PJ VOGT: OK, before we start the show, do you know why I wanted to talk to you?
ALEX GOLDMAN: I have no idea.
PJ: First of all, it's a new year.
ALEX: Thank you.
PJ: You made it.
PJ: Do you remember what your New Year's resolu–resolution was last year?
ALEX: I don't. Wait, did I say something on the radio?
PJ: Not that I recall.
ALEX: So, like, I'm not–you're not holding me to some crazy standard.
PJ: Oh, you were never going to eat M&M’s again? No, I don't remember what it was.
ALEX: I ate a lot of M&M's this year.
PJ: Do you have a New Year's resolution this year?
ALEX: I'm not like a resolution guy. But at the same time, I feel like that's a cop-out because every year I'm like, OK this isn't a resolution I'm just going to do this independent of New Year's because I don't want any pressure to be put on myself. So–
PJ: Great first, first step.
PJ: I don't want anyone to hold me accountable for making any changes.
ALEX: No I just don't want it to be leaden with expectation.
ALEX: That like I'm going to transform as a human being.
PJ: You want it to be buoyant with anticipation that you won't.
ALEX: I'm sorry, what?
PJ: Go ahead.
ALEX: So–oh I get it (laughs). Yeah, I joined a boxing gym because I want to start boxing.
PJ: And why, how come?
ALEX: Just wanna, just wanna be in a situation where — alright this is going to sound messed up. So, hold on a second. Sarah, my wife, I apologize for saying this in advance because it's probably going to freak you out to hear.
ALEX: I really want to know what it feels like to get knocked out.
PJ: Like you want to be fully like knocked out, like in the movies?
ALEX: I want to be KO'ed.
ALEX: You know like, have you ever seen those crazy videos of street fights, where like one guy is stepping to another guy and the other guy just, just like–
PJ: Clocks him.
ALEX: Just clocks him. And then he immediately turns into a statue and just falls straight over. What kind of crazy bodily–like why is your body doing that? I wanna know.
PJ: I feel like it's possible that getting punched in the face and being knocked out is not going to answer the question of, what happens to your body when you're knocked out. Because I feel like what's going to happen is you're going to feel panic and pain and then nothing and then you'll just get the experience of what is it like to wake up really disoriented and in pain.
ALEX: I mean, to be fair I also want to get into better shape. The classes are brutal, man.
PJ: How much–how much of this is column A, and how much of this is column B?
ALEX: How much do I want to get walloped (PJ laughs) versus how much do I want to get in shape? I'm going to say 60-40, getting in shape, to be honest.
PJ: OK, that's better.
ALEX: Do you have a New Year's resolution?
PJ: I've been trying to find one. I've been trying to find one. I think I have one.
PJ: I want to try to limit my feuds.
ALEX: (laughs) What are you like a Hatfield looking for a McCoy? What-- who–
PJ: I have a Hatfield trying not to look for a McCoy.
ALEX: What kind of feuds to you have?
PJ: I have like a lot of small feuds. I'm not a big feuder but I'm, I'm a person of many small feuds.
ALEX: Without, without disclosing the names of the people you are feuding with can you–
PJ: Oh, I don't give–I don't care.
ALEX: Alright, well then tell me–
PJ: One of my neighbors.
ALEX: About what?
PJ: I didn't say hello to him for a while because I just didn't want to. Like I just didn't feel like whatever and he's like kind of drunk sometimes. And he started getting really aggressive about me saying hello so then I didn't want to say hello even more.
Like, I'd be like–I'd have headphones on and he'd be like, "Oh, you don't say hello to me?!" I was like, "Well not at–I don't say hello out of this situation." But then I said hello to him and now we're having totally nice conversations as if like this super aggressive thing never happened where he was screaming at me all the time.
ALEX: Alright, way to diffuse a feud.
PJ: But then I've got another feud with this guy who has like, I think he's like a state assemblyman or whatever, but he parks illegally outside the coffee shop all the time (Alex laughs) in a way I find very unsafe. And I glare at him.
ALEX: How do you know he's a state assemblyman?
PJ: Because he's got like a special license plate and a thing on his dashboard. I'm like, why are you advertising that you're being a jerk?
ALEX: So how are you going to diffuse this?
PJ: I'm not diffusing that feud. I'm holding onto that feud.
PJ: And then the other feud that I totally see myself letting go of now that I started to say this, is like the delivery guy for the Chinese food place–
PJ: Has this thing where we're in this battle of- I–I promptly come to the door when the doorbell rings or my cell phone rings, and he's got this thing where he's started trying to call me like–
ALEX: He's, like, a couple blocks away.
PJ: Yes! So I'm standing outside like in a robe being very cold, freezing–
ALEX: Freezing your butt off.
