EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was prompted by a post we saw on Scam.com. The “lede” is deliberately buried in this article in favor of some background information.
During the 1990s, I was sitting at home one evening just minding my own business. Back in those days I routinely had staggered newspaper deadlines beginning at 7 p.m. and lasting perhaps through 9 p.m. I often covered an event for more than one publication. I was tasked with the duty to write unique stories for each publisher from the same fact set.
If I’d spent the day covering a murder trial, for example, I could not submit duplicate stories to the publishers. They wanted individual stories tailored to their readership — stories that required me to present the information in the in-house styles of the publications. One of my key responsibilities was to write different “ledes” for the stories, an opening sentence or paragraph unique to the audiences and designed to grab readers’ attention and not let go.
Getting it right the first time — which is to say, “grabbing” readers, including all the key facts and adopting the “voice” of the newspapers throughout the story — was my responsbility. Not doing it meant I’d spend the evening fielding calls from editors to fill in details, instead of enjoying the time with my girlfriend. She didn’t like it when editors called and perhaps disrupted the movie we were watching.
I didn’t like it, either. So, I worked hard to ensure I’d lighten the work load on my editors, while lightening the load on myself and freeing up time to kick back.
Editors, though, were not the only ones who called — and this brings us back to something that happened one night when I was just kicking back at home after finishing my work day.
People occasionally would call me with news tips from the mundane to the incendiary and all places in between. On this particular evening I got a call on what I’d initially thought might be one of those “in between” things, but it was worth checking out immediately because the unemployed woman who called me was really worked up.
I agreed to meet her in a hotel lobby to listen to her story. I soon discovered she wasn’t the only person worked up in the lobby of this hotel, which was situated in a county experiencing high joblessness and economic decay because manufacturing had gone into the tank locally.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
Some of the most forlorn-looking people you’d ever want to see quickly told me they’d been duped into attending a job “interview” by a prospective employer that had placed an ad and created the expectation it would hire workers for jobs that paid $30 an hour.
Naturally the employer had no trouble filling the room in a town experiencing hardship.
Before long, though, the event turned into a grimace-fest. Attendees thought the advertiser was recruiting them to work at a hospital after they received training in an emerging science that had something to do with making sure healthcare ecosystems were maintained.
In reality, it was a pitch for an MLM of some sort that apparently specialized in sucking dust from the atmosphere of homes across America to keep the owners safe from microscopic allergens and pathogens that silently were killing them.
Yes, the promoter had come to the struggling town to try to recruit a team of vacuum-cleaner salespeople. The sky was the limit.
Except it wasn’t.
The attendees told the promoter it wasn’t — in no uncertain terms. Later I covered a similar incident involving hearing aids at the same hotel. The key, from the promoters’ perspective, was to draw a crowd by using words to trigger emotions and plant a false idea, and then try to sell the desperate few who remained on the dream of MLM riches.
Need and greed. Marry the twoÂ — and return in your fancy car to your fashionable home in time to set sail in your fancy boat. When you need to replenish cash, take out another ad to sell a vacuum cleaner by calling it an ecology system. Replace the money you spent on cocktails and martinis and restocking the bar on your boat, and then head back to your fashionable home in your fancy car to set sail again on your fancy boat.
And this brings us to Donald Trump, whom MLMers say has lent his name to a business opportunity.
Someone posted about it on Scam.com, pointing out that MLM purveyors were pushing it on craigslist by referring to Trump as a “Billionaire, Real Estate Developer from NYC” who is “Opening a New Metabolic Testing Company” near Atlanta.
Let’s hope the “Metabolic Testing Company” being pitched on craigslist in Atlanta by referencing Trump without mentioning his name is not the equivalent of the ecologically pleasing vacuum cleaner pitched to people who thought they were going to get an exciting, new career in the healthcare field in America’s Rust Belt.
I’m not hopeful: The craigslist ad suggests compensation of “$30 to $50 per hour.”
Sorry about burying the “lede.”