Over the past week or so, the world has seen devastation in both Texas and Mumbai, bringing out the best—and, as you’ll see below, the worst—in people in response. That doesn’t mean that the internet has been entirely focused on important things, however. Social media did spend quite a bit of time rehashing The Office and appreciating the new evil Star Wars droid this last week, too. Wait. What we talking about? Oh, yeah—the highlights and lowlights of what everyone else was talking about over the past seven days. Which is to say, this.
Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
What Happened: Supporters of Presidents Trump and Obama got into a long spat over which White House occupant handled hurricane response more effectively. No one really won.
What Really Happened: The reality of political What-About-ism means that with President Trump facing criticism for his response to Hurricane Harvey—including promoting his own merchandise during appearances—it was only a matter of time before his supporters decided to point out, that, hey, President Obama might’ve been worse. And so it went.
…Obama went golfing at Martha's Vineyard during Katrina..America forgets not….https://t.co/nXGWcY1phL
— Ace (@ace_duece_kicka) August 26, 2017
Same here. Survived Katrina and damn flood here in BR last year. Obama was golfing.
— Tony Two Bets (@tonytwobets) August 26, 2017
Like Obama golfing while mostly black hurricane Katrina victims were forced into inhumane,fetid conditions in a sports arena in New Orleans?
— DoriLu (@DoriLu22) August 28, 2017
To be fair, it’s not as if people weren’t expecting this particular line of attack—
Countdown to when Trump tweets how much better he handled Hurricane Harvey than Obama handled Hurricane Katrina. 🙄
— Southern Libtard (@SouthernLibtard) August 27, 2017
—or, for that matter, prepared to make fun of it.
Looking up "Obama Katrina" is a fun game for discovering people who somehow have zero memory beyond four years ago. pic.twitter.com/Va4r6PFNhs
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) August 28, 2017
Dunno if it's worth pointing out that Obama wasn't president during Katrina… pic.twitter.com/cF3nBKoyxj
— Jay Kuo (@nycjayjay) August 30, 2017
Not only did this dolt not know Obama wasn't POTUS during Katrina, she used a pic of Condoleezza Rice! pic.twitter.com/Kq1T1Dkh6D
— philip harris (@pharris830) August 30, 2017
Yes, despite the fact that President Obama wasn’t actually President Obama when Hurricane Katrina hit—he wouldn’t be elected for another three years—the subject became enough of a right-wing talking point that Snopes actually had to publish a fact-check on the topic. And the mistake itself became a widely shared meme. Meanwhile, where was Obama during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?
What was Obama doing during Katrina? He was actually at the Astrodome helping out and wasn't even goddamn president yet. pic.twitter.com/UFZoGfgxuo
— Talia (@2020fight) August 30, 2017
The Takeaway: This just in from the “You can’t please some people, no matter what you do” department…
"Why didn't Obama visit after Katrina?"
"He wasn't president yet, but he did visit"
"Of course he did, the showboating narcissist"
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) August 31, 2017
If You Hang Around, You’re Going to Get Wet
What Happened: Who could have known that at the eye of the storm of Hurricane Harvey, it was all about CNN? That’s certainly a theory the internet was trying to argue this week.
What Really Happened: While we’re on the subject of Hurricane Harvey and the partisan reactions to it, let’s spare a moment to think about how the internet treated CNN during this whole thing. There were two particular moments during the week from the news network that made the rounds on social media, each for very different reasons. Firstly, there was the interview gone wrong:
Well this didn't turn out well for CNN.
Harvey Evacuee blasts reporter for sticking
microphone in her face during difficult times. pic.twitter.com/BqHT4agEfS
— Corryn 🇺🇸 (@Corrynmb) August 29, 2017
— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) August 29, 2017
A hurricane victim just went off on a CNN reporter. Can’t blame her pic.twitter.com/0BsNDfnl9v
— matt (@mattneely_) August 29, 2017
I can't like this enough! Hurricane Harvey victim gives CNN reporter a talking to! Bravo to this lady! https://t.co/aQfk68ayLM
— opie radio (@OpieRadio) August 29, 2017
Widely shared, the clip made CNN look bad (and was eagerly used by those waging war on the network as a result), but it turned out there was something around the corner that would show the cable news outfit in a far better light…
Just watched as a @CNN reporter in Houston saved a man from drowning on live TV. That's not Fake News.
— Mike Levin (@MikeLevinCA) August 30, 2017
— CNN (@CNN) August 30, 2017
This proved to be as viral as the earlier clip, because, you know, someone’s life was saved right there on television.
This is a stark reminder that journalists often risk their lives to bring stories to people, because they care about people.
