September 13, 2018

#126 Alex Jones Dramageddon

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Episode Notes

We're back this week with a Yes Yes No. Alex takes PJ and Alex Blumberg through Alex Jones's visit to the Senate. And producer Anna Foley helps us unpack the scandal that's engulfed Beauty YouTube.

Alex Jones tweet
Beautube tweet

Transcript

CORRECTION: When broadcast, this podcast mistakenly referred to Representative Billy Long (R-MO) as a senator. This transcript includes his proper title. Ok, enjoy!


PJ VOGT: From Gimlet, this is Reply All. I’m PJ Vogt.


ALEX GOLDMAN: And I’m Alex Goldman. 


ALEX GOLDMAN: Welcome once again to, "Yes, Yes, No" the segment on the show where our boss Alex Blumberg comes to us with things that he does not comprehend on the Internet and we try to explain them to him. 


ALEX BLUMBERG: I’m here again.


ALEX GOLDMAN: Alex, what do you have for us this week?

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: So, are you ready?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN & PJ: Yes.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: All right. Here is a tweet (laughs). It's a tweet from a person named Charlie Sykes who has a blue check next to his name. The caption is, "Kind of amazed this PR campaign wasn't enough to save Alex Jones on Twitter." And then there's a black and white portrait-looking fancy photograph shot of- I guess- I believe this is–I think this is Alex Jones. 


I wouldn't have known that if Alex Jones wasn't in the caption, but I think it's Alex Jones. And it looks like sort of like a Nike promotional poster, and it says, "Believe in everything. Even if it means the frogs are gay." And then there's the Nike swoosh (laughs). And then it just says, "Just do it." And that, that tweet has 127 retweets and 604 likes.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: You really didn't know that was Alex–Alex Jones?

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: I- I–I think I would have at this point–like I think Alex Jones has like crested into the popular mainstream enough so that now I think I recognize him. He looks- he looks very–he's like a very nondescript-looking, sort of like, he has a very very–he's like a beefy jolly white guy.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: He looks like piece of clay.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: He looks like, like yeah, he looks like a lots of other gentlemen of his age–

 

PJ: I just want to point out that you guys are saying two very different things. Alex Blumberg is saying he looks like a lot of middle aged white men and you're saying he looks like a piece of clay (laughs).

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Like an unformed piece of clay!

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yeah, no, they're same thing.

 

PJ: One is how a serial killer describes one of his victims.


ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing).

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: You're looking a lot like a piece of clay to me right now–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yeah–

 

PJ: That's very scary.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: So, Alex Blumberg, do you understand this tweet?

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh, no. No, I don't understand this tweet–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: PJ Vogt, do you understand this tweet?

 

PJ: Yes. Alex Goldman, do you understand this tweet?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: I sure do.

 

PJ: (sighs)

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: All right then.

 

PJ: We're home.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Off once again. (sing songey) Doo doo doodle loodle loo doo doo doo, doo doo doodle loodle loo do do do.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: What is happening?

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: I'm playing us into the segment.

 

PJ: Wait so do you fully not understand this tweet? Do you understand–like are you at zero on this?

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Well I know who Alex Jones is. I know that he's the guy- because of–because of you, I know that he is the nutcase behind Infowars. But I don't know the Nik- I don't under- I–well I mean the Nike thing probably refers to Colin Kaepernick, right?


PJ: Yes!

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yes.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: All right–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: OK–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Good Work.

 

PJ: This is one where I actually feel like you do mostly know it and it's just–but I'm kind of excited to explain it because it's one of those things where like the details are really, really, really profoundly enjoyable. Like I, like I feel like this has been a thing that I've enjoyed on the Internet more than anything in a while.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.

 

PJ: So...uh...who's starting this? Should I start this?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah, start.

 

PJ: OK. So, so Nike just like unveiled that- uh, since Colin Kaepernick’s NFL contract wasn’t renewed, Nike had actually kept their endorsement deal with him and they launched this whole thing where it was like, they're building their next ad campaign around him. And conservatives were pissed off. Like people were like–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Wait, Nike was doing- th- this was–they were saying this but they hadn't done anything yet? Or they knew–

 

PJ: They'd kept it a secret and then this week they were just like, boom. Like there was a giant billboard in downtown San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick. It's like, he's the face of their next campaign.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: And the, and the tagline is, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." Which is directly a shot at the NFL.

 

PJ: Yes.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Which (ALEX BLUMBERG laughing) Nike also has a deal with.

 

PJ: Right.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Which made everybody uncomfortable.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Believe in everything. Believe–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Believe in something.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Believe in something–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG & ALEX GOLDMAN: Even if it means sacrificing everything.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Right–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Got it–

 

PJ: Like do political protests even if you get fired.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right. So that's–right away that's the first, that's the first reference to this. "Believe in everything." So it's the same, it's the same pattern. But except instead of something–

 

PJ: But Nike didn't say, "Even if it means the frogs are gay."

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.

 

PJ: And I actually–I don't know "the frogs are gay" thing–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Oh, we'll get to it.

 

PJ: OK. OK. OK. (ALEX BLUMBERG laughs) So this is like the part that I have just enjoyed like obscenely, obscenely, obscenely much. The Senate convened these hearings this week where they were dragging- it was like–it was like Twitter, Facebook and they were dragging all the technology executives from these companies in and just like officially it was supposed to be about–what was it officially?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: The–it was supposed to be about what they're doing to prepare for election interference in the midterms.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.

 

PJ: But it was like, it was both like foreign election interference and bias? The bias part of it, is a good part. The bias part is like Twitter will try to do something to curb like the most insane egregious abuses on the platform. 


It’ll affect some conservative Twitter users, and the story will be like, "Twitter is banning conservatives! Twitter is banning conservatives!" And that was like one of the things they wanted to talk about.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Got it. OK.

 

PJ: And this is where things like got very, very good.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: At the hearing.

 

PJ: (whispers) Yes!

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: OK–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah–

 

PJ: So all these Republican–like these serious-minded Republican politicians, like Marco Rubio, are sort of like, you know, talking about the importance of the public square and free speech. And do we want to have a country where, you know, people don't have the right to say anything they want? And the platforms just screw everything up. Like that sort of stuff.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yeah.

 

PJ: But the problem was that Alex Jones and Laura Loomer. Do you know who Laura Loomer is?

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: No.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: She's this far right provocateur who delights in like st–in like ambushing people. I probably remember her best for, last summer, there was a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, where Caesar was like sort of a Trump figure who wore a suit.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh huh.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: And she jumped onstage, uh, during a performance, and started shouting, “You guys are ISIS!”

