The Daily Beast Completely Shits the Bed When It Comes to Coverage of Dave Chappelle
If that headline seems like it’s unprofessional or I might have slept with the reporter involved, then you have a great eye for words.
There’s one rule in journalism that is more important than any other.
You don’t write about other journalists.
Because all of us classically trained reporters know exactly how everyone is getting fucked, we don’t have any desire to experience that particular kind of fucking ourselves, thank you very much.
To quote Janet Malcolm’s masterpiece The Journalist and the Murderer:
Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. Like the credulous widow who wakes up one day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone, so the consenting subject of a piece of nonfiction learns—when the article or book appears—his hard lesson. Journalists justify their treachery in various ways according to their temperaments. The more pompous talk about freedom of speech and "the public's right to know"; the least talented talk about Art; the seemliest murmur about earning a living.
In the middle of having a human experience, no one wants to have their most delicate emotional innards laid bare for public feasting.
The senior entertainment editor at The Daily Beast, Marlow Stern and I became Twitter friends when I was still working at xoJane and single in the mid 2010’s. One night we met up and then we became hookup-for-sex friends. Only happened a few times. Was fine. Whatever. Who cares. I bare no ill will related to any of that in the least.
But when I got a regular gig writing for The Daily Beast, Stern somehow became my editor for a time. I didn’t disclose our relationship because it didn’t mean anything. But then he started making bizarre editorial decisions that made no sense—and I proved them to make no sense in how wildly viral and acclaimed the two stories he tried to kibosh both became.
First, he told me that we should avoid covering the story of Jill Messick, who was a woman who killed herself after Rose McGowan betrayed her and she was publicly dragged on Twitter.
You should read the resulting piece.
I was only able to get it published by going around Marlow to then-editor John Avlon who gave me approval. That story was shared widely—including from Bari Weiss— and I heard not only from the late husband thanking me for the piece but also her best friend who had been the one to find Messick as she hung dying.
I don’t like having to play political games like ignoring chain of command in order to get a piece published, but I’m glad I did for that piece. It was an important part of the #MeToo narrative in its revelation of just how disposable some women are in the name of feminism.
Two more things happened.
One, I had started having regular text conversations with Evan Rachel Wood after I reached out to her on Twitter when I saw that she had liked my tweet about realizing that Wood had been describing Marilyn Manson as her abuser.
I told her that I would try to use my position as a columnist for The Daily Beast to do a piece—like this one in Glamour at the time—that helped people put together the picture for themselves of the coercive control tactics Manson employed with Wood, particularly in releasing a terrifying music video that featured Manson murdering a Wood lookalike.
Well, when I reached out to Marlow Stern he told me that this would not be a story because we would need Wood to go on the record rather than just as deep background which is what relationship she was comfortable with as my source.
Wouldn’t you know that the next time Stern had the opportunity to do a press junket with the actress he took it, and instead of respecting my relationship with the source—and that she was not ready to go on the record talking about Manson—he directly asked her about it, and she was completely taken aback and told me as such privately in a conversation on Signal. (Marlow seems to be a huge Marilyn Manson fan just based on this old story. Good for him. Edgy.)
The next thing that happened was that I had been doing something that most good trends reporters do, in that you keep a watch on something you see occurring that stands out to you as a fascinating or disturbing new subculture that can be trackable by knowing the right search terms or ways that the community organically describes themselves and talks to one another.
What I had been keeping an eye on was incels.
I knew this was one of the most important modern stories of my generation that the average person had no idea how bad it really was in terms of just the utter disconnection many of these young men have to a world that isn’t completely punctuated by nihilism and despair. I was told that I could not do a story on incels again and again in ways that made no sense. Finally, I told my editor John Avlon what had transpired between us personally, and he both agreed to the resulting piece but also paired me with a new editor.
I was so proud of the resulting piece, “Sympathy for the Incel.”
Every time I now see some bad Marlow Stern take—or a take someone else has done on Marlow—all of my resentment rises within me.
