We live in an age in which "journalism" means scrolling down your Facebook feed for the latest epic fail videos, spamming mass shooting survivors on Twitter to get quotes, and making flat-out lies go viral. And all that is ... quite tame compared to the shit old-timey journalists used to pull, actually. We tend to forget that even before the Web came along, the fourth estate regularly put up with the fucknut shenanigans of people like ...
6 William Seabrook Eats Human Flesh, Pretends African Cannibals Gave It To Him
It's commonplace for online writers to subject themselves to untold agonies for our delight and, most importantly, those sweet, sweet clicks. (Hell, we have a whole team do that regularly.) That said, nothing could ever top what one 1930s journalist, William Seabrook, put himself through for sweet, sweet ... uh, page-turns?
Anyway, our point is: He ate someone.
And not in the usual way journalists do to advance their careers.
Whilst travelling in West Africa, Seabrook stumbled upon stories of a tribe well-known for being cannibals. Clearly desperate for some exciting dinner party anecdotes, he ventured out with the aim of documenting their savage practices, as well as trying them out for himself. With his mouth. They immediately told him to piss off, serving him some gorilla meat as a consolation prize, which is the cannibal version of getting Pepsi when you specifically asked for Coca-Cola.
Undeterred, he traveled to France and bribed a hospital porter to provide him with a chunk of human flesh from the mortuary. We'd like to think that someone asked him why he didn't do this in the first place and thereby bypass the risk of being turned into cannibal poop. They were probably avoiding him, though -- he was one of the first people to write about zombies in America, and given his dietary habits, we're guessing no one wanted to be around when he turned.
He always carried a light snack to the office in case a meeting ran long.
Nevertheless, he was true to his word. Writing about the experience, he described human flesh as "like good, fully developed veal" (if you didn't read that sentence in Hannibal Lecter's voice, then what are you even doing here?). He didn't mention how he'd really gotten his meat, instead telling readers that the tribe had invited him to partake in their ritual. Which makes the coda to this all the stranger: He ate it at a dinner party amongst friends who had to have presumed that this wasn't his first time. They probably stopped RSVP'ing to his invites after that.
5 Florabel Muir Tried To Get A Criminal Confession Using Fake Ghosts, Racism
Florabel Muir was a trailblazer. She was the first woman journalist in multiple newspapers, and the first one to be allowed to cover an execution, after getting an Attorney General to rule that she was "a reporter, not female." She was also, unfortunately, someone who once glimpsed into the future, watched an episode of Scooby-Doo, and thought "that shit is just crazy enough to work".
In 1922, Hollywood was reeling from the mysterious murder of silent film magnate William Desmond Taylor. With no evidence and no witnesses, it was a complex case that would baffle investigators for decades. Or the butler did it. That was Muir's version of events, and by god, she was going to prove it, no matter how many guys she had to rope in to help kidnap said butler. Seriously.
Muir and her cohorts at first tried to get the butler to confess by pretending to be cops ... who carried out their interrogations in the offices of a newspaper, for some reason. When that didn't work, they moved on to plan B: exploiting the well-known and completely accurate (according to racist 1920s movies, anyway) fact that black people are extremely terrified of g-g-g-ghosts.
Promising the butler $10 if he could identify Taylor's grave, Muir lured him to a cemetery. Then, when they reached the grave, the ghostly apparition of Taylor appeared and commanded Peavey to confess. To everyone's shock, Peavey reacted by laughing his ass off.
"Guys, I think he's not afraid. Otherwise, his bow tie would be spinning."
Two little details gave the fake ghost away: 1) He was a guy in a fucking sheet, and 2) The undead Irish filmmaker had apparently ditched his pleasant tones and replaced them with an Al-Capone-ish Chicago accent. It isn't mentioned what happened after this incident, but it likely involved the gang slowly walking to their car while, somewhere, a sad trombone murmured forlornly in the distance.