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Not since OJ in the Bronco has America watched such a surreal, slow-moving, real-time disaster.

And it’s safe to say we have never seen a more somber, defiant, serious Donald Trump. The showman in him was gone. There were no derogatory nicknames thrown around, no mocking of the process or inciting protests. 

Trump made his lone statement before his arrest on Truth Social, and for a man whose factory settings are grandiosity and braggadocio, it was remarkably subdued. Sad, even.

‘Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse. Seems so SURREAL — WOW, they are going to ARREST ME. Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!’

Surreal doesn’t begin to cover it. This country, this great ongoing experiment, just arrested and indicted a former president. This is the stuff of banana republics.

Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for far greater crimes against democracy for the very sake of democracy. At the time Ford was vilified, but history looks upon him kindly; this was the defining act of an otherwise unremarkable presidency.

Little wonder Trump looked as if he could barely raise his fist this morning outside Trump Tower. Little wonder he listened to his lawyers and declined to be handcuffed. No mug shot, either.

Whether pro-Trump or against, reasonable people can agree: such images aren’t just rocket fuel for his imminent run. They are a defiling of the office he once held.

America deserves better. Anyone taking glee in these events would do well to consider: next time, it’s very likely your candidate – your side. The precedent has been set.

It’s little wonder, too, that once he was processed, Trump refused to address the media horde inside. Or that he shot a death glare to the one journalist to call out. Or that the photos of him taken during his arraignment showed him scowling, his hands folded in his lap: fury and fatalism.

Not since OJ in the Bronco has America watched such a surreal, slow-moving, real-time disaster.

Not since OJ in the Bronco has America watched such a surreal, slow-moving, real-time disaster.

Whether pro-Trump or against, reasonable people can agree: such images aren't just rocket fuel for his imminent run. They are a defiling of the office he once held.

Whether pro-Trump or against, reasonable people can agree: such images aren’t just rocket fuel for his imminent run. They are a defiling of the office he once held.

A candidate who thrives on crowds and chaos now seemed diminished by those very things. He has also never seemed quite so alone. None of his children were with him. Melania refused to sacrifice herself and her dignity, as so many Democratic wives of straying politicians have, by showing up to support him. And good for her.

This was clearly the worst day of Donald Trump’s life, his legacy forever sullied. It’s top of the obituary stuff, the first U.S. president to be so disgraced. These images will live forever, and even if they ultimately help his campaign, the blow to his fragile ego may be unrecoverable.

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Thirty-four felony counts, a possible 136-year-prison term — over payouts regarding his sex life. $30,000 to a doorman over rumors, since discredited, that Trump fathered a child out of wedlock. Another $150,000 to a former Playboy model. And $130,000 to one-night stand Stormy Daniels.

Trump lied, says the indictment. He attempted to cover up these embarrassments so they wouldn’t surface during his first campaign.

Of course he did! How many politicians on the left have been guilty of similar behavior yet were propped up by the media? Bill Clinton took advantage of a 22-year-old intern. John Edwards cheated on his dying wife and actually did father a child out of wedlock. JFK is still revered as an icon — and he was perhaps the most depraved and craven of them all.

The hypocrisy is galling. Apparently, the Starr report is about to be surpassed in terms of tawdry details and a debasement of the presidency. The only difference this time? The gleeful media coverage.

America, get ready for a replay of 2016. It’s going to be a castigation of Donald Trump, all day every day, 24/7 media coverage — because no one is as good for ratings and eyeballs as Donald Trump. CNN boss Chris Licht should send him a fruit basket.

This was clearly the worst day of Donald Trump's life, his legacy forever sullied. It's top of the obituary stuff, the first U.S. president to be so disgraced.

This was clearly the worst day of Donald Trump’s life, his legacy forever sullied. It’s top of the obituary stuff, the first U.S. president to be so disgraced.

Across our TV screens, coverage of Donald Trump’s arraignment was riveting and banal. Primetime anchors were pulled in for daytime desk duty. Political pundits were asked to read Donald Trump’s mind — what was he thinking on the drive downtown? As he walked into Manhattan Criminal Court? As he was processed? As he sat and heard the indictment counts read?

It was all hands on deck for this most historic day. And of course, exactly what was happening depended on which channel you watched.

Licht’s struggling CNN, despite a public pivot to less partisan coverage, rivaled MSNBC for fantasy narration with a soupçon of self-righteousness. Their chyron read ‘The Arrest and Arraignment of Donald Trump,’ all in white except for the former president’s name, in a hue best described as satanic red.

Here was Anderson Cooper, filling dead air as we watched aerial footage of Trump’s motorcade, a funeral cortege of muscular black vehicles snaking its way downtown, the southbound lanes of the FDR cleared of traffic just for him.

‘No fans lining the side of the road,’ Cooper intoned. Just ‘an average day in the life of the city.’

I’m sorry — were we all watching the same footage? Tuesday morning saw nothing short of a full-on American circus in downtown New York City: Face paint and American flags, brawling in the streets, cops flooding the zone, a WWE-event-meets-MAGA-Con.

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The sad, dawning realization that America is still in the throes of this existential exorcism.

