The great showman P. T. Barnum knew the value of free publicity. He told many stories about himself to demonstrate that, and indeed his entire autobiography is an exercise in self-promotion and advertisement. In his book The Art of Getting Money, Barnum addressed this point with a statement that seems eeriely relevant in today’s political climate:
“I say if a man has got goods for sale, and he don’t advertise them in some way, the chances are that some day the sheriff will do it for him.”
And in fact the great showman of 2023, Donald Trump, got the Fulton County, Georgia, sheriff’s office to give him some of the best publicity he’s ever had — that now-famous mugshot, taken when Trump turned himself in at the Fulton County jail.
Old white guys in power find it easy to get publicity for just about anything they do. For example, compare Trump to me. Sure, I’m an old white guy, but I’m not in a position of power. So if I got arrested in Fulton County for racketeering, and my mugshot made it onto social media, I’d probably just lose my job. By contrast, when Trump’s mugshot gets spread around the interwebs, it just puts him that much closer to winning the presidential election.