There might be no better sign of the state of the internet this year than the fact that a potential meme about the president awkwardly drinking water was quickly eclipsed by news of groping allegations against Democratic Senator Al Franken, and then that both of those stories were eclipsed by a tweet from the president. Pretty much 2017 in a nutshell. But how is everyone else doing? Well, perhaps we shouldn’t have asked…
Treasury Secretary Steven McDuck
What Happened: Just when you thought that the Trump administration was getting better with that whole “bad optics” thing…
What Really Happened: You have to give it to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. At a time when Republicans are under fire for a tax overhaul that vastly favors the rich, he managed to conjure up a photo-op that made himself and wife Louise Linton look like cartoonishly insensitive wealthy buffoons.
Sure, there’s a context. It’s from a tour of the DC Bureau of Engraving, and the banknotes feature Mnuchin’s signature for the first time. But really, context only means so much when dealing with something like this, as Twitter was quick to explain.
Well, at least no Democratic congressman is using the image in advertisements to specifically link it to the ongoing tax debate to… Oh, wait.
The Takeaway: Who knew that laughing at ill-considered publicity photos of rich folk could be quite so therapeutic?
Another Verifiable Mess
What Happened: Twitter starts to finally clean house, and not everyone is excited.
What Really Happened: As anyone who’s been following this column for any length of time already knows, Twitter has come under fire a lot recently over its verification policies. Last week, after an uproar over the organizer of the Charlottesville rally getting a “verified” check mark, things began to change, much to the surprise of those whose accounts were affected:
(Note: That Twitter account has a bio that reads, in part, “American heart, European blood. #WhiteCulture.”)
So, what was going on? It turns out, Twitter might have been listening all along.
Oh. Twitter explained what was happening in, appropriately, a handful of tweets.
The loss of check marks for racists didn’t go unnoticed by the media, but unsurprisingly, not everyone is in favor of white supremacists and getting unverified—not banned, mind you, not censored, just unverified. (Bear that latter part in mind as you keep reading.)
The Takeaway: For those concerned about censorship on the platform, please consider this old parable.
Twitter Doesn’t Like Sean Hannity’s Chart
What Happened: Sometimes, when you’re trying to sell a complicated conspiracy theory, it’s good to make a mood board to help explain everything. But then, of course, the internet gets to make fun of it.
What Really Happened: Fox News’ Sean Hannity didn’t have the best week last week. First, his much-hyped ultimatum to Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore to explain his sexual abuse allegations or drop out of the race got nixed just one day later. Then there was this:
No, you’re not seeing things. That is, indeed, a complicated flowchart “proving” Hillary Clinton’s complicity in the Uranium One deal, an oft-debunked non-scandal that might, nonetheless, lead to a special counsel investigation. The chart is very complex. But Twitter, however, was not impressed by Hannity’s homework.
The Takeaway: Meanwhile, while Sean Hannity tries really hard to convince Fox News viewers that there is a conspiracy to be uncovered, Shep Smith on the same network is undoing all that hard work by … reporting the facts:
What Happened: Who’s the Sexiest Man Alive? The answer might shock you! No, really; you might genuinely be surprised.
What Really Happened: It’s that time again! You know, the point where every single man in the entire world gets rounded up and placed into a Thunderdome-like conflict to decide just which one is the sexiest man alive! Previous winners have included Dwayne Johnson (2016), Chris Hemsworth (2014), and Channing Tatum (2012), but who’s the lucky winner this year? People magazine, don’t keep us in suspense any longer…!
…Oh. Well, yeah, I guess that’s a choice? But, it turned out, not one that was particularly popular online.
The Takeaway: The winner of this whole shebang? Let’s just give it to Stranger Things‘ David Harbour. He knows why.
Mate 4 Mate
What Happened: Australia declared that it’s ready for same-sex marriage.
What Really Happened: Let’s end this week with some news that made a lot of people very happy.
Before we all get too carried away…
In the year of tumult that is 2017, it’s good to know that sometimes things aren’t always terrible.
The Takeaway: Trust Nate Silver to put everything into perspective and say what folks were all already thinking. Namely, hadn’t Australia already done that?