Mr. Fire meets up with true dough
Note to all: I've expanded this post a bit since I first published it on January 4. So if you read it then, you might want to read it again because there's more now. And don't forget to read the "comments" section for more information, entertainment and links.
Forget that brief fling between Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale and the now-failed Succeed Magazine, one of embattled Aussie Secret star David Schirmer's boondoggles. That is sooooo last year. Now we have what is potentially the absolute ultimate Match Made In Hustledork Heaven (or at least New-Wage Nirvana).
I give you Joe Vitale and Kevin Trudeau, infomercial king, bestselling author, and convicted con artist. Joe recently had a three-hour dinner with Trudeau and his lovely young wife, Natalie. A good time was apparently had by all, as they drank expensive Scotch and talked about everything from infomercials and other moneymaking schemes to Joe's car collection (I know, big surprise on the latter).
In his blog post, Joe mentions in passing that he is aware of Trudeau's troubles:
I'm well aware of Kevin's long term fight with the government, his prison time, his current federal restrictions, etc.
Yet the man I met is sincere, passionate, and dedicated. He is on a mission to help people get healthy and get out of debt. He's been to sixty countries in search of health cures that truly work. When he finds them, he reports on them. He's fearless about it, too.
As usual, most of the responses to this post were positive. A guy named James, however, just couldn't let go of the issue about Kevin's bad press:
The guy gets major negative press though. What's up with that?To which Joe responded:
ABC 20/20: John Stossel Exposes Liar Kevin Trudeau
James, see my Dec 24 post about paying attention to the mainstream media.
A little later another reader named Paul chimed in:
Joe failed to respond to Paul's question about the Zero Limits event, so Paul repeated it a couple of days later. Paul also responded to another reader who was critical of Trudeau, saying, "You can't believe the government or the media. The government and the media has [sic] a personal vendetta against Mr. Trudeau." Which, of course, has been Trudeau's big line of defense to his customers.
James, You can't trust the media. If they have no bad news they'll create it. They are trying to create dirt on Kevin Trudeau. I call him Kevin Truthdeau. I like his stuff. I have Natural Cures They Don't Want You To Know About the 1st and Second Edition and More Natural Cures Revealed. Joe are going to invite kevin to the Zero Limits event in April? It would be really cool if you did. It goes to show that sickness starts in the mind and cancer is no exception to the rule. I believe in home remedies and natural cures. It seems like the best of both worlds in the same place at the same time.
Yet another reader, Wendy, was bothered by Joe's association with Trudeau.
Hi again Joe:
I have looked further into Kevin’s troubled life and quite frankly I am surprised that you would assoicate yourself with him. Sorry but I have to question your judgement on this one.
I hope you will forgive me – unconditionally, of course – if it seems to me that Joe's deliberate glossing over Trudeau's troubles is tantamount to admitting that it really is all about the "hypnotic" marketing and the money after all, and little else matters, even when you dress it up with talk of "magic and miracles." In both his blog post and his comments to concerned readers, Joe has repeatedly made it known that he doesn't give a rat's behind about the trouble Kevin has been in. It is simply not important to him. He concluded his post by stating that he has decided he needs to hang around Kevin, and successful people like Kevin, more. "He stretched my thinking, challenged my thinking, and enriched my thinking," Joe enthused.
Hi Wendy. I had dinner with the guy; I didn’t marry him. Besides, unconditional forgiveness is the path to magic and miracles. If I sat in judgement of Kevin and denied his offer to have dinner because of what the media says about him, I’d be a limited-thinking fool. As it turned out, the evening with him was unforgettable and wonderful. He was very helpful to me. In fact, one of my dear friends is ill and Kevin was right there with support and resources to help. Had I passed on the dinner with him, i would have passed on an oppourtunity [sic] to learn and grow and to help a friend.
As it happens, Kevin Trudeau was the very example I used more than once when responding to comments on my own blog regarding David Schirmer (as well as other hustledorks and New-Wage schemes). When speculating about Schirmer's plans to come to the US and make it big on these shores, one person mentioned that because of his growing legal and personal troubles, and the resulting bad publicity, there was no way he would ever be accepted here. I tried to temper that optimism by mentioning Trudeau, whose work has been refuted by experts in numerous fields, who has been the target of hundreds of consumer complaints over the years, and who has actually done prison time for fraud...and yet he's back, bigger than ever, and his products continue to sell like hotcakes.