PJ: Yeah. And then, and then, he gets there and he's like trying to make me come down to the car. And I know that it's not like super sympathetic for someone to be like, "This service industry person is not doing a good enough job." But, dude, I used to deliver food, walk up the stairs and stop messing with me.
PJ: I don't know if I'm letting go of any of these feuds. I think the thing I want to do is be more efficient in my feuds and figure out who I'm feuding with and not feud with anybody else.
ALEX: I think that's a noble goal.
ALEX: I feel like, I was talking to my dad this weekend and somehow you came up.
ALEX: Yeah. And I was like, "I would hate to be on PJ's bad side because he's like a cunning person who never lets anything go."
ALEX: He's like a person who I feel like you have, I feel like you have the cork board with the red, with the red twine connecting stuff, machinations, for like everyone who's ever wronged you. Like you are definitely a Nixon. I don't doubt you have an enemies list.
PJ: Oh, yeah, yeah, no, you have to have an enemies list. Because the thing is if you don't have an enemies list–and somebody else gave me this advice–but like the reason to have an enemies list is it tells you who to not care about. Like an enemies list isn't so it gets super long. You get an enemies list, you keep it short. And then when somebody does something that bothers you, you're like, "Are they on my enemies list? No? I don't care."
ALEX: This is the most insane thing I've ever heard.
PJ: There's a person on my enemies list who's been there since...second grade.
PJ: He beat me up. I ran away crying into what I thought was the men's room. It wasn't. It was the ladies' room. And then he stood outside the ladies' room yelling and making fun of me until I came out of the ladies' room also crying. And then I got taller than him.
ALEX: Let me tell you a story.
ALEX: About, about enemies holding grudges. Feuds.
PJ: Uh huh.
ALEX: I used to have a roommate, his name was Jamie Sabuda. He actually was born Jamie Green. His parents were together but were not married so he had his mom's name–
PJ: Is this going to be material to the story?
ALEX: Then they got–
PJ: Because it started to feel like a Bible story where you have to say where everyone was begat from.
ALEX: So he was born Jamie Green. His parents got married. Changed his name to Jamie Sabuda.
ALEX: He is like 19, sitting at a Denny's with some friends, three in the morning. And this guy walks up to him and goes, "Hey are you Jamie Green?" And he says, "Yeah, I used to be." The guy pulls his arm back and punches him as hard as he can in the face.
ALEX: No discussion. Walloped! And Jamie's like, "Who are you?! What are doing?!" And the guy was like, "You pushed me off the swings in the third grade."
ALEX: And he walked away.
ALEX: Is that you PJ?
PJ: Kind of.
ALEX: (laughing) You're out of your mind.
PJ: I feel like I've talked myself out of my resolution (laughs).
PJ: OK, you get walloped. I'll just continue to be the same person for one more year.
ALEX: Sounds great.
PJ: Ok coming up, I know we have a special guest for the “Yes Yes No.” Let’s just get the ads out of the way first.
ALEX: Welcome once again to “Yes Yes No,” the segment on the show where, normally, our boss Alex Blumberg comes to us with stuff from the internet he doesn’t understand and we try to explain it to him, but this week we have a big Hollywood star, Jason Mantzoukas.
JASON MANTZOUKAS: Yeah, that’s right! I guess Blumberg’s too much of a coward in 2019 to come on the “Yes Yes Nos.” So, I get the call, I’m here, I’m ready to rock, gentlemen.
ALEX: It’s incredibly professional of you, I wish we could uh, expect the same from our boss.
JASON: Guys, here I am, in Hollywood, California, mere steps away from the walk of fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Hollywood sign; it is resplendent.
PJ: It does feel like a much more glamorous “Yes Yes No.”
ALEX: I know. Already.
JASON: It does, right?
ALEX: I imagine the Entertainment Tonight theme playing.
JASON: I’m in a tuxedo.
PJ: Alex is wearing one of his uh, hoodies that has way fewer stains on it–Alex is actually wearing a hoodie, just so you know Jason, that is literally an “I Heart NY” sweatshirt that like, a tourist would wear, or like, a kidnapper who was changing out of bloody clothes.
JASON: And who needs something to wear?
JASON: But still it’s stained? So the kidnapper–
PJ: Yes, still it’s stained–
ALEX: Where is there a stain?
PJ: Uh, next to the heart?
ALEX: I ate a dosa for lunch.
JASON: You ate a dosa for lunch in your, in your white sweatshirt?
ALEX: It’s a black sweatshirt.
JASON: Oh, okay. Oh, so you thought you were safe–
ALEX: I thought I would get away with it–
PJ: Also, “I ate a dosa for lunch” is not like, therefore I’m covered and stained. It’s not like–
PJ: Gazpacho without a spoon.
