Steve Mnuchin Becomes Trump’s Latest Target

With the economy appearing to sour, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is quickly becoming the President's latest target of criticism.

Over the past two years, the President has lashed out publicly and privately at a number of the people that he has appointed to top positions in his government and in the White House. The most notable of these, of course, have been men such as former F.B.I. Director James Comey, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and soon-to-be-former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, both of whom were eventually forced out of office. Additionally, at various times he has vented in public and in private about various members of the Administration, most of whom still remain on the job. Most recently, we’ve seen him put Jamie Powell, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board that Trump nominated just about a year ago, in his crosshairs, claiming that the Fed’s current policy of raising interest rates is the reason the stock market has going down. Now, he appears to be venting against someone who has largely escaped his ire until now, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin:

President Donald Trump’s frustration with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is ratcheting up further after markets suffered their worst Christmas Eve drop ever following Mnuchin’s attempts to calm Wall Street failed, according to a source close to the White House.

The source told CNN that Mnuchin could be in “serious jeopardy” with Trump, who regularly rages at Cabinet members he feels have made mistakes before he cools off.

Trump nevertheless vouched for Mnuchin publicly, shifting blame for the market volatility to the Federal Reserve instead.

“Yes, I do,” Trump said Tuesday when asked whether he had confidence in Mnuchin. “Very talented, very smart person.”

But the source painted a different picture of Mnuchin’s standing behind the scenes.

“Mnuchin is under the gun,” the source said.

The Treasury secretary left Washington for a Christmas holiday in Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas as the federal government shut down over the weekend, while Trump canceled his own planned trip to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and remained cooped up in the White House over the holiday, absorbing a flood of negative news about the markets.

Trump could meet with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in the new year, a person familiar with the matter told CNN Wednesday morning.

Trump has fumed at Powell for raising interest rates, which Trump believes is driving the stock market lower. Some of the President’s aides believe a face-to-face meeting could help ease tensions and allow the two men to discuss the underlying economy.

Mnuchin meets regularly with Powell and it’s not unheard of for a Fed chair to meet with the President, though it’s rare since the position is meant to be independent of politics.

Nothing has been formally scheduled. The Wall Street Journal first reported the discussions about the meeting.

At the same time in Washington, Mnuchin aides have been scrambling to find economic data to help their boss calm Trump down, but Trump was said to be unhappy with what Mnuchin was telling him, this source said.
An administration source dismissed the latest round of rumors that the secretary’s continued tenure was on the line.

“This is nonsense,” they said.

Over the weekend, the secretary spoke by phone with the President several times, including after a brutal trading day on Christmas Eve resulting in a 653-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, according to the administration source. The two men spoke on a variety of issues, including the government shutdown and an update on the status of trade talks.

Given the fact that Mnuchin has been one of the few Cabinet officials who has until now been able to dodge the President’s criticism is due largely to the fact that that the economy has been performing well during the first two years of the President’s term and that, other than a few missteps involving his use of government jets for seemingly personal travel, for which he later reimbursed the Federal Government, Mnuchin has been protected by the fact that he’s seen as the primary face of Administration economic policy. Since the economy has been doing well and Trump is getting credit for that, Trump has had little reason to attack his Treasury Secretary.

In the short-run, at least, Mnuchin’s job is probably safe notwithstanding the President’s recent complaints. The same appears to be true of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell notwithstanding the fact that he too has come under criticism by the President for pursuing an interest rate policy that, given the Fed’s mandate regarding monetary policy and inflation, seems entirely appropriate. That doesn’t mean that he’s entirely secure, of course. If the economy starts turning south, then Trump is going to look for someone to blame, and his Treasury Secretary would be a very convenient target under those circumstances. In the case of Sessions and Kelly, Trump was speaking negatively about them for months before finally acting. Mnuchin would be wise to keep that in mind.


FILED UNDER: Deficit and Debt, Economics and Business, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Mnuchin would be wise to keep that in mind.