— Micah Grimes (@MicahGrimes) August 30, 2017
— Bruno Amato (@BrunoAmato_1) August 30, 2017
— SalenaZito (@SalenaZito) August 30, 2017
And, sure enough, this clip got shared a bunch too. However, as if to prove that no good deed goes unsuspected, there are reporter truthers out there already.
CNN claims that one of their reporters “rescued” a man from a sinking truck on camera – but how did the reporter change clothes so fast? pic.twitter.com/oC6y5ia8xn
— /pol/ News Infinity (@polNewsInfinity) August 31, 2017
Suspend your politics for a moment and watch CNN reporter Drew Griffin dramatically rescue man caught in Harvey floodwaters. @CNN Does good
— Robby Ball (@perfectsliders) August 31, 2017
But was there some way the Harvey tragedy could become about CNN a third time in one week? Apparently so.
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) August 31, 2017
The irony being, of course, that by the time Eric Trump had tweeted this, CNN had already reported the story—look at this tweet from three hours earlier—leading to this snarky response from CNN PR’s official Twitter account:
You guessed wrong. We covered the pledge online and on-air well before your tweet. 🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/j9QgnxXgve
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) September 1, 2017
The Takeaway: So, how were the other networks faring while CNN was getting all this attention? Well…
— Bad Fox Graphics (@BadFoxGraphics) September 1, 2017
What Would Joel Osteen Do?
What Happened: Turns out, some self-identified Christians are a little uncertain about what Jesus would do in certain situations.
What Really Happened: Maybe you’re familiar with Joel Osteen by now. He’s the pastor of a so-called “megachurch” who didn’t immediately open his church to Harvey victims last week, a decision that prompted… well, exactly the kind of response you’d expect from Twitter.
JOEL OSTEEN: here are my prayers. let's all do the prayers
PEOPLE: what about allowing people into your big church
JOEL OSTEEN: pic.twitter.com/2OS1C9qPiJ
— Plex Microbrew (@Whoabot) August 29, 2017
In @JoelOsteen's defense, it's hard to take donation $$ for a fake church from flood victims who didn't have time to grab their checkbooks.
— TrumpSwamp (@SwampyTrump) August 29, 2017
Asking celebrities like Joel Osteen for help in Houston pic.twitter.com/VDjHjX7AI1
— benson (@bluke123) August 29, 2017
Chris Christie: I'm a bad dude, I took my family to a public beach I had closed down
Joel Osteen: hold my non-acloholic white wine spritzer
— Dave Weasel (@DaveWeasel) August 29, 2017
Joel Osteen when people who funded his $56,000,000 net worth in his city are in desperate need for shelter. pic.twitter.com/zrJvmYAkvq
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) August 28, 2017
Joel Osteen shedding tears for the people who need his help in Houston. pic.twitter.com/93qcwzEJZL
— Nick Jack Pappas (@Pappiness) August 28, 2017
Joel Osteen: God be with my fellow Texans.
Fellow Texans: Can we stay at your church.
Joel Osteen: pic.twitter.com/d0SMUXdJF8
— Jackson (@realJaxonStone) August 29, 2017
.@JoelOsteen could've been a hero. He turned out to be a zero.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) August 31, 2017
Joel Osteen is for sure a Martin Short character
— Molly Lambert (@mollylambert) August 31, 2017
What would Joel Osteen do? Well that depends on what a Pharisee might or might not tell him to do.
— David Simon (@AoDespair) August 31, 2017
People like Joel Osteen are the reason why I will continue to support and listen to satanic music.
— Danko Jones (@dankojones) August 31, 2017
Although Osteen would later open the church and claim the doors were never really closed, it was too late: his memetic shaming had itself gone viral.
The Takeaway: Well, if nothing else, there’s the newfound fame Osteen has as a result of this whole episode.
joel osteen….subway jared….rachel dolezal. my first three picks in fantasy football. without doubt
— ret byram (@rad_milk) August 30, 2017
Bill of Rights
What Happened: US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated in an interview that putting abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill wasn’t a priority. Twitter then indicated that that wasn’t acceptable.
What Really Happened: Meanwhile, there were other things happening outside the flood-impacted areas of the internet last week. For one thing, remember the excitement over the possibility of Harriet Tubman getting placed on the $20 bill after she won an unofficial poll to get nominated? Well, get ready to get unexcited, because, guess what?
— Bloomberg Politics (@bpolitics) August 31, 2017
Yes, in an interview with CNBC, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the previous announcement about Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson was “not something I’m focused on at the moment,” which comes after President Trump said he’d rather keep Jackson. That… didn’t really go over well with a lot of people.
Steve Liesman: Do you support Harriet Tubman on $20 bill?
