NYT: That trip to the restroom could be your last

In a Monday New York Times piece entitled Is COVID More Dangerous Than Driving? How Scientists Are Parsing COVID Risks, author Benjamin Mueller attempts to bring some much needed perspective to the amount of risk Americans face from COVID in our new post-pandemalyptic landscape.  The article concedes that doctors, scientists and public health officials haven’t been doing a proper job explaining risk to the rest of us dull-witted folks, so they’re going to lay down the facts in a way that even we can understand.

According to the piece, “an average unvaccinated person 65 and older is roughly as likely to die from an omicron infection as someone is to die from using heroin for 18 months.”  I’ve long suspected that my ten month heroin addiction was mere child’s play compared to the ravages of Omicron, but finally I’ve had it confirmed for me by a real life health official.  Thankfully, I’ve been vaccinated, so there is the peace of mind that comes with that protection, as well as the comfort of knowing I can ride the white horse for another seven months.

A University of Georgia mathematics professor was consulted to provide some overdue insight on how to understand percentages.  The professor provided a useful example for overcoming her elderly mother-in-law’s difficulty grasping ten percent, explaining,  “imagine if, once out of every 10 times she used the restroom in a given day, she died.  ‘Oh, 10% is terrible,’ she recalled her mother-in-law saying.”  No doubt everyone’s felt the cold hand of death on their shoulder from time to time when the urgent need to use the restroom arises.  However, now the poor mother-in-law is trapped in a self-repeating cycle of alerting the grim reaper after every tenth flush of her toilet. 

Another sobering reminder of risk showed “that an average 40-year-old vaccinated over six months ago faced roughly the same chance of being hospitalized after an infection as someone did of dying in a car crash in the course of 170 cross-country road trips.”  Additionally, a “transplant recipient is twice as likely to die from COVID as someone is to die while scaling Mount Everest.”  Well, when these high-falutin, ivory tower eggheads put it like that, the whole picture comes into high res focus.  So, I guess you’re telling me that avoiding that second booster is akin to a daredevil motorcycle rider trying to jump 52 semis?  Got it.

Overdosing heroin junkie, lavatory death chamber, Neal Cassady frequency road tripping fatality, Everest mountain climbing casualty:  Whatever context they’re providing for establishing risk, it seems like the New York Times and their panel of expert consultants is basically just telling us to maintain the present course of being scared shitless all the time, which is pretty much the message they’ve been peddling all along.

Buzzfeed News obtains dossier revealing identity of Florida man urinated on at festival concert

Buzzfeed News is reporting it has obtained documents related to an incident where the lead singer of the band Brass Against allegedly urinated on a Florida man on stage at a recent concert.

Reports indicate the documents, referred to by some as the Brass Dossier, have been widely circulated around Washington D.C. and among journalists.  Buzzfeed plans to publish the dossier as soon as it conducts a thorough investigation of claims made in the document.

“No doubt Buzzfeed journalists will go through the dossier with a fine-tooth comb,” said former Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith, now at the New York Times.  “When I was at the helm, our policy was to double and triple check our anonymous source regarding the veracity of any allegations.  This usually involved verifying the source didn’t have his fingers crossed when he gave us the information.  As a final act of due diligence, we would make the source cross his heart and hope to die.  At that point we generally felt pretty confident about releasing information to the public.”   

Much speculation has gone into the identity of the Florida man.  Witnesses claim the individual was over six feet tall, with skin of a Sunkist orange hue, and a breathtaking coiffure that flowed like golden rain water. 

Witnesses say, at the conclusion of the show, the man was hustled away by a stern looking group of men in suits and sunglasses.

Additional reporting by MSNBC reveals the lead singer of Brass Against, Sophia Urista, may have connections to Russian intelligence.  “Sources indicate this may not be the first time this Urista has served up some urine at the behest of the Kremlin,” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reported.

If the history doesn’t fit, you must stealth edit it

For some of our most respected and revered media institutions, history has become increasingly uncooperative and uncharitable toward the narratives they’re trying to peddle these days.  A number of media outlets are finding it necessary to edit the stories of days gone by to make them more in keeping with the present day.  After all, why update your thinking or try to maintain some semblance of consistency with regard to past events, when you can just go back and change the way you reported or interpreted those events at the time?    