    If Mnuchin was wise he never would have taken this job.

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    To date Trump has appointed and then attacked:

    Attorney General Sessions.
    Deputy AG Rosenstein.
    Fed Chair Powell.
    Sec State Tillerson.
    CoS McMaster.
    CoS #2 Kelly.
    SecDef Mattis.
    DHS Sec Nielsen.
    And now Treasury Sec Mnuchin.

    That is by my quick count, nine of Trump’s own people attacked by Trump. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.

    Trump is no longer at war with Democrats, it’s Trump vs. Trump now as the clownish fascist wanna-be drowns in his own incompetence.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Bearing in mind that 40% of the population have no awareness that this is going on. Look at our own Trumpers…

  4. MicahStone says:

    To try to influence or pressure through strong persuasion, especially to urge to comply voluntarily.

    When liberal extremist presidents use “jawboning” to try to influence people and organizations, the corrupt liberal FAKE-NEWS media always declare it a GOOD THING to do. When POTUS Trump does the same thing, they say he’s an evil, controlling monster !!!!

  5. @Michael Reynolds: I would add: CoS Priebus (and McMaster was the National Security Adviser).

    He has attacked his current acting AG as well, IIRC.

  6. BTW, only an idiot would think that interest rates weren’t going to go up given how historically low they have been and the fact that economy has been in recovery for some time now.

    (And yes, I know what I just said).

  7. MarkedMan says:


    they say he’s an evil, controlling monster !!!!

    Yeah, I can’t speak for anyone else but as for myself the most important thing to understand about Trump is that he is a moron. You can attribute some kind of genius n-dimensional chess strategy to Trump if you like. And I can claim that my cat understands differential equations. Both are just delusions.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.

    Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer too. Omarosa after she left. I think the only person who has left his admin and stayed in his good graces is Hope Hicks, maybe Flynn.

  9. Mister Bluster says:


    When Trump does it he means “grab ’em by the pussy”!
    Everyone knows that’s why he is your hero.
    That and screwing porn stars committing adultery.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:


    liberal extremist presidents

    Heh, this in the age of trump.

  11. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: McMaster was national security advisor, not chief of staff, but Reince Priebus was CoS and belongs on your list.

  12. Teve says:


    liberal extremist presidents

    I know it seems like, when you’re feeling better, you don’t need to keep taking your meds, but you really do.

  13. Kathy says:

    You ever get the feeling that news programs ought to play the Jaws theme when they show Trump meeting with his cabinet?

  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    Note to self: No, the OTB regulars will not let you get away with imperfect memory, do the work, look it up or the #@%$*! will beat you about the head and shoulders.

  15. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: we do it out of love 🙂

  16. Stormy Dragon says:

    To be fair, Mnunchin deserves it right now after that boneheaded “Nobody Panic” press release on the 23rd.

  17. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Trump is like an idiot version of those Bond villains that have a trapdoor waiting to dispose of every minion he gets tired of.

  18. Kylopod says:

    If I came up with a list of all the fictional villains Trump has reminded me of over the past couple of years, it’d be longer than the minions he’s attacked.

  19. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The other thing to keep in mind is that the people in Wall Street know rates go up and down, and some can make estimates of when and how much they’ll rise or fall. Therefore a mere increase in rates shouldn’t rattle the markets.

    On the other hand, trade wars, tariffs imposed willy-nilly, turmoil in the executive branch, turmoil in international relations, and all other things Trump wrecks habitually, are sure to rattle things around Wall St.

  20. Sleeping Dog says:


    …stayed in his good graces is Hope Hicks, maybe Flynn.

    When the opera that Flynn has performed for Mueller becomes public, Flynn will be in the same category as Michael Cohen.

  21. @Kathy: I agree–and I don’t think that the rate hikes are the primary factor here. I just am trying to be fair to note that the market tends not to like rate hikes.

  22. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Deserves to be fired, possibly so. Deserves to be belittled and humiliated publicly, no.

