Casual followers of my Twitter feed will already be aware of my fascination with Don Jr., Donald Trump’s eldest child and his greatest disappointment. But for those who have stumbled upon this newsletter with minimal Junior awareness, the two most important things to know are a) Donald Trump almost certainly resents the fact that this is his namesake and b) in 2002, the New York Post reported that Don Jr. got beat up in a comedy club for allegedly “reacting too enthusiastically to a comic’s ethnic humor.”
Where Trump Sr. seems to be thriving in his post-presidential life, Don Jr., who no longer has a role to fulfill as dad’s Number One Hype Man, is flailing. His social media posts have grown increasingly desperate as he hops from platform to platform in an apparent attempt to recapture some of that former First Son magic.
There’s Triller, which Don Jr. described as an alternative to TikTok, where (according to Junior) “the Chinese government could be turning on your kids’ camera, turning on your kids’ video, listening in and turning on their mic at any time.” He was on that one for just over a month. His final video was a complaint about Instagram:
A few days after Biden’s inauguration, Don Jr. announced that he was now going to start using Telegram. “Big Tech Censorship is getting worse,” he tweeted. “And if these Tyrants banned my father, the President of the United States, who won’t they ban?” Well, him, for one. But that didn’t stop him from abandoning Telegram after about a month and moving on to my new personal favorite platform: Rumble.
In the same way that Parler has become the mainstream conservative alternative to Twitter, Rumble has become the video platform of choice for a very specific corner of the right. After YouTube demonetized Steven Crowder’s channel (he’s now back) and select PragerU videos, conservatives started crying censorship, and some, like Sebastian Gorka, started using the platform to post whatever bullshit it is they do when they’re not trying to sell pills to your grandparents. Rumble even pays $100 per video to users who manage to make it to the front page, and thanks to the “vlog” section, Don Jr. does indeed appear to be occasionally eligible for some pocket change.
Now, before we get too deep into the evolution of Junior’s voice, we need to set a baseline. Here is a Don Jr. interview from 2016. This is more or less how he sounded throughout his father’s time in office:
But somehow, Don Jr. went from what you see and hear above, to this:
Junior’s voice has traveled to the snowy hinterlands of the sinuses, where it has acquired a huskier but more nasal character, leaving him sounding like a particularly maladjusted muppet. Or like his dad. This is about as explicit of a Trump impersonation as you can get without throwing on a wig (notwithstanding Junior’s inability to fully open his eyes or gain control of his jaw).
So what accounts for the change in this swollen lad of 43? In his first Telegram video (seen below), Don Jr. does still sound roughly as he had sounded in the past. But at around 15 seconds in, one can start to hear the faintest hints of his father’s speech patterns.
It’s a much more subdued version of the all-purpose “impression voice” we see Trump employing here.
Nothing too out of the ordinary, really, and it’d be insignificant on its own, if not for all that has followed. I’ve conducted a careful examination of Don Jr.’s social media output, and I can report that, over the past two and a half months, Junior has been on a journey to mold himself into the father he’d always wanted. Beginning almost immediately after Joe Biden’s inauguration—or just two days after he lost any remaining utility he might have had to the Trump name—Don Jr. transformed into this:
The real question, of course, is whether Don Jr. is actively trying to emulate his dad, or if this increasingly alarming performance is subconscious. We have evidence that Junior keeps a close eye on any new footage of Dad that might pop up.
And based on the enthusiasm with which he relays his father’s mumbled assurances to an unknown man in passing, we can safely assume that viewing this stranger’s footage is the most substantial interaction Don Jr. has had with his dad in some time.
Whether it’s intentional or subconscious, only Junior truly knows the answer. The rest of us are left with the conclusion that this would be a poignant story if it didn’t involve so many assholes.
Before we close this chapter of Trashberg, I would like to return briefly to Rumble. Though the site itself consists almost entirely of deranged right-wing rants sandwiched between viral videos of dogs licking each other’s genitals, Rumble does have one, extra-special thing going for it: the purest, most engrossing comment section I have ever seen. In order to comment on Rumble, you have to be both willing to make an account and aware that Rumble exists in the first place. This of course discounts the vast majority of Don Jr.’s ill-wishers, meaning that the only people engaging with his videos are the absolute diehards. As far as I can tell, not even the slightest trace of irony has ever desecrated this most sacred of spaces.
Truly, we are all blessed to have ever laid eyes on such a thing.
Absolutely nailed ’em.