Now, don't get me wrong. I recognize that few issues are black and white; there are shades of gray to be sure. Yes, the US government can be intrusive and has been known to imprison people, or worse, on questionable charges (and I'm being charitable here. Very charitable.). Yes, the pharmaceutical industry often seems far more interested in profits than in actually improving people's health (and once again, I am being very charitable). Yes, the mainstream medical profession as a whole can also seem to be a bit jealous of its turf when it comes to "alternative" health products and practices (although I still like to think that most doctors are primarily motivated by concern for the well-being of their patients). And certainly one has to temper the offerings of the mainstream media with the knowledge that most media outlets, including news divisions, are in business for ratings, which translate, of course, into money, money, money.
Trudeau, however, has been nailed time and time again while jumping from one deceptive scheme to the next. I find it hard to believe that this is because the media and the US government and "Big Pharma" and the medical profession are all out to get him.
Here's a link to a good blog post that concisely summarizes why Kevin Trudeau is not to be trusted.
If you want more details, here is an article from Skeptical Inquirer.
If that's a bit too...well...skeptical...for your taste, try the offering from Salon.com, the online magazine, which ran a feature on Trudeau a few years ago.
My pal Steve Salerno at SHAMblog has written about Trudeau a few times too, most notably here and here.
And here's yet another useful page from another skeptic, Robert T. Carroll of Skepdic.
But I think you get the idea. There's a lot of information out there about Kevin Trudeau, and most of it is not good.
As for the mainstream media (of which the John Stossel link mentioned above is a more representative example than those in the paragraphs just above), despite the ratings factor, not everything in the media is a lie. As I noted, it's not all black and white, and that goes for the critics as well as for those being criticized. The profession of newsgathering and reporting still includes many people of great integrity; I know several of them personally. Very simply, they're not all mercenaries who are out to assassinate the characters of poor helpless con artists...er...entrepreneurs...in order to get a good story.
And what about the hundreds of Amazon readers who blasted Trudeau's books; are they also part of "the mainstream media" (or the government, or the pharmaceutical industry), and therefore not to be believed? To wit:
If all of these dissatisfied readers are not to be believed, then by logic, we must also take with more than a grain of salt all of the five-star reviews of Trudeau's work (not to mention all of those glowing five-star Amazon reader reviews of Joe Vitale's many titles).
And here's a site linking to consumer complaints about Trudeau. Judging from the dates on the most recent complaints, the man is still apparently bilking consumers left, right and sideways. And getting away with it.
Then again, maybe these "complaints" are simply more fabrications of the mainstream media. Or maybe they were planted there by Big Pharma. Or maybe they, as well as those pesky one-star Amazon reviews, should just be dismissed as opinions, and everyone knows that opinions are like...well...you know.
On a more serious note – and here I'll acknowledge that I am venturing dangerously close to Godwin's Law territory, albeit without the Nazis – if more people truly did follow the increasingly popular advice about completely ignoring the mainstream media (and/or practicing "unconditional forgiveness"), there might be some unintended consequences. It's possible, for example, that Radovan Karadžić, the alleged Bosnian Serb war criminal who was captured last year, wouldn't have even had to grow a beard and assume the identity of a dead man in order to win followers. He could simply have broken into the New-Wage/selfish-help bidness as himself. Nobody would have cared, as long as he offered the requisite miracles and wonders for which people are so hungry.
As for unconditional forgiveness, how far are we really willing to take that concept? On a personal level it's one thing; truly forgiving someone who has wronged you personally (whether or not they ask for forgiveness) can be very healing. But that's a choice that can only be made by the individuals involved, and one has to wonder how this sort of forgiveness even applies to Joe Vitale and Kevin Trudeau. Has Kevin in some way wronged Joe personally or professionally? If not, then for Joe to even imply that he has the right to "forgive" Kevin for scamming thousands of other people is nothing short of arrogant.
And what about "unconditional forgiveness" on a societal level? Are we willing to take it far enough to set wrongdoers of all kinds free to do as they wish? If so, that's great news for the infamous Bernie Madoff, whose appalling misdeeds Joe all but dismissed on the above-mentioned December 24 blog post. Joe hadn't even heard of Madoff till a reader asked if the victims of Madoff's high-dollar scamming had somehow "attracted" their victimization. Joe responded with his usual advice that folks were better off ignoring the mainstream media, and, yes, he implied that perhaps some of the victims were also responsible for what Madoff did to them.** He even suggested that some of them might have actually been relieved to have lost their fortunes (perhaps because of their subconscious beliefs that money is evil). It was apparently all too complex, in a Law Of Attraction and perhaps karmic sort of way, for Joe to waste much time speculating about; his main point was that people are simply happier, overall, if they ignore the news. Psst, Bernie, if you ever get out of prison, maybe you too can hook up with Kevin Trudeau, and then you can bilk people on levels you've only dreamed of.
