A prophetic episode of the show “Trackdown” from 1958 featuring a con man named “Trump” eerily predicted America’s current political crisis.
Trackdown was a Western-themed drama that aired on CBS between 1957 and 1959, and starred actor Robert Culp as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman. While the show wasn’t about 21st century American politics, the first season’s 30th episode, entitled “The End of the World,” almost perfectly mirrors the ongoing government shutdown drama despite airing all the way back in May of 1958.
In the episode, a con man named Walter Trump hoodwinks an entire town into his plan to get money to build a giant wall around the city. While the town’s law enforcement is suspicious of Trump, there’s no crime they can charge him with. At one point in the episode, Trump is seen hosting a rally in the town square, telling townspeople he can build a wall that’s capable of stopping the end of the world. The narrator described Trump as “the high priest of fraud.”
TV writer Alex Hirsch tweeted some of the highlights of the episode on Wednesday.
“History not subtle enough for you?” Hirsch rhetorically asked.
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
“Stealing is stealing, whether you do it with a gun or a mouthful of mealy words,” Ranger Gilman said in the beginning of the episode.
One soliloquy from a character playing the local judge was about how demagogues can make well-meaning adults ignore their better nature by manipulating them through fear.
“When we were kids, we were all afraid of the dark. When we grew up, we weren’t afraid anymore,” the judge said. “But it’s funny how a big lie can make us all kids again.”
The episode ends with Trump preparing to leave the town, before Ranger Gilman stops the con man and tells him he’s under arrest.
Watch the entire episode below:
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.