ALEX: Not for you–
JASON: A dosa, like, a dosa is very, should be very easily eaten without like, without- you could–here’s the thing, you have what, eleven children? (ALEX & PJ laugh) Blame it on one of, blame it on one of them. Just be like, “Ah, you know, it’s hard when you’ve got fourteen kids running around.”
ALEX: I mean, I do that, but that doesn’t hold water for PJ. He’s just like, he’s, he, he thinks that the very fact that my clothes have stains all over them means that I should probably change them, (PJ laughs) and I’m like, “I’ve got too many kids to change my clothes.”
JASON: Here’s the deal. Both of you are right.
PJ & ALEX: (laugh)
JASON: You should, PJ’s right, you should change your stained clothes when you’re at work. (AG laughs) Especially because it’s possible, it’s possible that at some point one of those stains is like, your children’s shit.
PJ: Yes, it’s very possible.
JASON: Like how likely is it that there’s like a smear of turd on your sleeve, and you’re coming to work like, “Doo-doo-doo-doo, uh-oh, I think it’s a dosa. I had a dosa for lunch.” C’mon get it together–
ALEX: At the very most it’s a 20 percent chance.
JASON: You guys are, you guys are literally a disaster.
ALEX: Yeah. It’s really gross. It’s really gross.
JASON: This show is, like, falling apart. You’re lucky I’m here–
ALEX: I know.
JASON: Holding this show together. Alright. Third official host of Reply All, Jason Mantzoukas here, with a “Yes Yes No” coming from Twitter. That’s right, I’m running the goddamn segment now.
PJ: Uh, we also gave you access to Alex’s Twitter account because you don’t normally use Twitter.
JASON: I’m not on social media, still not on social media.
ALEX: Okay, so uh, what have you got for us today?
JASON: Okay, here we go. From Twitter dot com, uh, it is a tweet from uh, the person whose Twitter uh, handle? Twitter name? I’m not sure how you pr–what it is. Is–hold on, let me, I lost the piece of paper I wrote the thing down on. Okay.
PJ: (laughing) That’s such a low-tech…
JASON: Sorry. Yeah. Okay, so, this uh, this comes to us from Twitter. Uh, these- this–this tweeter’s name is “Please @ me for access to my powerful brain,” and then it is @ChrisCaesar, and the “c” and the “c” are both capitalized.
JASON: And then the tweet is, “Huh, didn’t realize Chuck C. Johnson went to Hogwarts. Just goes to show you, there’s a little magic in all of us.”
ALEX: Alright. So uh–
ALEX: PJ Vogt, do you understand this tweet?
PJ: Mostly, yeah.
ALEX: Okay. Jason Mantzoukas, do you understand this tweet?
JASON: Listen, as someone who, who didn’t go to Hogwarts, uh, I went to uh, Beauxbatons, the all-female magic school. Um.
PJ: Is that a real place?
JASON: Yes. Yes. I mean, I didn’t go to Durmstrang guys. I mean, I’m not practicing dark magic–
ALEX: Oh my god. We’re talking to like a real Hog–we’re talking to a Harry Potter uh, aficionado here.
PJ: So I, I literally can’t tell if these are like, very good fake Harry Potter specifics, or—
JASON: No, these are real Harry Potter specifics. What you guys don’t know is that I am an enormous Harry Potter fan. And–
ALEX & PJ: Really?
JASON: And- and–and, if you’re wondering, that doesn’t make any sense, because you are a 46 year old childless man, Jason. I’m here to say, it is uncomfortable how much I know about Harry Potter.
ALEX: How did you uh, get into it?
JASON: I got into it, um, I would do–every year I would come out for pilot season in Los Angeles to aud–I lived in New York, and I would come out to Los Angeles for auditions when it’s like the busy season of the year for TV shows.
JASON: And on those drives I started listening to audiobooks, and I started listening (PJ & ALEX: Ohhh) to the Harry Potter books cause they’re like 26 hours long, so it was perfect. And then, in years subsequent, I found them so comforting that I will repeatedly now re–I just have re-listened to the entire series of audiobooks again.
ALEX: Wow, man. You are committed.
JASON: Yeah. I’m very into it in a way that is–I find so satisfying in my life, but also so, so sad and weird. (PJ laughs) Because I will frequently find myself in super in-depth technical conversations about Harry Potter lore with my friends’ children.
PJ: Like what kind of, what kind of in-depth conversation?
JASON: Oh, it’s like, it usually starts with, they don’t think I know much about Harry Potter. Then we get into a debate about Harry Potter. Then it becomes trivia contest, and then it becomes, I shame them, and then we get- then–oh, because I will decimate kids on Harry Potter trivia. Just don’t fuck with me. Um. And then, and then we bond over it, and then it just becomes like, the thing I want to talk about with them the most, because they get excited about it, and I’m excited about it. And then I abduct those children, and we live happily ever after in a Subaru Outback with plates from Europe.