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Woah.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah.

 

PJ: So, so, whatever. Like, Laura Loomer and Alex Jones are not- they're not–they're not like good behavers. Like they are, they are people who like disrupting things. And so, like–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: So here we are in the Senate hearing.

 

PJ: Yes, where they're trying to have th–this like high-minded conversation about freedom of speech, and why would you ever like ban anybody from getting to have their say. And then Alex Jones and Laura Loomer are there, like screaming the whole time, disrupting the things in a way that is like- it's- i- i- i–it's like watching bad Internet behavior actually come to life. Like, it's like, this is what it's like, you guys.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Wow.

 

PJ: So–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: I have–yeah that Laura Loomer video.

 

PJ: Yeah, you have it?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah.

 

PJ: Can I see it too?

 

CHAIRMAN: Regular order. Order. [pounding gavel] We'll have order in the hearing room.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Oh, before we start this, I just need to give a little background, which is that Laura Loomer was verified on Twitter and her verification was removed at some point over the past, I think, year. And this has become, like, the ultimate bee in her bonnet, like, the ultimate silencing of conservatives, delegitimization tactic and she's furious about it.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: And wh–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: And that's part of why she's in here.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: And why was her verification removed?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: I th–

 

PJ: Twitter has this weird thing where they're like, "Verification's just about saying you are who you say you are." But then every once in a while people will point out that actually it makes a person seem more legitimate. And so, sometimes when they've given checkmarks to people who act very, very badly, they will find grounds to take the check mark down.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh huh–

 

PJ: But it's a really inconsistent policy. It pisses people off. And also–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: And they're pretty opaque about why they do it.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right–

 

PJ: And it also does not matter at all. Like there's no [ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.] like special airport lounge you get to go to, as far as I know.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: (laughs) Right. You haven't been hanging out in the check mark lounge–?

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Are you guys verified?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yes–

 

PJ: Yeah, it's great.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: OK, awesome.

 

PJ: I get hot towels delivered to my bed every single morning.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG & ALEX GOLDMAN: (laughing)

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: OK. All right. So she- she- sh- which I- well I under–like you're like, "Wait, why is my blue checked? I am Laura Loomer. It's not like somebody pretending to be me."

 

PJ: Right–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Which is what the blue check is supposed to be about.

 

PJ: Right. And like by–Twitter taking it away is them being like, "We also think that blue check mark denotes quality, whether we'll admit it or not. And maybe we don't want to direct like new users to Laura Loomer because she says things that are paranoid and untrue like very frequently."

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right. And because of, I guess behavior that we're about to witness.

 

PJ: Yes–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: All right. [video plays] So Laura Loomer's just standing there in the back of the room, screaming.

 

CHAIRMAN: Regular order. Order. [voices in the background] [pounding gavel] We'll have order in the hearing room, or you will be asked to leave.

 

ALEX: And she’s holding a cell phone on a pink selfie stick, filming herself.

 

CHAIRMAN: You’ll, ma'am, if you’ll please take a seat, or we'll have to have you–then you'll need to leave.

 

LAURA LOOMER: President Donald Trump. Help us. Please help us, Mr. President before it is too late. Because Jack Dorsey is trying to influence the election–

  

REPRESENTATIVE BILLY LONG: Huh? What'd she say? I can't understand her. What?

 

LAURA LOOMER: Steal the election! That is why he is censoring and shadow banning...

 

REPRESENTATIVE LONG: How about...fifteen...seven and a half...thirty. Up thirty dollar down, here two and half, five, thirty five, seven and a half, forty...five, forty five...

 

PJ: So the senator just starts doing auctioneering to drown her out.


REPRESENTATIVE LONG: (auctioneering)


ALEX GOLDMAN: So Billy Long, the guy who's, who's, doing the auctioneering right now, actually owns an auction house.


ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughs)

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: And auctions on the side.

 

PJ: Oh, I didn't know that because he's [ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah.] really, really good at it.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: He’s–


ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing) Yeah–


ALEX GOLDMAN: So let's continue because it's amazing. 


 

REPRESENTATIVE LONG: (auctioneering) And four, four and a quarter, four and a half..We’re selling a cell phone there. Four and a quarter, four half–

  

PJ: He's, he's auctioning her cell phone off.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughs)

 

REPRESENTATIVE LONG: I yield back.

 

[laughter and applause]

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh my god.

 

PJ: So it–so like in that moment it's great because they're trying to have like an informed public discussion [ALEX BLUMBERG: Mhm.] that should be happening. You have a person who's just chiming in with their stupid issue, being totally disruptive, trying to hijack it. 


ALEX BLUMBERG: And then the hearing then, of course, just totally changed trajectory, I'm assuming, because everybody couldn't avoid the irony.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN & PJ: No.

 

PJ: (laughs) No, no. It was still, it was still like–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: And then they just went right back.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: It was, it was very staid prepared remarks. (ALEX BLUMBERG: laughs) Everybody had an agenda that they were addressing. [ALEX BLUMBERG: OK.] Nothing changed. 

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: No irony was noted.

 

PJ: And that was like–that was not my favorite part. My favorite part was the next–do you–Alex, do you have the CNN clip? Can you get the one of Marco Ru–Rubio?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah.

 

PJ: OK. So, (whispers) oh my god, it's so good–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Wait, so, there's a better moment?

 

PJ: Yeah there's a better moment.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, totally–

 

PJ: There's a significantly better moment.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: (whispers) Wow. OK–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: So Alex Jones was also in the room but he did not–he didn't stand up and–

 

PJ: He didn't do the stand up yelling thing. Apparently he was like broadcasting a little bit. But like quietly, like, he was like, holding up his phone and being like, (whispers) "I'm at the thing and they're being bad." Or whatever but he wasn't doing the (ALEX GOLDMAN laughs) active screaming.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: As a Alex Jones impression, that was pretty bad.

 

PJ: He's significantly louder than that. But so he- the–his technique was that he would wait until people were in the hallways, and when somebody was being interviewed by a reporter, he would just like jump into the conversation.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Mhm, kind of sidle up next to them and do his- a- he- be–with his own crew filming him and then he would harass them.

 

PJ: But the–so Marco Rubio gets asked this question by CNN, and the answer he's trying to give is to say like, "We have, you know, we have serious questions about Twitter and whether there–whether it's true free speech or whether they're censoring conservative voices." And as he's doing it, Alex Jones just like starts in on him.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: All right.

 

PJ: Tilt it, and full screen it.

 

MARCO RUBIO: I think it's important for them not to comply with any efforts to sort of go after freedom of expression–

 

ALEX JONES: What about the democrats purging conservatives?

