Depp and Heard Show seeks new jurisdiction for Season 3

Following the exciting Season 2 finale in which a victorious Johnny Depp was awarded $15 million in damages after his “reputation” was dragged through the mud in a Washington Post editorial by ex-wife Amber Heard, the pair are reportedly shopping around Season 3 for a new jurisdiction in which to showcase their legal wranglings.

The success of Season 2 almost guarantees a bidding war for any future court proceedings.  Experts agree, the American public’s appetite for intimate glimpses into the sordid lives of their favorite trashy celebrities is nowhere close to being satisfied.  

“In times like these, when life is difficult and uncertain, people look to the stars.  Average Americans love it when the stars offer them child rearing tips and marriage advice.  They’re always looking to celebrities for moral guidance and spiritual direction.  They cheer when celebrities slap each other in public.  They admire the shameless sense of entitlement that comes with a career in the public eye.  They’re relieved to hear that even the rich and famous sometimes defecate on the bed out of spite,” said an unnamed Netflix executive trying to develop a series with the toxic duo.

However, before any new deal can be finalized, Amber Heard must make a good faith down payment on the $15 million judgment.  Attorneys for the actress are reportedly in negotiations with Depp’s legal team for a modest loan to pay the damages she owes him.

Facebook faces outrage over amplifying outrage

Social media giant Facebook faced fresh allegations Monday that its angry algorithms amplified outrage over agreeability.  These revelations are among the latest to emerge out of the Facebook Papers, a trove of internal company documents made public by the Facebook Whistleblower.  

Oddly, the tech giant has responded by using this new round of allegations to condition its algorithm into promoting even more anger and hostility, creating a seemingly infinite vortex of outrage.  “When the world’s throwing a hissy fit, we’re down in the basement printing money,” joked Facebook communications official Tucker Bounds in an internal email.

According to the Washington Post, Facebook engineers gave more points to news stories that elicited an angry response over ones that garnered a ‘like’ by a five to one margin.  This ranking system prompted the company’s cranky old algorithm to promote stories that incited anger over all the feel good, human interest stories the media churns out everyday. 

“In turn, this has caused the world to become engulfed in flames,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee at a hearing Monday.  “There’s a lot to discover in these papers about how the platform promotes extremism and hurts our communities, but here’s what is clear: Facebook knew.”

Another revelation in the Facebook Papers exposes efforts early on to build an algorithm for promoting and disseminating information on the platform.  

“They basically sent teams of researchers out to coffee shops to observe what types of news stories got cranky, old retired dudes all riled up,” internal memos revealed.  “They built the algorithm based on what they discovered conducting these ‘field expeditions.’”   

Facebook is facing intense pressure from congress and media outlets regarding why they would knowingly choose to promote outrage over sensible, mild-mannered discussions of the day’s top stories.  

“We’re just flabbergasted that Facebook would intentionally encourage outrage just for clicks and shares,” said Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources.  “At least when we in the traditional media promote hysteria over measured conversations, it’s because we don’t have a clue what we’re doing.  Facebook knew exactly what they were doing.”

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.” 

Media to the American public: If anyone’s going to deceive you, it’s going to be us

Following the release of a video by the Bloomberg campaign showing a 20 second awkward silence after Bloomberg asks his Democratic debate opponents if they’d ever started a business, many media outlets are reaffirming their position that they alone reserve the right to produce deceptive and misleading media content.

Washington Post Fact-Checker Glenn Kessler assigned four Pinocchios to the Bloomberg video stating, “Anyone who had not seen the debate could have been easily misled into thinking the other candidates stood there in stunned silence for nearly half a minute.”

Setting aside the near cosmic certainty that a stage full of political candidates could never remain silent for twenty seconds during a debate in progress, debate moderators and MSNBC producers would likewise never allow that much dead air to eat up the broadcast.  Wouldn’t someone in the control room shout through a moderator’s earpiece, “Ask a fucking question!” or wouldn’t they just cut to a commercial?     

But, alas, I’m just one of the naive, propaganda consuming public who doesn’t realize when he’s being misled and misinformed by sophisticated disinfo agents.  For that take, Vox interviewed Cindy Otis, a former CIA analyst and disinformation expert who has authored a helpful guide for identifying disinformation called, True Or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News.  Otis tells Vox, “Not being up front about an edited video or other changed content runs a big risk since people spread things quickly without verification.”

How thoughtful of this former employee of the CIA to use her experience and expertise to help Americans bypass the lies and deception and get straight to the facts.  After all, it’s been the CIA’s mission for years to get the truth out to the American public, even if they have to secretly collude with news organizations to do it. The CIA has always been very “up front” about their propaganda and media manipulation.

In addition to illustrating the ways by which Bloomberg’s video deceives the public, HuffPost is super excited about Twitter’s plan to label tweets containing “manipulated media,” or remove tweets if they “are likely to cause harm.”  It seems there were a number of Twitter users who were concerned the debate stage had been overrun by crickets after viewing the Bloomberg video. HuffPost is committed to making sure the American public gets only an objective rendering of the facts, which is why Jesselyn Cook concludes her piece by informing readers, “Bloomberg’s performance in the debate in Las Vegas – his debut at the forums – was widely panned, as he struggled to respond effectively to harsh criticisms of his record on race relations, sexual harassment complaints, economic inequality and other issues.”

Got that?  If you watched the Bloomberg campaign video, you might think that he dunked hard on the rest of the field, but thankfully, HuffPost is concerned enough to let you know what really happened.

If it weren’t for much of the mainstream media portraying Bloomberg as a shrewd media manipulator, much of the American public might just take him for a tool.  His campaign videos and social media are often an embarrassing attempt to seem edgy or hip. He would probably be better off just giving money directly to voters for their support instead of trying to persuade them with media ads.

Following similar media uproar over the Speaker Pelosi speech shredding video, it seems pretty clear that the only deceptive parties in both cases are the mainstream media outlets that have worked overtime to mislead the American public into believing they’re being assaulted with deceptive videos.  In the dozens of pieces that have been written on these videos, none have produced any evidence that large swaths of the public are being misled. In fact, most of the public comments and tweets on these stories seem to dispute the media’s contention. Attempting to give weight to their narrative, the MSM rollout experts instead of relying on evidence.  But you don’t have to be an expert or former CIA to know these videos aren’t intended to be interpreted literally, and you don’t have to be an expert to know that these journalists are handing you a con job. 

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.”