“Donald Trump Junior is his own Deep Throat” announced Stephen Colbert on The Late Show earlier this week, thereby deploying allusions on several different levels but highlighting principally that the son of the US President has been releasing incriminating information on himself in regard to the ongoing Russia scandal.
The effects, implied Colbert, are similar to that created by the famous Deep Throat source who was at the heart of the Watergate scandal - even if the medium has changed significantly in the forty or so years that have elapsed since then.
Where Deep Throat held his meetings in dark car parks and required guaranteed anonymity almost until the day he died, Donald Trump Junior has been deploying the favoured method of his family to get his truth out there – Twitter.
He’s tweeted transcripts of communications between himself and a British conduit for Russian sources who offered help to the Trump family in its campaign against Hilary Clinton last year.
Stephen Colbert called the tweets the “smoking gun” that the liberal press had been looking for, but rightwing pundit Joe Scarborough - coincidentally appearing on Colbert’s show as a guest that night - later cautioned that the Trump clan was deliberately muddying the waters so that the real truth would be harder to discern.
Scarborough’s had his own run-ins with President Trump and also announced that he’s leaving the Republican Party altogether.
What other moderate Republicans will make of that remains to be seen.
There has been a tendency so far for them to keep their heads down and ride out the storm, but with the likes of Scarborough calling out that attitude and calling it unacceptable, there is every likelihood that President Trump’s poll ratings will deteriorate further, even if he does claim himself that things are “fantastic.”
But it may be that in the end, the drip-feed of the Russia scandal will have a greater impact on the minds of the US electorate than anything moderate Republicans or Late Night Talk Show hosts, or even the President himself can do.
After all, when Donald Trump Junior put out his own Russia tweets, gold ticked up, which is more than it did when Donald Trump senior announced that Western Civilisation was under threat a week or two ago.
So the Russia scandal has demonstrated an ability to move markets in a way that Trump himself is now less able to do.
“Donald Trump is out of his depth,” said Joe Scarborough’s partner Mike Brzezinski in the same interview with Colbert.
That in itself is not a statement that will move markets in the immediate way that Trump Junior’s tweets can. It may not even move TV ratings in the way that Scarborough’s quitting the GOP boosted Colbert’s, but it may ultimately be the fundamental truth that underlies much that happens in markets and on the global stage in the coming three and half years.
So, while markets have now to some extent discounted the impact of the large infrastructure plans Donald Trump was promoting in the first hundred days of his Presidency, they remain interested in the activities of Professionals like Janet Yellen over at the Federal Reserve.
True, if Trump starts a war, it’ll have an impact on prices, volumes and volatility.
But if he doesn’t, he may end up not having much of an impact at all. Much of the world, after having been held in thrall for the first few months, is now tuning him out altogether. The BBC is probably an exception in carrying his latest interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Yellen, on the other hand, in conjunction with the other members of the Federal Open Markets Committee, can still move markets at a stroke, and even with a speech or a statement of intent. She doesn’t use Twitter, but if she did a tweet from her on interest rates would probably reverberate more at this stage of the game than a Trump tweet on stimulus.
Still, the Presidency is yet young and membership of the FOMC is in the gift of the President himself, so there’s plenty of time for the dynamics of economic power to swing back again.
And while markets are moving on the Russia scandal, it isn’t yet clear that there is real substance to the battlecries of liberals that America has a new Watergate on its hands. On the contrary, Joe Scarborough’s analysis that the Trump team are muddying the waters effectively may turn out to be more on the money.