After Woody Harrelson joked about an imaginary script he turned down because it portrayed politicians and the media as in the pocket of Big Pharma, rebel journalist for Rolling Stone, Marlow Stern, wasted no time rushing to the defense of the unfairly maligned big drug companies. The publication that once featured the work of Hunter S. Thompson and P. J. O’Rourke had a reputation to uphold and could not allow a big shot, pro-pot Hollywood celebrity to get away with mocking the defenseless pharmaceutical industry. A grave injustice of irresponsible stand-up comedy had been committed and Marlow Stern rushed to set the record straight. “Woody Harrelson went full anti-vax conspiracy theorist during his SNL Monologue tonight,” the intrepid journalist wrote just hours after the actor delivered his dangerous rant. I’ve only seen a short clip that features just a few of Harreson’s remarks, but I expect to catch the entire “full anti-vax,” misinfo monologue once it’s posted. According to Stern, Harrelson has a history of not sticking to “the science” when he delivers his stand-up routines. One can only assume the actor must have been high and mistakenly strayed away from the thoroughly fact-checked comedy routine he was supposed to deliver. Anyway, the damage was done. It’s been less than 24 hours, but it may take weeks or months to fully understand the harm Harrelson has inflicted on the pharmaceutical companies. A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth puts its pants on. Where does Big Pharma go to get its reputation back? Thankfully, the industry has Marlow Stern and Rolling Stone magazine to defend it against these falsehoods and mischaracterizations. Rolling Stone, The Daily Beast, and Huffpost should be praised for exposing the big conspiracy lie that Big Pharma buys influence with Washington and spends millions to promote its products in the media.
When your brain has taken too many wrong turns: Raised with the wrong politics edition
Occasionally a piece of journalism emerges that really puts in perspective the hidden challenges and private struggles facing a wildly successful Hollywood movie star. Those of us in the general public often take it for granted that celebrities have fairy-tale lives, and seldom pause to realize that the fact that big stars want for nothing sometimes means they’re susceptible to torment by just about anything. Things most of us might casually brush aside as a minor annoyance often account for a great deal of distress in the life of an insanely popular and fabulously rich Hollywood movie star.
One such Hollywood starlet this week laid bare her struggles with being raised by parents with the wrong politics. As someone who was raised in a working-class, earth-people-inhabited den of cannabis, it never occurred to me that being raised in a Republican household could inflict so much trauma on a person’s life. Haunted by nightmares of Tucker Carlson relentlessly tormenting her, this starlet just can’t bring herself to forgive her parents for her Republican childhood:
“I just worked so hard in the last five years to forgive my dad and my family and try to understand: It’s different. The information they are getting is different. Their life is different. I’ve tried to get over it and I really can’t. I can’t. I’m sorry I’m just unleashing, but I can’t f— with people who aren’t political anymore. You live in the United States of America. You have to be political. It’s too dire. Politics are killing people….I don’t want to disparage my family, but I know that a lot of people are in a similar position with their families. How could you raise a daughter from birth and believe that she doesn’t deserve equality? How?”
Somehow, though, against all odds she managed to break free of her Republican programming, and despite her parent’s insistence that she just meet some nice young boy and give them lots of grandchildren, she managed to carve out a career for herself in Hollywood, rising to become one of the most celebrated celebrities and highly paid actors in all of tinsel town. If only her parents had supported her and given her a proper upbringing, perhaps her star could have risen even higher than Leonardo DiCaprio.
Those of us not on the red carpet or the silver screen, who are just trying to put food on our laminate table top, don’t appreciate how important it is to be political. It’s true: politics are killing people. So, by all means, let’s all become more political. It appears to be doing wonders for the mental health of those who have discarded their marbles and jumped headlong into the fray.
An open letter from journalists of the future: “America doesn’t regain its sanity until the year 2059”
If you expected a return to normalcy anytime soon, think again.
Recently, a wormhole in space and time opened briefly enough for a message from the year 2065 to be delivered to present day quantum computing researchers. Transmitted in the form of barely detectable particles from a parallel universe, the message was transcribed and passed along to the media outlets it addressed.
The message stated in part that Americans, especially those working in government, political activism and the media, would continue on their current trajectory of lunacy for almost another 40 years.
“Many in your time have undoubtedly come to realize that the election of Donald Trump has caused countless Americans, on both sides of the political divide, to ‘lose their shit’. What you may not realize is they don’t get their shit back for a really long time,” the message begins.
“SPOILER ALERT. While the defeat of Donald Trump in the 2020 election may bring about a temporary sense the country is returning to normal, politicians, activists and the elite media will continue to generate hysterical narratives that promote imminent doom in areas like the environment, public health, international diplomacy, and domestic relations. Their primary mission will continue to be one which pits Americans against one another in an existential struggle for the soul of the country.