But reading this hot trash he wrote about Chappelle that willfully misrepresents an artist’s meaning is so stomach-turning I wanted to put this shit to bed once and for all and call him out personally for weasel-ish behavior. He’ll keep his job as he should. No one will likely even talk about this. But I will know that he didn’t ultimately have the power to shut me up as he seems determined to do to the myriad women who are speaking up about the abuse they have received as supposed “TERF”s. Abuse that Marlow champions again and again in his uber-woke-talking-points garbage machine he seems to be operating of late.
There is nothing so evil to me as just wanton misrepresentation of truth as Marlow Stern does in this piece about Chappelle, who everyone understood to be referring back to Daphne in his final words of the special—after having claimed her as part of his tribe of comedians—asking the extremists to stop punching down on his people (seeing as how the extreme-left’s dragging off Daphne led to her suicide, just as was the case with Messick).
Here is what Stern wrote:
Here’s what Dave actually said:
When Sticks and Stones came out…a lot of people in the trans community were furious with me and apparently they dragged me on Twitter.
I don’t give a fuck, ’cause Twitter is not a real place.
And the hardest thing for a person to do is go against their tribe if they disagree with their tribe, but Daphne did that for me.
She wrote a tweet that was very beautiful and what she said was and it is almost exactly what she said. She said, “Punching down on someone, requires you to think less of them and I know him, and he doesn’t. He doesn’t punch up, he doesn’t punch down he punches lines, and he is a master at his craft.”
That’s what she said.
Beautiful tweet, beautiful friend, it took a lot of heart to defend me like that, and when she did that the trans community dragged that bitch all over Twitter.
For days, they was going in on her, and she was holding her own ’cause she’s funny. But six days after that wonderful night I described to you my friend Daphne killed herself. Oh yeah, this is a true story, my heart was broken.
Yeah, it wasn’t the jokes. I don’t know if was them dragging or I don’t know what was going on in her life but I bet dragging her didn’t help. I was very angry at them, I was very angry at her.
I felt like Daphne lied to me. She always said, she identified as a woman. And then one day she goes up to the roof of her building and jumps off and kills herself. Clearly… only a man would do some gangster shit like that. Hear me out. As hard as it is to hear a joke like that I’m telling you right now, Daphne would have loved that joke. That is why she was my friend. …And I don’t know what the trans community did for her but I don’t care, because I feel like she wasn’t their tribe, she was mine. She was a comedian in her soul. The daughter is very young, but I hope to be alive when she turns 21 ’cause I’m going to give her this money myself. And by then, by then, I’ll be ready to have the conversation that I’m not ready to have today. But I’ll tell that little girl, “Young lady, I knew your father…and he was a wonderful woman.” Empathy is not gay. Empathy is not Black. Empathy is bi-sexual. It must go both ways. It must go both ways. Remember, taking a man’s livelihood is akin to killing him. I’m begging you, please do not abort DaBaby. Kevin Hart dreamt his entire life of hosting the Oscars and when he finally got the job they just took it! It’s not fair. They didn’t kill him, Kevin is a strong guy. But I’m sure it broke old Clifford’s heart. It’s over. LBGTQ, L-M-N-O-P-Q-Y-Z, it is over. I’m not telling another joke about you until we are both sure, that we are laughing together. I’m telling you this is done. I’m done talking about it. All I ask from your community, with all humility, will you please stop punching down on my people? Thank you very much and good night.
Notice that The Washington Post tries to pull the same trick, and all the commenters react the exact same way I am:
The average person is too smart for this fuckery.
And that’s all this is.
It’s a battle of propaganda, and it’s one that Corporate Media types are losing, quite badly.
Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos said that Chappelle’s last special, #SticksandStones, is the company’s “most watched, stickiest, and most award winning stand-up special to date.”
Read that again.
It is the company’s most watched special to date.
Online outrage that is easily bought and paid for is so often the result of astroturfing and AI-created Online False Consensus using bots driven by natural language processing to imitate organic chatter amplifying a particular point of view.
No one with any critical thinking skills respects these corporate sources anymore.
I will, from this point forward, view corporate media distortion as nothing short of expected.
“What bullshit was printed? Does that make you mad? Not me! I was expecting it, my man.”
Let’s all try it, and see what happens.
We’re having a human experience, and we’re going to have each other’s backs like our lives and our freedoms depend on it.
Because they do.