by John Walters

A note (we almost forgot): Yesterday, on an unseasonably sublime February afternoon here in Gotham City, we happened across Jerry Seinfeld sucking a lollipop, strolling along with a man we think was George Wallace. Seinfeld’s home is located near MH worldwide headquarters, but we had never encountered him in the wild. As is our habit with such celebs/heroes, we thanked him by NOT approaching him/snapping a photo. But it was a pretty cool moment.

Tweet du Jour


Starting Five

A Good Guy With A Gun Store*

*The judges are still mulling, ‘Show Us! You’re Dick’s!”

Taking the law into its own hands so to speak, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced this morning that it is IMMEDIATELY ending all sales of assault rifles. The national retailer also announced that it would no longer sell any gun to anyone under 21 and that it would no longer sell high-capacity magazines.

“When we saw what happened in Parkland, we were so disturbed and upset,” said Edward Stack, the CEO whose father founded the store in Pennsylvania in 1948. “We love these kids and their rallying cry, ‘enough is enough.’ It got to us.”


“The whole hunting business is an important part of our business, and we know there is going to be backlash on this,” said Stack. “But we’re willing to accept that. If the kids in Parkland are being brave enough to stand up and do this, we can be brave enough to stand up with them.”


We can’t help but wonder if Mr. Stack saw On The Waterfront last night and got a major case of conscience. Either way, a good guy with a gun store is about to make a huge difference. And the tide of the battle is beginning to turn.

2. They Went From Jared

Pretty much everything about Jared Kushner is creepy, from his father, Charles, who set up his uncle with a hooker and recorded it to end his marriage as revenge for Jared’s aunt (the man’s wife and Charles’ sister) squealing on him, to the fact that his family’s largest real estate holding is 666 Fifth Avenue. Apparently, General Kelly agrees as yesterday the White House Chief of Staff ended the whole “interim security clearance” conundrum by denying Jared security clearance.


Ivanka, you could have done so much better. Your spouse is a louse.

3. Ryan, Lyin’ and Dyin’

Yesterday Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he was, quote, “very, very, very troubled” by the events at Parkland. You know, that more than twice as many people were murdered in about five minutes as the Manson family butchered in two nights. But when Ryan, who has received more money from the NRA than any other current member of the House of Representatives, was asked about possible legislation to ban the sale of assault weapons or to raise the minimum age to 21, he went down the laundry list: mental health, the failure of law enforcement to respond yada yada yada…everything BUT making it more difficult to obtain a gun.


Here’s the thing: In 2001 a few thousand American were killed on one September morning and we don’t recall many politicians making a big deal about the fact that FBI field agents had warned their bosses about suspicious characters taking flying lessons without bothering to learn how to land; we don’t recall too many of them taking on TSA for not doing a better job.

What we do recall is the swift passage of the Patriot Act (Oct. 26), a piece of legislation that threw “unlawful search and seizure” (Fourth Amendment) and “habeas corpus” (Sixth Amendment) out the window in return for Americans feeling better about catching Muslims. Exponentially, by a multiple of 15 or so, more Americans are killed each year by guns and yet men like Ryan will not make a single move toward any type of reasonable weapons legislation, decrying all as an attack on the Second Amendment.

Funny how that works.

4. LeBron Keeps It Real


For someone who never attended college, LeBron James has a pretty decent understanding of how big-time college hoops works. Here’s the problem for us, fans of college hoops:

1) We don’t have any problem with college basketball players getting a bigger share of the pie, particularly when the NCAA is so unabashedly mercenary that they hold the Final Four in massive football stadiums that detract from the quality of the game itself (among other things).

2) We DO think that having an annual rotation of the central cast of characters (i.e., the players) has only hurt the game as we fans feel like orphans who are being shuttled from home to home. There’s a reason Love, American Style never became a big success as a show. College hoops is more like Love Boat, with coaches and commentators being the ship’s crew (and yes, this means that Bill Raftery is Captain Stubing). Either way, love him AND hate him, having someone like Grayson Allen around helps fans care about the game. From a marketing standpoint, fans need more guys like him.

By our Love Boat analogy, Marvin Bagley is the Charo of college hoops. Or maybe the Bert Convy.

3) Neither we nor any of the PAY THEM proponents have any real idea how paying players will affect the future of college hoops (or football). Nothing occurs in a vacuum. Ostensibly, paying players will help them, which is great, but on the other side it won’t curb the underground market and it will lead to a plethora of labor issues because now players will be employees (“Trae Young To Miss March Madness Due To Tax Evasion”). That may not be a suitable reason to refrain from paying them; I’m simply pointing out the Law of Unintended Consequences.

The root of the issue is simple: Too many college athletes are (and long have been, for a century now) athletes first and college students second (and often third or 44th). The crisis will never be averted until you create a league for players who are in college simply as hoops vocational training (pay them) and another for those who are primarily students. And schools can make the choice of which road they prefer to go down. That’s the simple answer.

But, as Jalen Rose suggested yesterday, nothing will probably change until players boycott the NCAA tournament. It could happen. It may happen. It should happen.

5. Mercedes Rule?

“Diesel” does sound very German, no?

In Stuttgart, Germany, one of the country’s most pollution-choked cities, a court has ruled that city officials may be allowed to ban diesel-powered cars downtown in order to improve air quality. Stuttgart is the Detroit of Germany, Deutschland’s car capital. Also, the local soccer team plays in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but soon you may not be able to drive a Mercedes to go see them play.

Music 101 

Whole Lotta Rosie

Vintage AC/DC from 1977. Bon Scott on lead vocals, Angus Young on lead guitar. The Australian response to Queen’s “Fat-Bottomed Girls.”

Remote Patrol

The Bridge On The River Kwai

8 p.m. TCM

Are you enjoying TCM’s “31 Days of Oscar” as much as we are? I know people say jazz, but I’d argue that the greatest art form that America has given the world is motion pictures. And this 1957 Best Picture winner from David Lean is one of the all-timer greats. Starring Sir Alec Guinness (“What have I done?”) and William Holden, the film won seven Oscars and was filmed in Sri Lanka. There’s something to be said for going on location.


by John Walters

Tweet du Jour

Apparently, witches do exist.

Starting Five

Worst Responder*

*The judges will also accept, “Donald, Duck!”

Cadet Bone Spurs, who received five deferments from Vietnam and who literally took an escalator down to announce that he’d run for president, boldly proclaimed yesterday to the nation’s governors that, unlike those Broward cowards, ” I really believe I’d run in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon, and I think most of the people in this room would’ve done that too.”


Not coincidentally, Robert Mueller once did charge through machine gun fire to retrieve a wounded fellow Marine in Vietnam. Maybe he can tell Donnie boy all about it if they have a one-on-one chat.

2. No-Gun Warriors

Here’s the thing about comic book superheroes. They’re out there fighting the worst villains imaginable, and all of them are unarmed. Superman? Faster than a speeding bullet, but he never fires one. Spider-Man? Nope. Captain America? Carries a shield to deflect fire but he’s never packing heat himself.

And the list goes on. Kinda makes you wonder what the D.C. Comics and Marvel Comics folk were trying to say to youngsters, no?

3. Davis Love

The Pelicans’ Anthony Davis puts up 53 points in a 125-116 victory against the Phoenix Black Hole Suns. It’s the sixth-year big man’s fifth 40-plus point effort in the past 10 games, all wins, which shows you what happens to Davis’ offensive game when Boogie Cousins is off the floor.

Davis is averaging 28.2 ppg now, second-best in the NBA. He’s also second in the NBA in blocked shots. He’ll be getting some MVP love at season’s end.

4. Welcome To The Big East

Saquon Barkely would’ve been the Big East’s best player last season.