 

MARCO RUBIO: The- the-

 

ALEX JONES: He's not answering them.

 

PJ: He's standing like a–six inches away from him. 

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: There's his, there's his finger.

 

MARCO RUBIO: This is weird, man.

 

ALEX JONES: Oh yeah, it's really weird. There's no purge of conservatives? There's no shadow banning?

 

MARCO RUBIO: Who is this guy?

 

REPORTER: Are you concerned about bias in social media?

 

MARCO RUBIO: Huh?

 

ALEX JONES: Now who's this guy? We need platforming.

 

REPORTER: Are you concerned about bias in social media?

 

MARCO RUBIO: Well I think the bigger bias is against freedom of expression. Everybody should be- there's a- there's a- look I–I support going after–

 

ALEX JONES: It's happening here. It's happening here. But you say I don't exist.

 

MARCO RUBIO: Is that a heckler press gaggle?

 

ALEX JONES: Look at this guy. He's saying that I don't exist and–

 

MARCO RUBIO: I just don't know who you are, man. I don't read your websites. So let me–

 

ALEX JONES: Sure. And they demonize me in these very hearings and then he plays dumb.

 

REPORTER: Here's the question–

 

ALEX JONES: Infowars.com, you know what it is. Oh, well. 

 

REPORTER: Do you- do think that–does Google, does Facebook, does Twitter–

 

ALEX JONES: That's why you didn't get elected, because you're snake-like.

 

REPORTER: Do they need to be regulated like- like- do- do they need to be regulated–

 

ALEX JONES: Marco Rubio the snake!

 

PJ: OK, wait pause it. [video stops] OK, this is an important moment. The whole time he's been refusing to look over at him and refusing to make eye contact and he's sort of like, Rubio's trying like smirk Jones away.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.

 

PJ: And then like he makes the Internet mistake, which is, like, he starts engaging directly with him. [ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh oh.] Like he turns to him and he says, "Who are you?"

 

MARCO RUBIO: All right, man.

 

ALEX JONES: Yeah, yeah. 

 

MARCO RUBIO: Who are you?

 

ALEX JONES: Yeah, sure.

 

MARCO RUBIO: Who is this guy? I swear to God, I don't know who you are, man. Who is this guy?

 

ALEX JONES: Yeah, you'd better hope [indistinct] platforming. Tens of millions of views.

 

REPORTER: Infowars! Infowars!

 

ALEX JONES: Better than Rush Limbaugh. He knows who Infowars is. Playing this joke over here. That's why the deplatforming didn’t work–

 

PJ: And then he pats him on the back. He pats Rubio. 

 

MARCO RUBIO: Don't touch me again, man. I'm asking you not to touch me.

 

ALEX JONES: Well sure, I just patted you nicely.


MARCO RUBIO: I know, but I don't want to be tou–I don't know you, man. [ALEX JONES: Oh, you want me to get arrested?] I don't know who you are. [ALEX JONES: It's not just good enough to take away my first amendment?] You're not going to arrested, man. [ALEX JONES: It's not just enough to take my first amendment?] You're not going to get arrested. I'll take care of it myself.

 

PJ: Pause that.

 

ALEX JONES: Oh, he'll beat me up?


[video stops]

 

PJ: He literally said, "I'll take care of it myself." And Jones is like, "He'll beat me up!" And like, he's right. That is like–Marco Rubio is threatening to–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: It's like a real–it's like a real time, live action, trolling unfolding.

 

PJ: (whispers) Yes!

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: It really reminds–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: He's taking his like, his like techniques that have been honed over years on, on social media and he's just like bringing them- he’s like–

 

PJ: To real life.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: To real life. In front of–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: You guys don't have older siblings, right?

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh my god.

 

PJ: I am an older sibling.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yes–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Because it really reminds- it's- this is like- it really–it gives me PTSD about, "I'm not touching you."

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh my god!

 

PJ: Yes. Yea, yea, yeah.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: It's so, "I'm not touching you."

 

PJ: OK.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yeah–

 

PJ: Keep playing it.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: I'm just putting my arm here!

 

ALEX JONES: I know, I am but he's so mad. You're not going to silence me. You're not going to silence America.

 

REPORTER: Well but there are–but there are peop–

 

ALEX JONES: You are like–you are literally like a little gangster thug.


ALEX BLUMBERG: (gasp)

 

REPORTER: There are people in this country–

 

ALEX JONES: Rubio just threatened physically take care of me.

 

REPORTER: There are people who feel [ALEX JONES: Look at that.] that they are being that they are being silenced–

 

ALEX JONES: Well you already got rid of my first amendment. He tells you that China is a problem, which it is, but they're taking our free speech right now.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: So- so–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh my god–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: He's not in frame but Alex Jones is now speaking to the camera, the CNBC camera. And talking about China for some reason. It is a real stream of consciousness, sort of odd situation going on–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: And the- and- and- just the– the–well you just stopped the video and the expression on Rubio's face is just, like it's just, he's cycling through, you can tell, him cycling through all the thoughts that you have, which is sort of like, "What do I do?"

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah, it's like exhaustion and anger–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: "What do I do?"

 

PJ: Yeah.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Why is this guy- wh–I can't engage. I can't–I want to fucking, I do, like you just–he's like, he's turning himself–and you just want to like punch him.

 

PJ: Yes. That is all–like his whole body is just like, he wants to punch him. [ALEX BLUMBERG: Yeah.] He looks like he's been sitting on like a Greyhound bus with no air conditioning next to Alex Jones (ALEX BLUMBERG laughs) for like 10 hours.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN & ALEX BLUMBERG: (laugh)

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: It's true. And Alex Jones created that feeling in like 10 seconds.

 

PJ: Yes. Yeah, yes–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: That is a powerful and horrible superpower. 

 

REPORTER: Media platforms, Facebook.

 

ALEX JONES: There goes Rubio.

 

REPORTER: Do you believe that these, these platforms need to be regulated like a public utility and how do you go about doing that?

 

MARCO RUBIO: Well I'd prefer not to. I'd prefer competition take care of that. But obviously we're going to watch closely to make sure that these tools that are being used–I mean one thing is to say we're going to go after foreign interference designed to sew instability–


ALEX JONES: But it's already going on here.


MARCO RUBIO: Another thing is to say we're going to go after free speech– 


ALEX JONES: The Democrats are raping Republicans– 


MARCO RUBIO: Because at some point someone has to make a determination–


ALEX JONES: The Democrats are raping Infowars–


MARCO RUBIO: What's the difference between, you know, misinformation from abroad and differences of opinion within the United States–


ALEX JONES: Yeah and that's happening here–


MARCO RUBIO: It's a very fine line. And that's something we need to be careful about we don't overreach in that direction.