    The bizarre announcement about the liquidity of banks has been dissected in the news. One possibility I’ve not seen is that El Cheeto ordered him to do it.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: In fairness though, if someone has been taking medicines for a long time (for example, I’ve been taking one sort of medicine or another for most of the 66 years I’ve been alive [asthma]), a lot of the time, taking as little medicine as possible was considered good because so many early meds had toxicity issues. Of course, that makes your warning all the more important, in that the cumulative effect of continuous usage is so beneficial.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: Is there any possibility that someone can convince him that he should get a cat to hold on his lap and stroke while he’s in meetings?

  25. Mister Bluster says:
  26. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Only if it’s a stuffed cat. There’s no way he’d get a real one. He’s terrified of any being he can’t immediately control.

  27. KM says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Is there any possibility that someone can convince him that he should get a cat to hold on his lap and stroke while he’s in meetings?

    Man, what have cats ever done to you to deserve that horrible treatment this holiday season? Be kind to animals and Photoshop it in like the rest of us 🙂

  28. Mr. Prosser says:
  29. Mikey says:

    @Mister Bluster: Who says shaming doesn’t work?

  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s hard to find a good comparison at one level because writers have a strong bias in favor of intelligent villains. They challenge the hero, plus they’re just more fun to write.

    “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”

    “Look after Mr Bond, see that some harm comes to him.”

    “You will taste man-flesh.”

    “Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.”

    Nothing beats a clever villain.

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mr. Prosser: I don’t know how I missed it, but I’d never seen that gif before. Funny!

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:
  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Fer sure, even tho trump is taking it easy on Flynn right now, I seem to remember a period where trump was slinging slights in Flynn’s direction?

  34. Teve says:

    From Harry Turtledove on Twitter:

    Trump asks Angela Merkel, “How do you have so many smart people around you?”
    “I have a test.” She calls Wolfgang Schäuble. “Who is your father’s son but not your brother?” “It’s me, ” Schäuble says. “See?” Merkel says. Trump goes home and asks Mike Pence, “Who is your father’s son but not your brother?”

    Pence thinks and thinks, but has no answer. Finally he tells Trump, “I’ll get back to you.” Next day, he calls Obama: “Who is your father’s son but not your brother?”
    “It’s me,” Obama tells him. So Pence calls Trump back and says, “I have the answer, Mr. President! It’s Barack Obama.”

    “No, you fucking idiot!” Trump screams. “It’s Wolfgang Schäuble!”

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: You want him to grab the pussy? What do you have against cats?

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM: Cats and Trump would be just fine together. They’re both sociopathic and will tend to ignore others as long as they’re getting what they want. Now Kylopod’s point about Trump possibly being afraid of cats is a valid objection, and, certainly, someone on the White House staff would need to actually take care of the cat; taking care of a cat would be beyond Trump’s ability level. Other than that, the cat would make a perfectly appropriate prop for Trump meetings and appearances, and it wouldn’t be a difficult job for the cat, who would probably see Trump as some sort of a prop in said cat’s life in government. [“This guy is obviously the staffer in charge of stroking me between the ears. He needs a little training, but I can handle that.”]

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Cute. Heh, heh.

  38. Kathy says:


    From Harry Turtledove on Twitter:

    Not bad. but I figured he’d go for a Freedom Party joke.

  39. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Nothing beats a clever villain

    I’m not a professional writer, but doesn’t that seem like a kind of obvious go-to? in the hero’s journey, the hero has to go through trials and tribulations, and it seems like having a smart opponent would be pretty obvious. I mean, I like Lee child’s books and Jack reacher doesn’t have great opponents, but he still has to go through ordeals. it seems like having smart opponents would just be another way to create those ordeals.

  40. Teve says:

    @Kathy: I’ve never read Harry turtledove alternative fictions, though I do like the idea of alternative fiction, but that just popped up on Twitter and it was kind of funny.