Have you ever made one wrong turn and then, instead of going back to a point where you knew where you were, plowed ahead hoping that somehow you’d find the correct route, only to make more wrong turns and be seriously lost? (Didn’t you just describe your career, JW? Hey, shaddup!).

Anyway, as we saw that the Midwest-centric Big Ten is holding its conference hoops tourney in NYC this week and looked at Power 5 conferences last night, with Rutgers in the Big Ten and Missouri in the SEC and West Virginia in the Big 12, that’s what we thought of. Now, number one, it’s basketball season and not football season, but this is a football season idea. And number two, we’re not here to solve all the nation’s problems, just our little quadrant. But here’s our idea, and there is no good reason that this could not happen.

Create a sixth power conference, the Big East. The following schools would be members: Penn State (currently Big Ten), Pittsburgh (currently ACC), Temple (AAC), Rutgers (Big Ten), UConn (AAC), Syracuse (ACC), Boston College (ACC), Buffalo (MAC), Maryland (ACC), Navy (AAC), UMass (independent) and Army (independent).

A dozen northeastern schools, from as far south as College Park north and as far west as Pittsburgh. Easier travel. Greater fan interest in the northeast quadrant. Right now you only have one super-sexy school among the dozen, but that might change as these schools played in a league whose identity matched their geography. That’s a freebie for you, FBS.

5. Cornutopia!

The U.S. News & World Report has just named Iowa as the Best State for 2018. Iowa, which as a friend once informed us is an acronym for “Idiots Out Walking Around,” is home to numerous caucuses and zero national parks. Iowa also has zero major professional sports teams, which we believe enhances the quality of life, i.e. the absence of such.

Now, we’ve been to Iowa a few times and found it exceedingly pleasant. Kinda cold in the winter time, but we loved Cedar Falls and Des Moines, too. Still hoping to make it to Ames. But “Best State?” Somewhere Vermont is hemming and hawing. As is Oregon.

The top five, according to the ranking: Iowa, Minnesota, Utah, North Dakota, New Hampshire. The bottom five: from 46-50: Alabama, West Virginia, New Mexico, Mississippi, Louisiana. “S-E-C! S-E-C!”

Music 101 

Green Grow The Rushes

There are quite a few songs that you could nominate as REM-iest REM tune (“The Flowers of Guatemala,” “Camera,” “Pilgrimage,” etc.), but this track’s sweeping harmonies near the end merit its inclusion. From the 1985 Southern-Gothic vinyl, Fables of the Reconstruction.

Remote Patrol

On The Waterfront

8 p.m. TCM

“You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.” And that’s how you get a one-way ticket to Palookaville. In this 19564 classic, Marlon Brando, in one of the greatest performances in Hollywood history, gets the short end of the stick in dealing with organized crime. Eighteen years A quarter century later, in an even more highly acclaimed film, he would become the head of organized crime. For both roles he deservedly won Best Actor Oscars.


by John Walters

Tweet du Jour


Starting Five

Sean Gone?

“Career-ending,” ESPN’s Jay Bilas said Saturday morning on a live edition of ESPN’s “College GameDay” in Lubbock. “I can’t imagine [Sean Miller] ever coaching in college again.”

On Friday night ESPN reported that FBI wiretaps heard Miller talking with a sports agent, Christian Dawkins, about paying $100,000 to ensure star player Deandre Ayton signed with the Wildcats. In the aftermath Ayton’s family has issued a statement that they are “outraged” and “disgusted” by reports implying that he was involved in any illegal (by NCAA standards) behavior.

Miller: 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration

Miller, who did not coach Arizona in Eugene on Saturday, has only said that “I…am confident that I will be vindicated.”

Did Bilas overstep? Or is Miller whistling in the graveyard? Meanwhile, flood warnings will be in effect if and when Miller sits down with an FBI interrogation unit.

2. America Fourth!

Any sport in which you can win a gold medal while wearing khakis is a sport the MH staff oughta try

The PyeongChang Olympics ended with Norway as our new hibernal overlords. The Norwegians would win 39 total medals, most of any nation. Germany finished second with 31 medals, although they equaled the Scandinavian nation’s gold total of 14. Finishing third? Canada, with 29 medals, and then came the U.S.A. with 23.

Gold medals for the Yanks? Four in snowboarding, and one each in women’s hockey, freestyle skiing, alpine skiing, and our first ever in women’s cross-country and men’s curling.

In Saturday’s women’s 30K cross-country ski race, Austrian Teresa Stadlober was in second place with just 7K remaining when she veered right on a downhill slope as the rest of the field correctly turned left. Stadlober’s wrong turn cost her a spot on the podium, as she finished 9th. “I had a blackout,” said Stadlober, who admirably shouldered the blame for her blooper. “I don’t know why I took the wrong way.”

Only Michael Phelps and Larisa Latynina, both summer Olympians, own more Olympic hardware than Bjoergen.

The race’s winner, Marit Bjoergen of Norway, won five medals total in PyeongChang. That’s more than any other athlete. The 37 year-old retires with 15 Winter Olympics medals total, the most of anyone in Winter Olympics history, and eight golds.

3. Black Pander

Walters. Thankfully, no relation.

As Black Panther was eclipsing the $700 million mark at the box office in just its second weekend, a CPAC communication director Ian Walters was telling a table full of people at a CPAC dinner Friday night, “We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy, that was the wrong thing to do.”

Well, that got out. And then CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp, a Notre Dame alum (we’re sorry, world) went on air with Steele and did a horrible job of whitesplainin’ Walter’s remark. As for Steele, who has been a Republican for 41 years, did he not realize how overtly racist a majority of the GOP has become in the last 10 years? Was this a revelation to him?

Michael Steele joins Christopher Steele as folks who get under the GOP’s skin. Funny that a party so irrationally in love with coal is so irrationally in hate with Steele.

4. What’s Up, Doc?

This is Timothy Cunningham, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. Nearly two weeks ago Cunningham, 35, left work claiming that he felt sick. No one has seen him since. This sounds like the start of a dystopian biohazard sci-fi horror film.  “I feel like I’m in a horrible ‘Black Mirror’ episode,” says his sister, Tiara Cunningham.

Cunningham, who has degrees from Morehouse and Harvard,  left behind his wallet, car keys and dog.

5. Rome Snow

The Eternal City had its largest snowfall in six years this weekend. Was it only a week or two ago that Paris morphed into a winter wonderland, too? You’re next, London.

Snowball fight in St. Peter’s Square



Walker Capital

You need not be a Mindhunter to ascertain that NFLX is a good stock to own

Among high school friends, the MH staff is known as “Walker” and a year or so ago we began offering stock tips to those friends (all of whom have greater net worth) as Walker Capital. With that in mind, we’d like to apologize for our MH Stock Pick of 2018 (GBTC).

We’ll still own it, the accountability of having chosen that. But there’s no reason you need to own the stock. So what do we suggest? No big surprises, but we highly recommend Amazon (AMZN), Boeing (BA), Nvidia (NVDA) and Netflix (NFLX).  Just trying to help. Look where the stocks are year-to-date—AMZN up 29% , BA up 20%, NVDA up 24% , NFLX up 47% —and we’ll keep an eye on where they’ll finish at the end of the year.

Music 101

Cult of Personality

In terms of crunchy guitar rock, Living Colour is/were the Michael Steele of the genre. The New York City band won a Grammy in 1989 for Best Hard Rock performance for this song, which went to 13 on the Billboard chart. And chances are future members of Rage Against The Machine owned the band’s debut album, which featured this song.