Steve Mnuchin: "It's not something I'm focused on."
It's a Yes or No question! pic.twitter.com/XjFr92JgOg
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) August 31, 2017
Steve Mnuchin: We might not put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.
Everyone who is NOT a straight white man: pic.twitter.com/DmlEovWgR0
— TrumpsTaxes (@TrumpsTaxes) August 31, 2017
Harriet Tubman was an incredible woman and everyone wants to call 20s "Tubs" so Steve Mnuchin can go directly to hell. https://t.co/sOXyVoFbgY
— Jessie Lahr (@JessieLahrr) August 31, 2017
A Harriet Tubman $20 is not a priority for Trump's team..
BUT DAMMIT WE GOTTA KEEP THOSE CONFEDERATE PARTICIPATION TROPHIES FOR ALL TO SEE!
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) August 31, 2017
$1 – white guy
$5 – white guy
$10 – white guy
$50 – white guy
$100 – white guy
"Let's do Harriet Tubman on $20."
"STOP ERASING WHITE GUYS" https://t.co/j7osOBW2Kg
— Charles Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) August 31, 2017
As Mnuchin’s comments drew a lot of attention from the media, West Wing and Scandal star Joshua Malina had a potential temporary solution.
— 🌎Joshua Malina🌎 (@JoshMalina) August 31, 2017
People, it seemed, approved.
— Weezie, Esq. ⚖️ (@KatyKat530) August 31, 2017
— sandra (@Sandranolen3) August 31, 2017
I work at a tourist laden museum, this could be a tall order… but I'm up to the challenge.
— Lauren Milberger (@LaurenMilberger) August 31, 2017
Son asked for a $20 for dinner.
He got my first #Tubman.
— Marguerite (@margcellent) August 31, 2017
— Victoria Burke (@victoriaburke) August 31, 2017
Meanwhile, on Hot Take Island…
This is an opinion:
Ronald Reagan deserves to be on $20 bill more than Harriet Tubman.
Why not do the right thing rather than the pc thing?
— Philip Schuyler (@FiveRights) August 31, 2017
The Takeaway: Actually, maybe there’s another option.
They should just put Obama on the $20 bill instead and see how many Republican heads will explode.
— Andeavor (@andeavorable) August 31, 2017
Sign o’ the Times
What Happened: Opinions! They’re just like elbows, amirite? Weird, lumpy, and probably not all deserving of wider attention in the pages—print or virtual—of esteemed national institutions.
What Really Happened: Ah, the opinion pages. Where the reputation of a newspaper goes to die, and the high standards of objective reporting get overwritten in the public’s mind by pieces penned with the objective of being outspoken, partisan, and, more often than not, highly controversial. Case in point:
Wow, the NYT opinion section is KILLING IT today. pic.twitter.com/9RiCEioix4
— Erik Hinton (@erikhinton) August 30, 2017
Oh, New York Times, what are you doing? Actually, no need to ask, Twitter is here to explain.
Having Prince write @nytopinion piece promoting his mercenaries in Afghanistan is like having Charles Manson write on prison reform. WTH?
— Shiva Balaghi (@SBalaghi) August 30, 2017
— Emma Vigeland (@EmmaVigeland) August 30, 2017
don't miss the upcoming NYT Opinion piece from Jared Fogle arguing for lowering the age of consent https://t.co/ujjclk9o2D
— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) August 30, 2017
It's a genuinely newsworthy question whether @nytopinion took money from Prince's company to publish this, imo.
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) August 30, 2017
At least white dudes are finally getting a voice in the NYT opinion pages. pic.twitter.com/db9vzggZiu
— Adam Smith (@asmith83) August 30, 2017
If there was one upside from this public display of scorn and disapproval, it’s seeing Twitter come up with its own bad ideas for Times op-eds.
— Dave Lozo (@davelozo) August 30, 2017
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) August 30, 2017
Let’s hear him out pic.twitter.com/lrFQwgbaxG
— Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono) August 30, 2017
Weird one in the NYT this morning pic.twitter.com/FMzf131COS
— luke oneil 🚽 (@lukeoneil47) August 30, 2017
— Laura Stupple 🌹 (@StuppleLaura) August 30, 2017
Wow. Damning. pic.twitter.com/Y261ckncSQ
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) August 30, 2017
The Takeaway: Still, it’s not like it could be worse, right?
NYT OPINION: we are going to post some insanely dumbass shit today folks
WAPO OPINION: u are like a tiny baby watch this https://t.co/3Kdax2HPTZ
— KRANG T. NELSON (@KrangTNelson) August 30, 2017
Really, by this point, we should know better than to ask.