And for a certain stripe of politician, this was the only place to be. Pathological fabulist George Santos showed up, and for anyone worried that today’s events signaled the end of national unity, fret not. Just about everyone agitating downtown hated George Santos.

‘George,’ yelled one demonstrator, ‘you should have shown up in drag!’

Another: ‘George — did you get a law degree in the last two weeks that we don’t know about?’

Santos fled the scene.

Next up was Marjorie Taylor Greene, who compared Trump to Nelson Mandela and Jesus. She attempted to lead her own rally but lasted only 10 minutes before realizing that even the most pro-Trump New Yorkers wanted no part of her either. Among the Bronx cheers:

‘Get the f—k out of my city!

‘F—k you, Marjorie!’

‘New York City hates you!’

Tuesday morning saw nothing short of a full-on American circus in downtown New York City: Face paint and American flags, brawling in the streets, cops flooding the zone, a WWE-event-meets-MAGA-Con.

Tuesday morning saw nothing short of a full-on American circus in downtown New York City: Face paint and American flags, brawling in the streets, cops flooding the zone, a WWE-event-meets-MAGA-Con.

Another: 'George ¿ did you get a law degree in the last two weeks that we don't know about?' Santos fled the scene.

Another: ‘George — did you get a law degree in the last two weeks that we don’t know about?’ Santos fled the scene.

Even on Fox News, which entertained the stolen-election narrative to disastrous consequence, the coverage was fairly bloodless. Once Trump entered the courthouse, pundits wondered: Was Trump on the 15th floor? The seventh? What functions happen where?

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell struggled, too, to fill dead air. As we all watched the lone static shot from inside — just a hallway filled with cops and lawyers and officials oh-so-casually milling about — she marveled over Trump ‘welcoming this walk down the hallway,’

How would she know? Turned out he never walked down it.

‘We expect he’s gonna speak,’ she said.

Whoops again, Andrea! Trump never addressed the media, and never spoke.

Back at CNN, the panel waxed rhapsodic over D.A. Alvin Bragg, the man responsible for bringing these charges. ‘He is a deeply experienced prosecutor,’ said former federal prosecutor Elie Honig. ‘A man of integrity, a straight shooter, a trailblazer . . . He’s already carved a place in history.’

Here in New York, I can assure you, most of us feel differently. Alvin Bragg is the face of bail reform and lawlessness. We suffer rampant crime, random shootings and carjackings, repeat offenders turfed through the system, the constant outflow of high-earners from the city and state.

New Yorkers know b.s. when we smell it, and the idea that Bragg isn’t using this 34-count indictment as a political weapon to raise his own profile is ludicrous. American democracy suffers a dark day, an unprecedented arrest that will have devastating repercussions, all so Alvin Bragg can have his ego stroked.

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Yet Honig insisted, without pushback from Cooper, that Bragg doesn’t have ‘a big ego.’ Honig also said that Bragg ‘does not fit the stereotype of ‘the prosecutor.’

If by that Honig means prosecuting felonies as misdemeanours, refusing to allow judges to assess the risk of any given criminal skipping bail, and cutting disgusting plea deals — offering six months’ prison time to a man involved in a vicious anti-Semitic attack that nearly killed a 30-year-old man, as he did in January — then yes, you can definitely say that Alvin Bragg doesn’t fit the definition of a prosecutor.

Of course, our egoless prosecutor held a press conference as soon as Trump hit the tarmac back to Palm Beach. Inveighing dubious bookkeeping, false statements and hush money to keep his extramarital affairs quiet, Bragg railed against such ‘felony criminal conduct in New York State… all the more important in Manhattan, the financial capital of the world.’

The sad, dawning realization that America is still in the throes of this existential exorcism.

The sad, dawning realization that America is still in the throes of this existential exorcism.

American democracy suffers a dark day, an unprecedented arrest that will have devastating repercussions, all so Alvin Bragg can have his ego stroked.

American democracy suffers a dark day, an unprecedented arrest that will have devastating repercussions, all so Alvin Bragg can have his ego stroked.

By Bragg’s metric, every major player on Wall Street and in Big Tech would be facing indictment. His laser-focus on Donald Trump will not redound to Bragg’s benefit.

Could Tom Wolfe have written it any better — a gormless NYC prosecutor with vaulting ambition whose name is a homophone for ‘brag’?

Anyway, all that wall-to-wall coverage, much like Bragg’s presser, turned out to be anticlimactic. There was precious little any anchor or former Trump staffer or field reporter could add. It was organized chaos, history that felt wild and dispiriting, the beginning of a long story with the rare thing linear TV gets these days: Millions of eyeballs watching the same cliff-hanger.

The lone straightforward coverage came, unsurprisingly, from the BBC, their cameras trained mostly on the media outside. To my mind, they caught the image of the day: a middle-aged man wandering around outside the courthouse, clutching a teddy bear, looking like he had no idea what was happening.

There’s really no better symbol for the lost soul of America, is there? We’re like zombies post-apocalypse, trying to figure out what the hell is happening, holding fast to our emotional support animals and hoping we survive the inevitable result: Trump 2024.

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