Following a recent Salon article that blasted Senator Tom Cotton for allegedly misleading the public about his service as a U.S. Army Ranger, some media outlets could barely keep up with the stealth editing necessary to make their current reporting more accurate and less hypocritical.  Cotton graduated from Army Ranger training school and earned the honor to wear the Ranger pin, but he never actually served with the unit.  Up until a week ago, it was quite common to refer to these service members as Rangers, but after the Salon attack piece, media outlets had some work to do to change all that.  Newsweek, not wanting to be left out of the media pile-on, used the Salon article to launch an attack of its own on Cotton.  However, Cotton’s staff notified Newsweek that it had referred in 2015 to the first two female graduates of the training program as Rangers.  (So had Congress, by the way.)  Newsweek went back and edited the article, relieving the barrier-breaking female graduates of their Army Ranger status.  Now the publication was free to attack Cotton without appearing to engage in any double standards.  It must have felt pretty liberating to the Newsweek editors to throw two female Army Rangers under the bus just so they could go after a high-profile Senator from the wrong team.   

Indeed, fickle history doesn’t always cooperate when the media sets about attacking a public figure for partisan or ideological reasons.  Back in October, during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the then nominee was attacked by Senator Mazie Hirono for using the term “sexual preference.”  Unbeknownst to nearly everyone on the planet, the term had apparently become “offensive and outdated.”  Despite evidence the term had been in recent common usage by the very same news outlets and journalists who now criticized Barrett, the media rushed to brand the term as offensive.  According to MSNBC producer, Kyle Griffin, “Sexual preference,” a term used by Justice Barrett, is offensive and outdated. The term implies sexuality is a choice. It is not. News organizations should not repeat Justice Barrett’s words without providing that important context.”  Good thing MSNBC provided that impartial and objective context, because the folks over at Merriam-Webster hadn’t seen fit to update the definition of the term until the brou-ha-ha erupted.  The dictionary people quickly edited the term’s definition, doing its part to add legitimacy to the media attacks on Barrett.         

One of the most egregious examples of stealth editing was brought to light last September when it was discovered that the New York Times had quietly memory-holed the core claim of its 1619 Project, the celebrated history series which garnered a Pulitzer Prize for its creator Nikole Hannah-Jones.  Initially, the piece attempted to reframe history in a manner that belied the facts.  When leading historians pointed out these errors of fact, the Times edited the piece without notice, dropping the core claim of the project.  Additionally, as if to assert that the public was suffering from some kind of Mandela Effect delusion, Nikole Hannah-Jones publicly asserted that the project had never made the claim to begin with.  Attempts to rewrite or reframe history for a present and future audience are common.  It’s how history is recorded.  But time travelling in a digital space and changing history in an effort to conceal the fact that you ever misled or misstated facts about history…are you f-ing serious?  It feels like trying to create a simulation within a simulation.  One day journalists and historians may look back on this time as a sort of dark ages, when authors went to such extreme lengths to conceal, alter and meddle with the facts of history, that the true story of what really happened is rendered indiscernible.  In any event, it will probably be one really hot mess for someone to disentangle.

Media turning to bullshit tracing to improve quality of misinformation

Concerned that the product their peddling is so transparently dishonest it’s turning away consumers, media outlets are turning to bullshit tracing to vet the quality of its misinformation.  In recent weeks, CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post have hired dozens of bullshit tracers in an effort to ensure their deceptive stories are backed up by rock-solid sourcing.  

“If you’re going to put something out there that is misleading or untrue, you’ve got to make sure when you trace back the bullshit, it holds up to scrutiny,” said one CNN producer.  “Too many times we see our stories fall apart after some non-journalist digs a little deeper below the surface, or provides some context.”

The move comes after both CNN and the Washington Post have settled defamation lawsuits brought by Covington Catholic teen Nick Sandmann.  Sandmann is now 2-0 in his defamation battles against a number of high profile media outlets.

“What this shows is we have to do better.  Not that we need to stop being deceptive, or that we need to tell the whole story rather than just the tiny bit that suits a narrative we’re pushing, but that we need to make sure our bullshit is impenetrable.  If the reader can cut through it, then we’re not doing our jobs,” said a Washington Post editor.

While the New York Times has not had to endure the wrath of the Sandmann, its own bullshit reporting has been called out by respected historians and high-profile editorial staff.

“The truth to bullshit ratio is something that is very important to us,” said a Times editor.  “We’re constantly striving to find that balance between what feels right versus what is born out by facts.  We think bringing in these bullshit tracers is going to help us strike that balance of misinformation backed up by an adequate amount of honest reporting.”

Not everyone is thrilled to have the content of their reporting traced for exposure to bullshit.  Rumors abound of a mutinous NY Times newsroom where young journalists resent having their lived-experience reporting subjected to tracking and scrutiny.  Some are openly hostile toward the bs tracers, claiming they create an unsafe work environment.

“Maybe someday we’ll have a return to normal, but for now, the bullshit tracers are necessary because the threat is too great,” said the Times editor.  “The Sandmann could enter at any moment and haul us all off to never-never land.” 

