I was on my computer recently and reading what I thought was my 9th grade cousin’s book report. He was writing some really weird stuff that reminded me of a bad translation of one of Chairman Mao’s Chinese history lessons. For example:
“But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country. Finally, the chorus became an earthquake, and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand.”
And then I saw the next sentence which read, “That America put its own citizens first,” and I realized that this had nothing to do with Chairman Mao at all. It was actually President Donald Trump’s 2017 State of the Union Address. Talk about cultural appropriation. Anyway, this whole mix-up was a massive lightbulb moment for me, because PredictIt has some prop bets open on Trump’s State of the Union speech that I am dying to exploit like a Chinese protectorate. Some of them are free money, some of them are pretty high-risk, but this one is my absolute favorite and is the model I am going to be testing all of them against:
Will Trump mention “fake news” in his speech?
Talk about a winner. I know that I am upfront about being a genius, but I owe a tip of the hat to a PredictIt trader who goes by Old850 for turning me on to this market:
First of all, let me be clear. I get extremely nervous about talking to strangers like Old850, which is why I usually wind up horrifying them when I work up the stones to introduce myself. That’s what shotgunning seven beers and being covered in your own drool does for breaking the ice. But if there is one thing that we love at SSG, it’s when bros like Old850 drop us a line and tell us what markets they’re watching. So hit us on our contact page and tell us what you’re playing.
Anyway, I listened to the February 1st edition of The Daily and sure enough, Old850 was right-on. The New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger has lit-up President Trump twice in face-to-face meetings in which he warned Trump “about your anti-press rhetoric. Fake news, enemy of the people…” He went on to tell Trump that, “We’ve seen, around the world, an unprecedented rise in attacks on journalists” and that “the effects of the broad-based attacks on journalist seem to be growing,” because of Trump.
But I am not any old gullible. I don’t think that The New York Times’s publisher getting in Trump’s face about how his “fake news” act is getting people killed is enough to keep this topic out of the State of the Union. That’s because politics is all about getting other people to sacrifice themselves so that you can hold on to power, like when JFK said, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” and when Reagan conveniently developed Alzheimers so that he could forget about Iran-Contra entirely and let Oliver North do hard time for him. That said, I like Old850’s instincts, so I rolled-up my sleeves and got to work reading Trump’s other two joint addresses. Two things popped-out bigly:
— Donald Trump doesn’t say a lot of crazy stuff when he goes to the Hill. He generally avoids his trademark conspiracy theories, like “Fake News;” and has generally been praised by the press for being “presidential” in those moments.
— Donald Trump does add a lot of crazy adjectives to the “normal” stuff he talks about.
For example, in his 2017 and 2018 speeches to Congress, Trump told us about the “fantastic” F-35 fighter, people who have been “viciously gunned-down” by “illegal” immigrants; and he has trashed the “terrible” nuclear arms deal with Iran and the “job-killing” Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. You might be a little creeped-out that Trump describes federal policy the same way your drunk uncle describes the first time he got laid or how mad he was when he lost the ’77 state football championship, but Trump is definitely expressing legitimate opinions in his joint addresses. None of these adjective-soaked statements are promoting conspiracy theories like the idea that liberal publications are purely “fake news.”
So here is a rule I’m using to bet all of these markets: At the State of the Union, Trump says normal stuff in a weird way. He does not just make stuff up, or import conspiracy theories like “fake news.” And his own staff is basically confirming that. According to CBS News, one senior staffer has said that the speech will be, “similar,” to last year’s because it will be, “optimistic and unifying.” That sure doesn’t sound like a “fake news” panic attack to me.
So Old850, I took a little persuading, but I think you’re onto something. This is going to resolve as a “NO.” I’m in.