Granted, Kevin Trudeau's scams are hardly on the scale of Karadžić's alleged war-time atrocities. I get that. But it seems clear that he is a scammer nonetheless, arguably as bad in his own way as Bernie Madoff, or perhaps even worse – and yet so many people seem not to care at all. Trudeau himself told Joe that no matter what happens, he, Trudeau, can't be beat and will always win. And maybe he's right, if "winning" can be measured in terms of earnings and material success. Trudeau certainly seems to have plumbed the murky depths of the collective consumer heart, having proven repeatedly that millions will jump at a chance to be privy to "secrets" that "they don't want you to know about." A lucky few will get to make millions off of the masses who long to be privy to these "secrets."
It remains to be seen if Mr. Fire will actually enter into any joint ventures with Kevin Trudeau, but I wouldn't be surprised. When money calls, Joe answers. (Although I have no way of knowing, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he received a bit of compensation for writing that complimentary blog post about Kevin. I'm just speculating, of course, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility.) Plus, he has been known to have his head turned by flattery, and it looks as if Kevin and his lovely young bride flattered him plenty.
This might even trump having an old Hawaiian mystic (speaking of Zero Limits) tell you that you're one of God's Original 10, or that you are the Jesus of business, or that he (the old mystic) should be sitting at your feet because you are "as gods." (Read all about it here; scroll down to the section titled, "Joe Almighty.") Hey, that mystical/god stuff is all right, but given a choice between being fawned over by an old geezer or a cute young blond, I strongly suspect that most red-blooded hetero guys would choose the latter every time.
Kevin’s wife seemed starstruck. Turns out she is a big fan of all my books. And I mean all of them. They went on a shopping spree at Amazon and bought every title they could find by me.
Natalie, his wife, had lots of questions about the Law of Attraction and my writing career. She hung on my every word, as did Kevin. It was very flattering.
Kevin and I spoke about many things, from performing magic (we’re both lifetime members of the Society of American Magicians), to infomercials (he had no idea of my experience with them) to network marketing to health cures to hypnotic storytelling.
I told him about my own infomercial for The Awakening Course. He asked about numbers and results, none of which I had at hand.
He said I should be on TV more. He said I am good looking, articulate, and sincere. (Thank you, Kevin.)
Particularly if that blond happens to be attached to a potential fame ticket and unprecedented money op.***
PS ~ Here's a link to some laughs at True-dough's expense. Unfortunately, it is really not much of an exaggeration.
* John Stossel's 20/20 segment about Kevin Trudeau isn't new, of course – Trudeau has published several more books in the interim – but it's very revealing nonetheless. Also revealing are the recent responses to the video (more than likely a result of the link Joe provided on his blog), painting critics of Trudeau as idiots who have been brainwashed by the mainstream media, the pharmaceutical industry, the government, etc.
** Actually, in a few cases it's true that some people "attracted" Madoff, or at least deserved him; some folks apparently invested with Madoff because they suspected he was cheating (though they thought it was by illegal insider trading, not an illegal Ponzi scheme). But it doesn't take some convoluted crap about the Law Of Attraction to explain pure and simple greed.
*** Here is a link to an article in the online edition of the Salem (MA) News about the June 2008 wedding of Kevin Trudeau and the lovely Natalie. It was a civil ceremony held at the City Hall in Beverly, Massachusetts, a spot chosen because, as Kevin explained, "We decided this is a nice, beautiful courthouse." The bride, a native of the Ukraine, wore traditional Ukrainian attire and jumped excitedly up and down, kissing Kevin while his new mother-in-law snapped photos of them in front of City Hall. The article said the couple planned to have a more lavish ceremony overseas at some point, but they didn't know where or when. The purpose of the Massachusetts ceremony, according to Kevin, was that "We wanted to make it a U.S. marriage." Now, that's patriotism. God bless the U.S.A.! To me the most noteworthy points of the wedding story were the quotations from the switchboard operator at the courthouse. Apparently a passionate Kevin Trudeau fan, she gushed about how handsome the groom was, and said she nearly fainted when he shook her hand after he signed her copy of his natural-cures scam book, and his bride gave her the wedding bouquet. For the life of me, I do not understand how people can be so starstruck over this hustler, but they are. Look at this comment from "mike alaska," for example, on Joe Vitale's blog.