2018 was a year filled with idiots—including the many egomaniacal blowhards, bad tweeters, and corrupt stenographers who make up our media class. Here are some of the worst.
The Access Humpers
The question of “has the media risen to the challenge of covering Donald Trump?” has been definitively answered this year by the widespread defense of “access journalism” and its purveyors among some of the media’s top idiots. Not even by those who have turned it into a career—you might expect scoop boy Jonathan Swan and soft-focus White House profile specialist Olivia Nuzzi to defend what they do—but by others, like the Daily Beast’s Noah Schactman, the Atlantic’s Elaina Plott, and the Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau. Abdicating your morals in service of the next scoop on who’s in and who’s out in the Trump White House? Yep, sounds like our media.
BE SMART: Axios is a news outlet for revolting D.C. insiders and lobbyists whose wives dream of leaving them.
WHY IT MATTERS: Its reporting is primarily access-based, favor-trading, superficial scoops, driven by a morally blank commitment to getting the News First. It’s Politico, but with less information and even more sponsorships by oil companies.
GO DEEPER: No, that’s about it. It just sucks.
Maher is constantly making ridiculously racist, sexist, Islamophobic, transphobic, and otherwise dickish comments on his HBO show Real Time. And yet he’s remained a staple of “liberal” “comedy” for decades.
Cable News Blowhards
We could fill up a Splinter Idiots list just full of people who repeatedly fucked up on television this year, but really, do they deserve it? From Joe and Mika to CNN’s rotating cast of sentient square chins, smarmy media guys, and traumatic head injury patients, it just wasn’t a great year for cable news talkers. Better luck next year.
Fox News, Starring Tucker Carlson
We finally killed off Roger Ailes, but his legacy of assembling the biggest cast of racists, idiots, and racist idiots ever lives on, with Tucker Carlson beating back competition like Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade to be worst of all this year. Remember when Carlson was just a bow tie dipshit instead of a guy who spends an hour each night channeling white hate? Me either.
McCain’s fact-challenged outbursts on iconic, Splinter-endorsed morning program The View are almost too ridiculous to make you actually mad at her, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t fully earned her place on this list.
The Never Trumpers: Max Boot, David Frum, Jennifer Rubin, & Bret Stephens
The overrepresentation of Republicans who do not support Trump in the media is orders of magnitude higher than the overrepresentation of, say, New Yorkers in the media, which is itself unforgivably high. Probably 70 percent of people in America who hold this view are highly paid columnists for major media outlets. They object to Trump for mostly superficial reasons, would have loved most of his policies were they being enacted under President Rubio, and cheered on most of the Republican policies that led us to this point. Useless fuckers.
The editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast gets on this list for being a perpetual repeat offender when it comes to shamelessly hyping up stories that are never as big as he claims. But he also says shit like this that makes no sense.
The Poll Bros
There’s a certain cadre of journalists who have leashed themselves to the horserace narrative of politics and almost all of them are named Nate. The guys at 538 and the NYT’s Upshot and all of the pollsters can certainly be useful, but on actual election nights, their frenetic tweeting and sadistic election gadgets really only serve to make everyone more stressed and less informed. Both 538’s precious model and the NYT’s dreaded election needle threw people for a loop during the midterms, with the former at one point forecasting disaster in the House and the latter just flat out not working, which the Big Prediction Boys handled about as well as you would expect.
SNL’s “Weekend Update”
There is perhaps no better crystallization of how our neoliberal institutions are unequipped to confront this political era than Colin Jost—a man seemingly bioengineered to be trashed in an appositive in 2018—needling New Yorkers protesting Amazon opening a second headquarters in Queens. What follows is an amazing feat of false equivalence, reductive reasoning, and good old fashioned coastal elitism:
Only New Yorkers could complain about getting 25,000 new jobs. All the cities who lost out must be like, “Shut up you whiny bitch.” New York basically won the lottery and we’re like, “But the subways might be slightly more crowded.” Meanwhile, people in West Virginia are like, “Well, back to the mines.” Yeah, I know it’s going to raise housing prices, but it’s a little late for New Yorkers to complain about rent. I mean, even Amazon had to move to Queens because it couldn’t afford to live in Manhattan.
Yeah, Scarlett Johansson’s boyfriend definitely “takes” “the” “train” and “pays” “rent” and knows intimately the plight of coal miners. And I’m a bitch.
White House Press Corps: Jim Acosta and Maggie Haberman
It’s hard to pick which of these two is more annoying. Is it Acosta—a man who, in his transparent thirst for his own Journalism Hero biopic, is so pompous and insufferable that he almost makes you root for Donald Trump?
Or is it Haberman, the ultimate symbol of “objective” access journalism who dramatically announced that she was ending her legitimately embarrassing Twitter feed earlier this year and then just....didn’t?
Wait, no, it’s not hard: it’s Acosta. God, he sucks.