ALEX JONES: But then he doesn't know about Infowars, big man–


MARCO RUBIO: So these companies have to be very careful about they–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh my god.

 

MARCO RUBIO: Not just how they, how they apply within the United States.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: That's so annoying.

 

MARCO RUBIO: But they don't become agents of authoritarian regimes.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN & PJ: He just said the name of his website again.

 

MARCO RUBIO: [ALEX JONES commenting in the background] Free speech because there's a- there's a–there's a balance between what is free speech and what people disagree on. 


REPORTER: During the hearing–


RUBIO STAFF: I’m sorry, we gotta go.


MARCO RUBIO: Yeah, I've got to go to the committee. You guys can talk to this clown.

 

ALEX JONES: Oh yeah, ha, ha, ha. [indistinct] little frat boy, so cool. Go back to your bathhouse. Compromise at the bathhouses. There goes Rubio, little punk.

 

PJ: (whispers) Wow. Because, you understand, like, literally, literally Rubio is trying to defend people like Alex Jones being allowed to be on Twitter and Alex Jones is like putting on a perfect, perfect demonstration of the problem. And Rubio also, like to his credit, does a pretty good job of still answering the question.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: He did–yeah, I know. 


ALEX GOLDMAN: And the context of, of this specific outrage of Alex Jones is, is that sort of at the beginning of August simultaneously a lot of platforms banned him.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Facebook took him down. YouTube took him down.

 

PJ: Who was the first one?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Stitcher, actually.

 

PJ: Stitcher, right.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Stitcher, Stitcher, the podcast platform, was like, "We're just not going to host Alex Jones, anymore. We don't have any reason to. There's nothing that says we don't–we have to–”

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: “So we're not going to.”

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.

 

PJ: And then like Spotify did–jumped in?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Spotify did it, iTunes did it, Facebook and YouTube. And, I mean, Facebook and YouTube were huge drivers of traffic. There's a New York Times article that said that his website visits are down by half since this happened.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Wow.

 

PJ: So the thing that is insane is Alex Jones over like the past few years has gone from like the, oh that guy who doesn't believe September 11th was like a real thing to like somebody who has like a huge audience, who does things that are like pretty undeniably like damaging. 


You know like saying that school shootings are hoaxes because the government wants to steal your guns. And then his followers will call the parents who've lost their kids in the shootings and be like, "Why are you participating in this government cover up? We know your kid's just an actor." Like, stuff like that. 

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Woah.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: There- there was a- there were–two parents are actually suing him right now because they were getting death threats from Alex Jones supporters and they said they had to move seven times to get away from his followers and they now live in like this gated community in order to avoid them.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: (whispers) Really?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah.

 

PJ: And the whole time it has felt like, at some point, if a line was ever going to be drawn like, why hasn't it been. Like, like at a certain point you're like, yeah free speech, free speech, but this is like, this is like, inciting behavior and the behavior is really bad.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.

 

PJ: And in te–and I think all the tech companies were scared that if they made the first move they would get all the crap thrown at them–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Mhm.

 

PJ: And so like, yeah, a few months ago, they all were like, "You know what? We don't want this. You're out of here." Except Twitter. [ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.] Twitter was like, "We don't want bias. We don't want to make decisions about what's good or bad, like we have policies, but he hasn't violated our policies. He'll get a warning like everybody else. And like, it was like his last refuge.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh huh.

 

PJ: And then these Senate hearings happened, and he went down to D.C., and he screamed at a bunch of politicians and he screamed at Jack Dorsey, like in person. And then Twitter was like, "You know what?"

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: The next day he was gone.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughs).

 

PJ: You're out of here.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah, they banned him from [indistinct].

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Wow.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Do you think he–do you think it was because like Jack Dorsey just like–

 

PJ: Had had enough? Or didn't like being yelled at–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Or just–or just got it in person?

 

PJ: I don't know.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Like–

 

PJ: I don't know. And, and what Twitter officially said was, "He's done a bunch of things. But, in this case, because a lot of the times when Alex Jones–" Alex Jones screamed at many more people in the hallway–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yeah–

 

PJ: Over the course of this. And when he was doing it, he was broadcasting live video using Periscope, which is a Twitter app. And so they were like, "You're engaging in bullying behavior and harassment on our platform, and so we're going to get you for the behavior." 


ALEX BLUMBERG: Mhm.


PJ: But he–everything that he's done before this, like–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: He did nothing new.

 

PJ: Yeah. They stopped him for jaywalking.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.


PJ: Just to go back to the original tweet though, the thing I don't get is "the frogs are gay."

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yeah. 

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: So th–the tagline here says–what does it say? "Believe everything."

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Believe, believe in everything. "Believe in everything, even if it means the frogs are gay."

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: So Alex Jones seems to believe in a lot of far out stuff. He's a 9/11 truther. He is really obsessed with Bohemian Grove, which is this–

 

PJ: What's Bohemian Grove?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: It's just like this private men's only club in California that's for very, very rich men. And he believes that it's this place where they perform occult rituals. Um, he just has like a lot of very far out beliefs.

 

PJ: Oh wait, can I ask you a question about Alex Jones?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Sure.

 

PJ: Does he, as somebody who's not like a huge Infowars watcher, is it like–does he have like multiple different conspiracy theories that are not all in the same like cinematic universe? You know what I mean? Or is it like they're all–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Are they all connected.

 

PJ: Yeah–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Well they've gotta be all connected–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: I think- I think that there- I think that–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: What's the point? (laughs).

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: The unity of the–the thing that unifies them very loosely is globalism. There's like a cabal of people at the top, the Bilderberg group, the Illuminati, the Freemasons. 

 

PJ: But does he believe in all of them?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: I'm pretty sure he's down with the Freemasons and the Bil–definitely the Bilderberg group.

 

PJ: OK.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: And they, they are all pulling the strings on all–on like international conflicts and, you know, keeping people placated with, you know, um, chemtrails and things like that.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Chemtrails.

 

PJ: Keeping people placated with chemtrails?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: The whole th–do you even know what chemtrails are supposed to be?

 

PJ: No. No–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Oh, boy. Guys!

 

PJ & ALEX BLUMBERG: (laugh)

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: You know the jet streams you see across the sky when a jet flies across the sky?

 

PJ: Yeah.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yeah.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: That's not just a jet stream that's chemicals being dropped by the government to keep us–to placate us, to keep us calm.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: I do–that's why I feel so much calmer when I see a jet fly overhead.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN & PJ: (laugh)

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Anyway, all of that brings us to a long-running conspiracy, which is grounded, in fact, that the government- the government wanted- so–OK here are two facts that Alex Jones spins into what you're about to see. Are you ready–?

