Why Martin Shkreli reminds us so darn much of Donald Trump

first_imgTrump has called Shkreli “a spoiled brat.” And in an interview with STAT last year, Shkreli contrasted his own humble upbringing in a working-class immigrant family with Trump’s inherited wealth — and noted that, in his estimation, selling pharmaceuticals is “a much greater cause” than dealing in real estate. “I don’t like Trump,” Shkreli said.OK. But the parallels are undeniable.Both wield social media as a weaponShkreli did something remarkable on Thursday: He used Twitter to insert his voice, in real time, into a congressional hearing just minutes after he was excused because he refused to answer questions.After invoking his constitutional right to silence, Shkreli left the room and started tweeting. Lawmakers noticed his tweet calling them “imbeciles” — and started talking about it during the hearing. Representative Elijah Cummings, who minutes earlier had upbraided Shkreli for smirking through the questioning, wanted to know if Nancy Retzlaff, another Turing executive still at the hearing, knew about it. (She said she didn’t.)It was classic Shkreli. And also, really, classic Trump.Both tirelessly retweet their supporters. Both use Twitter to smack down critics and insult rivals. And both can’t resist using the forum to bash journalists. Just two recent examples:The dying @NRO National Review has totally given up the fight against Barrack Obama. They have been losing for years. I will beat Hillary!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2016 Most corporate executives hauled in to testify before Congress treat it with a certain gravitas. (Retzlaff and Howard Schiller, the interim chief executive of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, were also on the hot seat at Thursday’s hearing, but they kept a sober demeanor as they politely answered questions.) Even when subpoenaed executives plead the Fifth, they tend to sit solemnly.Shkreli? He saw the hearing as a theatrical, ultimately meaningless, attempt by lawmakers to make him a scapegoat for the drug industry’s widespread price hikes — and acted accordingly. His smirks and grins were so unusual for the venue that veteran Politico reporter John Bresnahan tweeted this: WASHINGTON — Martin Shkreli’s total disregard for decorum was on display Thursday when he was called to testify before a House committee. The disgraced pharma executive pleaded the Fifth when grilled about his decision to hike the price of a decades-old drug by more than 5,000 percent.He smirked. He smiled. And almost as soon as he walked out of the hearing room, he tweeted that the elected representatives who had interrogated him were “imbeciles.”Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) February 4, 2016 Bear with us. We’re onto something here. Even for a politician, Trump has a unique ability to irritate the public. In November, when Gallup rounded up the favorability ratings of all the 2016 candidates, Trump scored by far the worst. By far.The pharma industry is nearly as unpopular as politicians. A STAT-Harvard poll found that barely 50 percent of Americans believe drug companies are doing a good job serving their customers.Yet it’s Shkreli who keeps getting singled out. He was the star (or target) of Thursday’s hearing. Ask voters in Iowa about drug prices, and his story is the one they bring up on their own — just as they’re more likely to mention Trump unprompted than any other candidate.Both have set the media to second-guessingHere’s one last parallel:A lot of people believe Shkreli has gotten way too much ink.Many think the same about Trump.If you’ve read this far, you might disagree. But on that note, we’re out. Related: Related: Both gleefully overturn social normsCongressional hearings and presidential debates are important and must be taken seriously. That’s the conventional wisdom.Shkreli and Trump won’t have any of it. Unrepentant and brash, Martin Shkreli defends Daraprim pricing ‘It’s not funny, Mr. Shkreli. People are dying.’ Not surprised. Bloomberg @business has some very good journalists, and several very, very poor ones. https://t.co/L6xuGPI8rh— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) February 4, 2016center_img Trump would have appreciated the show.After all, he’s the candidate who skipped last week’s debate in Des Moines to make a point in his feud with Fox News.Both drive people nutsThe Shkreli-Trump comparison isn’t a new one — back in October, Salon dubbed Shkreli “the Donald Trump of drug development.”The Verge observed that Shkreli “has managed to offend almost as many people as Donald Trump without having the platform of a nationwide presidential campaign to help him.”And therein lies another parallel: Much of their notoriety — and perhaps genius? — can be found in their preternatural ability to drive everybody else crazy. Donald Trump and Martin Skhreli both have a knack for driving people crazy. Getty Images (2) ‘Pow!’ ‘It will be huge.’ Emails show Shkreli’s team exulting at drug price hike First, let’s stipulate that Trump and Shkreli don’t like each other.advertisement By Rebecca Robbins and Dylan Scott Feb. 4, 2016 Reprints PoliticsWhy Martin Shkreli reminds us so darn much of Donald Trump Related: It sounded, quite frankly, a whole lot like another celebrity-turned-political-symbol with a flair for impropriety: Donald J. Trump.advertisement Tags Donald Trumpdrug pricesMartin Shkrelipolicylast_img

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