Remote Patrol

The Best Years Of Our Lives

8 p.m. TCM

Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, etc. This film that focuses around three U.S. servicemen returning home from World War II and the difficulties they face garnered a total of seven Academy Awards. Also, The Godfather comes on at 6 p.m. on AMC if you want to see another movie indirectly revolving around a returning World War II hero.


by John Walters

Let’s preface this essay with two notes: 1) Let’s not for a moment overlook that while President Trump was speaking at CPAC, news broke that former Trump aide Rick Gates reversed field and opted to plead guilty on two counts in the Russia probe. Ultimately, that will have a far more far-reaching effect than anything Trump said at the latter-day Reichstag  gathering 2) Earlier this week a tweep advised me that perhaps I’d be more effective if I didn’t tell people that I thought they were idiots when I debated points with them. He’s mostly correct, but it’s nigh impossible not to think of Trump’s disciples and the NRA extremists as morons, and they’ve done or said nothing to disabuse me of that notion. So if I speak to them as if they’re morons below, it’s only because they’ve earned the designation.

What is the calculus of tragedy? What is the arithmetic of stupidity?

There are, in the most conservative estimate I can find (and I know how much the NRA worships conservatives, and vice-versa), at least 25,000 high schools in the U.S.A. So let’s grant Donald Trump and NRA director Wayne LaPierre their wish and place a concealed weapon with an ADEPT staffer at every high school, making them a hard target. Never mind the expense of that nor the fact that public high schools are tragically under-resourced.

Let’s put a gun in every high school.

Two effects: 1) If someone really wants to do damage, he (not “or she”; it’s never a female) will simply move on to middle schools or elementary schools. Yay! Another Sandy Hook! 2) You’ve suddenly placed a lethal weapon in a community filled with people who are either underpaid or at the most emotionally volatile and fragile stage in their lives. What could possibly go right?


This is actually the solution to the problem.

Let’s tackle number two first. Never mind the stupidity in imagining that a gunman with an AR-15 would attack a school and that some staffer would A) engage him and/or take him out and B) that there’d be no collateral fatalities due to this. Let’s just assume all potential gunmen leave high schools alone. You still have 25,000 campuses with a gun. Now let’s say in a normal year 50 high school students are murdered in mass shootings. That would be awful.

However, do you realize that it would only require 1/5 of 1% (or .2%) of those guns to fall into the wrong hands and account in even a single fatality to equal that amount of carnage? In other words, if at one out of every 500 high schools in the USA one person killed another person due to a gun in that school, you’d equal the amount of deaths in mass shootings. Instead of getting a splash of blood like you did at Douglas High, you’d get trickles of blood at various high schools that would not have the same BREAKING NEWS effect, but would almost certainly lead to more gun deaths.

As to the first effect, a gunman attacking a softer target, there are more middle schools and elementary schools in the USA than high schools. At the very least, twice as many. So you want to arm them, too? Now you’re back to the problem I just addressed.

Either way, putting more guns out there amongst more people will ALWAYS lead to more deaths. Why? Because you can’t change human nature. People are still going to become angry or jealous or emotionally unhinged, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re—what was the President’s word?— “sickos.”

But people get upset and are emotional wrecks. They are emotionally fragile. Teens especially so. And to assume that in a high school environment some of those 25,000 weapons are not going to go missing, or be stolen, and that after that happens that there will be no fatal consequences, well, I’d call that being tragically naive on Trump’s part if I didn’t know that like most things he says, it’s really just incredibly dishonest.


He actually said this. And the CPAC gang, all of whom consider themselves evangelicals or Christians or God-fearing, cheered. Which makes them hypocrites, because it’s the POLAR OPPOSITE of what Jesus taught. But they’d rather be hypocrites than let go of their AMERICA FIRST! perspective.

The variable that we cannot alter is human nature. The variable that we can modify is gun accessibility. Australia enacted stricter gun laws in 1997 after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, which was carried out by one man with an AR-15, claimed 35 lives. The Aussies have not endured a single mass shooting (five or more fatally shot) since. Japan has strict gun laws and in a free nation of 127 million people suffers fewer than 10 gun-related fatalities per year.

Some of those dramatic statistical opposites between those nations and the U.S., which deals with 33,000 gun deaths annually, are due to cultural differences. But mostly it’s because of accessibility to guns.

Trump and the NRA know all of this, of course. But there’s certainly no money in it for the NRA to have less guns manufactured and bought, which in turn means less campaign money for the politicians such as Trump who espouse their views.

Trump wants to build a wall on the border of Mexico and the U.S.A. because ostensibly the wall will make it more difficult for Mexicans to illegally immigrate here. Though even he acknowledges it will be virtually impossible to eliminate illegal immigration. Funny. When you argue that making guns less accessible, basically building a wall between guns and mass shootings, would curtail the amount of gun-related deaths, Trump and his ilk argue that it would not eliminate them altogether. As if that’s a reason not to try it.


It’s so easy to call Deplorables on their bullshit hypocrisy. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel with an AR-15 that you bought without even having to show proper identification.

Donald Trump said a lot of stupid sh*t at CPAC on Friday, and the dumber his statement, the more he was cheered. The one thing he said that wasn’t stupid was, “We need more Republicans.” And he’s right. And as long as the people at CPAC continue to piss on the dispossessed and the minorities and on the teenagers who are or will soon be of voting age and are demanding a change in gun laws, they’ll need even more Republicans. They’re drawing from an empty deck, though.


Two more thoughts, unrelated to guns but stuff that came to mind today: 1) Did you notice at the start of his speech that Trump turned his back to the audience and patted down his coif, a not-so-subtle message to the blithering idiots who adore him that maybe just maybe that video of him boarding Air Force One on a blustery day two Fridays back was “Fake News?” It wasn’t. It’s just that the glue holds better indoors.

2) I thought about this this afternoon. Ask the CPAC crowd and V.P. Pence why they loathe homosexuals and their No. 1 answer is “because it’s unnatural.” Fine. So how come they don’t despise women with breast implants (and I’m not talking cancer survivors)?


by John Walters

Tweet Du Jour


Starting Five

 It’s Zagitova Time

Like matryoshka dolls, Russian skating phenoms pop out one after the other—and as they age, they become German citizens to retain Olympic status. Last night 15 year-old Alina Zagitova skated to gold in ladies’ free skate for (Olympic Athletes from) Russia while her 17 year-old training partner, two-time defending world champ Yevgenia Medvedeva, earned silver. Last week Aliona Savchenko, originally of Ukraine, was half of the figure skating pairs gold medal duo that won gold in their event.

Zagitova grabbed OAR’s first gold of the Games.

Zagitova and Medvedeva each scored 156.65 in the free skate. The tie was broken because Zagitova scored 1.31 points higher in component scores, which may be the same thing as we used to call “compulsory figures,” which the MH staff is too lazy to look up because, let’s face it, it’s going to be four years before most of us care about this again (which is our way of saying Susie B. will clear it up in the Comments).

These racing snowmen would find themselves in abominable conditions

What’s left in the Pyeongchang Olympics? Men’s hockey gold medal game, four-man bobsled and the women’s 30 km mass start cross-country ski race. We’ve got an idea for an event that could be added to the Winter Olympics final weekend: an arctic ultra event, sort of like the existing Yukon Arctic Ultra. Racers would begin on Friday morning and need to traverse 100 miles using only themselves as locomotion. No stages. No skis or snowshoes. You tote your own gear. It would be like the Summer Olympics marathon, only with a greater likelihood of frostbite.

2. Bloodbath And Beyond*

Wayne LaPierre: a bad guy with a gun lobby

*The judges acknowledge that we pilfered this from an episode of The Simpsons

It occurred to the MH staff that maybe we should start measuring time in terms of mass shootings: “Why, I haven’t seen you since before Sandy Hook” or “We got married shortly after Columbine.” Anyway, here’s what happened in the world of gun nuttery yesterday:

—otherwise sane “legacy media” such as CNN and MSNBC had on guests to honestly debate whether or not we should arm teachers (excuse us, ADEPT teachers), which is like debating whether or not McDonald’s cashiers should also perform appendectomies.


