A bizarre blast from the past, verified by CBS News, is making the rounds today – an episode from a 1958 TV show that features a con man named Trump who plays on fear to get a town to build a wall. It would be difficult not to see parallels to the country’s current situation, where President Trump has shut down 25% of the government by refusing to sign funding bills because they do not include the more than $5 billion he wants just for a start on his border wall. The TV show parallel was an episode of the show “Trackdown”, which CBS News verified did air on its network on May 9, 1958.
The con man in the episode is Trump, but Walter Trump, and he attempts to convince the town that building a wall is the only way to keep the town safe from an impending threat, meteors in this case, rather than the “invasion” of immigrants against which Donald Trump is so often railing. In the episode Walter Trump does manage to convince the town to hand over the cash to build the wall, but in the end, after being arrested, he comes to a grim end. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has not so far succeeded in getting Congress to pay for his wall. According to CBS News:
As President Trump and Democrats feud over The End of the World,” a sketchy salesman by the name of Walter Trump pitches the idea of building a giant wall, claiming it would protect townspeople from a catastrophic cosmic event…”I am the only one. Trust me. I can build a wall around your homes that nothing will penetrate,” said Trump, whom the narrator describes as the “high priest of fraud.” “You ask how do you build that wall. You ask, and I’m here to tell you.” Trump eventually dupes the frightened population into forking over cash to start paying for the wall, and some even team up to rob a bank. At the end of the episode, as Trump tries to depart from the town, he’s arrested and then shot by a villager he tried to conspire with.between the U.S. and Mexico, a clip from the 1950s television series “Trackdown” that captured eerie parallels between the show and reality resurfaced. In the episode titled “
Alex Hirsch, who created a different TV show, “Gravity Falls”, tweeted a clip from the “Trackdown” episode featuring Walter Trump and his wall. Hirsch added, “What the fresh hell. This is REAL. Filmed in 1958- about a conman who grifts a small town of suckers into building a wall. History not subtle enough for you? GUESS THE GRIFTER’S NAME (And watch until the end)”. As seen in the clip, well known actor Robert Culp appears in the episode, playing Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman, who is the first person to doubt Trump and whom Trump threatens to sue, yes, sue. That does sound familiar.
What the fresh hell. This is REAL. Filmed in 1958- about a conman who grifts a small town of suckers into building a wall. History not subtle enough for you? GUESS THE GRIFTER'S NAME
(And watch until the end) pic.twitter.com/6FA3p6KC00
— Alex Hirsch (@_AlexHirsch) January 9, 2019
Surely this is all coincidence, yet it may be amusing to imagine that Donald Trump in 1958, only a month away from his 12th birthday, saw this episode when it aired originally and identified with the wall salesman, the con man. That’s an amusing thought, but, again, this parallel is just a coincidence. It does show that some of the same moral considerations are present here in 2019 reality as were there in 1958 fiction – the use of fear as a bargaining chip, lying to try to get one’s way, making untrue claims to get a wall, all in order to get a pile of money for something that is unnecessary and ineffective.