This last week, like many before it, was jam-packed with news. The coronavirus continued to spread; President Trump restricted New York residents from entering into trusted traveler programs; actor Kirk Douglas died; Jameela Jamil came out as queer. Also, Christina Koch returned to Earth after almost a year in space, and likely wants to go back into orbit. People are once again talking about Jessica Simpson, and we might be witnessing the start of the Billie Eilish backlash. These blips on the internet radar are just the beginning, however. Here’s everything else people were talking about online over the last seven days.
More Like Iowa Cacophony, Amirite?
What Happened: If the Iowa caucus for the Democratic presidential nominee is any indicator of what the rest of the election is going to be like, the road to November is going to be very, very long.
What Really Happened: The 2020 election process officially got underway Monday with the Iowa caucus, one of the earliest steps in the process to pick the person who will be the Democrats’ nominee for president. You might be forgiven for wondering, as it only happens every two years, what exactly is the Iowa caucus?
Well, OK, sure, but is there a more descriptive take, perhaps?
We’re sensing a theme here. As is traditionally the case, there was a lot of attention placed on the caucus ahead of time, even as politicos shared their disdain for the process. But if the disdain ahead of the caucus seemed intense, just wait until things got underway for real.
It’s safe to say that almost everything went wrong at the Democratic caucus this year, thanks to a revised system of reporting that, somewhat impressively, hadn’t been fully tested ahead of time. A day after the caucus, with multiple campaigns putting out their own internal figures and claiming victory, a campaign strategist for Senator Elizabeth Warren brought this big of level-headedness.
Well, does anyone have any better ideas?
The Takeaway: Despite the chaos, there was definitely a clear result at the end of the night.
Nancy Pelosi Does Not Like the State of the Union
What Happened: President Trump gave his third State of the Union address, and reactions were … mixed. Yeah, let’s say mixed.
What Really Happened: As if the Iowa caucus rollercoaster didn’t provide enough big political news for the week, President Trump also delivered his annual State of the Union speech to Congress—and the world. Considering that the House of Representatives had, you know, impeached him, you can only imagine how this thing went.
At first, it was just tense.
And it only went downhill from there. If anyone was hoping that this was going to offer a moment of American unity, they were about to be sorely disappointed.
One of the more surprising elements of the whole thing was the honoring of rightwing radio host Rush Limbaugh—who this week revealed he has lung cancer—with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.
Meanwhile, some were concerned with what was missing from the speech.
The Takeaway: In the end, Pelosi arguably won the messaging contest by ripping up the speech—especially with one particular person.
Twitter Reacts to the Acquittal of President Trump
What Happened: After all was said and done, the Senate voted to acquit President Trump in his impeachment trial. The court of public opinion, however, didn’t totally agree with that decision.
What Really Happened: On Wednesday afternoon, the day after the State of the Union address, the Senate voted—mostly along party lines—to acquit President Trump on both articles of impeachment brought against him.
It was, obviously, very big news, and it utterly dominated social media, as should be expected. However, as if to prove the very manner in which the US and—more appropriately for the purposes of this column—social media are divided in this day and age, the subject owned trending topics on Twitter, but in wildly different ways. For example, there was the trending hashtag #AmericansFindTrumpGuilty.
At exactly the same time, though, there was also the trending phrase “Congratulations Mr. President.”
As all of the above were finding their ways onto screens around the web, #CountryOverParty was also trending, in recognition of Senator Mitt Romney being the sole Republican willing to vote against his party.
In fact, “Romney” in general was trending at that very moment, as well—but some of the tweets were far less complimentary.
If nothing else, at least Twitter demonstrated just how difficult it might be for the US to come together over, well, anything, in the current climate. Happy 2020, everyone!
The Takeaway: So, at least we can trust in the course of justice now, right? Isn’t that the takeaway of all of this? Oh, wait.
Katy Perry Is What Now?
What Happened: While we should expect all fellow humans to have a level of empathy with everyone, regardless of race, creed, or any other differentiator, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the woman who sang “I Kissed a Girl” is the obvious choice to be an ambassador for the British Asian Trust.
Finally, we get to see Prince Charles and the artist formerly known as Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson team up! We can only hope that this is the first step toward an inevitable recording career together. But while it’s clearly an honor for the woman whose hits include “Firework,” “Roar,” and [checks notes] “Ur So Gay” to be named an ambassador for the British Asian Trust, it’s an honor that becomes all the more surprising if you stop to consider the fact that Katy Perry was born in California and isn’t Asian, two facts that didn’t escape the attention of folks on social media.
Upset at the decision was only one of two leading responses, however. Because what was by far the most popular reaction to the news? We’ll give you a clue: It involves an actor who’s made a career showing up where she really shouldn’t.
The Takeaway: This seems about right, really.
Judge These Books By Their Covers
What Happened: Which is more meaningful: Putting black faces on the covers of books written by, and starring, white people, or actually doing the work to promote diverse authors in the marketplace? Follow-up question: Which choice do you think the publishing industry made when that query was made?
What Really Happened: While we’re on the topic of cultural appropriation, now is as good a time as any to bring this to your attention.
That’s right—Barnes and Noble announced a plan to promote diversity in literacy, not by promoting diverse writers, but by releasing different covers for books written by white authors that everyone has already read. Hey, Twitter, what do you have to say about this? I’m sure there’s some feelings to be shared from the presumed target audience of this initiative.
There’s an unexpected upside to all of this, beyond the discussion raising the profile of a number of authors and novels—ahem—and it came from Penguin Random House, the publisher connected with the campaign, seeking to make amends for its part in the whole thing.
The Takeaway: Surely there has to be a better way to celebrate Black History Month and promote diversity in books. If only anyone could think of a better way to promote diversity in books. If only it was possible to imagine that.
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