  41. Teve says:

    In my early twenties I was Sherlock Holmes nut, and Moriarty was really interesting. Less so then Sherlock’s brother Mycroft.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Ah’ll be bahk”

  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: And speaking of clever villains, Hans Gruber: “I could talk about industrialisation and men’s fashion all day but I’m afraid work must intrude.”

  44. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s hard to find a good comparison at one level because writers have a strong bias in favor of intelligent villains.

    That’s one of the reasons why I’ve suggested that if there’s ever a movie about the Trump era, the Coen Brothers would be perfect to direct it. They specialize in making intelligent movies about stupid people (of which Fargo is their magnum opus).

    As for specific characters, I summed up my feelings the other day at a different forum: If I wanted to create the perfect fictional counterpart to Trump, I’d take Joffrey from GoT, Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter, and Casino Biff from Back to the Future (whom the writers claim was based on Trump)–and imagine an old and senile version of this combo.

  45. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Remember, no other president has ever visited the troops in Iraq. None.

  46. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s hard to find a good comparison at one level because writers have a strong bias in favor of intelligent villains.

    All I’ll say is I was impressed by Timothy Zahn’s New Star Wars Trilogy because Grand Admiral Thrawn was an intelligent villain. He was, IMO, positively brilliant.

    When I re-read those books, I tend to skip over the heroes and focus mostly on Thrawn. He’s far more interesting, and far more in charge of developments.

    The problem with an intelligent villain, though, is they have to be out of character stupid at one point, or the heroes won’t win. Thrawn certainly was.

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: BTW, thanks for the tip a while back about “The Gods Themselves”. I’ve been re-reading (or rather, audiobooking) it. Although definitely recognizable as late golden age, the themes and issues it dealt with could be dropped into a book today without a hitch. Gender issues, sexual orientation, climate change denial, interesting look on “racism” (I wonder if my 13 year old self even recognized the racist attitude of one of the cool characters? I might not have even known what miscegenation meant at the time). All done with sufficiently odd aliens and different human cultures so that it would have gotten the equivalent of a PG-13 rating.

  48. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @Teve: @Kathy: The reason a villain like Joffrey works is that he’s a stooge within a landscape of clever villains, such as Littlefinger, Tywin, Roose, and Ramsay. He’s a sick bully handed a great deal of power, but he’s also a snot-nosed brat who doesn’t have the faintest idea how to exercise that power–except when his erratic tendencies make a mess that the people who wield the real power are forced to clean up. So he ends up paradoxically as monstrous tyrant and figurehead at the same time.

    TYRION: You just sent the most powerful man in Westeros to bed without his supper.

    TYWIN: You’re a fool if you think he’s the most powerful man in Westeros.

    I thought of the Joffrey/Trump comparison almost as soon as Trump rose to power. I’m not the only one it occurred to.

  49. Mister Bluster says:

    Remember, no other president has ever visited the troops in Iraq. None.

    Anything else is fake history.

  50. Kathy says:


    I wonder if my 13 year old self even recognized the racist attitude of one of the cool characters?

    Selene? She put me off when I first read it.

    I could argue the “gods” are racist as well. They know what the Positron Pump will do to an entire world, and they don’t care.

    You know what other Asimov book I love? “The End of Eternity.”

    “The Gods Themselves” is his best work, but Eternity is my favorite.

  51. MarkedMan says:

    @Mister Bluster: No president has ever visited the troops before, anywhere. Period.

  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: It’s interesting in that he takes one motivation (resentment over perceived or real slights) and gives a different version of it to virtually every single character and then kind of just imagines how it plays out with each one and how it all steam rolls into cosmic danger/salvation

  53. Matt says:

    @Kathy: Thrawn is without a doubt my favorite “bad guy” character in the Star Wars EU. He’s such a badass that even in the kiddy cartoon he was still fantastic. In the cartoon Thrawn kept losing because his subordinates were idiots.

    Obi-wan is probably my favorite overall.