With departure of Bari Weiss and James Bennet, New York Times reaches 84% purity

The product the New York Times is pushing just got a lot more potent.  Long plagued by writers and editors who diluted the Grey Lady’s package with their heterodox perspectives and values of free speech and open debate, the new product boasts, “Now featuring 40% more woke orthodoxy!” 

News that unscrupulous dealers like James Bennet and Bari Weiss were stepping on the NYT’s righteous product caused other newsroom soldiers to demand the pair get got.  Their departure clears the way for greater dopamine inducing stories.  If The Times is only doing 4000 op-eds arguing that Donald Trump is a unique existential threat to the country and the world, now’s the opportunity to push an additional 1000.  

Only this week, the Grey Lady pushed its Covid coverage to new levels of mendacity and deception.  The Times has always taken a particular glee in reporting on Covid deniers who eventually contract the disease and then express regret for their previous position as they lay sick in the hospital.  Recently, they ran the story, Texas Hospital Says Man, 30, Died After Attending a ‘Covid Party.’  According to the article, the man always thought the virus was a hoax, but admitted, “I think I made a mistake,” just before dying.  However, by the fifth paragraph, the reporter, Brian Pietsch, reveals none of the details of the account could be verified. 

So, who cares if the stories are true, if it feels right and fits the predetermined narrative, then it’s fit to print.  Waves of smug satisfaction washing over Times readers, as their ideological notions are affirmed by the paper of record, is the only truth that matters anymore.         

Already reports are emerging of readers collapsing in the streets, New York Times still wedged under their arm, eyes rolled back in ecstasy.  Emergency rooms are seeing an uptick as well.  Not all readers are prepared for this level of purity.  However, most want more.  “Give us the good ones, Grey Lady,” they say.

After exhaustive investigation, media concludes Americans often set off fireworks around July 4th

The results are finally in regarding all those firecrackers you’ve heard popping at night and the colored lights you’ve seen bursting in the evening sky.  A two-week intensive investigation conducted by a number of media outlets has concluded that Americans enjoy setting off fireworks on and around the Independence Day holiday. 

While your average American probably thought some nefarious government plot was afoot, the New York Times and Slate, among others, went digging into this pyrotechnic phenomenon to dispel any conspiracy theories that these news organizations and their Pulitzer Prize winning staff members may have promoted.

To be clear, this is not a government psy-op.  Illegal fireworks traffickers are not trying to destroy communities by flooding the streets with their sparklers, fountains, and smoke bombs.  When dusk settles across America during the days leading up to July 4th, excited children and their slightly inebriated fathers routinely break open the Red, White and Boom box and let the explosive fun begin.

But congratulations to the New York Times for committing the time and resources to discovering how typical Americans celebrate around the holidays.  And a heads up to Slate, those ghosts and goblins scurrying around residential neighborhoods in late October and those giant furry bunny rabbits handing out chocolate eggs in the spring, it’s all on the up and up.

Free speech is killing the New York Times. Gray Lady can’t stop publishing bullshit.

The New York Times is doing some heavy duty soul searching these days as the 168 year old daily newspaper wrestles with the reality that everytime pen is put to paper, a key is stroked on a keyboard, or ink is printed on the page, untruths and fabrications seem to pour out of the Gray Lady like a devious meth addict spinning a yarn for their probation officer. 

Reports out of the newsroom suggest editors are considering changing the newspaper’s motto from “All the news that’s fit to print” to “It’s not a lie if you believe it,” borrowing the advice George Costanza gave to his friend Jerry on the nineties television comedy Seinfeld.  “All we’re trying to do is come up with the best possible lie,” is another Georgeism kicked around many a NYT editorial staff meeting. 

In what appears to be a cry for help, the Times recently published a piece entitled “Free Speech Is Killing Us,” in which the author, Andrew Marantz, seems to admit what many have been thinking for awhile – someone needs to step in and restrain the Times before it does more damage to itself.  If ever a daily newspaper was in need of an intervention, the Times surely qualifies.

Hardly a week goes by in which the Times doesn’t print something to embarrass itself and erode its credibility.  Just in recent weeks, the Times got called out by most print publications for its misleading Kavanaugh reporting, Brett Stephens appeared to have an angel dust fueled bed bug freakout, and David Brooks is writing opinions based on imaginary conversations and he’s not even trying to pass them off as real.  In the old days, a Times writer would at least try to create cover for their imaginary sources. Now, I guess they’re just putting their rich fantasy lives on full display. Following the Times is like watching a celebrity self-destruct in public. The Gray Lady is about one or two bullshit stories away from stripping off her clothes and wandering naked up and down Eighth Avenue.