—The dude who was armed and whose job it was to provide security at Douglas High resigned. Turns out he wanted no part of confronting an assailant with an AR-15 with his puny service revolver and thus never proceeded toward the shots. Honestly, can you blame him (okay, just a little; it was his job…but it was also a suicide mission). Anyway, that seems to be an answer to the aforementioned debate.


The answer to safer schools is not a campus version of Paul Blart: Mall Cop

—at CPAC, NRA CEO (that’s a lot of capitalized letters in a row, sorry) Wayne LaPierre, whose salary runs north of $5 million per year, blasted the “elites” of the nation who want to take away your guns. LaPierre, it should be noted, receives numerous deferments to avoid service in Vietnam due to a “nervous condition,” which afflicts anyone who heads into a jungle to face the Vietcong, but whatevs.


—In presidential tweets, the same person who had scribbled in his notes a reminder of “I hear you” accused CNN of scripting questions in its Tuesday night town hall, but then this guy never accuses people of something without all the facts to back up such accusations, so we should probably totally believe him.


This article in The Atlantic by Heather Sher, a radiologist who was working triage after the Douglas High shooting, on how the AR-15 causes relatively catastrophic wounds, is essential reading.

There’s so much more, so much more, but let’s move on (Susie B., you can put addenda in the Comments).

3. Making Fascism Fashionable

Turns out you were always here (if you’re white)

In an email sent to staff members Thursday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna announced the agency’s new mission statement. The notable difference between the old and new mission statements is that the phrase “a nation of immigrants” has been deleted.

4. Jen’s Back! (Auggghhh!!!!)

Last week in our essay on clickbait, we used Jennifer Aniston on the cover of magazines to demonstrate that before there was internet clickbait, the hardcopy version of that was putting hot mess celebs with good figures on magazine covers. As if to to affirm our assertion, the editors of both US Weekly and People have Ms Aniston on the covers of their mags this week. Reason: She split with hubby Justin Theroux and hey, isn’t Brad Pitt available again?

Remember this cover? Oh wait! Are we being hypocrites???

Meanwhile, we dare you to Google Image “Jennifer Aniston magazine covers.” You’d think she was the best actress in ever just by the volume.

5.  Drexel Comes Back!

In the largest comeback in Division I men’s history, the Drexel Dragons overcame a 34-point deficit to defeat Delaware, 85-83. The Blue Hens led 53-19 in the first half, but then apparently let Drexel charge forward as if they were Washington crossing the Delaware Turnpike (“we all have places to go!”).

For what it’s worth, both teams are now 12-18.


The most popular company in terms of hedge fund ownership of its stocks? Amazon. No surprise.



We recommend this New York Times piece on Trump and empathy. A Douglas High shooting victim whom he visited in Florida said, “I’ve never been so unimpressed with a person in my life.”


If, like us, you enjoyed School Ties and Bedazzled, here’s a Where Have You Been? piece on Brendan Fraser in GQ that you might enjoy.

Music 101

Have You Seen Me Lately

Counting Crows: The Berkeley band’s sophomore effort, Recovering The Satellites, dropped when they were America’s band you-most-wanted-to-punch-in-the-face: white lead singer with dreds, America wasn’t ready for that yet, and then he had to be so pretentious with how he changed the phrasings of the song live (that’s why we’re using the album version here; it’s the best version) and also committing the cardinal sin of dating Courteney Cox. Anyway, Adam Duritz can be a little much, a little affected, but he’s got a stupendously good voice and writes wonderful lyrics. Van Morrison-wannabe? Maybe. There are worse things.

Remote Patrol

Winter Olympics

8 p.m. NBC

The final weekend night of the Games. Enjoy your four-man bobsled and if you have enough to drink and are out with friends, try to replicate four bros jumping into a tight space in your nearest booth.


by John Walters

Tweet Du Jour

Starting Five

America First! (in women’s hockey) (and curling?)

In the gold-medal game in Pyeongchang, the U.S.A. defeats its dastardly (and nefarious?) neighbors to the North, Canada, in overtime, 3-2. The American women tied it up with 6:21 remaining in the third period during a Canadian shift change (shifty move, Yanks!) on a breakaway goal by Monique Lamoureux-Morando.

The two sides then played a scoreless overtime and were squared up two goals apiece after the shootout’s five shots. Then Lamoureux’s twin sis, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, scored the gold-medal winner on the first round of sudden death shots. American goalie Maddie Rooney stopped Canada’s Meghan Acosta’s shot at equalizing the score, and then the sticks flew.

Lamoureux ladies

Team U.S.A. won the first women’s gold medal in hockey when the sport was introduced into the Olympics in 1998 in Nagano. In the four intervening Olympics, the Canadian women had struck gold all four times with the U.S. ladies losing in the gold-medal game three of those times. The two nations have played for the gold medal five of the six times it’s been staged and Canada’s lead is now 3-2. Maybe Canada could’ve won if their prime minister wasn’t busy photobombing the Taj Mahal.

As for the Lamoureux twins, age 28, they are the pride of Grand Forks, North Dakota.

2. Thank You For Firing

Sam Fies, a Douglas High student who lost his best friend, Joaquin Oliver, in the massacre

Yesterday’s listening session with the president in the White House and CNN town hall with Senator Marco Rubio in Florida were both televised live, and that at least is a sign of hope. The pols were willing to face the wrath of angry citizens.

On the other hand, if you’ve seen the movie Thank You For Smoking, a satire about a tobacco company lobbyist, you couldn’t help but feel a little bit cynical about all of it. Donald Trump mostly did a good job, adhering to the LISTENING part of the “Listening Session” (not to be confused with the “Ask Jeff Session”). Then there was the needle scratch of his suggesting “concealed carry” for certain well-trained members of faculty or even custodians.

Is the “45” on his sleeve there to donate his placement among presidents or his preferred caliber?

The idea of placing at least one extra gun in every high school in America may be well-intentioned, or it may be a way of helping the NRA lobby sell more guns. Either way, it’s madness. The best speaker at the White House was Mark Barden, the father of a slain Sandy Hook student and the husband of a teacher who made the valid point that teachers have enough to do without having to add John Rambo to their duties.

After the White House session, MSNBC had on as a guest Jay Fant, a Florida House Republican who is running for the state’s Attorney General position. Fant had the audacity to tell Chuck Todd that he wouldn’t support any type of gun ban “because we have seen that gun bans don’t prevent these types of crimes.”

It only took about 15 hours for President Trump to stop listening and tell us how he really feels. Alas….

Nearly 3 dozen people were killed in Port Arthur, Tasmania, and then Australia woke up

First of all, that IS false. In Australia, where strict gun control legislation was passed after the Port Arthur Massacre of 1996 claimed 35 lives, there was a dramatic drop in mass shootings (five or more people killed). How dramatic? In the 18 years before Port Arthur, there were 13 mass shootings. In the 21-plus years after Port Arthur? ZERO.

Second, let’s be clear here about how Mr. Fant is lying. It’s hard to demonstrate the ABSENCE of something with statistics. Saying “gun bans don’t prevent these types of crimes” is not the same as saying “gun bans don’t lessen the frequency” and thus, any one mass shooting would show that a gun ban did not prevent such crimes. On the other hand, go back and read that Port Arthur stat.

Fant also said on live TV, “If Cruz hadn’t bought [his AR-15] legally, he would’ve bought it illegally. That’s what criminals do.” Such logic should be great news to high school kids and other teens who are wondering why it is still illegal for them to buy beer and other types of alcohol. By Fant’s logic, why have a drinking age when kids are going to find a way to obtain beer (which they do) anyway?

