As hundreds of large businesses lined up to get their allotted handouts from the multi-trillion dollar stimulus bill this weekend, one profession was experiencing the worst week in modern history: political ad writers. Consulting groups normally affiliated with Republicans, Democrats and in some cases both major parties shuttered their doors and laid off all of their workers.
The primary culprit? President Trump’s press conferences.
“I worked for Media Matters, MoveOn, Russia – no, wait, not Russia! – but, uh, Mother Jones, Occupy Wall Street. All of the big ones. They’d come in, plunk ten grand and ask me to produce something that could be interpreted as technically true but would cast their opponent in the worst light possible. I was, if it helps for perspective, kind of like the Rick Wilson of the left,” explained one former employee. But Trump and these conferences….”
Asked what makes Trump so hard to write ad copy about, the worker gives a rueful laugh. “You’ve got it wrong. It’s not too hard, it’s too easy. Any newbie with video editing software can do it. You don’t need nuance, you don’t need to spin anything… just go and grab a few clips of Trump over the last two months and you have an ad. Economy’s great, best of all time… and three weeks later the Dow’s down 9,000 and he’s demanding the largest spending package in history. He’s saying the virus is nothing and a cure is just around the corner, next thing he’s saying he always knew it was a pandemic and he might have to quarantine three states. Nobody needs to edit clips to make him look bad, they can just play segments from his press conferences. Done!”
Republican ad makers, on the other hand, are staring at a different breed of opposition. “We’re still limited by FEC rules and guidelines, but the Senate’s made sure that Russia can run any damned thing they want on Trump’s behalf,” says Charles Nunes, who insists he has no relation whatsoever to his uncle Devin and that he’s not part of a kickback scheme. “We don’t have the type of money that Putin has, either. We just can’t compete.”
The work stoppage has affected related fields. Summer Jones, a professional actress, explained. “I was in a bunch of anti-Bush videos back in the 2000s. I was a concerned soccer mom, and I did it well. I figured that this time around, I’d be able to get a grandma position in something. Instead the Democrats have commercials about pushing grandma off a cliff… and this time they’ve got actual video of Louie Gohmert pushing people in wheelchairs off of cliffs. He picks them up as they leave George Washington University Hospital and tries for distance when he launches them off of Mount Trashmore.” She pauses, then continues wistfully. “Reminds me of Teddy Kennedy back in the day.”
Thomas Whiteson, cameraman, provides the greatest measure of hope for the professionals who are suddenly facing forced retirement. “I looked around, and found a gig working for Netflix. It’s a new documentary series called “The Viral King”, about a crazy drug addict who forces formerly straight people to fellate him and goes into politics. He’s constantly focused on some borderline psycho ex-hippie type who wanted to kill her husband. I mean, she’s obviously bad, but the main guy… wow. He’s conning people into working for him and then they find themselves politically maimed, the people who just come along and want to support him are all talking about pizza and getting sick… it’s some riveting stuff.”