  54. Barry says:

    @Kathy: “The problem with an intelligent villain, though, is they have to be out of character stupid at one point, or the heroes won’t win. Thrawn certainly was.”

    No, there are several ways to deal with this:

    1) The heroes have something up their sleeve which the villain just can’t deal with (likely because it’s out of his experience). For example, if the heroes have the Force, and it’s widely believed to no longer exist at strength, then the villain could waste a lot of time thinking that it was propaganda. Completing a Mystic Quest to find the Long Lost Artifact of Power would do this, as well.

    2) Problems with higher ups. For example, Vader and Palpatine probably took the attitude of many dictators when it came to competent subordinates (warning: I’m not up on Star Wars non-movie canon). This could range from keeping forces dispersed, not following up on victories to killing them once they had won some battles. For example, ISIS’s turkey bacon has likely pulled out of the fire by Trump ending major operations against them at the last minute. They might still have to disperse and go back to guerrilla war, but that will be far easier with diminished US air assets and a war among their enemies.

    3) Flat-out backstabbing. Again, the war against ISIS: the Kurds could have some really, really good leadership, which might be doing incredibly well to avoid a slaughter at the hands of the Turks, Assad and Iran.

  55. Kathy says:


    In the sequel novels, “The Hand of Thrawn,” and the prequel, “Outbound Flight,” Thrawn gets a nice moral muddling.

    It doesn’t quite work for me. I can’t quite reconcile his predilection for slavery later on.

  56. Kathy says:


    No, there are several ways to deal with this:

    Yes, of course. but you get out of character stupid quite often. Or out of character oblivious, which is close.

    I have to admit it’s realistic. I’ve said before even very smart people do stupid things. I also maintain no one can foresee everything or anticipate all consequences.

    But dramatically it’s disappointing.

  57. grumpy realist says:

    @Barry: I imagine the typical problem causing the downfall is that you get more and more arrogant and more and more inclined to surround yourself with toadies who tell you what you want to hear, rather than what you need to hear. (Lashing out like our man-toddler when he gets confronted with bad news doesn’t help, either.) The intelligent people see the writing on the wall and start staying far, far away. Finally, the villain implodes in a mixture of chaotic incompetence and fury when reality starts crashing in on him. See: Fall of the Third Reich, the downfall of quite a few kings in Europe, and Lil’ Bone Spurs.

    The only reason Trump is still standing is because the rest of the Republican party is terrified of his adoring worshipers.

  58. Barry says:

    @Kathy: “Yes, of course. but you get out of character stupid quite often. Or out of character oblivious, which is close.”

    Please note that in the examples I’ve given, the character in question is not acting stupidly. They *are* acting in ignorance of crucial facts. In the Long Lost Artifact example, nobody is expecting an artifact lost for a thousand years to pop up just in time to hurt them. For example, if Saddam Hussein found a piece of the True Cross in 2003 and blasted our forces, our generals would not have been stupid.

  59. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Re: “Realistic” being disappointing. I’m a big fan of Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin series based on Napoleonic era naval battles. In the main, he is able to craft dozens of interesting encounters at sea without repeating himself or boring the reader. Except for once. In one book (I forget which) he goes into significant detail with a battle wherein Jack is made an acting Admiral and leads a half dozen or so ships into an engagement that is uncharacteristically scattershot, with various captains making mistakes you wouldn’t expect from a newly made ensign much less a captain with decades of sea experience. For example, in his excitement one captain drove his ship onto a visible and charted sandbar in full daylight and had to attempt to pull off with boats and anchors while engaging the enemy with cannon fire.

    You know where this is going. In the afterward, or perhaps in an interview, he comments on how this is one of the best documented battles in the whole war, and how he set it down almost verbatim, substituting Aubrey for the actual admiral and padding out a few extra things for him to do. Nothing sounds so unrealistic as real life…

  60. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have a very simple approach to writing confrontations between Bad Guy and Good Guy. It’s like playing chess against yourself: I give the Bad Guy my best moves, then I figure out how to extricate the Good Guy. It sounds obvious, but the mistake too many writers make is to handicap the Bad Guy so that Good Guy has an assured win, the equivalent of setting up the chessboard in such a way that Good Guy has checkmate in three moves. This is boring. Readers/viewers know what you’re doing, they aren’t all idiots.