Jay Fant, whore for the NRA

The most hopeful aspect of all of this: The teens nationwide are angry, they’re motivated and they are still uncorrupted by money. As others have said or written, The kids are alright. They are our best hope to combat the NRA and its war chest.

3. Alpine and Supine

Shiffrin seizes silver

The Yanks captured three medals on the slopes and half-pipes of Pyeongchang yesterday (today? tomorrow? We’re as confused as you are). In the women’s Super Combined (we thought that was a Virtue & Moir maneuver), Mikaela Shiffrin earned a silver while Lindsey Vonn, in what was most likely her final Olympic race, went from being in the lead after the downhill portion to failing to finish the slalom portion when her ski crossed over a gate.

Shiffrin finishes the Olympics with a gold and silver, Vonn with a bronze, and somehow as remarkable as that is, it seems a little disappointing.

When your halfpipe dreams are extinguished

In sports that didn’t exist when we wer kids, Jamie Anderson took silver in Snowboarding Big Air and a pair of male Yanks, David Wise and Alex Ferreira, finished gold-silver in the skiing half pipe. But it was the crashes that caught everyone’s attention.

On second thought, maybe I’ll just walk down….

I still think there should be Team Snowball Fights as a Winter Olympic sport. Who wouldn’t watch that?

4. (When) Should Amazon Split?

“Alexa, should we buy more shares?”

Yesterday, for the first time, shares of Amazon (AMZN) eclipsed the $1,500 mark. A year ago on this date AMZN was trading at $848, which is to say that the online retail monolith is up more than 75% this year.

Often when a popular company’s stock price jumps into the four-figure range, that company does a stock split in order to make purchase of shares more accessible to the at-home investor. That’s why companies such as Microsoft and Apple, which have a larger overall market cap than Amazon, have smaller stock prices. Not only may they have initially offered more shares to the public, but they’ve also split their stock on occasion. Apple did a 7 for 1 split a few years back.

Another badass Amazon

One share of AMZN seems too expensive, but 10 shares of AMZN at $150 per share appears to be more within your price range. Obviously, it’s the same pie cut in different ways, but appearance is everything.

Of the major companies that you may know of, only two have stock prices higher than AMZN: One is Berkshire Hathaway Class A stock (BRK.A), which is at an insane and iconoclastic $305,000. The other is Priceline (PCLN), which just changed its name to Booking Holdings, at about $1900.

Bezos and Buffett

Amazon is far more often discussed than either of those two companies. Would Jeff Bezos entertain the notion of doing a 10-for-1 or 20-for-1 stock split? Such a split would likely lead to Amazon replacing a company in the Dow Jones 30, since only two companies in the Dow (Apple and Microsoft) have larger overall market caps, i.e., have more monetary value, than Amazon does. The Dow just won’t list a company whose stock price is in the four figures, at least not at the start.

Or is Bezos vainly proud of the price of the stock, not unlike Berkshire’s Warren Buffett? We’ll see what happens. Either way, Amazon is only headed, as Buzz Lightyear would say, “To infinity and beyond!”

5. Noah’s Story Arc

The book jacket blurbs say it all concerning The Daily Show host’s Trevor Noah‘s childhood memoir, Born A Crime. “This isn’t your average comic-writes-a-memoir,” says one. Another: “Noah has a real tale to tell, and he tells it well.” And, “[This] is a love letter to his mother.”

All true. It’s also somewhat of a miraculous tale of survival and dignity.

MH staffers plowed through the South African native’s memoir and we give it our highest recommendation. The title refers to the fact that at the time Noah was conceived, apartheid still was in place in South Africa and that the Immorality Act of 1927, forbidding sexual intercourse between blacks and whites (men could do as much as five years in prison), was still in place.

Not only is Noah’s story powerful, but it it funny and kind. Its heroes, both Noah and his mother, are resourceful and strong, and if you get to the final, moving chapter, you will fully understand from where Noah gets his sense of humor.

This is an unforgettable story, told with wisdom. Read it.

Music 101

True Colors

We’re dedicating this 1986 Cyndi Lauper classic to all the pols who are still arguing that guns are not the problem.

Remote Patrol

True Romance

2:30 p.m. Ovation

This 1993 pre-Pulp Fiction Tarantino effort should be seen if for no other reason than the cast list. Check it out: Christopher Walken, Samuel L. Jackson, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, James Gandolfini, Tom Sizemore, Michael Rapport—and none of them are even in the lead roles; Christian Slater is.


by John Walters

Starting Five

Empty Chamber *

*The judges will also accept “Florida Men”

As students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School looked on in horror from the gallery, the Florida legislature, by a 71-36 margin, voted down a motion to even consider a bill to ban assault rifles. In the same session the Republican-majority House approved a resolution declaring pornography as a public health risk , in effect stating, “Better to shoot your AR-15 than your wad.”


Meanwhile, a Florida Senate committee endorsed a proposal to put law enforcement officers in every school in the state. More guns in schools. Hooray! (And guess who’ll be the first person taken out when a gunman decides to attack a school with his legally purchased assault rifles?).

Finally, Benjamin Kelly, a secretary for Florida state legislator Shawn Harrison was fired for accusing some of the Stoneman High students for being “actors that travel to various crisis when they happen.” What IS WRONG with people?

2. Lindsey Vonnze

In what almost certainly was her final Olympic (UPDATE: downhill) race, Lindsey Vonn. 33. finishes third in the women’s downhill (maybe she’ll compete for Hungary in 2022?). Italy’s Sophia Goggia, 25, who is the current World Cup standings leader, took gold in 1:39.22, which was .47 seconds faster.

Mowinckel: Female Viking

The silver medalist was Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel, who has the looks to become a household name but not the proper alignment of vowels and consonants for anyone to pronounce it.


 Meanwhile, the U.S. DID win its first-ever (is that redundant?) Olympic gold in cross-country skiing.

3. Change Of Address

After 99 years on this planet, the Rev. Billy Graham is moving on. You don’t need Elon Musk to visit the heavens. You may read about his extraordinary life here if you want.

4. Que Sarah, Sarah?

With White House pressers such as yesterday’s, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is going to keep Aidy Bryant very busy. First, Sanders acknowledged, at last, that Russian “meddling” took place during the 2016 election but that “it didn’t have an impact” on the outcome of the election (Don’t you love when The Worst Wing parrots the New England Patriots?).

Then Sanders actually said that her boss, “has been tougher on Russia in the first year than Obama was in eight years combined.” You have to wonder why Sanders doesn’t at least do a courtesy flush between statements such as the two above.

5. Trump Dumps Bumps

Over the weekend our friend Barry, who is a rock-star lawyer (and a budding rock star on the guitar), had a shrewd idea: “If I were advising Donald Trump right now,” Barry said, “I”d tell him to go all in on gun-control.”

Think about it. With your approval rating hovering in the mid-30s and Robert Mueller breathing down your neck, why should Donald Trump care about alienating his base? At this point, to quote a certain presidential candidate, “What the hell do you have to lose?”

Go after the guns. More than 3 out of 4 Americans would support you on this issue and we’ve already seen what a craven body the GOP is, anyway. Maybe if Donald and the American people were advocating more sensible gun laws, they’d take their mouths off the NRA nipple long enough to consider it. And if Trump could eliminate bump stocks, get rid of assault rifles, make background checks mandatory on all guns and make ownership of rifles more like that of handguns (you must be 21), he’d go down in history as more of a, “Yeah, he may have been the worst president and assisted the Russians, but at least he turned the tide on the gun issue.”

It’s a smart idea. Trump should do it. With yesterday’s bump stock announcement, he definitely dipped a tiny toe in the water.


