From the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia (and death of Heather Heyer) to the terror attacks in Spain, this last week has been an especially rough one both online and off. Sure, a few small, funny things have been happening on the internet amidst all of it, but those blips have been largely drowned out by the crappiness of everything else. Is it pre-solar eclipse fever? Is it the downfall of Western civilization? Both, or somewhere in between? Before you get too distracted pondering that existential dilemma, here’s everything you might have missed online in the last seven days.
The President’s Pressed Press Conference
What Happened: President Trump’s do-over of a do-over didn’t really go over so well.
What Really Happened: After scenes of protestors clashing with white supremacists provoked a weak response from President Trump over the weekend, there was enough outcry to prompt a do-over Monday afternoon. The second response might have finally denounced racists, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, but it was notably delivered under duress. Still, even a muted, two-days-late denunciation of racism is better than nothing, and it’s not like he’d hijack his own press conference the next day to walk back his anti-racism statements, right?
It was an almost unbelievable display that appalled and upset even Republicans and reporters alike. A president defending racists and decrying those who protested against them, using loaded language? Even for a historically race-baiting figure, this was new.
Of course, some people really liked it.
Others wanted members of the president’s own party to finally, finally take action—
—so much so that a hashtag, #DoSomethingGOP, was soon trending:
Soon #Impeach and #ImpeachTrump were trending and there was an uptick in the number of citizens calling for the president’s ouster. In an attempt to speed along the impeachment process (which might not be as unlikely as it seems, in terms of simple math), Anonymous doxxed 22 Republican members of Congress, because… that always makes things better, maybe?
The Takeaway: Honestly, this one feels like it’s still ongoing. (See below.)
What Happened: As the president found it difficult to abandon racists, many people found it increasingly easier to abandon the president.
What Really Happened: Americans are, by now, used to seeing President Trump try to make policy on Twitter as opposed to, you know, the proper ways to do these things. But what happens when it’s not a matter of policy? What happens when announcements made on Twitter can be binding? The electorate got a glimpse into that world on Monday when, in the aftermath of Trump’s initial comments on the violence in Charlottesville, Merck Pharmaceuticals CEO Kenneth Frazier made an important announcement:
Rather than accepting his resignation and thanking him for his service, the president took to Twitter to chime in on Frazier’s business practices.
OK, so that didn’t really go well. But things were about to get much worse.
Things weren’t over yet, though.
Meanwhile, how was the president responding?
Well, silence for a little bit, anyway:
That sounds pretty definitive, doesn’t it? It doesn’t matter who quits, Trump can simply replace them! Or, you know, he could just not have a manufacturing council at all.
So, what happened? Funny you should ask.
Yes, that’s right; instead of watching the council disband through CEO resignations, Trump decided to end it himself. It worked (sort of), but then there was an entirely different council that left the president before he could break things off.
The Takeaway: Twitter, you want to take this one?
Ape Shall Never Troll Ape
What Happened: Comedian Tim Allen asked a somewhat dumb science question on Twitter. Twitter, of course, didn’t let it slide.
What Really Happened: Sure, ABC canceled his show Last Man Standing, but don’t think that means Tim Allen is sitting around pondering imponderables to himself. No, he’s sharing such thoughts with the internet.
Most folks who’ve studied evolution already know the answer to this. So do a lot of folks on Twitter, who immediately started calling out Allen’s inquiry.
Others, bless their good hearts, tried actually answering the question as if it had been a genuine one:
Even more were wondering if there weren’t other questions that should be asked on a related theme:
The Takeaway: Wait. Apes… humans…. it seems like there’s a movie in there somewhere. Better yet, an entire series of movies.
America, According to James Woods
What Happened: James Woods hopped on Twitter to weigh in on the national debate over removing monuments. As is the case with most actors’ work, the reviews for his performance were mixed.
What Really Happened: This one is just surreal. Amidst all the right-wing concern that every single historical statue in America is under threat from a fictional “alt-left” that seeks to rewrite history, actor and one-time icon of sneery cool James Woods took to Twitter:
Melodramatic and misguided? Hilariously so… which made it ripe for Twitter to tear apart through parody.
The Takeaway: Then again, maybe he had a point.
A Jury of Your Jeers
What Happened: In trying times like these, you might ask yourself: Can anything bring us together as one people again? The answer is yes. And it’s a court transcript.
What Really Happened: Remember Martin Shkreli? Sure you do, but it’s worth revisiting his being found guilty of securities fraud earlier this month nonetheless. What some of you might also remember was that, famously, the trial had problems finding a jury who wouldn’t be biased against the would-be pharma kingpin. This week, the internet had a chance to see how that actually happened when Harpers published portions of the jury selection transcript, which was genuinely amazing.
In a rough week around the world, the levity provided by the transcript—and the numerous stories linking to and referencing the comments, which were seemingly everywhere—was something to behold. Look at that; even someone like Martin Shkreli can bring joy to the world, after all.
The Takeaway: If any of this makes you feel bad for Shkreli, don’t. It could’ve been much worse.