As 2018 comes to an end, it also brings to an end the year of a crazy news cycle. 2018 included everything from Donald Trump’s never-ending antics, Facebook controversy, Kavanaugh hearings, and of course the country mourned the death of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin.
There wasn’t a day that didn’t go by where it seemed like 2018 was basically a “You think that was bad? Hold my beer!” type of day where news and current events were concerned. And in this year’s 2018 year-end wrap-up, we tried to salvage some good from the bad. But yeah, it was mostly a horrendous news cycle year.
1. On The Orange-In-Chief’s Affair With Stormy Daniels
In one of the year’s biggest “What the hell is going” moments in news, InTouch Weekly blew up the spot by publishing a basically never-before-seen 2011 interview between them and Daniels and there she detailed her sexual encounters with 45. Of course, this was technically an old story and one that the National Enquirer had initially paid former Playboy Model Karen McDougal 150,000 (that is, her part of the story). But it never ran and the Wall Street Journal explained as much. And it was becoming even clearer, per the Journal, that this story was bigger and messier than initially believed—including alleged payoffs with fake LLC companies, mysterious interview dropouts, and the like. It was the first of many events that signaled that we were in for quite the relentlessly long year.
2. The Year of Relentless Mass Shootings
This was yet another year where the gun violence in this country basically sought to top itself from the previous year and once again went mostly unchecked where gun control legislation was concerned.Such reminders lie in the stories of survivor-activists from the Parkland Shooting, the Waffle House Shooting, The Capital Gazette Shooting, The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and many others. Even having to spell out “many others” is quite depressing enough, as is this country’s politicians asinine commitment to remedy it with “thoughts and prayers”—the equivalent of a Hello Kitty Band-Aid
May the new year bring in new gun control legislation.
3. Facebook’s No Good Awful Year
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
If I could name this year anything other than the awful year it was (with all the appropriate curse words), I’d most certainly name it the year of Facebook’s reckoning.
After spending the last two years being lambasted for the role they played in the 2016 Presidential Election and all the fake news they let themselves be a vehicle to carry, Facebook maybe thought they were due for a break. And of course, the universe said SIKE and did not relent one inch.
Because soon, Facebook found themselves trying to cover their ass by suspending their relationship with Cambridge Analytica, which was discovered to be a data firm that allegedly misused, mishandled, and mismanaged confidential user information from Facebook. Undercover reporters also discovered unsavory things like bribery, espionage, and fake news campaign plans to swing elections.
All of this resulted in Facebook suffering in one of the biggest stock losses in history and Mark Zuckerberg getting personally dragged into court by the British Parliament.
Talk about an L!
4. The Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and the Degradation of Christine Blasey Ford
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Words cannot explain the pandemonium the ensued when former Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy so rudely announced that he would be retiring and the GOP jumped on the chance to nominate Brett Kavanaugh. However, like many men who either aspire to power or wish to hoard it for abuse, it was discovered that his character was not as squeaky-cleaned as previously assumed and that he had allegedly assaulted Professor of Psychology Christine Blasey Ford when they were younger and they attended high school together.
Ford was not the only woman to come forward, but she was perhaps the most high profile case and when she agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary committee, she, as well as the rest of the country, were forced to relive something painfully similar to the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings.
It was a somber reminder that we have not progressed as much as we think we have.
5. The Assassination of Famed Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi
When Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, it was yet another harrowing reminder of the dangers that journalists face every day for merely telling the truth. Which is something that becomes hotly discussed as the Trump administration becomes more hostile towards news outlets.
Most called the heinous crime a “diplomatic crisis” and point of contention between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. But what became clear as his mysterious “disappearance” and the subsequently confirmed murder were delved into further, was that 45 and his compatriots valued their business connections and presumed perks they were receiving from Saudi Arabia and their crown prince more than the loss of a life they perceived “not American enough”.
6. In Rememberance
Every year brings its share of losses. Some more painful than others. This year saw the deaths of the Aretha Franklin aka the Queen of Soul and Ntozake Shange, two Black women who will forever leave a mark on Black culture. Other notable deaths included Kofi Annan, Craig Mack, Joe Jackson, Roy Hargrove, Kim Porter, Nancy Wilson, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Stan Lee and Mac Miller.
The cases for Bourdain, Spade, and Miller were especially painful, given the circumstances, and reignited important conversations of addressing the country’s deteriorating state of mental health across class lines.
