Aug 14, 2009

Beware the Ides of August [Journalismism]

Tomorrow is August 15, when we wade into the thickest weeds of summer, sleepy and slow. Everyone's on vacation (or sad they're still working), media B-teams helm the control rooms and Page One meetings, and bullshit stories blossom like gladiolas.

August is so dead it's not even suitable for ginning up a war, as former White House chief of staff Andy Card famously noted. Everything's in reruns, and without even an Olympics to distract us in an odd-numbered year, the most specious, pointless, specious stories expand to fill the empty afternoons and turn into cable-news wallpaper. Only in August could the preposterous notion of "Obama's death panels" get a full week to be chewed over, analyzed, rebutted, and generally taken seriously. Absent a dead white girl, we can look forward to at least two more weeks of faux-stories and false outrage as desperate cable-news producers cast about to find something for their fill-in talking-heads to scream about.

We decided to revisit some stories from Augusts past, using the Drudge Report Archives as our guide, to remind ourselves that it was ever thus and always will be. August is the time when the nuts come out to play.

2008: Well, Russia had just invaded Georgia, and the presidential campaigns were largely quiet leading up to their conventions at the end of the month. But it was on the Ides of August that we learned that bigfoot had been found:

Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer, a pair of Bigfoot-hunting hobbyists from north Georgia, say they found the creature's body in a wooded area and spotted several similar creatures that were still alive.

2007: Drudge saw fit to link to, and Fox News saw fit to actually run a story about, a South Carolina prison inmate who filed a handwritten lawsuit against Michael Vick for $63 billion, claiming that Vick stole his pit bulls, sold them on eBay, and used the money to buy missiles to give to Iran because Vick had "pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in February of this year."

"Michael Vick has to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes," Riches writes in the complaint.

2006: It was actually an uncharacteristically newsy month, and the lamest story we could find that Drudge linked to on the Ides of that month was about woolly mammoth sperm:

BODIES of extinct Ice Age mammals, such as woolly mammoths, that have been frozen in permafrost for thousands of years may contain viable sperm that could be used to bring them back from the dead, scientists said yesterday.

2005: We learned that you could grow meat in a test tube, a story that crops up every few years (here's the same story last year) and proves to go no where, but which was wacky enough to entertain Drudge readers for a minute or two:

Once the cells have grown enough, they could be scraped off and packaged. If edible sheets or beads are used, all of it could be eaten.

2004: the Ides fell on a weekend, so the nearest weekday gave us this twofer of perennial Drudge favorites: Weird crime and robots. The links are sadly dead.

2003: We learned on August 15 that Judge Roy Moore's Ten Commandments, which were illegally placed in a state judicial building, were not going anywhere, g-dammit:

"I have no intention of removing the monument," he said at a press conference in Montgomery. "This I cannot and will not do."

The tradition goes back ages. It was on August 15, 1912, that the New York Times published this letter, which can imagine even as we write flashing across Sean Hannity's teleprompter tonight:

We can't wait for our vacation.

[Photo via Flickr by Chaval Brasil.]

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