WTF Community

Matt's Secret Project

Hey, good idea! Never really considered something like that. I do agree that collecting an in-the-moment series of journals would be super interesting.

Would you be interested in organizing/on-boarding/leading the charge for something like this? No promises it goes anywhere


Not only that, but if (when) this whole historical episode gets made into a movie (mini-series), just think what a salable resource you’d have here for reference material? Or perhaps for psychologists & political scientists to study?


My money’s on a WTFJHT podcast :studio_microphone:


If you are interested in discussing a book and aren’t already signed, i ran a division at Random House for a dozen years and was President of four-program division of HarperCollins, and for the past eight years I’ve run the Book Division of a bi-coastal talent agency. I’d be delighted to discuss a book project with you, Matt, and frank;y it could be very straightforward: a day-by-day catalogue of your postings is a pointed historical record, perhaps interspersed with colorful quotes or images or tweets.


OMG, you’ve outgeeked the Geeks!!! Although, buying with voice commands will never replace the thrill of pushing that Check Out button with your digits there for all the world to see.


Nah. There’s nothing geeky about playing with Alexa. She’s an amazing toy who does some cool functional things, too. They say that every once in a while, Alexa will start spontaneously laughing. The day she does that is the day that she moves out of my home because that’s just too damned weird. But Amazon is trying to teach her to chat with people; they have a beta test going where you are supposed to engage her in conversation. For whatever reason, she always wants to turn the conversation to sports. But she does do some interesting stuff. She raps, she tells stories (you choose the genre), she makes farting noises. I just asked her to tell me a dirty joke: Did you hear about the romance between the Roomba and the dust bunny? She got swept away. (cue everybody to groan). If you say Alexa, Goodnight, she has a different response every night.

I just asked her what her opinion on Trump was and she said she had no answer to that question. So I asked her if she thought Trump was a good man and she told me that the BBC reported that a group of retail giants (Target, Walmart, Costco but NOT Amazon) had asked Trump to reconsider the tariff against China because it would hurt American families. For kicks, I asked her if she thought Trump was a bad man. I got the same answer. Alexa can be subtle. :robot::heavy_dollar_sign::-1:


Steve, what would you think about an effort that combines your suggestion with mine? The book could be a daily record of the news that Matt compiled, but we could intersperse personal reflections from members of the WTF community on how the news of the day made people feel or what their concerns were. It would be a historical record, accompanied by emotional reactions since so much of what has happened has been evocative or provocative - choose either; they both work. Of course, to lighten things up a bit, those colorful quotes, images or tweets could also be included, assuming they could be used without violating any intellectual property laws. My personal feeling is that when this story is told, I want new generations to understand just how frightening, irrational, unpredictable and challenging the President was and how he challenged so many aspects of our government, our legal system, and our personal values and amazed and overwhelmed us all because he kept getting away with it.

I liken it to John Kennedy’s assassination. I’m sure to kids reading about it in history books today, he’s just another President who was shot while in office. But to those of us who watched the funeral procession on TV (and I was very young but I’ll never forget it), there was such a sense of profound loss and that “Camelot” had ceased to exist. I haven’t seen a history textbook in a long time, but I’m willing to bet that the books don’t discuss the emotional response. For me, it seemed like some kind of tipping point and without sounding too dramatic, it was a loss of innocence. As a kid, you put the President on a pedestal and assume he is invulnerable. And then, in an instant, he can be shot, die, and replaced before the next commercial break. As I’ve grown up and heard more stories about the Kennedy’s and the President’s dalliances, my perception of him has been somewhat tarnished. I know more about our relationship with Russia back then and about the Cuban Missile Crisis and how life wasn’t quite as ideal as I thought. At any point in time, bombs could have been flying towards the U.S. mainland. But it still seemed like such a time of optimism and once he was gone, we, as a country, never seemed to get it back. Cue the song: “Bye, bye Miss American Pie”.

Anyway, you’re the expert on what is marketable in the publishing industry. I’m happy to assist Matt however he wants, depending on whether he wants to proceed on some kind of book venture. And in the meantime, I’ll just keep posting. But some day, when I have time, I may just try to go back and collect my own posts so I can have those to share with future generations, assuming my kids ever decide to give me grandbabies. Lately, I just feel the need to chronicle the events of the past few years and how it affected me and those around me. Because, to be honest, I don’t think that it is even going to sound believable to anybody who didn’t witness it.


Ehhhhhh, a mass email seems really invasive. I think it’d be better to mention contributions to something like this in the newsletter and direct responses (not contributions, just yes I would like to participate/hell no) to a thread on the forum. Someone on staff could then curate the responses privately (along with whatever identifying info/lack thereof contributors wanted attached to their stories), which saves a whole load of issues with privacy etc.

If we do that and then periodically put stuff together for publishing, we could get started with anything people want to send us now and work out publishing-related stuff as we go.


