

To complete this illusion, all MSNBC and CNN needed was background noise consisting of the defendant’s rustling papers, snoring and an occasional fart.

For what it’s worth.

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