Arnold is among the many "opportunists" who've used the Trump presidency to reinvent themselves as a kind of anti-Trump activist, says Scott Meslow. Viceland's The Hunt for the Trump Tapes, he says, "purports to chronicle Arnold’s earnest effort to uncover audio or video evidence that could sink the Trump presidency. In reality, the whole thing is an elaborate vanity project designed to bring Tom Arnold back into the spotlight. By that measure, Trump Tapes has already been a success—leading to a lengthy Rolling Stone profile and a splashy celebrity feud (with Mark Burnett) and, yes, an article like this one, which is surely the first time in my career I have felt moved to write about Tom Arnold. The flaws of Trump Tapes begin with the show’s premise, which posits that an embarrassing video tape could derail the Trump presidency despite some extremely credible evidence to the contrary. But let’s play Arnold’s game and imagine (1) that there is a an as-yet uncovered video—a video that contains, say, Trump ordering some Russian prostitutes to pee on a bed meant for the Obama family—and (2) that the video could actually take Trump down. If that’s the mission Trump Tapes is setting for itself, it fails miserably."
Is The Hunt for the Trump Tapes real or a put-on?: "I legitimately can't tell you if it is Arnold's attempt to do a Michael Moore-style exposé about Trump," says Daniel Fienberg, "or if it's a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style comedy about Arnold attempting to do a Moore-style exposé about Trump or if it's some uncomfortable and not truly successful hybrid in the middle in which the series wants to be both explosive and also hilarious when it's neither. So it's more Finding Bigfoot With Tom Arnold than Tom Arnold's The Jinx."
Arnold excels at fighting narcissism with narcissism and spectacle with spectacle: "Like the bro-tastic Jimmy Kimmel, Arnold’s a better ambassador for anti-Trump sentiment than the likes of the smug Seth Meyers and the professorial Elizabeth Warren for the kinds of people who are attracted to volume and chest-thumping confidence," says Inkoo Kang. "Arnold’s can’t-stop-getting-into-political-arguments-with-strangers-on-Facebook energy goes a long way in The Hunt for the Trump Tapes, particularly when he injects some self-aware humor about his status as a has-been."