 

PJ: Real facts–?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: These are real facts–

 

PJ: Or "Wake up, sheeple" facts–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Real facts.

 

PJ: OK.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: At one point, the government was trying to create a bomb that would relea–that would cause people to become uncontrollably sexually aroused and have sex with one another.

 

PJ: No they weren't.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah, it's true.

 

PJ: No, it isn't.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: It was like- it was–it was hypothetical. It was like a thing that they discussed as a possibility and it was in declassified documents.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: What year?

 

PJ: What year?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Let me–hold on just a second. [typing] Gay bomb.

 

PJ: Gay bomb? (laughs)

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughs)

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Uh, gay bomb. Uh, let's see, do, do, de. Leaked documents. Let's see here.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh my god, this wik–this Wikipedia page. There must be like five volunteer Wikipedia editors on this page alone (PJ laughs) working day and night.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Uh, give me just a moment. The U.S. Air Force had asked in 1994 for seven point five million dollars–

 

PJ: 1994?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: To develop a bomb containing a powerful aphrodisiac chemical that would cause homosexual behavior to affect discipline and morale in enemy units.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: A love bomb.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: So, wait, how, how far into development did the, did the–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: It was- it was like- [ALEX BLUMBERG: Did the love bomb get?] can we have- I think–as I understand it was like, "Can you have some money to make a gay bomb?" And the Pentagon was like, "No. No, you can't."

 

PJ: And who was, who was asking?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: You guys are asking me a lot of questions that–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Well I have a lot of questions–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: The U.S. Air Force's Wright Laboratory in Ohio asked for 1990–asked [ALEX BLUMBERG: (coughs) Ohio.] in 1994 for seven point five million dollars to develop a bomb containing a powerful aphrodisiac chemical that would cause homosexual behavior.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Why homosexual behavior?

 

PJ: Yeah.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Uh, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Brian Maka told the Agence France-Presse that the DOD never investigated such a concept, rather one individual provided a short concept paper with a wide variety of examples that was rejected. OK? So he wa–

 

PJ: I didn't realize this was such like a spitballing, blue sky–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: So there was like some nutcase, general–


ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah, i- i–it seems like–


ALEX BLUMBERG: Some nutcase homophobic general was like–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: It wasn't even a general. It sounds like it was some fringe laboratory guy who was like, "Hey, alright. So we got to come up with ideas for bombs. Alright, how about like a bomb with bugs in it? How about a bomb with shoes in it, but none of them fit the people who are going to get them–"

 

PJ: They were having one of those meetings where they're like, "There's no bad ideas–"

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: No bad ideas.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG & ALEX GOLDMAN: (laugh)

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: OK, so that's part one.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: You forgot to erase the whiteboard!

 

PJ & ALEX GOLDMAN: (laugh)

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: The second disparate fact is that some scientists discovered that there were some chemicals released into the Potomac River that caused frogs to switch sexes.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right. I remember this too.


ALEX GOLDMAN: OK–

 

PJ: I don't know about this.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: That–there's not much more to it than that.

 

PJ: But was it on–it was just like–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: It was accidental.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Frogs were switching sex. They didn't know why. And they discovered it was like some chemical that was in the water that was causing–disrupting hormone activity and it was like causing like their bodies to like change sex.

 

PJ: Yeah.

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: So those two disparate things, which you have just learned, lead to this.

 

ALEX JONES: If you're a new listener just type in "Pentagon tested gay bomb on Iraq." They consider–no they didn't consider using it. They've used it on our troops. In Vietnam, they'd spray PCP on the troops. Jacob's Ladder. You think PCP? Some horse tranquilizer something? They got stuff that'll whack your brain permanently. Brain chips in the troops. ([PJ laughs)] They give the troops special vaccines–

 

PJ: He, like you, has opened the Wikipedia page for gay bomb. Like, literally, that's what's on the screen.

 

ALEX JONES: Gay bomb. Look it up for yourself. I mean this is what they're–what do you think tap water is? It's a gay bomb, baby.

 

PJ: (laugh)


ALEX BLUMBERG: What? 

 

ALEX JONES: And I'm not saying people didn't naturally have homosexual feelings. I'm not even getting into it. Quite frankly, I mean, give me a break. You think I'm, I'm like all shocked by it, so I'm up here bashing it because I don't like gay people. I don't like'em putting chemicals in the water that turn the friggin' frogs gay! Do you understand that? [banging] Ugh, ugh, ugh! This crap! I'm sick of being socially engineered! It's not funny! [Infowars music]

 

PJ: It's very funny.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Wow.

 

PJ: So is that–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: That's his show all the time?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: He–I think one of the biggest draws is that he is so, so keyed up. All the time–

 

PJ: He takes his shirt off a lot. He like punches things a lot. He kind is like a- he- he- h–all of his performance notes he took from like a WWF, when like, they'd be like, "Jake 'The Snake' Roberts!" But yeah his show–I mean what I've watched of it is like that energy level is normal. I don't know if gay frogs is like–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: That was a moment. I remember it happening–

 

PJ: OK–

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: And people being like, people being like, "Hey, Alex Jones is talking about gay frogs." (ALEX BLUMBERG laughs) And then a couple of years later Donald Trump went on there and was like, “Alex Jones, I will not let you down.”

 

PJ: I also just like the part where he's like, "I know what people are going to say that I'm homophobic." It's like, the conversation people are having with the screen right now is not–

 

ALEX BLUMBERG & ALEX GOLDMAN: (laugh)

 

PJ: Should we return to our tweet?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah, let's do it.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: All right. "Kind of amazed." So it again, tweeter, Charlie Sykes, verified. "Kind of amazed this PR campaign wasn't enough to save Alex Jones on Twitter." And then he has like a, a mocked up sort of reminiscent of the Nike campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, but instead of Colin Kaepernick, it's Alex Jones and instead of it saying, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." The photoshopped Nike campaign with Alex Jones says, "Believe in everything. Even if it means the frogs are gay." And then it says Nike just–and then it's Nike swoosh, "Just do it." 


And, uh, this refers to the fact that, that many people knew that Alex Jones got banned from Twitter, although I certainly did not know the backstory of–that involved all the fireworks at the Senate hearing. And, uh, "the frogs are gay" refers to a- a–one strand of one of his various conspiracy, conspiracy theories that the government is putting chemicals in the water that turns people gay based on research that they did about making a bomb, um, to- to turn- troops to–to set off an aphrodisiac among troops and turn them gay, I guess.

