I was too young to remember the original television series The Twilight Zone, which ran on CBS from 1959-1964. But I do remember watching those same shows, which ran in syndication for several years in the late 60s and 70s. Yes, I’m dating myself here. So for those who have no recollection of the series, the host, Rod Serling, would appear at the beginning and introduce each show with a short monologue explaining what we were about to see.
The show was unique for its time and entered into strange and often highly imaginative themes that bordered on the bizarre and extreme. After the last few days of President Trump’s continued hijacking of all available oxygen in the media world, I found myself remembering the legendary series and thinking that we have indeed entered The Twilight Zone. Even a guy with the innovative imagination of Rod Serling would have had a hard time coming up with what we are witnessing daily from the current President of the United States.
For example, just yesterday, in a rambling and brief press conference we heard this President: rail against Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, calling her a hater of Jews and Israel; castigate former President Obama for being ‘outsmarted’ by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea and Ukraine and suggesting Russia’s reinstatement to the so-called G7—which used to be G8 when they were a member—but were kicked out for their belligerent actions by the other member nations; and question the ‘loyalty’ of Jews in America that voted Democratic, which conjures up Nazi tropes that Hitler used in his rise to power.
But wait, there’s more. In a Tweet late yesterday, Trump declined an invitation from the Queen of Denmark to visit that country, in part because of their refusal to even entertain Trump’s ridiculous overture to purchase Greenland from them. And already today, Trump has tweeted his thank you to Wayne Allyn Root, a renown conspiracy theorist who proclaimed that the Israeli people love him like he’s the King of Israel. Trump’s tweeting and retweeting of conspiracy theories and other deranged wing nuts is nothing new of course. This behavior has been commonplace throughout his Presidency, with his son Don Jr. also following suit on many occasions.
In any other world, we’d have to seriously consider invoking the 25th Amendment for this President, just from his actions in the last 48 hours. But that’s not where we are. This particular world is the alternate reality and universe that perhaps only Rod Serling could have even come close to understanding. But even Trump’s recent meltdown pales in comparison to the story that broke yesterday morning from NBC News.
According to the piece, other than the Trump campaign itself, a relatively new media outlet called The Epoch Times has bought the most pro-Trump ads on Facebook so far this year. Most people, including myself, have never heard of this group. But when you take a look at who they are, in today’s bizarro world of Donald Trump, it makes total sense.
The Epoch Times is a small New York-based nonprofit news outlet that has spent $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months on Facebook. In many ways, these ads resemble many coming from the conservative media world that peddles in “Deep State” and “fake news” conspiracy theories. But these people are different. Very different.
The group derives from Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual community whose stated goal is to take down China’s government. The government itself has labeled the group a cult, which motivates the group’s anti-Chinese government mantra and has led the organization toward Trump, due to his hard-line stance toward the communist country. To these people, Trump is like a hero and savior, the last great hope to deliver them their ultimate goal of banishing the Chinese government to hell, in a judgment day where only those who believe in their spiritual movement will live. Oh, it gets better.
The group has produced conspiracy theory videos on YouTube that in some cases have garnered millions of views. One example is a show called the “Edge of Wonder,” which has made claims that alien abductions are real and the “deep state engineered the drug epidemic.” The verified YouTube channel also pushes the QAnon conspiracy theory of “Spygate,” which alleges that a global cabal led by Hillary Clinton and President Obama is currently trying to take down Trump. Yes, QAnon is the same movement that claimed Hillary was running a pedophile ring in the basement of a pizza parlor.
Other videos are depicting 9/11 conspiracy theories, and another one entitled “13 Bloodlines and their Diabolical End Game,” have gained hundreds of thousands of views each. This is crazy stuff folks. Is it any wonder they’re all in for Donald Trump?
The Trump family has no problem embracing this group. The President’s Facebook page has posted Epoch Times content at least a half dozen times this year—with several articles written by members of the Trump campaign. And our buddy Don Jr. has tweeted several of their stories as well. Even Lara Trump, Eric’s wife, has gotten in on the action, sitting down for a 40-minute interview in Trump Tower with the paper’s senior editor. Hell, the group was even able to find a table at the conservative conference CPAC for the first time, interviewing Trump campaign members as well as members of Congress and right-wing celebrities.
Sadly, this story won’t even last more than a day or two. A group of crazy conspiracy theorists and cultists fully embraces the current President of the United States for reelection, with the full endorsement and acceptance of the campaign itself. And the story will die like all of the others—never to be resurrected because the next one will surely be more outrageous and scandalous than the one before it.
Trump, as always, seems to be careening toward some sort of apocalyptic phase of his narcissistic disorder. But is he really? How long is this going to be allowed to last? Have we reached a point in time where it’s too late to do anything at all? Frankly, that appears to be the case. Nothing shocks. Nothing moves the needle anymore.
We’re all numb.
Rod Serling is not turning over in his grave. On the contrary, he’s wishing he could be alive to witness what we’re all observing. The visionary writer and director was a man before his time. But even he would have been hard-pressed to come up with Donald Trump as President. What the hell have we done?