Today in awful clickbait journalism….


Music 101


Maybe “I’m The Only One” who is “Head Over Heels” about The Go-Go’s 1984 album Talk Show. But if we were both sitting “Beneath The Blue Sky” and I were to “Turn To You” and ask what “You Thought,” do you like it, “Yes Or No,” would you say, “I’m With You?” This is the album’s closer. Love the simplicity of the strum.

Remote Patrol

Sports Day

UEFA Champions League: Manchester United v. Sevilla

2:30 p.m. FS1

Winter Olympics

3 p.m. NBC

1:30 p.m. NBCSN

5 p.m. CNBC

Romelu Lukaku is the man at Manchester United

Soccer, curling, hockey, bobsled. Everything but Mel Kiper’s mock draft and LeBron.



by John Walters


“To every politician who is taking money from the NRA, shame on you.”

Starting Five

No Guns, No Gory

In his latest comedy special, “Tamborine,” Chris Rock espouses gun control by noting that rarely does one come across a wholesale knife massacre. “If someone stabbed 100 people to death in one incident, what you’d have is three victims and 97 people who deserved to die.

Rock makes an excellent point. Gun control won’t eliminate murder or even the occasional mass murder in our society, but then drug laws don’t eliminate drugs, either. The entire point is to make them less accessible.

The father who took the killer in says he knew he had “five or six guns” and that he was “depressed,” and knew he owned an “AR-15” rifle but that looking back on it all, he still feels the same about the killer’s right to own all those guns. The father made the killer put the guns in “a gun safe” but was too stupid to realize the killer had a second key.

America won’t change until Americans respect lives more than guns. Alas, not enough Americans do. We’ll never ever understand that.

Here is a list of Senators (all Republican) who receive more than $1 million from the NRA. Let’s vote them out.

2. Epidermis Universe Pageant

No one at the ice rinks shows off more skin than Canadian ice dancer Tessa Virtue, who doesn’t believe that modesty is a….Virtue and her partner, Scott Moir, won gold last night to add to their gold from Vancouver and silver in Sochi. They also performed a few moves that may have violated a few blue laws in certain provinces. They also posted a world-record score of 206.07, for those of you who keep track of ice dancing records.

3. Fox Faux Pax

500 miles at Daytona was not enough. An overtime lap was needed after a crash with less than 10 laps to go, but then Fox blew it. Four or more hours into the race, the pivotal moment came when Austin Dillon pulled a Dale Earnhardt, Sr., move (Dillon was riding the No. 3 car after all) and tapped the rear bumper of the race leader, Eric Almirola.

Alas, as the video above shows, Fox had decided to go with a rearview camera from Almirola’s vehicle (:50), which robbed viewers of a wider angle view of the skulduggery taking place. The critical moment of a 201-lap race, and Fox failed to capture it live. Even on the replay video below, they don’t show a wide shot. Weird.

Is this what Rudy Martzke would refer to as a “dreaded glitch?”

You have to listen to the flawed logic Kevin Harvick and the other dude in the middle provide here (it’ll help you understand why we still have bump stocks legalized). Harvick basically defends Dillon banging Almirola’s back bumper via the “Because it’s Daytona and you do whatever it takes” while the other guy (sorry I don’t recognize him) says that if Denny Hamlin or Kyle Busch had done it it would have been “dirty pool,” but a guy driving the same-numbered car as The Intimidator once drove, it’s okay.

4. Oliver!

After a few months hiatus, John Oliver returned Sunday night on HBO and, granted, he doesn’t have to put out a show on a nightly basis, but once again the Brit expat demonstrated why he does the smartest Trump commentary on TV. You may watch here.

Oliver: “Is anything about Trump funny any more?” Less and less every day.

5. Fifth Century, Yeah!

Attila We Meet Again

We had this thought last night. How many historical figures can you name between the death of Jesus ( 33 A.D.) and, say, the Battle of Hastings (1066 A.D.)? Charlemagne, Hannibal, a few Roman emperors, a pope or two. Who else?

Well, we don’t know, either, but as MH eternally seeks to enlighten, we thought we’d introduce a segment in which we provide five figures of importance from each century anno domini. Let’s begin with five fifth century (401-500) figures:

—1. St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo: Wrote City of God.

—2. Attila the Hun: Feared leader of the Huns for two decades who was unsuccessful in sacking Constantinople and Rome. Not a good sacker. Had no swim move.

—3. King Arthur: Though his existence is disputed, British legend has it that he defeated the invading Saxons in approximately 490 A.D.

—4. St. Patrick: Yes, the Irish missionary who gave us a beer holiday.

—5. Romulus Augustus: The last Roman emperor, as Rome fell in 476. This marks the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Music 101

Games People Play


Mid-Seventies Philly soul. Nothing quite as smooth. This 1975 tune from The Spinners went to No. 5 on the Billboard charts.

Remote Patrol


8 p.m. NBC

The women’s downhill, but Mikaela Shiffrin has pulled out. Shiffrin will concentrate on the Super Combined, which was moved up a day due to weather. Weather has totally screwed with Mikaela’s quest to be queen of PyeongChang, but she still has one gold thus far (it’s a slippery slope between ski queen and Olympic letdown). Also, we still get Lindsey Vonn.

All The President’s Men

12:15 a.m. TCM

For the night owls. Now more than ever…


by John Walters

Starting Five



*The judges will not accept “Breast In Show”


Ice dancing became the most popular sport at the PyeongChang Olympics Sunday evening as French skater Gabriella Papadakis went Janet Jackson on the arena.

The Frenchies finished second in the short program with the free skate still to come tomorrow. Expect more safety pins between now and then.

2. Post Up And Dribble

In Los Angeles, LeBron James silenced Laura Ingraham and a slew of doubters (while still not solving the mystery of who vandalized his front gate) to lead the LeBronians to a 148-145 All-Star Game win over the Steph-ONs. We only read one account of the contest, but though 293 points were scored, it’s being described as a game in which defense reared its head. LeBron even played center in the fourth quarter to counter Joel Embiid. 

Our favorite (only? final?) moment of All-Star Weekend was when the dude here on the left (from Migos) blatantly traveled and the commentator praised his “EuroStep” as a girl (a GIRL knew!) on the opposing side pantomimed a traveling call to no avail. At that moment we became the roadside Native American (who wasn’t even a true Native American!) in that early Seventies anti-littering campaign commercial.

Us, watching the travesty that NBA hoops has become what with the traveling and the palming and the arm bars. GOML!

3. May The Fourth Be With You!

Vonn was not a Super-G whiz

Lindsey Jacobellis in the SnowCross final? 4th place. Mikaela Schiffrin in the final of the Giant Slalom, her premier event? 4th place. Lindsey Vonn in the women’s Super-G? Sixth place. Nathan Chen in the men’s figure skating final? Fifth place.

Has it been a disastrous Olympics for the USA thus far, or is it simply that no one wants to visit the White House? After  a little more than one week, Team USA is in sixth place in the medals standings with 10 overall (5 gold). Ahead of them are Norway, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, and Olympics Athletes from Russia, a country that is not technically here.

Chen Diagram: Nathan’s unprecedented six quad toe loops were not enough to overcome his disastrous short program

There are still a few days to go, and the women’s hockey team is assured of a medal, but the last time the U.S. finished outside the top five in the Winter Olympics medals count was 1988 in Calgary.

4. Black By Popular Demand

In its opening weekend, Black Panther earns $192 million, almost doubling the record for the highest box-office ever for an opening weekend for a film by a black director (Ryan Cooler).