 

PJ: Are we at yes, yes, yes?

 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah, we're at yes, yes, yes.

 

ALEX BLUMBERG: We are at yes, yes, yes. 


[MUSIC: “The Graceful Ape Waltz”] 


ALEX GOLDMAN: Coming up after the break, another Yes Yes No


[BREAK]


ALEX GOLDMAN: Welcome back to the show. Alex, I think you have another Tweet for us? 

ALEX BLUMBERG: So, um, it’s a, it’s a tweet from a user who—whose display name is “Error: Does not Comply to Your Social Norms.” Uh, and so the Tweet—it goes like this. It’s one–it’s one of those Tweets that’s like in the, in the form of like a dialogue where it’s like: name, colon, and then line. And it’s a dialogue between–one, two, three, four–five people. 

OK? So it’s, um, the first name is Gabriel Zamora, says, “I’m sorry if you were offended.” And then Laura Lee says, “I’m from Alabama,” parentheses, “realizes that looks bad.” And then she says, “I didn’t mean I’m from Alabama, I meant I was from a small town in Alabama.” And then next is Nikita Dragun who says, “I’m sorry my tweets were fake.” And then there’s next, Manny MUA, who says, “Kylie Jenner.” And then finally, the final person in this dialogue is Jeffree Star, “laughs.”        

PJ: How many retweets or favorites?

ALEX BLUMBERG: 307 retweets–

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: 2,303 likes. 

ALEX GOLDMAN: (clears throat)

PJ: Oh, man.

ALEX GOLDMAN: OK. PJ Vogt, do you understand this tweet?

PJ: Not at all.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Alex Blumberg, do you understand this tweet?

ALEX BLUMBERG: No.

ALEX GOLDMAN: I don’t understand this tweet either. 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Wait, we’re at no, no, no?

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah–

PJ: We’re at no, no, no. That’s a very grim feeling. 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Um, uh–

PJ: What?

ALEX GOLDMAN: Okay so I’m like not at zero comprehension about this tweet. I do know a little bit. And like, what I know is a couple of the names. 

Like I think I’ve heard Anna, (ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh-huh) Reply All producer Anna Foley, who I sit next to, I think I’ve heard her say the name Jeffree Star, so –

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh you think that she could–

ALEX GOLDMAN: I’m going to go ask her. 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh.


[MUSIC: “Steady Drive”]



ALEX GOLDMAN: Reply All producer Anna Foley.

ANNA FOLEY: Hey guys.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Anna Foley! Are you ready to come on and explain this tweet to me?

ANNA FOLEY: Uh, yeah! I’m going to try. 

ALEX GOLDMAN: So, are you a yes?

ANNA: I am totally a yes.

PJ: Welcome to yes, no, no, no.

ALEX BLUMBERG: I don’t know anything about any of this. Like I don’t know who any of these names are, I don’t know anything that the—I know who Kylie Jenner is. 

ANNA: Okay, yeah. 

ALEX BLUMBERG: And I know about—I know that there’s a state called Alabama. 

ANNA: (Laughs) We’re- uh, yeah. OK. So you have two percent of the tweet. Uh OK so yeah, this has to do with, um, something that’s been going on in the beauty Youtube community.

PJ: And what is the beauty YouTube community? Can you like characterize it? Like what’s it like? 

ANNA: It’s basically just people sitting in their bedrooms, talking to their cameras, doing makeup tutorials. Like how to get the perfect smokey eye. 

ALEX GOLDMAN: OK.

ANNA: Or they do product reviews, like the newest eyeshadow palette that everyone is talking about.

ALEX BLUMBERG: And you— and you watch these videos?

ANNA: I do. Actually, the way I got into them was my 20-year-old sister, who has been watching like the beauty YouTube community for like a decade at this point.

PJ: Wow–

ANNA: Like she has been watching—

ALEX BLUMBERG: Since she was ten?

ANNA: Since she was ten. Like from the beginning, like–

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh my God. Is my daughter going to start watching this soon?

ANNA: I mean, it’s like crazy because like kids now can like do makeup better than I ever will be able to. Like they can do like cut crease eyes. And like they’re—

PJ: What are cut crease eyes?

ANNA: Cut crease is like where you take your eyeshadow and you like have a really, really dark color and you put it in the crease of your eye and then you take a lighter shadow and put that on the lid. So it’s like this really intense—I mean it’s beautiful, it’s a beautiful look, but it’s like really, really hard. Like I feel like I’ve tried to do it maybe a dozen times in my life, and I just like have to like walk away from my mirror like feeling really like a failure, but like twelve-year-olds can do it. 


ALEX BLUMBERG: Mhm.


ANNA: So, this tweet is actually about this major drama that has engulfed the beauty YouTube community in the past month. And I think the person I want to start with is this YouTuber, Jeffree Star. Do you know who Jeffree Star is?

ALEX BLUMBERG: I don’t.


PJ: No.  


ANNA: So, I mean, really all you need to know about Jeffree Star is he's a pretty popular beauty YouTuber. He has millions of subscribers. But I'm actually not a fan of him. Like, I kind of see him as like the Milo Yiannopoulos of beauty YouTube.

ALEX GOLDMAN: (laughs) OK–

ANNA: Just- like–he's not political or anything but he just is so OK with being offensive.


ALEX GOLDMAN: Mhm–


ANNA: Like, there’s this video where strangers on a boardwalk are yelling homophobic things at him and in response he starts slinging racial slurs at them.


PJ: And wh–and do these videos exist because he had filmed them and been like, "look how provocative and edgelord-y I am" and put them online?


ANNA: Mhm. Yeah. So that's Jeffree Star. There's this other YouTuber named Shane Dawson. He's not a beauty YouTuber.


ALEX BLUMBERG: Mhm.


ANNA: He does like more, like, comedy–? 


ALEX GOLDMAN: OK.


ANNA: –stuff on YouTube. He has a huge following and he does this thing where he goes and he hangs out with Jeffree for days. Like, he goes to his office, he dresses in his clothes, he learns all about Jeffree Star's bizarre life. Basically, he just becomes Jeffree.

 

PJ: Got it.


ANNA: Yeah.


ALEX BLUMBERG: OK. 


ANNA: And it's not like just one, stupid little video, it is a five-part documentary.  


ALEX GOLDMAN: Oh (laughs).


PJ: That’s like, what’s-his-name, the guy that writes all the things about–it’s like Robert Caro YouTube. 


ALL: (laugh) 


ALEX BLUMBERG: Like, this is his power–powerbroker. It’s my op–opus.

