Spring, if you’ve been quarantined inside and haven’t noticed, has sprung. The sun is out, the weather is warming up, and Michigan has lost two dams, flooding large areas of the state even as President Trump made vague threats about withholding funding to the state because of how it’s offering absentee ballots. OK, that last bit doesn’t have anything to do with the season—American politics continue apace year-round—but it’s still worth mentioning. Elsewhere, you might be waiting a while for your tax return, Lana Del Rey wants to fight people who argue she’s glamorizing abusive relationships, and NASA scientists might have discovered a parallel universe where time runs backwards (or maybe not). In other words, everything’s under control, situation normal. But that’s just the beginning. Here’s everything else the internet was talking about last week.
President Trump Says He’s Taking Hydroxychloroquine
What Happened: Just when you thought you’d heard the last of hydroxychloroquine, it comes roaring back—in a statement from President Trump declaring that he’s been taking it despite the fact that it’s not been proven to be effective as a treatment for Covid-19.
What Really Happened: Before this week, it had been awhile since the leader of the free world had really talked about hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug that he’d called a “game changer” in terms of its impact on the coronavirus, even as the FDA warned against use of the untested medication for Covid-19 because of potentially life-threatening side effects. Indeed, some noted that President Trump had toned down his promotion of the drug as those side effects became more known. Also, President Trump had moved on to talking about injecting disinfectant, so it seemed as though hydroxychloroquine’s moment had passed. Turns out, it had not.
Yes, on Monday, Trump announced that he was personally taking the drug, after multiple people in the White House, including Trump’s personal valet, tested positive for Covid-19. This comes after studies about the drug suggested that, while its curative properties are yet to be proven, its dangers are far more obvious.
Hours after Trump’s announcement, the White House attempted to catch up, via a letter from the president’s physician backing up the claim.
Something worth noting, though—the letter doesn’t necessarily say what some people think that it did.
So, what did President Trump’s colleagues in government think?
Meanwhile, Fox News’ Neil Cavuto noted, on air, “If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment … it will kill you. I cannot stress enough. This will kill you.” This prompted Trump to attack Cavuto. Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had this to say.
While the comments certainly got the media’s attention—and prompted a conversation about fat-shaming, as #PresidentPlump trended on social media in the aftermath—Trump didn’t clap back.
The Takeaway: Rounding out the week, this happened on Friday.
What Happened: Sometimes, what seems like a lot of people congratulating someone for graduating from law school is actually something very different indeed. But then, not every graduate is Tiffany Trump.
What Really Happened: It started as a relatively benign tweet from a father to his child—although, as things turned out, that may not have been the case. Nonetheless, midweek, President Trump took a break to send this message out to the world, and one person in particular.
This is (mostly) nice. Within hours, “Congratulations Tiffany” was one of the top trending topics on Twitter—although by the time that happened use of the phrase had veered somewhat off-topic.
Oh, and there were also tweets like these.
If you’re curious, that’s a reference to a legal ruling that allowed a fraud suit against Trump, his three eldest children, and one of Trump’s companies to proceed, with the suit accusing them of seeking “to enrich themselves by systematically defrauding economically marginalized people looking to invest in their educations, start their own small business, and pursue the American dream.”
As should only be expected, mainstream media noticed the trend. But here’s an added twist to the whole thing: The president’s tweet congratulating his daughter for graduating appeared on Wednesday morning—but that was a day after tweets like the ones below.
In fact, Tiffany Trump graduated on May 16, a full four days before President Trump tweeted out his congratulations, and it was far from a secret, given the media coverage it received at the time. So, was Trump publicly shamed into congratulating his daughter via social media? Or was he just busy? He did have a lot going on last week. Perhaps the American public will never know.
The Takeaway: Surely other folks had this same reaction, right?
Joe Rogan Goes to Spotify
What Happened: Spotify picked up Joe Rogan’s podcast in what can only be described as a “very big deal.”
What Really Happened: In recent years, The Joe Rogan Experience has climbed the charts to become one of the most popular podcasts in the world. Spotify, meanwhile, has been on a mission to dominate the world of audio. Then, last week, this happened.
This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.
Yes, comedian, former Fear Factor host, and Ron Paul supporter Joe Rogan is moving his podcast exclusively to Spotify before the end of the year. Think that’s small potatoes? It’s not.
Spending that amount of money might seem like a risk, until you see what happened after the announcement.
Apparently, the market really likes Rogan. That seems to be the lesson here. One of the strangest side effects of the deal was watching people declare that this was the end of Rogan’s current home, which is an argument that might make sense if his current home wasn’t largely YouTube.
Perhaps what this is actually likely to mean is that podcasts are moving into a new era, and a whole new wave of pivoting to video could be in the offing—one that could be a bellwether for media companies trying to rebuild amidst declining ad revenue and mass layoffs.
The Takeaway: There’s no denying that the combination of Rogan’s demographic, the audience for media stories, and the very involvement of Spotify lead to some interesting responses to this particular story. Including this one from a real-life Armie Hammer character.
Willis Tower Goes Dark
What Happened: To everyone in Chicago, it’s not just paranoia: Maybe something really is watching you at night. Maybe it’s the Willis Tower (aka the Sears Tower).
What Really Happened: Hands up everyone who had “the Chicago skyline is the ideal visual metaphor for 2020 as a whole” in the pool. It’s time for you to collect.
As it turns out, the tower went dark last weekend because of flooding. (If you’re curious how that can happen, and why it’s seemingly only affecting one building, here’s your answer.)
The building’s blackout is a sign of how bad things are in Chicago—the answer is pretty bad, which might come as a surprise considering the relative lack of nationwide coverage—but that’s not why anybody was talking about it. Instead, they were focused on just how creepy the Willis Tower looks with all of the lights off.
I mean, it kind of looks like something, doesn’t it? But what does it look like?
OK, sure, that might be it. A surprisingly over it robot seems fairly convincing.
For Minecraft fans, however, there was definitely something else to see.
Now one for the Tolkien fans out there.
Like we said: The Chicago skyline is the ideal visual metaphor for 2020, thanks to the Willis Tower. Just accept it.
The Takeaway: Speaking of the “Willis Tower” …
Here’s What Happened to Everyone’s Plans in 2020
What Happened: This is the year in which anyone who made any kind of plans has already learned to kiss them goodbye, but at least everyone got a meme out of it. That’s got to count for something, right?
What Really Happened: Look, let’s just admit it: 2020 isn’t going the way anyone thought it would, and last week Twitter really embraced that reality for the first time in the only way that matters: via an easily understandable, three word meme.
It was the ideal meme for these times—some entries were even reminiscent of old memes from the internet that was! That meant, of course, that it went mainstream very, very, very quickly indeed. But why shouldn’t it? It’s a meme that everyone can understand!
Yep, sounds about right.
The Takeaway: Some people, at least, were refreshingly honest about how everything has impacted their lifestyle.
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