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CSotD: Life Imitates Art Imitating Foolishness

Tank McNamara (AMS) not only gets a laugh regularly but also merits a “Wait, what?” from time to time, since it uses absurd exaggerations to spoof actual stories, but doesn’t always have to.

This is one of those latter times. The Staples Center, home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, is indeed about to change its name to The Crypto.com Arena.

This LA Times piece adds to the comedic aspects not by gushing — which would be unprofessional — but by simply sitting back and letting the sources gush for it, on behalf of the Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange:

The Romans also used to say “Quod erat demonstrandum” but so far, Fortuna hasn’t been all that fond of the Clippers:

I would say that the whole thing defies satire, but the fact is that Anthony Trollope nailed it in 1875 with an engaging, hilarious novel, The Way We Live Now, which has at its center a farcical plan to build a railway which is, at heart, a farcical plan to sell shares in a railway.

The BBC made a lovely miniseries of it, which is available on Britbox, but you can also get the novel for free or nearly so on Kindle.

Little has changed and you will instantly see many modern faces begging to be laughed in.

 

For more on how hard it is becoming to satirize the ridiculous, here’s a well-constructed breakdown by Sophia McClennen that explains “Trump’s Ironic Effect on Political Satire.”

And may also explain why conservative media is so obsessed with a tragic accident that just happened to include an actor seen in the above photo.

 

There seems to be a similar triumph of malice over significance in this Steve Kelley (Creators) cartoon, which revives the case of Jussie Smollett, a minor TV star who staged an attack two years ago and is finally being tried for the hoax.

Tucker Carlson and the conservative tabloids are making a big deal about the old case and Kelley joins the chorus.

Carlson — no doubt looking totally perplexed — says

I’m sure he would like to savor them, but I’ll agree that the first reports should have raised doubt.

It reminded me of a late night phone call several decades ago, when Then-Wife was a college public information director. Security informed her of an incident in which a white, female student reported being attacked in a campus parking lot by knife-wielding Hispanic men.

Then-Wife began to head for the office, but, moments later, security called back and warned her that things weren’t adding up.

By then, however, the police and media were on the case. She immediately called the papers and TV stations, cautioning them to hold off.

Within a few hours, the whole thing had fallen apart.

The student was treated for superficial, self-inflicted razor cuts and withdrew from school to go home and enter therapy.

Had she been a TV star, I doubt her mental health crisis would have been handled with such quiet compassion, while, had it happened in the modern media world of “post it now and verify it later,” I’m absolutely sure it would have received greater, far less accurate publicity.

Carlson is right that the media gins things up before they’ve been verified, and that the Smollett case drew far more attention — from media and from politicians — than it should have. Absolutely.

But who’s bringing it up now?

I’d also point out that Then-Wife had built years of credibility with her media contacts, and those consistent efforts led them to trust her and hold off for confirmation.

Tucker Carlson and his cohorts could build similar reputations, if their goals included ethical journalism.

Which leads us to this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(John Branch – KFS)

(Kal Kallaugher)

The question in our less than stellar omicron coverage is how much of the panic is the result of hasty ignorance and how much is deliberate political distortion?

Which prompts the larger question of what the hell difference it makes. As Yossarian noted, they may be trying to kill all of us, but they’re thereby trying to kill me.

You can attempt to reform the sincerely ignorant. I’m reminded of an incident from the early days of the Affordable Care Act, in which a rookie reporter at a major metro, who knew nothing of how health insurance works or about the ACA itself, was assigned to find out how local people were being affected.

Having no background or sources, she somehow got spoofed by a group of anti-ACA activists who fed her bogus stories of how their rates and costs had skyrocketed.

A more savvy reporter wouldn’t have stumbled into the trap, or at least would have recognized it, while a wiser editor might have questioned things before publishing.

We could fix that, if Corporate would quit laying off the older, experienced, more expensive members of the newsroom.

Okay, that won’t happen.

However, when there’s a chorus of deliberate deception attacking the bona fides of an experienced, respected virologist for political advantage, and spreading doubt and disinformation through major networks set up for that express purpose, it’s not simply a case of educating them.

They know what they’re doing.

 

And, as Mike Luckovich (AMS) points out, it’s working.

By the way, it’s becoming clear that, whether vaccines provide full protection against the new variant, they certainly seem to make it more of an annoyance than a threat to life.

And Dr. Fauci has said that vaccinated families can safely gather for the holidays without masks.

 

As if — Ed Hall asks — anyone cares about the actual threat.

Though, to be fair, Wall Street responds not to what is but to what people think. As far as stock prices go, they fluctuate by faith, not by facts, and if everyone suddenly decides that the omicron variant is going to wipe out half the population, that’s what the Dow will reflect, whether it happens or not.

Just as, if everyone decided that a new railroad from California to Mexico would make investors incredibly wealthy, they’d line up to hurl money at that belief, even if no such railroad were ever going to be built.  See Anthony Trollope and “The Way We Live Now,” above.

 

Community Comments

#1 Mike Lester
December/4/2021
@ 9:11 am

“But who’s bringing it up now?” The answer is the State of Illinois and the Special Prosecutor. Steve’s just doing his job and some people can’t have that.

#2 Mike Peterson
December/4/2021
@ 10:30 am

I wondered if anyone was appearing in court in Illinois. So that’s the case, is it? Well, good. I’d hate to think of all those state employees sitting around with nothing to do. However, that does indeed make it a local story for a Pittsburgh-based cartoonist.

#3 Richard John Marcej
December/4/2021
@ 11:45 am

When I lived in the Philadelphia area they had just finished building their new football stadium. The insurance company, Lincoln National Corporation bought the naming rights, so it was to be known as Lincoln Financial Field. BUT- no sooner was it named that, then the locals began calling it “The Linc”. An uproar by the parent company followed and their representatives appeared on the local media chastised anyone who was calling it “The Linc” and demanded that it be called by its full name.

Of course, that never happened and to this day it’s mainly called by its nickname. I can understand that if you’re going to poor a lot of money into naming a stadium, that you want your company’s name to be mentioned every time but, come on… no matter how big your company is, you can’t force people not to use a nickname.

#4 Tara Gallagher
December/4/2021
@ 12:55 pm

In Seattle we had Safeco Field (The Safe) and Century Link Field (The Clink). Now they’re T-Mobile and Lumen Fields, and, alas, the sports folks seem to have given up on nicknames. (suppose calling T-Mobile The Tomb was too negative for a losing baseball team)

Now there’s the new Climate Pledge Arena, which has yet to acquire the deserved nickname “Amazon Greenwashing Place”

#5 Mary McNeil
December/4/2021
@ 5:19 pm

We don’t yet have “The Prog” (replacing The Jake)…but the uniforms of the new baseball team will be able to save some on the embroidering new uniforms because they can just rip out “IN” and sew in”GUAR”

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