Girls gone wild: Prince (left) and Viniate

Meanwhile, unrelated, if you have yet to see The Florida Project, while it’s somewhat depressing, there’s no better lead and supporting actress performances you’ll see this year than the one by total unknowns Bria Vinaite, 24, and Brooklynn Prince, 7. Vinaite was a total unknown who was discovered via her Instagram posts. She had never appeared in anything and took three weeks of acting classes before filming began. She’s a natural.

5. The Kids Are Alright

Victims? No. Survivors? Maybe. Heroes? Definitely. The teens from Parkland’s Stoneman High are giving the adults in Washington a lesson in public mandate. The students are speaking up, telling lawmakers that “thoughts and prayers” are “pathetic.” Good for them. It would be nice to to think that their 17 classmates did not die in vain.

Music 101 

Draw The Line

An Aerosmith hard-rocker from 1977 that failed to gain steady air play. We received the eponymous album as a Christmas present as an 11 year-old and played the grooves off it.

Remote Patrol

Oklahoma at Kansas

9 p.m. ESPN

Trae Young is the most watchable player in college hoops—if not the best—and Allen Fieldhouse its most appealing venue. And they’re both ranked. Young still leads the nation in scoring and assists.

On Journalism, Clickbait and Prostrating Oneself Before LaVar Ball

by John Walters

On Tuesday Ryan Glasspiegel of The Big Lead wrote a piece titled “Journalism and Clickbait Can Both Live In The Same Place,” the inspiration of which was a Twit-a-tete I had (I instigated it) with his boss, the site’s founder, Jason McIntyre. Before you read on here, I encourage you to read Ryan’s story if you have not yet (see, Jason, I’m pimping for you!).

Before I discuss the merits of Ryan’s story, of which there are many, here’s a demerit: he never contacted me. A tenet of good journalism is that you allow the principles of a story an opportunity to express their views, particularly if there is a sense of polarized positions. I’m right here. It would have been easy to simply DM me.

Now, we live in an internet bully age where TBL loyalists will shout me down because they know their site and don’t know me, but that’s just a J-School 101 courtesy. Perhaps Ryan and the TBL mouth-breathers would respond that my tweets were already out there, what else is needed (besides, we all know how much millennials loathe actually having to talk to people)?

But if Ryan had contacted me, he’d have known that I was not chastising Jason about Bobby Burack’s story, as Ryan implies. I did not read Bobby’s story. I would never read Bobby’s story, which is no slight to Bobby as a writer; it’s simply that long ago I tired of reading anything about LeBron, LaVar Ball, the Cavaliers or the Lakers.

If Ryan had only reached out to me, he would have known this.

Anyway, the reason I chided my frenemy Jason on Twitter (“There’s an Olympics going on, but the guess here is you’ve calibrated that that’s not where one goes to find the clicks”) is because he had just tweeted out another breathless tweet about LeBron, or was it LaVar, or perhaps it was about what the Lakers are going to do in the summer of 2018. Or is it the summer of 2019.


No one’s forcing you to follow Jason on Twitter, you might say. And you are correct. But for now, at least, I am. As I was preparing to write this, I did a quick sample of Jason’s last 50 tweets: 28 of them, or 56%, were concerned with LaVar or LeBron or the Cavaliers or the Lakers. One of them, or 2%, mentioned the Olympics.

Only yesterday Jason tweeted something to the effect that he runs a sports site with some pop culture thrown in. And he does. And TBL is an independent site that he founded, so he is under no obligation to be comprehensive or even egalitarian in his sports coverage. His Twitter feed, though, is a window to his soul: he’s out for clicks.

Before launching TBL on his down time, something I greatly admire and respect Jason for doing, he cut his teeth working at US Weekly. And what he likely learned there is that you sell the soap opera. There’s a reason (back then) Jennifer Aniston garnered more covers than both better actresses and even hotter ones: because she was famous and because her personal life was a hot mess. And that’s what sold.

Back to Ryan’s theme: That clickbait and real journalism can not only coexist, but must. In a corporate world, he’s correct. In fact, the story that ran with Ryan’s byline directly after his clickbait story concerned itself with Aly Raisman and Paige Sparanac posing nude for SI, and my humble guess is that it drew ten times the readership that his clickbait piece did. After all, there’s navel-gazing and then there’s navel-gazing.

Before the internet existed, before clickbait, there was the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, which hits newsstands right about now (what’s a newsstand?). In my 15 years as an SI staffer, I constantly heard gripes by fellow staffers about how we were producing soft-core porn (which we were) that had no connection to sports (which it did not). My female boss for most of that time, Jane “Bambi” Wulf, had no problem with it. “That single issue pays for half the salaries on the 18th floor,” Bambi, who passed away last year and whom we all loved, would say.

When one of my colleagues at SI, a fellow reporter under Bambi named Chad Millman, left, he played a huge role in ESPN the Magazine launching its “Body” issue, where Olympic and pro athletes pose nude, strategically placing items from their sport in front of their genitals or simply using their hips or arms to hide their naughty bits. It was a terrific idea.

Am I running this photo to illustrate a point or to get more clicks? Does it even matter?

All that said, you the individual (or writer, or editor, or site founder) are not compelled to do anything. Are not compelled to compromise. Let’s be clear here: this is a choice you make. Or that your publication makes, and you choose to adhere to.

At my final Newsweek staff meeting (and you’re about to learn why it was my final one), I broached this topic to our managing editor (who may or may not have been having an affair with a 24 year-old editor of our sister publication in London and who may or may not have been attempting to install her as the No. 2 person here until she foolishly wrote an email about this to him and CC’ed the wrong folks), Matt McAllester. During the staff meeting in mid-May, McAllester informed us that each one of us writers would be responsible for 15,000 clicks daily by June 30. That prompted one of our twenty something reporters, a bright young man, to diplomatically inquire, “What happens after we achieve that goal?”

A second younger reporter asked the question we were all thinking: “What happens if we don’t?”

McAllester simply told us that we would. Then I (foolishly) brought up an old David Halberstam quote. Halberstam used to say that he wrote best-selling sports books because they gave him the latitude to write the books that he really cared about, such as The Best And The Brightest. I asked McAllester if that’s what we were doing. And he bristled, “Don’t you want anyone to read your stories?”

Nearly 50 years ago, Halberstam knew what’s up

Immediately after that meeting, we writers were shuttled into an hour-long meeting in which we were tutored on one thing and one thing only: the tricks of SEO headline writing. For those of you unfamiliar with it, “SEO” stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” It’s about writing headlines that Google puts near the top of its search list, because those stories are clicked more frequently, which leads to higher ad rates, which leads to financial solvency.

A month later, Matt called me in to fire me ( I was later told that when Matt was informed he had only been firing female staffers, it was strongly suggested he needed a male pelt to put on the wall to even the score some; for the record, after Matt was fired I immediately began writing for Newsweek again). Ironically, the firing was delayed four hours because one of our senior writers was dealing with a “tentacle porn” controversy on his Twitter feed, which even more ironically was driving traffic through the roof. If only I had known! That could have saved my gig had I thought of it first. When Matt cut me from the team, I refused the severance and told him, “You’re chasing sites that have been doing this for a decade and do it better. And it’s nothing but fast food calories. Basically, you are turning Newsweek into Hardees.”

I didn’t use profanity. Didn’t curse. I just told him bluntly what I thought of him, and then went down to my bartending shift where I ordinarily earn more in a day than what Newsweek was paying me, anyway. Matt was fired two months later for general incompetence and, unofficially, for being a major douche. It didn’t help that a female co-worker at Time, his former place of employ, was suing him for sexual discrimination.

I digress. Back to Ryan’s point. We all make a choice. To me, the danger of conforming to the clickbait beast is that if a little is good, more is better. And suddenly you’re running story upon story about a wrestling heel (LaVar Ball) while virtually ignoring an event that is the living vestige of the origin of sport itself: the Olympics. Not only that, but one of the four major networks is airing it in prime time every night for a fortnight and it is blowing away every other network in the ratings.

