Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: Elizabeth Warren rebuffs Fox News, Chip Roy defends drug company profits, and Uber channels Gwen Stefani.
I may have accidentally done a Fake News. I guess all those troll accounts were right about me. This week, I wrote an article about Elizabeth Warren laying the smack down on Fox News' invite to do a town hall on the network, presumably sandwiched somewhere between Great(?) Performances presents "The Dog Whistle Opera" and a very strategically edited soap opera about the Civil War. Warren was like, "Tuh!" Actually, okay, no she did not say "Tuh!" And that's how the trouble started for me, a person who would probably watch at least some of a Dog Whistle Opera. Elizabeth Warren has probably said "Tuh!" at some point but she didn't in this instance. She released a very articulate statement in which she laid out her reasons for turning down the invite (more on that below). A lunatic on the internet (played in this performance by R. Eric Thomas, star of Fox News' hit soap opera Northern Aggressions!) wrote about Elizabeth Warren's statement with all the hyperbole and exaggeration that he normally does, paraphrasing the statement, riffing, laugh-screaming into the void. The usual. Good times. Except some people some people took me seriously.
Oh my God, please do not ever take me seriously. Can you imagine?! Taking me seriously is never a good idea unless you are my doctor and I am telling you that I am certain that I lingering on the precipice of death caused by light sinus pressure and seasonal allergies. My doctor should definitely treat my hypochondria with deathly seriousness (see what I did there? Even as I slip the surly bounds of life, I am making word play!) Occasionally, people will respond to my column as if they have confused a GIF-filled stream-of-consciousness riff on the internet with a piece of binding legislation that has passed both the House and the Senate. I give random, loosely held but fervently defended opinions about food items, and politicians, and hot celebrities, and people sometimes descend on my DMs with fury and righteous indignation. That's the way the internet works, of course. I just find it very confusing that people choose to berate me when they could berate literally anyone else. I'm just the star of a historically inaccurate antebellum soap opera. I regret to inform everyone that I am not the president of the Confederate States of America and therefore cannot address your concerns about my thoughts. Like, when I write "Meghan Markle is Crown Princess of the USA!" people really yell at me "No, we fought a war to get rid of royalty and I know you liberal scum wish we could be under Britain's thumb again, but it'll never happen." Honey, this is too much. I'm just rooting for everybody black. If you have a problem with it, please take it up with our new King Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. The results of the Revolutionary War are just an opinion. Possibly Fake News, even.
Which leads me back the Fake News that, according to the rude folks here at the Hague, I definitely did and should be locked up for. So, in the Elizabeth Warren piece I wrote the following:
Elizabeth Warren treated Fox News like the whole network was Jonah Ryan on Veep. She probably could have gone on for another 12 pages, just dunking on Fox News, and finding creative ways to say they're racist.
Instead, she concluded by twirling on the haters, reminding Fox News and the world that she's already held 75 town halls and 131 interviews. She's answered 1,100 questions since January (you know she personally has a spreadsheet that she compares with the spreadsheet of the staffer whose job it is to keep track of this.) Elizabeth Warren told Fox News, "Maybe you didn't know but I am the news. To quote the poet Lil' Kim, 'I know you heard me on the radio (true)'
This is a lot of things (very funny, being one) but this is not true. And I assumed that little angel called Context would make that blessedly clear. I mean, earlier in the piece I said that Elizabeth Warren has a Professor X-style Cerebrum chamber in her house. This is probably not a true statement. Why did I write it? I am a chaotic agent of evil (and perhaps secretly working as a spy for the Union Army). ELLE.com socialed the article with the following pull quote on Twitter:
And suddenly people were in my DMs asking me if Elizabeth Warren really quoted Lil' Kim.
"No," I'd reply. "That's actually Biggie she's quoting."
Just kidding, I didn't write that. Maybe. Unclear at this point.
I decided I was going to ignore all the tweets in which people were re-posting my column and talking about how excited they were that Elizabeth Warren is a Lil' Kim fan. Truth has no place on the internet. But then the very popular blog The Shade Room got in on the act and posted this to their 15.4 million followers:
And just like that, I am the Cambridge Analytica of excited gay opinions. I... honestly do not know what to do about this (I mean, clearly, I will do nothing). On one hand, these are the kind of shenanigans I live for. I am always here for a caper and this is a caper worthy of a Veep plot line. There's a part of me that hopes that this rumor escalates and grows so big that it starts to draw people to her campaign and becomes a major talking point on the trail. And then when Elizabeth Warren is elected, she asks Lil' Kim to perform at the inauguration, while I watch from home cackling maniacally before fading away into a crowded DC street, off to wreak havoc on democracy some other way. I turn to the camera one last time and say, "It's like Elizabeth Warren always says, 'to quote Lil' Kim in the song 'Lady Marmalade': 'Uh. Uh. Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh!'"