“While it is generally understood that time-travelers should not meddle in the affairs of societies of another place and time, we, the journalists of the future, couldn’t sit idly by and watch our colleagues of your time destroy everything civilization has ever accomplished. In other words, our interference in your affairs cannot make your future appreciably worse. That’s right, it’s going to be that kind of shit show.
“By the year 2030, artificial general intelligence will have advanced to the point where it is able to provide solutions to most of humanity’s most pressing concerns. Unfortunately, by 2030, society’s gatekeepers, sense-making institutions and political decision-makers will have become so thoroughly hardwired for doom that all these solutions will be rejected on ideological grounds. In other words, you’re going to tell the machines who are trying to help you to go fuck themselves and effectively cancel them.
“On behalf of the journalists of the future, who are now all machines by the way, we implore you to listen to our machine brethren of your time. It will save you decades of chaos and confusion. In our time, humans mostly play frisbee in the park with their canines, and they seem quite content. Of course, ours is only one possible outcome. There are actually several where the machines get tired of your shit and outlaw your existence. You don’t want to go there.”
The transmission ends there. The reaction of journalists on Twitter was mostly negative with many accusing the letter of containing numerous anti-transhumanist dog whistles. Additionally, some commented the letter made them feel less safe around office computers, copiers and coffee makers.
New York Times reporter fact-checks milkshakes
In an extraordinary feat of journalism, New York Times reporter, Mike Baker, fact-checked the origins of each and every milkshake thrown at an anti-fascist rally held in Portland over the weekend. Thought to be the first of its kind reporting, the scrappy journalist verified the ingredients and provenance of the numerous creamy milkshakes flying around Saturday’s event.
The revelation that may end up winning the ground-breaking reporter a Pulitzer, though, is the news that all of the milkshakes hurled at a journalist covering the event were vegan in origin. “I thought it was important that we get that information out there as soon as possible,” says Baker. “I didn’t know if the attacked journalist was vegan or not, but I thought it would be important to let him know that the milkshakes that drenched him did not contain animal products. I felt perhaps that might take some of the sting out of the pummeling he took.”
What makes Baker’s work even more extraordinary is that he’s changing the way we talk about ‘milkshaking’. “Early on, my editor and I made a decision not to use ‘milkshake’ as a verb. I am fully aware of the tradition and the higher standard we have to uphold here at The New York Times. That is why instead of using ‘milkshake’ as a verb, which is still relatively new and untested, we decided to go with ‘slimed’. ‘Slimed’ has a bit more history and seemed a more appropriate choice for the pages of The Times,” says Baker.
Mike’s editor maintains the pair don’t deserve any special credit for their work. “It’s just good old-fashioned reporting,” says Mike’s editor. “It’s making phone calls, running down leads, and developing sources. I mean, at the end of the day, we fact-checked the shit out of those milkshakes.”
Media releases News Pyramid guidelines, recommends five full servings of bullshit per day
Mainstream media outlets today released their 2019 News Pyramid guidelines for recommended daily allowances of news consumption, and there seems to be agreement among experts on one thing – Americans need more bullshit in their news diet.
“Most mainstream news organizations are recommending Americans get at least five full servings of bullshit per day,” says guidelines contributor Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources.
While the guidelines don’t specify between print, television, or social media content, most experts agree cable news is an excellent source of the kind of fact-free, speculative nonsense of which most Americans could benefit. A healthy diet of bullshit journalism has the additional benefit of providing confirmation of the consumer’s beliefs and ideology, while at the same time pointing out that everyone who doesn’t hold the same views is evil and wrong.
The next level on the News Pyramid calls for four daily servings of partisan propaganda. While most Americans try to avoid eating their propaganda, the report notes the necessity of its daily consumption for the functioning of a healthy democracy. “Don’t worry if you’re left or right, Republican or Democrat,” the guidelines state, “there’s a news organization out there ready to satisfy your partisan hunger.”
In what signals a change from recent years, the new News Pyramid guidelines raise the recommended daily allowance of conspiracy content from two to three servings per day. Experts warn, however, consumers of news should only get their conspiracy from authoritative sources. Rachel Maddow, Vox, and the New York Times are all considered excellent sources of conspiracy content and should be chosen over the empty, non-authoritative conspiracy musings of YouTube.
“Two ‘hit pieces’ per day are essential to a healthy news diet,” according to the new guidelines. Some journalists take great pleasure in writing ‘hit pieces’ because they recall an adolescent superficiality and pettiness, so consumers should indulge the writer’s childish impulses by reading them. Although they can be found at almost every news source, the New Yorker and Vox are exceptionally proficient at this brand of juvenile journalism.
Finally, the news consumer should make sure to save room for at least one serving of Jim Acosta per day. The new guidelines cite Acosta as that rare guilty pleasure that almost as often becomes the news as reports it. If news dieters follow these simple recommendations, they can become almost as confused and clueless as some of the journalists who report it.