"Oh God. Anthony Weiner."
Greetings ye Newshounds of the Night! Ye PR Poltergeists, Social Media Succubi, and Journalistic Jabberwockys: As the season of ghosts, goblins, and glib alliteration unfolds. the Muck Rack Monster Squad, wishes you a safe and scary All Hallow's Eve. There are only a few hours left before we replace our Jack O'Lanterns with more noble and distinguished decorative gourds and delete the spooky puns fom our Twitter names, may they rest in peace.
But the nightmare won't end tonight—alas, there are still be eight more days before we can finally close the book on 2016's real American Horror Story: The Presidential Election.
Here's the latest from the frontlines of a barbaric battle that's mades Freddy Vs Jason and Alien Vs Predator look as harmless as "boxers vs briefs."
And speaking of men's underwear...
"Oh God. Anthony Weiner."
That was Vice President Joe Biden's response when asked on CNN about FBI director James Comey's statement—made just 11 days before the election—that during an investigation into disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, his agency had discovered emails that possibly-conceivably-but-who-knows-for-sure have something (or nothing!) to do with the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server... maybe.
Despite the near-total lack of details surrounding the content of the emails—not to mention the lack of evidence of wrongdoing or even any clarity around what this theoretical wrongdoing might amount to—Donald Trump was quick to pounce on the revelations on Twitter and at a rally in Golden, Colorado where according to Politico's Ben Schreckinger he told the crowd that "the evidence [against Hillary Clinton] as I would imagine is so overwhelming."
Trump wasn't the only one using his "imagination" this weekend. Gaze in wonderment at the cover of Saturday's New York Post and howl—either with laughter or despair, depending on whom you support. "This election guys, I can't," tweeted NBCNews' Louis Ortiz in response to the cover which—in addition to including the word "Dickileaks" <shudder>—makes the baseless claim that the "Weiner sex probe found dirt on Hill," even though at that point Comey hadn't even secured warrants for the communications that might-could-hypotheoretically-mayhaps be relevant to Hillary, let alone indicative of "dirt." The cover also includes the phrase, "Stroking Gun" which, despite being a marginally better penis pun than "Dickileaks," strongly implies (by evoking the "smoking gun" cliche) that the Weiner link has already revealed proof that Hillary committed wrongdoing. "WOW," tweeted the self-described former journalist @therealmirman. "Just how much incorrect information can they fit on one cover???!"
"Dickileaks" wasn't the only high-profile, bottom-of-the-barrell, and pretty much nonsensical "joke" about Anthony's Weiner. According to Buzzfeed's John Stanton, Trump told a crowd outside his rally in Denver, "The emails are on Anthony Weiner's ... wherever." Huh? So where's the secret Benghazi file? "In my pants"?
"Because of course."
There is a phrase you could add to the end of just about every story written about the 2016 election and it would make sense (And It's not "In my pants.") It's "Because of course," which accurately captures the vibe felt by many journalists in this election: that despite how insane and unprecedented this election has been, there's a sense of predictability surrounding the depths of moral turpitude on display in so many stories this season and the ethical bar that has been set so low that nothing shocks us anymore. Today's "because of course" story comes from Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald. MTV's Jamil Smith describes it succintly but with fitting exasperation: "Trump’s companies destroyed emails in defiance of court orders, because of course."
"I have no idea that by noon tomorrow she will be gone."
"Completely heartbreaking." "Beautiful." "Crying at my desk." These are just a few of the responses to a deeply affecting piece by CNN's Brianna Keilar about coping with her mother's death while on the campaign trail. We already knew Keilar was tough: She was the journalist who kept her composure and wouldn't back down during an instantly infamous interview with a Trump surrogate who insisted, against all evidence at the time, that Trump was losing. (This should jog your memory: "You guys are down. And it makes sense that there would—" "Says who?" "Polls. Most of them. All of them?" <excruciatingly long pause> "Says who?"). But we most of us had no idea just how strong. In May, Keilar's mother was rushed to the hospital for what appeared to be an infection. But it wasn't an infection; it was acute leukemia. Covering the election obviously took a backseat to this family emergency, and so Keilar immediately began booking flights and preparing her trip home. "I steel myself for her long cancer battle," Keilar writes. "I have no idea that by noon tomorrow she will gone."
(The story is part of a great series on CNN called "The Girls on the Bus" which—having taken its name from a 1972 book about campaign journalism called, "The Boys on the Bus"—reflects both the more balanced gender demographics of politics reporters compared to the 70s, but also the challenges and prejudices women in journalism still face today).
"This is a very difficult piece to write."
Okay, just one more politics story I promise (speaking of Halloween, this election season is becoming a more arduous ordeal to take than one of those extreme Japanese or French torture-horror films like Audition or Martyrs). In an op-ed for The Washington Post, former Attorney General under President Obama Eric Holder continues the Democratic Party's full-court press against James Comey, whom they believe made a "serious error with potentially severe implications" by sending a letter to Congress just 11 days before the election citing the possibility of new information potentially relevant to the Hillary Clinton email investigation—but without stating whether or not there's any evidence of wrongdoing to be found. Holder knows and respects Comey, he says, calling him a "good man. " Nevertheless, Holer writes, "It is incumbent upon [Comey] — or the leadership of the department — to dispel the uncertainty he has created before Election Day. It is up to the director to correct his mistake — not for the sake of a political candidate or campaign but in order to protect our system of justice and best serve the American people." It's a strong point and one that's well-argued. However, even among journalists who agree in a broad sense with Holder's assessment and recommendation he puts forth, some aren't buying his sanctimonious, supposedly "nonpartisan" tone—certainly not the New York Times' Binyamin Appelbaum, who tweets, "This is brutal, but premise that FBI has some kind of sterling reputation for being apolitical is... ahistorical."
This is your brain. This is your brain on Halloween
Now that the frightening, disturbing stuff is out of the way... Let's talk about Halloween!
At NPR, UC-Berkeley psychology professor Tania Lombrozo pulls from decades of research to explore what Halloween can tell us about the human brain, from how we choose to make "immoral" decisions (like stealing candy) to how children develop their belief systems (in regard to both religion and politics). Who knew you could learn so much from a bunch of miniature sugar enthusiasts dressed like scary monsters and super creeps?
Business Insider has a fun listicle that reveals each state's favorite candy across America. The researchers say they interviewed 40,000 people, but I have to question the methodology of a survey that found Sweet Tarts to be anybody's favorite candy, let alone New Yorkers.'
And finally, this is from the 90s but is still one of the funniest Halloween sketches of all time: Mr. Show's Bob Odenkirk and David Cross answer the question that's been burning a hole in your brain but that you were too afraid to ask: "What really goes on at those parties described in the song "Monster Mash"? Werewolves and vampires and mummies hanging out like it's no big deal? I don't think so...