5 People In The News (And Their WTF Side Stories Everyone Forgot)
Not everyone in the news today is absolutely terrible. For example, an ornithologist named Panji Gusti Akbar recently discovered a black-browed babbler, a bird that had been thought extinct for 170 years. No one in that story is terrible, unless that babbler was hiding just to taunt us.
Unfortunately, a lot of people in the news are just plain terrible. And when you peer into their dark hearts, you see not the true encapsulation of evil, but rather pitiable, broken boneheads who live in their own brain prisons in which sad tuba music is piped in 24-7. We're talking about people like ...
Trump's Lawyer Sued KFC, Saying Their Fried Chicken Came From Rats
Every so often, someone goes around saying KFC cooks rats, and then a bunch of news sources report on this because it sounds kind of plausible. "A fast food chain is taking a lickin' for its finger lickin' good chicken shaped like ... a rat?!" said one 2015 CNN segment about a guy who swore a rat was in his chicken tender, a segment that ended by saying, "Amid this finger lickin' finger pointing,
Someone biting into their KFC then discovering they're eating rat is an urban legend that goes back decades. The idea behind it is you drop meat in the deep fryer and it comes out hot and crispy, so if a rat jumps in there when no one's watching, it'll look like fried chicken till fur itches your throat. But that's not how fried chicken is made. You have to prepare the meat and then roll it in flour by hand to get the breading, which means there's no chance of serving a whole rat accidentally.
That customer said KFC offered him a free meal when he complained, and we believe this, because that's the easiest way to deal with an angry customer offering bogus claims. Future Trump attorney Michael van der Veen (who you may remember from Trump's January 2021 impeachment trial, 10,000 years ago) may have used similar reasoning when he found a different man who claimed Kentucky Fried Rat left him ill and sued, hoping for a settlement.
Now, we can't declare with certainty that this was a false accusation (though we can with the earlier story, which attracted so much attention that KFC ordered an actual DNA test and proved the food was chicken). We'll just note that the $50,000 van der Veen sought sounds a lot more like the sum a company might pay to rid themselves of a nuisance suit than the amount demanded by a customer who genuinely got sick because someone fed him rat.
In fact, we can find no record of the suit beyond the initial filing. Maybe it went nowhere. Maybe the company paid the plaintiff off, saying, "Tell no one of this, or everyone else will be wanting yummy rat too!" But it was a sleazy start for a lawyer who'd go on to represent a president in an impeachment trial. Represented the president successfully -- van der Veen's time with Trump ended a lot better than most of the team's lawyers. Like the one kicked out because she was too much of a conspiracy nut even for them. Or the one currently serving a sentence for lying for the president, but who's now been disavowed by Trump ... for being a "rat."
Rush Limbaugh Mocked Dying AIDS Patients
Rush Limbaugh has died. Convention says not to speak ill of the dead, so the time may come when people have but the vaguest idea of who the man was. "Didn't he
But in reality, many people were happy to speak ill of post-death Rush Limbaugh, and you didn't have to spend much time online to hear people ripping him apart for his views. One Rush story really stood out from the rest, and we'd like to highlight it for you, especially since it's relevant to the subject of respect for the dead. At the end of the '80s, with the AIDS toll in the US nearing 100,000 for the decade, Rush's radio show had a segment called "AIDS Update," which mocked the dying, complete with ironic theme music. Here is audio from the segment:
Wait, sorry, that's actually a clip from that Family Guy episode. An episode that ends with Rush transforming into a bald eagle and Seth MacFarlane stand-in Brian smiling at him because in exchange for gently poking fun at himself, Rush was portrayed as a patriot instead of a pioneer in demagoguery and disinformation.
We do not have the relevant audio from Rush's '80s show, so we can't confirm the specific recollection that he read off the names of AIDS victims while playing bells and horns in celebration. But AIDS Update was a thing (humorous musical choices included "Back in the Saddle" and "Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places"), and it proved such a poor choice even for Limbaugh that he pulled it after just two weeks. We wondered if anyone would like to defend Rush for AIDS Update, so we called in imaginary Rush Limbaugh fan Jim. Jim?
Okay, guess we'll have to quote Rush himself them. "Gays deserved their fate," Rush said. About AIDS Update specifically, he said it was "meant to offend them. Damn right." AIDS "is a behaviorally spread disease, and they attempt to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the actions they've taken, suggest people who disagree with them get banned from television." So, do you agree with that, Jim? Was this a justified attack on the very real 1980s cancel culture?
Ha, trick question, Jim! Rush himself a few years later went on to call AIDS Update "the single most regretful thing I've ever done because it ended up making fun of people who were dying long, painful and excruciating deaths." It was "a totally irresponsible thing to do." He said that in 1990. So glad that he had mellowed out by that point. Surely, that foretold him and his entire movement turning more moderate in the years to come.
Tom Brady Nabbed A $1 Million PPP Loan For His Wellness Site
Tom Brady is the greatest athlete of all time and a saint to which every New England child must pray nightly. He also runs a "wellness" website called TB12. If you check it out in search of jade vagina eggs, you will find all kinds of health tips and merch. For example, here's some sleep info,
Also related to sleep are $90 sweats "infused with minerals that return infrared energy to your body allowing you to optimize recovery in your sleep." Meaning, just, pants that keep you warm? This pair is currently sold out, so the only reason it has no reviews is prior buyers are too busy sleeping soundly and recovering.