7. Online Hate and Real-World Consequences
The earlier mention of Facebook playing a role in the hate propagated online and during the 2016 Presidential Election is ironic here, because Twitter found themselves in similar trouble when Cesar Sayoc Jr was arrested in Plantation, Florida for allegedly mailing bombs to notable political figures like former president Barack Obama, ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director John Brennan (who had his security clearance revoked earlier in the year for criticizing Trump), Rep. Maxine Waters, former AG Eric Holder, former VP Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker.
Twitter found itself at the middle of this storm when former congressional press secretary Rochelle Ritchie realized that Sayoc Jr. had harassed her, other women of color, and people of color on their platform months prior, spreading vitriol and issuing a number of threats that he promised to make good on.
This revelation put tech companies in the spotlight and highlighted how they do in fact have responsibilities to uphold when it comes to regulating harassment and making their platforms safe from hate—even if they don’t want those responsibilities.
8. Revisiting the Thai Cave Rescue
Back in June, members of a youth soccer squad known as the Wild Boars were passing through a cave when they became ensnared by mounting flood waters. While they were found at the beginning of July, it was soon discovered that the mission to rescue them would be a dangerous one.
Thankfully, a collection of international cave digging professionals accepted the mission and was able to save every single person, including the coach. It was a rare moment in 2018 that happened to be accompanied by a happy ending, despite the obnoxious efforts of Tony Stark wannabe Elon Musk and opportunistic filmmakers (who wanted to make an “inspirational” film about the ordeal even before all the children had been fully rescued) to ruin the occasion.
9. Michael Flynn Is Going To Jail
“When you do clownery, the clown comes back to bite.”
Michael Flynn learned this the hard way when it was discovered that he actually might be facing jail time, which he and his team had assumed he would not after agreeing to a plea bargain headed by special counsel Robert Mueller that stated that Flynn had “willingly and knowingly” made “false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements” to the FBI regarding conversations with Russia’s ambassador.
This is humorous mostly because former President Obama warned Trump that Flynn would get him caught up and secondly because Flynn was known to chant “lock her up” at pro-Trump rallies and in reference to Hillary Clinton and those dang emails. In the end, one of them might possibly be wearing an orange jumpsuit in the next couple of years…and it won’t be Hillary.
10. The Curious Case of the Republican Obsession With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
It’s no secret that Republicans have an odd obsession with U.S. Representative and political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Misogyny, racism, and ageism most certainly play a role, but after a series of incidents and gluttonous news cycles, it became clear that classicism was a factor as well.
After Ocasio-Cortez shared that she would not be able to move to D.C. and buy an apartment there until her new salary kicked in in January 2019, lots of Republican and other white supremacist talking heads took that opportunity to attempt to dump on her, trash her “adulting skills”, and by extension, trash millennials and our ability to survive in general.
The pinnacle of this pile-on occurred when glorified blogger Eddie Scarry (what a name) posted a tweet (that has since been deleted) stating that a photographer from the Hill had sent him a photo that basically showed Ocasio-Cortez with fancy clothes and a fancy coat and implied she was lying about being poor. And upon inspecting the picture, many on Twitter then proceeded to clown Scarry, pointing out that one can get decent clothes from places like TJ Maxx, and also pointed out that even when one is poor, they will be punished for looking poor and that it should be avoided at all costs.
The obsession continues, of course, but it is something that started an important conversation on the combinations of classicism, racism, and/or misogyny that millennial of color face in “the professional world”.
11. Some Waves Are Blue, Some Waves Are Rainbow
Ilhan Omar for Congress / Facebook
Ilhan Omar for Congress / Facebook
Many of us spent most of the year in search of good and not-so-terrible news. And for many of us, the Blue and Rainbow wave that swept Congress during midterm season proved to be that little bit of good news that we needed.
During the 2018 midterm season, the Democratic party picked up a record number of seats in the House of Representatives, sent a record number of women to Congress (including the first Indigenous representative who was a woman), and turned whole districts “blue”, who had been previously “red” for years. Some notable districts where this occurred includes Orange County, California (a Republican stronghold). These victories were also punctuated by the fact that many of these candidates also identified as something under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella—aka the Rainbow wave.
And despite painful losses in Texas, Georgia, and Florida with candidates like Beto O’Rourke, Stacey Abrams, and Andrew Gillum respectfully, said elections exposed that any state, including previously dismissed states in the South, can be competitive when given the chance and when voting suppression is addressed head-on and not as an afterthought.
It set the mood to a particularly tumultuous year. And one that is mindful that no matter how terrible things get, rolling over and merely accepting calamity is not an option.
Fighting is necessary. So we fight on. And hopefully, 2019 will have better things in store for the country