When Jason tweets that he has no interest in the Olympics and when Ryan doubles down that no one on TBL’s staff does, I don’t measure that as a failure of the Olympics. I measure it as a failure of myopic scope. Of hiring practices. Maybe if the TBL’s staff were not all about the same age and all but one the same sex and same skin pigmentation, the site would be more versatile. And before you hit me with a GOML, here’s a response to that.

The more worrisome danger, to reiterate, is more is better. If a little clickbait is good, the irresistible temptation from above is to produce more. And suddenly as a website you become the Chicken McNuggets parents. You could expose little Lucas to something he’s never tried, but he may wail and who has the patience for that? Just buy him the Chicken McNuggets again because you know it works.

In sports journalism, this is what leads to more NFL and NBA stories and to smaller and smaller concentric circles. And this isn’t just the internet’s fault. It’s the fault of every managing editor who was working to please the publisher as opposed to following the tenets of journalism. I was a staff writer at Sports Illustrated in 1998 when France won the World Cup—in Paris, in a MAJOR upset—and even though our M.E. attended, he had us put Mike Ditka on the cover—in July. This wasn’t even Chicago Bears Mike Ditka, it was New Orleans Saints Mike Ditka. Didn’t matter. It was the NFL.

The SI I grew up reading in the Seventies understood that it was the journal of record. It put the most important story on the cover (a miler setting a world record; an amateur hockey team winning a game in Lake Placid), not the best-seller.

Eight years after that infamous Ditka cover, Roger Federer won three men’s tennis grand slams (and was runner-up in the fourth) and had a 92-5 record on the year. The overwhelming consensus in the offices was that he should be named Sportsman of the Year. The boys on the publishing side advocated for Dwyane Wade, who’d led the Miami Heat to the NBA championship (never mind that Wade had finished sixth in MVP voting). Wade got the nod.

These days are over

There is, or used to be in journalism, a thing called “separation of church and state.” Church (editorial) and State (publishing) did not interfere in one another’s business, so as to avoid conflict of interest. If you saw The Post, you witnessed a real-life and historic incident involving such a conflict, and the greater point that was made here is that when newspapers follow their journalistic instincts, they actually DO SELL MORE. You can be fit AND eat what you love!

Does that only happen in the movies—or at The Washington Post? Not necessarily, but it is harder to report stories than to simply parrot the latest LaVar tweet. It does take more effort to find something that no one else has yet reported as opposed to doing a slide show of NFL cheerleaders. I get it.

You can’t be a virgin 90% of the time. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition. And as someone who writes a blog for free but has no mortgage and no kids to raise, it’s a little easier for me to be idealistic. I can survive on baloney sandwiches for quite some time (besides, I own like, lots of AMZN shares). But at the end of the day, or of your career in journalism, you are what YOU DO, not what you say you are. And if you claim to be a journalist while promoting LeBron and LaVar with more than half your tweets, I’d argue that you’re more of a huckster.

Moreover, I’d prefer not to marinate in my own ignorance, or not to spread ignorance like a virus. One of my closest friends in this business, Tim Crothers, has been a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina for more than a decade. When we were both reporters at SI and they cut our travel budget to ZIP, Tim hatched the idea of doing a bonus (you’d now call it longform) piece on Red Klotz, the coach of the long-suffering Washington Generals. He didn’t ask permission, because he knew our editors would either turn him down or hand the story to someone senior.

Tim got on the subway to cover a Globetrotters-Generals game, then talked his way onto Klotz’s bus and into Klotz’s life, and then without prompting he filed one of the best bonus pieces of the decade. Nobody knew they wanted to know about Red Klotz, but when they did read about him, it was marvelous.

A girl, and a story, that nobody wanted. Now a major motion picture.

More than 15 year later Tim heard about a young girl who was virtually homeless, living in the slums of Kampala, (Kampala is a city that is not Cleveland or Los Angeles), Uganda, but who was a chess prodigy. Tim pitched the story to SI, which had fired him (and me and William Nack on the same day in 2001 as part of staff layoffs), who did not bite. So he pitched it to ESPN, who did. Tim’s story, The Queen of Katye, became a National Magazine Award Feature Story finalist, and then a book, and then a major motion picture from Disney that you can actually watch on Netflix right now.

Tim followed his journalistic instincts, and not only did he produce fantastic work but it was also lucrative.

One more anecdote, for those still reading. One day when I was at SI, I saw the hard copy of a piece by a then-unknown writer named Jeff MacGregor on the printer outside my office. This was a LONG story, but I started reading and within two grafs I was enthralled. MacGregor’s piece was all about a rattlesnake roundup and it was so well-written (“You can taste the mean”) but then again, as a few muggles-ian editors argued, “What did it have to do with sports?”

MacGregor’s editor, Bob Roe, championed the piece. The coterie shunned it. Then suddenly, the M.E. agreed with Roe and everyone else’s tune changed. The piece ran. It was phenomenal and readers responded to it like few stories we’d run in years. Loser coaches. Ugandan chess prodigies. Rattlesnakes. It’s the story that matters, not the brand.

A day after Newsweek laid me off last June, I received an email inviting me to join the staff meeting via conference call. Obviously, this was done in error, but screw them. I phoned the number, punched in the secret code, and listened in. McAllester was now informing the staff that they’d need to be up to 30,000 clicks per day by the end of October and that, unfortunately, no salary increases were in sight. Also, travel was limited and there wasn’t the money to keep open a Washington, D.C., bureau as an office. Those staffers would have to work from home.

One writer had the temerity to raise an objection, and here I paraphrase. “If I’m hearing you right, you want us to do more work, churn at a higher rate, while there is no incentive from a salary or workplace environment perspective,” the writer said.

McAllester noted that he might have some money at the end of the year that he’d be allowed to distribute to some staffers at his own discretion. “That sounds futile,” said the writer, whom I will not name here but who did resign last week from Newsweek.

When I told that writer that I’d listened in and recounted the dialogue to him, he laughed. But then he corrected me. “I didn’t say, ‘That sounds futile,’ ” he said. “I said, ‘That sounds feudal.'”

We all make choices. You go ahead and surf the internet. As a writer, I’ve more than made my peace with not wanting to serf the internet.

What is the future of journalism, and sports journalism? Is there a way to obviate clickbait for those of us who don’t want to make outlandish and grossly inaccurate analogies such as “Baker Mayfield Is Like Bitcoin” simply to generate clicks? The best way out I see is for philanthropic billionaires such as Jeff Bezos to become modern-day Medicis: to promote the art of journalism for its own sake. Bezos owns The Washington Post because of its vestigial hold on him, and because he appreciates how it shaped his youth. He’s not the only billionaire out there (apparently, they’re growing in number) and here’s hoping there are more Bezos types out there and fewer outright assholes such as Sam Zell, a man who once told his female Tronc underling, “F**k you” when she dared to question him about editorial integrity.

Let’s close with an analogy that may or may not be fair. In the 1990s NBC had two sitcoms that ran on the same night: Friends and Seinfeld. The former scored higher ratings but was open to anything to promote such ratings (remember the stunt-casting episode with ER dreamboats George Clooney and Noah Wylie playing their alter-egos from that show?). The latter was fiercely iconoclastic, going so far as to devote one episode to the idea that they would not stoop to those levels (“I’m not gonna dumb it down, Jerry” was Larry David’s not-so-subtle message to his Peacock overlords that he would not compromise his standards).

Two different show, both comedies. Both ran on the same network. It’s possible to do solid journalism and run clickbait on the same site. Then again, most of us writers don’t have the pull that Larry David did.