    Stupid Bad Guys can’t play chess at all, which rather limits one’s opportunity for showing off the Good Guy’s skills. To me the fun part is writing the Bad Guy as intelligently as I can, and then figuring out how to beat him. I never start an action scene knowing how my Good Guy will escape, because if I don’t know then the reader/viewer also won’t know.

    That said, I am intrigued by characters so dumb they triumph – Peter Sellers in Being There, or Bill and Ted, or Joey from Friends, or Ace Ventura; Pet Detective. Of course you’ll notice those are all comedies, not sure I know of an example from an action franchise. I did some of this in a 4-book middle grade I did called The Magnificent 12, but while that was action it was also comedy.

    I concur with@Kylopod: that the Coen Brothers are the masters of smart-dumb and Trump would fit well in their world, somewhere between John Goodman in The Big Lebowski and John Goodman in O’ Brother Where Art Thou?

  61. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: One of the things I give Rowling a lot of credit for is the way she used very believable gaps in Voldamort’s character to show why, despite his power and his cunning, he lost in the end. She started in the first book with what sounded like a throwaway kid’s story aphorism: Dumbledore says that since he cannot understand love he cannot really understand people and it will be his downfall. With the 11 year old perspective in that first book we take it as a standard moralistic lecture, imagining that Dumbledore is trying to win him back from the dark side. But by the last book and the young adult perspective we realize that it was more a cogent and practical analysis than a lecture. Voldemort understands how people will react when he humiliates them, or physically hurts them, or gives them power or status or riches. He understands such things at a deep level and that is how he becomes socially powerful, more so than magically powerful. But because he cannot understand romantic love, or the love of a parent for a child, he creates a close “ally” that is really working against him, and another that betrays him at the eleventh hour, giving up all the power and riches bestowed on her, in order to save a child Voldemort has put in harms way. I have great respect for a writer who plants seeds in book one and nurtures them all the way through six more books, resulting in a downfall that has not a whit of deux ex machina in it.

  62. Michael Reynolds says:

    She’s a very good writer, especially good at world-building. But beware of assuming seeds are planted with an eye to eventual harvest. Often seeds are planted without any clear notion of what they’ll mean downstream, but the clever author develops instincts and something in the recesses of your brain thinks, ‘hmm, this may develop…’

    IIRC Rowling used to claim she’d mapped the whole series out but that was always b.s. There are readers who think I mapped out the six GONE books precisely because it seemed as if I’d planted seeds and tended them when in reality it was all improv. A seed may be planned – some authors can do that – but more often it reveals a desire or prejudice on the author’s part. Rowling believes what she wrote about Voldemort and so long as her core beliefs are consistent the end result will appear to be planned when in reality it’s improvised.

  63. Grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: one of the writers who plants seeds and develops them many books later is Michelle Sagara in her Chronicles of Elantra series. I’ve always wondered how much pre-planning she does.

  64. Teve says:

    Remember the Steele Dossier saying that Michael Cohen went to Prague to negotiate with Russian Intel sources about paying hackers to hack into Hillary Clinton’s campaign? two McClatchy reporters say they have sources that Cohen’s cell phone pinged in Prague. Trump Chumps won’t care but I bet Mueller will.

  65. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Rowling’s success was coincident with the rise of the ability to trivially create an internet community (at least in a technical sense), and many such communities rose up around HP fandom. She admitted that she relied on them as kind of an encyclopedia to check on what she had previously said about one character or another, in books or in interviews. But I also wonder on how much she benefitted from the fan theory discussions. They could have revealed some of the accidental seeds you mention, or even warned her off of some paths she was planning to take. I’m not familiar with your work Michael so don’t know if it is aimed at the age group that would develop such communities but, if so, does this happen to you?