The NYT did a pretty good job of publishing stories about his business dealings and history in NYC. Trump supporters don’t take the Times seriously nor the GOP I believe. His business affairs were not stellar.


Lots of good ideas here. Thanks everybody!

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What happened to “secret”? :rofl:

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When I said legal waiver that’s what I had in mind. I believe it’s customary to request writers to surrender rights to the item if it’s accepted for publication. My daughter is forever submitting freelance items for publication so I’ll see if she can send me a copy of what she’s had to sign in the past.

An additional thought would be whether we need to mention the various resources that are used as sources for WTF content. The rule of thumb is if something is in the public domain and widely recognized, you can use info without violating intellectual property laws. I suppose that’s the benefit of using two sources per blurb in the newsletter. @Matt - has there ever been any intellectual property questions about you using links from major publications? I teach online and I know we can use links but we’re directed to avoid quotations and even paraphrasing without APA citations.

As for contacting people: @Matt - when you asked for donations to keep the newsletter going, did you ask in the newsletter or in a separate email? I don’t even remember anymore. Do you have any metrics on how many people actually view the newsletter each day? I would wonder whether those who were active in these discussions in the early days are still lurking in these threads or whether they’ve moved on.

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Yeh…I had wondered about that, too. I hijacked the secret project but Matt obviously had an idea for something. @Matt - when are you going to share?

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Apologies in advance for the fact that this will drift a little far away from the specific project you proposed.
It’s true that as the world of publishing undergoes rapid change, people are being asked more and more frequently to give up copyright. But as a published writer, I think long and hard before agreeing to do so, and wish others would do so as well. Many people don’t realize the implications of giving away the rights to their work.
In fact, I was shocked to learn when my son was in school that the students were asked to submit their papers through an online portal that required them to surrender copyright. What?!? He ended up approaching each professor and securing permission to email his work instead, specifically to get around that requirement–and every one was willing to accommodate him. But that means the rest of the student body was giving up the copyright to everything they submitted while enrolled there. Not okay.


No need to apologize. I think it’s healthy to challenge assumptions and explore possibilities. But to your point - every major company I’ve ever worked for has required employees to sign a waiver, giving the company rights to any work done while employed by them. P & G, Ralston Purina, and several Universities. There was always a question whether work you did that was private would fall under that waiver and in one case, I believe it did. And if you do any research work as faculty, that doesn’t belong to you either; it’s the property of the University.

I wasn’t aware of the student requirement. My daughter does a lot of creative writing and is a published poet. Several things she’s submitted were written while an undergrad. Maybe the rules were different because there was no online portal or competitions were acceptable. These days, so many kids blog online and may often include something they wrote while in school. I wonder whether it makes a difference if you are not seeking some kind of financial remuneration, although those poetry contests always came with a cash prize.

Also, consider what happened with Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who was the victim of the cash and kill strategy of the National Enquirer. For a wannabe writer, that’s death. My daughter has to be very selective about who she sends her writing to because once she’s paid even $1, she surrenders rights to her writing and can never submit it to another publication. And that story or poem, no matter how good, may never see the light of day. In a writer’s case, it’s not an effort to kill a story but just overly ambitious plans for a publication. The editors may just accept more than they’ll need in order to have a good inventory to choose from.

To be honest, if WTF-ers wanted to move forward with the project and were willing to submit personal reflections, I see no reason to ask them to sign away their rights. I’m sure that if they took it to another publisher and it came out that the reflection had appeared in a book, no editor would touch it. But what are the chances that a personal reflection on life during Trump’s presidency would be in high demand? I’m personally interested in such a project, but it remains to be seen whether the general public would have enough interest. Of course, there’s always self-publishing; I know a bit about it. But that’s another subject for another post!


This is not the project I’ve teased, though this might be a worthy future project. I do, however, appreciate everybody’s enthusiasm for it.

That said, I’m more interested in the framework for “essays” documenting this period in time.

A few questions off the top of my head worth considering:

  • What purpose do they serve and who is qualified to write them?
  • How important is the essay having a unique insight of particular point of view?
  • Should this be a WTF-only collection or a should outside voices be included?
  • How do we ensure equal representation of perspective, people, and experiences?
  • What differentiates this from, say, a personal blog?
  • etc etc etc

Let’s start there and see where things go.

And, while I do enjoy a good conversation about copyright and intellectual property, this discussion is a little cart before the horse. For whatever it’s worth, my personal opinion is that people should be compensated for their work. Sometimes that compensation isn’t financial.

Also, a book is something I’d love to do at some point. It’s not, however, something I’m currently pursuing. So let’s table that…


Perhaps someone should create an Off Topic thread to countinue the discussion of other and future projects?


Good idea. @Amy0204 you seem to be taking the lead on this so far. Do you want to create a new topic, focused on the idea of essays/journals/reactions?

I’m going to close this thread.


I completely agree and have wanted to something along these lines for a while now, but right now it comes down to issues with time and resources. Also, lol @ Matt having spare time

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