What's best about this is that nobody meant to do this: not me, not ELLE.com's social media editor, not The Shade Room. There is not a cabal of influencers being paid by the Lil' Kim lobby. I wish there was! I am available to be bought! I'm not trying to be the last ethically dubious potential criminal to climb atop the pyramid scheme called civic engagement! I'm trying to live the American dream of having multiple off-shore accounts full of cash.
Now, you might say that now I know this is possible, I should use my powers for deceiving the general public for good. I would reply to you, what is more good than hijacking an election cycle that, let's be honest, will never end and turning the conversation to 90s hip-hop? This is patriotism! It's my service to the Theoretically United States of America and our Crown Princess, Meghan Markle.
This week, a congressman melts down in defense of drug companies making more money, Mayor Pete slow jams the news, and Uber Black knows you just want to sit quietly. But first! My web of lies!
She really sat down in a coffee shop in Iowa, asked the barista for the WiFi password, bought a scone, opened up Microsoft Word, had a collegial conversation with Clippy, and then went absolutely H.A.M. on the entire network of Fox News, the premise of Fox News, and the notion of Foxes and News, for good measure. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Now you may say, what's wrong with having a huge emotional response to the fact that a small number of drug executives are making more than most of the cast of Avengers: End Game made? Oh, because Roy was arguing in defense of that most maligned of social groups: Profits. "I'm really glad they [made a lot of money]!" he exclaimed, already heated. "And I hope they make a lot more!" This is like the climactic Samuel L. Jackson speech in A Time To Kill except utterly dystopian. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
On the whole, I get this new feature. Whomst among us not had the experience of being spoken to when all we desired was to stare at our phones, where our real friends are? But that's called being alive on Earth in the present. You really must ask yourself, do you want anyone to speak to me? Unless you are offering me a free sample at Costco, let's pretend we're both permanently living in the first 15 minutes of Wall-E. My favorite portrayal of the human experience is by little sad robot. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
One of Jimmy Fallon's most consistent Tonight Show bits is "Slow Jam the News," in which the host combines straight-laced newsmakers, sultry Barry White-esque musical murmurings, and a camera operator who is working overtime to shift focus from the foreground to the background. On Monday, Mayor Pete became the latest politician to respond "What is it? Uh, sure, fine." to the staff member who suggested the booking. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
It should be noted that Elaine’s FUBU outfit—a full-length black dress with long, drapey sleeves that puff at the shoulders and a high collar—is giving her a distinct judicial vibe. Put her on the bench immediately. I need an entire Supreme Court full of justice-focused justices, serving lewks and saucy but kind commentary in equal measure. [READ THE FULL RECAP]
Let's Hang Out!
I want to extend an extremely heartfelt thanks to WJ Thompson, Bella Desai, BJ Wilson, and Megan, whose last name I didn't catch, who all came to see a reading of Crying on Television in Nashville. Two of them came from other states. If, by chance, you were also there and we didn't get to talk, please accept my apologies. I continue to be awed by the extraordinary people that my Fake News musings on the internet allow me the privilege of meeting. While I was in Nashville, I got to meet so many people with whom I'd only interacted online previously and every meeting was so life-giving and encouraging. I am so sincerely grateful for every single person who spends a part of their day reading something that I wrote (or watching something that I wrote) and I hope that I can meet every single person in person eventually so I can properly thank you all for exponentially improving my life.
Seattle: May 23 at Benaroya Hall - Hosting The Moth Mainstage
Baltimore: June 1 is my 20th year high school reunion so, uh, if we went to high school together, we should hang out!
Washington, D.C.: June 17 at Miracle Theater - Hosting The Moth StorySlam
Random Thing From the Internet
Today is Lorraine Hansberry's birthday. I adore her writing so much and I wish she'd lived longer so that the world could have heard even more from her. Here's a delightful piece in The New Yorker in which she reflects on how her life changed after A Raisin in the Sun.
"Tuh!" -Elizabeth Warren,