  66. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Grumpy realist:
    I avoid much planning because in planning you minimize the possibilities for adaptation and future discovery. If you’re writing a trilogy or series, that matters, which is why (bragging ahead) while Hunger Games, Maze Runner and Divergent all dropped in their star ratings (7%, 6% and 14% respectively) from a book #1 high, my series rose by 14%. Plus it’s scary for the writer which (along with caffeine, nicotine and the occasional Adderall) keeps me alert.

  67. Michael Reynolds says:

    Actually, I think Katherine and I were among the very first to encounter the early social media reality with ANIMORPHS. It began with fan-fic, a fun diversion for fans in which they write alternative stories for your characters, often involving sex, frequently involving sex with other people’s characters. We had to decide how we felt about this and decided: cool! People love our characters so much they want to write 50,000 words about them? How is that not great?

    As it happens I just last week did a podcast/discord ANIMORPHS quiz which I lost miserably. And a new phenomenon which Rowling gets way, way more of than I do, is social media demands for additional facts and details. For example, a character named Marco: was he bisexual? Um…. well… he was 12, so… OK, given that everyone is on a spectrum and everyone is to some degree bisexual, sure, why not.

    I write the stuff, I don’t memorize it. So yes, I regularly go to Wikipedia or fan sites to see WTF I wrote. I’m writing a TV pilot adaptation for GONE right now and had to download an e-book version so I can remember what I wrote a decade ago. I also spend some time on TV Tropes to see whether my bullshit is getting stale or predictable. There are definite plusses and minuses from social media.

  68. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I just looked up “Gone” on Wikipedia because you mentioned it above. The blurb sounds like a TV show I started watching several years ago (at least). Was that a coincidence or was it based on gone?

    [Edit] I remembered the show incorrectly. It was “Between” and everyone over 22 died in a small town, with the survivors quarantined inside. Amazing how badly I can misremember something in only three years.

  69. Kathy says:

    How about giving away a point in the plot right at the title?

    In a story I’m trying to work on, Antiope of Troy, the title for part one, Apotheosis, gives away a part of the plot if you know what apotheosis means. Though I’m more concerned that the big action sequence takes place in the first third, with only lesser miracles and lots of character development later on.

    For that matter, Asimov’s “The End of Eternity” gives away that Eternity is going to End.

  70. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: Years before the Potter series ended I happened to read a fan book on the series. It put forth a bunch of theories about the later books, two of which stuck in my mind. The first one–which I found to be the less credible of the two but still interesting–was that Snape was a vampire. (One of the apparent clues was that when Snape subs for Lupin he assigns the class to write a paper on werewolves, and we soon learn he’s hinting to the class about Lupin’s true nature. But after Lupin returns, he gives the class an assignment on vampires.) Well, in the final book there’s a weird scene where the main characters are chasing Snape and he leaps out a window and…turns into a batlike thing and flaps away.

    He was never revealed to be a vampire, of course, and by the end of the series the theory seems unlikely. But it’s almost like Rowling knew about the theory and was winking at those who came up with it.

    The other fan theory I remember from this book made quite a bit more sense to me. It went as follows: Shortly before James and Lily Potter’s death, James and Lupin took a switching potion. So it wasn’t really James who died that night, it was the real Lupin, while the real James survived thereafter in Lupin’s body.

    The book offered several supposed clues from Prisoner of Azkaban to support this theory. But it was some time after the book’s publication that the third movie came out, and there was a scene in it where Lupin tells Harry of his memories of Lily Potter, and–I could’ve sworn the way Lupin speaks about her sounds like someone describing a lover, not just a friend.

    But this theory never panned out, either.

  71. Matt says:

    @Barry: Thrawn was finally defeated in star wars rebels by the sudden appearance of space whales that were hyperspace capable so he basically experienced what you’re talking about.