||December 13, 2018
While Matthew Lesko may not be a household name, anyone who has watched broadcast television after 10pm in the last decade or so is undoubtedly familiar with his work. Lesko is the informercial pitchman best known for donning a green suit covered with question marks and proclaiming that he can provide viewers with free government money—provided that you purchase his book, of course. Lesko looks like the bastard child of Groucho Marx and a lithe carnival barker. His fuzzy eyebrows and awkwardly-tilted glasses imbue his outlandish puffery with the air of a huckster from a bygone era. Despite this dubious image, little of what is contained in his books is inaccurate. In fact, most of it is perfectly valid, though already widely available, public information. His is a unique grift. It consists in treating the public sphere of language and knowledge as if it were some secret and proprietary reserve of arcane wisdom, accessible only to those in the know. His question marks are a trenchant symbol of how his particular variety of charlatanism functions: it does not provide bullshit answers to real questions, but marries bullshit questions to real answers.