Or perhaps you'd like to spend $280 on a "vibrating pliability roller and sphere." Muscle health, says Tom Brady on his site and in a book he wrote, is not just about getting muscles that are big and hard. In fact, hard muscles are more susceptible to injury. If you want to last as long as Tom Brady has, you need to aim for pliable muscles, muscles that have been softened through biomechanical conditioning. You want to be "long, soft, and resilient."
Unconvinced? Good. That spiel is balderdash, according to doctors. You will find no information on the science of muscle pliability anywhere unaffiliated with Brady, but merchants do not need the support of science if they label wares as wellness products.
Last year, TB12 scored a loan for $960,000 under the Paycheck Protection Program, the massive COVID relief plan that forgave loans if businesses kept their workers on the payroll. TB12 qualifies as a small business, and the program targeted small businesses, so this might not come across as so outrageous as all the money that went to bigger companies. But the program aimed to help businesses that were struggling, and while we don't have TB12's financials in front of us at the moment, Brady himself is currently making $25 million a year playing for Tampa Bay. He's made hundreds of millions over the course of his NFL career, and that doesn't even get into how his wife is worth half a billion.
So Tom Brady did not need an extra million for his Tom Brady feel-good alchemy manual. A lot of other businesses did. Half of PPP loan applicants were rejected, and 87 percent of those who got approved received $150,000 or less. "Okay," you might ask, "what was TB12 supposed to do? Return their loan when they learned the PPP program was all out of money?" Well, they could have. That what the Lakers did.
Somehow, People Thought The Cuomo Brothers Should Team Up On The News
When the age of COVID began, America watched New York with sympathy for what was happening there and fear that we'd all be next. A year later, the virus nationwide ended up more deadly than nearly anyone anticipated, and New York still managed to end up faring worse than just about anywhere else,
After all, we can't blame Cuomo for New York City being the hub of the world, and for his state getting hit earlier than anyone else. But, uh, turned out we can blame his administration for sending thousands of COVID-positive patients to spread the virus in nursing homes, which is where a big chunk of the deaths ended up happening (over 15,000 died in New York nursing homes from COVID). And we can blame Cuomo for hiding these numbers from the public.
With the COVID Cuomo scandal growing, people wondered if it would be reported on by CNN's Chris Cuomo, brother to Andrew. It would not. Chris would report on cheerful vaccination news the day his brother's cover-up broke, but not on the cover-up. CNN had enforced a rule starting in 2013 that Chris should never interview or report on Andrew due to the conflict of interest.
Okay, that makes some sense. Except what about this:
Earlier in the pandemic, Chris had Andrew on the show ten times, to talk about what was happening and just to generally endear him to us all. CNN made this exception because, they said, it was "an extraordinary time." It was, but that meant they should have had no shortage of other things to cover, and also had more need than ever to be tough on those in charge. Also, said CNN, they greenlit the Cuomo Brothers Comedy Hour because it offered "significant human interest." Again, we don't think stories of human interest were short supply during this time, so maybe they could have tried for one that didn't force viewers to develop weird, parasocial crushes on the guy they should have been scared was screwing them over.
But that Andrew Cuomo scandal is so last month. Now, we're instead all hearing news about Andrew trying to kiss people and also touching faces:
Will Chris be reporting on this? "Obviously, I cannot," says Chris. That's a shame. Humans would be interested in it.
Trump Failed At Strong-Arming A Widow Into Selling Land For His Casino
Last month, New Jersey demolished the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. The place had been shut down since 2014, so it could have come down years ago, but some legal wrangling delayed the grand day till a more symbolically significant time.
The casino was not a big success when it opened in 1984, rarely managing to attract the sort of high-rollers Donald Trump sought. Soon Trump realized what the problem was: the casino did not have enough parking for limousines, so of course the very rich gave it a pass. He decided to buy adjoining land to build such a lot, land that was partially owned by a lady named Vera Coking. Another casino magnate had tried buying it from her for a million dollars. Trump, through the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, offered $250,000.
Coking turned the offer down. She and her late husband had built a house there in 1961 and she'd lived in it ever since. The other casino magnate, Penthouse founder Bob Guccione, had responded to her rebuffs by building his casino all around her. He ran out of money before he could open the place, but for a while, this resulted in the following image, which we assure you is a real photograph:
When Trump got the surrounding land, he tore down that in-progress tower and started building his own. His attempts to meet Coking personally and offer her tickets to see Neil Diamond (a singer she'd never heard of) didn't win her over, so things got ugly. According to Coking, this construction crew wasn't so careful as the last one and smashed much of the top of the house, when they weren't outright setting it on fire. Then Trump and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority tried seizing the land using eminent domain -- a policy that generally takes people's land for public use, not for private casinos.
The two sides went to court, where jurors got to decide one of the most extreme underdog cases they could imagine: a 6-foot-3 millionaire casino builder trying to seize the home of 5-foot-3 aging widow. They sided with Coking, because there was no conceivable reason not to. Years later, Coking did actually move out of the house and sell it at auction, because she's over 90 now and decided to move in with children in California. But it was too late for Trump Plaza.