Now the NYT wants the government and big tech to step in and put the brakes on free speech, arguing that dozens of lives would be saved by preventing young men from being radicalized in seedy online message groups.  The Times does have some experience in this area having exposed YouTube’s diabolical algorithm and its sinister scheme to radicalize young men into the right wing. The Gray Lady’s efforts to suppress speech bore fruit as YouTube, and some social media sites, either deplatformed or severely restricted the content of a number of creators.         

The Times is right.  Free speech is killing the New York Times.  Despite continuing to do valuable reporting, the Times can’t stop itself from undermining its credibility by foisting a lot of bullshit on the public.  Emboldened by recent successes restricting the speech of others, the Times now presses forward with an even more ambitious agenda to sell out the First Amendment and censor detractors and competitors.  I guess this is how the NYT plans to become ‘the paper of record’ again.

MSNBC reporting Tulsi Gabbard expected to address Russian Bot-Con during two week campaign absence

“Beware the Russian bots…” wrote Wajahat Ali of the New York Times.  No one can say we haven’t been warned.  

Now MSNBC is reporting that Hawaii Representative, Democratic Presidential Candidate, and deep cover Russian agent Tulsi Gabbard’s planned two week campaign break to serve her country is actually just a ruse to coordinate with her Russian handlers and address a Russian Bot Conference in Moscow.

NBC News points to articles in Russian propaganda news sites RT and Sputnik, reporting on Gabbard’s absence, as proof that she’s coordinating with the Russians.

“This is a clear example of Russian disinformation peddling,” says MSNBC’s Senior Conspiracy Correspondent Joy Reid.  “Russian bots have even created a special hashtag #ThankYouForYourServiceTulsi to promote Gabbard’s presidential bid and draw attention away from her covert activities.”

Experts who closely monitor Russian English-language news sites are convinced Gabbard’s announcement that she’ll be taking a two week break to fulfill her military service obligation, is just a code to the Russians to say, “Kremlin, I’m coming.”  

According to security experts, chatter among Russian bots has increased dramatically since Gabbard’s recent announcement with most expressing glowing sentiments like “Aloha, Tulsi, we love you” and “Tulsi 2020”.  

Don’t be fooled by the phony support they say.  Instead national security commentators appearing on MSNBC believe all the love is just a prelude to her expected address at Russian Bot-Con.  Gabbard’s presentation entitled “Putin’s Puppet, Assad’s Toadie, Kamala’s Worst Nightmare: How to Swing an Election in the Age of Fake News,” is expected to deliver instructions to her secret army of internet bots, calibrating the Russian propaganda machine as the Democratic primaries move into full-swing.

NBC News dot connectors and conspiracy analysts will continue to monitor internet activity for further developments.

Group seeks to make ‘air guitar’ less white and less male

A group of men in Toledo, Ohio is doing their part to make one of their favorite activities a little more inclusive.  The group was inspired to take action after reading stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times about Apollo 11 era NASA’s almost entirely white, male culture.   

“For pretty darn near going on forty years, me and my buddies have been getting together, drinking a few beers, listening to records, and when the mood strikes us, playing a little air guitar,” says Dennis Johnston.  “Well, after reading a few newspaper articles, penned by some very insightful journalists, it began to occur to me that maybe I’d been wielding my air guitar as a tool of oppression.”  

Unable to shake off the wise words of those east coast journalists, Johnston describes an evening  when he tried tuning out of the key of privilege, and into the key of inclusivity.  

“One night I’m just sitting there watching my buddy, Darryl, lose himself in a Free Bird guitar solo.  Now, Darryl’s no slouch on air guitar, and I must have watched him play Free Bird a hundred times, but I got to thinking, I wonder how a female would interpret this solo?  Would she make the same red, sweaty facial expressions? Would she deploy the same clumsy gyrations and body contortions? Would she flick her tongue around in the same disgusting manner as Darryl?  Almost certainly not, I thought. Might she instead soar gracefully to the music, ride the bird’s wings, and paint a different picture with her air guitar?”

After that experience, Johnston set about trying to attract more women and non-whites to join their group of invisible axe wielders.  They set up a Facebook page and held open auditions, but their invitations seemed to attract only more older white dudes.   

“Sadly, it turns out women and people of color aren’t very interested in air guitar,” says Johnston.  “I had thought my implicit bias was discouraging others not like me from participating in our group. However, now I’ve got it on pretty good authority that some folks think air guitar looks kind of ridiculous.  Oh well, we’re still free as a bird, and this bird you cannot change.”

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.”