ANNA: I’ll play you the beginning. The very first part. It is titled: “The Secret World of Jeffree Star.”

[“The Secret World of Jeffree Star”]

ANNA: So, this is Shane.

SHANE DAWSON: OK. Today is such a terrifying day for me. (laughs) The last time I switched lives with somebody it was one of my best friends, Trisha Paytas, so that was kind of easy because I know what to expect.

SHANE (AS TRISHA): My boyfriend cheated, and I’m fucking exposing him!

TRISHA: Oh my god, me!

SHANE: This is different (laughs). Because I’m going to be switching lives with Jeffree Star, who I am terrified of (laughs).

[Cut to footage from Jeffree’s videos. Electronic pop plays over footage.]]

PJ: Just like a montage of Jeffree Star looking like a beautiful Marilyn Manson.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Pink hair, yeah, very Marilyn Manson-y. Yeah.

[“The Secret World of Jeffree Star”

JEFFREE: Wake the fuck up! ]

PJ: I feel a hundred years old.

ANNA: (Laughs)

PJ: I feel like I fell asleep under a large tree, and I woke up and culture is really far. I feel like I’m in Back to the Future 2.

ALEX BLUMBERG: I feel like this is the, this is the episode where I pass the mantle of the no onto you.

PJ: Very possibly.

ANNA: So here you see Jeffree taking Shane through his hot pink mansion and they’re just like planning their day. 

SHANE: What am I doing?
JEFFREE: You’re going to be in full makeup today, we’re gonna do a full day of how I start my day. So full wig, makeup, everything, and then we’re going to the warehouse. I have some meetings scheduled about production plans, for what’s next for my brand... 

ANNA: So that was two minutes of the video. I watched like every single minute of it.

ALEX BLUMBERG: I would- I–I have to say that I would watch that, too.

ANNA: Are you going to watch it after this is over?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Maybe. It’s such a good gimmick too. He shifts- he–he swaps lives with people. That’s such a great idea.

ANNA: Yeah. He like gets a makeup artist to come and like do his makeup, like disguise his eyebrows, because Jeffree doesn’t have eyebrows– 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Mhm.

ANNA: He like goes to his makeup packaging company. He learns how much money Jeffree makes, like Jeffree tells him it’s hundreds of millions of dollars.


PJ: The pitch for this is like, “You know ‘Sixty Minutes’? But also you know the movie Trading Places?”–

ANNA: (Laughs)

PJ: And also, “You know YouTube?”

ALL: (laughs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: That–it’s awesome. That’s amazing.

ANNA: A lot of people watched this documentary. Like, in total, all five parts got 87 million views.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Woah–

PJ: Just like the powerbroker.

ANNA: Um, so Jeffree Star is just kind of like–he was already kind of famous–

ALEX BLUMBERG: Mhm.

ANNA: In the beauty YouTube world, and then is just catapulted to like a different level of fame–

ALEX GOLDMAN: Double super fame.

ANNA: Yeah, and that’s when the rest of the beauty YouTube community is just kind of like, “Woah. Hold on. This person is racist and mean. Why–why is he getting exalted as this like prodigal son of like beauty YouTube? Like why is that happening for him, and–and not us?” So actually the names in this tweet that you brought, Alex. Gabriel Zamora, Manny MUA, Nikita Dragun, Laura Lee. These are all beauty YouTubers.

PJ: Ahh–

ALEX BLUMBERG: Got it–

ANNA: Around the time the Jeffree Starr documentary came out, these four beauty YouTubers are on this makeup brand promotional trip and while they're there, they take this photo that's actually in reference to this viral photo of the Kardashians at Kylie Jenner's 21st birthday. In this photo, the beauty YouTubers are all together, sitting on a couch, giving the camera the middle finger.


PJ: And there’s a caption.


ANNA: And yes, and Gabriel tweets it out, with the caption, “Bitch is bitter because without him we’re doing better.” 

PJ: I feel like I know who they are talking about.

ANNA: Yeah. And suddenly all these fans of Jeffree Star are like calling Gabriel out for obviously shading Jeffree. And so then Gabriel tweets again, saying, “Imagine stanning a racist? I could never.”

PJ: Okay, first they’re being like, “We don’t miss you. Screw you.”  And now they’re being like, “I don’t understand why people would be fans of a racist. Like, I personally wouldn’t, but if you like Jeffree Star, I guess that’s fine.”

ANNA: Right. So, this prompts all of Jeffree Star’s fans to start digging into the past of all the people in these photos.

ALEX BLUMBERG, ALEX GOLDMAN & PJ: Oh, no.

ANNA: Because–

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh...and they left themselves wide open. You opened the door! 

PJ: So who did what? Who did what?

ANNA: Yeah, I mean, they're like kind of asking for it. But the things that are brought up because of this whole thing, like, are not funny at all. Like, Gabriel has used the n-word on Instagram.

ALEX BLUMBERG, ALEX GOLDMAN & PJ: (gasp)

PJ: What is wrong with people?

ANNA: Laura Lee has tweeted this horrible thing about police brutality against black people–

PJ: So they all just have abhorrent- like they're–they have all said like truly awful shit. 


ANNA: Yeah, and like once they're exposed, it doesn't start this like big conversation about like race and social media and like why words matter. It just becomes fodder for this drama that's going on. Like, people start calling it "dramageddon." Um–


PJ: Because it's destroying everybody's YouTube careers at the same time?


ANNA:  And to–to try and save themselves, each one of these beauty YouTubers puts up an apology video.


PJ: I get something about the tweet! The tweet is characterizing their apologies.


ANNA: Yes, yes–


ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh!


ANNA: Yes.


PJ: Do you know about YouTube apology videos?


ALEX BLUMBERG: No.


PJ: Oh!


ANNA: OK. YouTube apology videos are like–like the only way that I think I can describe them is like, “delicious.”


ALEX GOLDMAN: (laughs)


ANNA: Like they are like—they like feed a hunger within me that can’t be fed any other way.

PJ: Can I just say why that they are generally so good in my opinion as well? Like- like I–I started seeing them after the Logan Paul stuff, like his apology videos for like, “Sorry I went to the Suicide Forest and took a video of a corpse and made a joke about it. I guess that was a bad idea.”

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.

PJ: It’s always like this weird combination of like sad piano music and like very like stoic whatever. But like from people that don’t know what good human behavior would actually be. [ALEX BLUMBERG: Right.] And so it’s like- it–they don’t land.

ANNA: (laughs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: It's very transparent. Yes–

ALEX GOLDMAN: But they’re perf–but they’re performers, [ALEX BLUMBERG: Yeah.] so there’s this real performance in it. A staple fr–of the one’s that I’ve seen, is usually the person sits down in front of the camera, (ALEX BLUMBERG laughs) and they go (deep sigh)–

PJ: “Hey guys”–

ALEX GOLDMAN: “OK, guys.”

ALEX BLUMBERG & ANNA: (laugh)

ALEX GOLDMAN: And then they like push their hair back. “I’m not even sure how to begin, but I’m just going to get into it”–

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh my god–

ALEX GOLDMAN: “I owe you an explanation.”

ALEX BLUMBERG: That’s so good. Let’s see the actual one–

ANNA: Alright, so this is Laura Lee’s. It is titled “My Apology.”

[Laura Lee Apology video begins

        LAURA LEE: I want to talk to you guys. ]

PJ, ALEX GOLDMAN & ALEX BLUMBERG: (loud cheering)

ALEX GOLDMAN: I called it!

[Laura Lee Apology Video

LAURA LEE: (crying) This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.]

PJ: She just wiped her eyes as if they had tears, but they don’t have visible tears.

ANNA: She’s not actually crying.

[Laura Lee Apology Video

LAURA LEE: (sobs) I’m so sorry. It hurts me so bad to disappoint you all who have supported me for so many years. I know that I’m better than that person.]

ANNA: She’s sitting on the floor. She’s not wearing any makeup. And she is trying to bawl her eyes out.

LAURA LEE: I hope one day that you guys can see me for the woman that I am. I, six years ago, decided to retweet things that were so vile and hurtful.

ANNA: She says she retweeted racist things. She definitely tweeted them herself. She’s lying.


PJ: So, did that work?


ANNA: So, no.


ALEX GOLDMAN: (laughs)

PJ: Good.

ANNA: People don’t buy this. She actually somehow makes it worse because she also tweets that she’s from Alabama, like as an excuse, and that obviously doesn’t go over well. 

She’s lost a ton of subscribers because of this. I think before dramageddon actually happened, she had close to six million followers. [ALEX GOLDMAN: Woah!] If you look at it now, it’s 4.4 million. She like lost a bunch of brand deals. Like her products were supposed to be in Ulta, the makeup store. They like pulled the line. Like–

PJ: So then did she have to make an apology video for the apology video?

ANNA: She’s been dark since this.


ANNA: This is the last thing she’s put on the Internet since dramageddon.

PJ: So dramageddon did really claim her.

ANNA: Yeah. It actually claims most of the beauty YouTubers in this tweet. Like, every single one of them puts out an apology of some sort. It's actually hard to keep up with all of them because they're coming out so fast. And they're all trying to do the same thing, which is like, not necessarily trying to atone for their sins. Like, they're all trying to pass this test to redeem themselves in the eyes of their fans and the general beauty YouTube community. 

But they all fail in their own special ways, like one of them was just like, "Oh we were just like mimicking Kylie Jenner," and the other one is like, "Those weren't even my tweets. Those tweets are fake." 

The only beauty YouTuber that I think actually passes this test is Gabriel Zamora. He's the one who started this whole thing by tweeting out, "Imagine stanning a racist? I could never." 

The tweet that started this whole thing.

His apology video is 49 minutes long. Let me play you some of it.

[Gabriel Zamora Apology Video

GABRIEL ZAMORA: (Deep sigh) Hi everyone. I’m Gabriel Zamora and thank you for watching. This video is definitely something that I didn’t think I was going to upload, if I’m being quite honest. This isn’t about just my emotions. It’s about me just talking about what happened and clarifying certain things.]

He does a really straight apology, and it actually kind of works. And a lot people watch it, it has over 4 million views.  Gabriel actually ends up gaining followers because of it. Like he’s kind of redeemed in the eyes of the beauty community 


ANNA: Like, by every calculation, this is the gold standard in apology videos.

ALEX BLUMBERG: If you’re–

PJ: If you find yourself–

ALEX BLUMBERG: (Laughing) In apologizing for your racist past.

ANNA: Yes.

PJ: But it’s basically like just like acknowle–like owning what you actually did, explaining the bad thinking that led you there, showing that you’ve learned, and that you know who you hurt and that–

ALEX BLUMBERG: And acknowledging that it was bad and harmful and hurtful.

PJ: Yeah.

ANNA: And through this whole thing, the person that we started with, Jeffree Star, has been gaining followers. He–

PJ: He’s feeding off their corpses.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh, alright.

ANNA: So, Alex Blumberg, do you want to explain this tweet back to me?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh, very well done. I would love to. 

ANNA: Okay.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh so yeah. So this is a tweet from a user named Error, Does Not Comply to Your Social Norms. And basically what it is is it is a tweet-length encapsulation of this thing that happened on beauty Youtube – beautube – called “dramaggedon,” [ANNA: Mhm] which was basically a bunch of people in the beauty Youtube world sort of attacked one of their own who had like said racist things in the past, apologized for them, and seemed to get away scot-free and they were like, “He shouldn’t be doing that– you guys– I can’t believe you guys are going along with that.” And then in response, a bunch of people sort of like looked at their pasts, and they all had their own racist baggage that was hanging around. And it claimed them, and then they put out apology videos, and this tweet is basically a single-line sort of like summary of each one of their apology videos  

ALEX GOLDMAN: I think we’re at yes, yes, yes?

PJ: Yes.

ALEX BLUMBERG: We’re at yes, yes, yes, yes.

PJ: Do you think that everybody on BeauTube is–has like something that is this bad and all it takes is like them to point a finger to dredge it up? Or do you think it was like the worst people happened to point fingers the most?

ANNA: I–as someone who still watches a lot of beauty YouTube, I hope that there are some good beauty vloggers out there. Like, I hope my fave is not problematic, you know?

PJ: Yeah.

ANNA: But–but I guess we just have to wait for like the next dramageddon [PJ: Hm.] to find out. 

PJ: Thank you, Anna Foley, for lending us your expertise on a very strange world. 

[MUSIC: “Tooth-Brushing Drone”]

BACK ANNOUNCE -- ANNA FOLEY IS A PRODUCER FOR OUR SHOW. 

[REPLY ALL THEME] 

CREDITS

Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt and me, Alex Goldman. Our show is produced by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Phia Bennin, Damiano Marchetti, Anna Foley, Simone PolAHnen and Jessica Yung. Our intern is Heather Schröering. Our editors are Tim Howard and Sara Sarasohn. We were mixed by Rick Kwan. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris.

Special thanks this week to Emily Foley. Our theme song is by the Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Matt Lieber is a thermostat at a temperature that everyone in the room can agree on. 

You can find more episodes of the show on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening, we’ll see you soon.