ALEX: Well I’m very excited about this particular “Yes Yes No” then, because it deals directly with Harry Potter lore.
JASON: Great. Get- let’s get–let’s get into it. Ok, so, um–
PJ: Wait did we ask-- did I say- don’t I have to–Alex Goldman do you not understand-- do you–do you understand this tweet?’
ALEX: Yes, I understand this tweet.
PJ: Okay, just trying to make sure we do our ritual.
ALEX: Thank you.
PJ: So wait, so we’re at “Yes, Harry Potter, Yes, but maybe not the rest of the tweet?”
JASON: Yes. ’Cause I don’t know who Chuck C. Johnson is. And I don’t know, yeah.
PJ: Could be like a, could be like a Harry Potter fan-fiction character.
JASON: Okay so here’s something too. So, so I’m seeing, so he tweets this, um, uh, uh, January 4th. Somebody tweets him back. “I thought he went to Trollwarts.” Okay, so that makes me think Chuck C. Johnson is a troll. Then the guy goes, “He went to the school where you poopy on the floor.”
ALEX: Oh, man.
JASON: And let me ask you, now I’m gonna ask you guys this: do you know what this person is referring to?
JASON: Do you know what that tweet refers to? Yes?
ALEX: OK. So, one part of this tweet definitely has to do with Harry Potter, but within this tweet is an entire separate wholly unrelated drama that I will get to. But let’s start with the Harry Potter part first.
So, being a huge Harry Potter fan, Jason, you probably know that JK Rowling is kind of notorious for, like, once all the books came out, basically saying things after the fact about characters (JASON: Yes.) that were never revealed in the books.
JASON: Yes, every year, um, she apologizes for certain character’s deaths. She retcons certain characters’ storylines or adds, um, adds further information to a lot of, uh, a lot of the characters that you might know and love.
ALEX: Right, so.
PJ: And do you follow that stuff? Because it’s internet, but it’s Harry Potter. So like, which of–
JASON: Yeah, PJ! Yeah. I follow that stuff, okay? Yes, PJ, I was in my 30s when these books started coming out. Yes I was an adult.
PJ: Do you have a Pottermore login?
JASON: Can we not worry about it?
PJ & ALEX: (laugh)
JASON: If you’re–if you’re trying to find out what my patronus is, I’m not telling.
ALEX & PJ: (laugh)
JASON: You’ll have to be in my presence when I think of something happy and scream “expecto patronum.” And then, and then immediately burst into tears cause it reminds me of the scene in the books when Harry rescues Sirius from the dementors. Guys, he thought it was his father, but it was himself! Come on!
ALEX: This is really overwhelming for me because I’ve never read any of them.
JASON: Get it-- we’re not friends anymore.
PJ: You’ve never read them?
PJ: They’re really good.
JASON: Just listen to the audiobooks. Listen to the audiobooks.
ALEX: Alright, I will.
JASON: That’s it.
PJ: Yeah, it’ll just take you like 150 hours. Okay, so I know, the part of this that I know is I know that like a few weeks ago JK Rowling did like, a weird update to Harry Potter mythology.
ALEX: So it wasn’t on JK Rowling’s Twitter. It was actually on the Pottermore Twitter. And I didn’t know what that was at the time, but what I found out after reading people retweeting and commenting on it is that Pottermore is like the online universe of Harry Potter stuff. It’s like a website, and it’s got like JK Rowling writes on it and there’s like extended lore about the series on there.
ALEX: So, um, on January 4th, the Pottermore Twitter account tweeted the following information, Jason. “Hogwarts didn’t always have bathrooms. Before adopting muggle plumbing methods in the 18th century, witches and wizards simply relieved themselves wherever they stood and vanished the evidence, #nationaltriviaday.”
PJ: [quietly] I don’t like that.
JASON: Yeah, this, this has been something that’s been discussed in the past that I think is patently ludicrous. Um. And- and- it–it gets at a thing where people really start to pick apart the, this world, looking for, like, “Oh yeah, why, if magic exists, why do they have muggle plumbing? Like why would they need that?” And they’re- this is- the- it–it’s so upsetting to me that, that the magical world, the wizarding world rather, has either shitting on the floor as an option, or, like, plumbing. Or like, functional muggle plumbing. Those are the only options to getting rid of your own waste. And that seems–
PJ: Oh like, shouldn’t there just be like, a magical toilet?
JASON: Correct. Correct. (ALEX laughs) You shit, you shit in a toilet, and the toilet vanishes the turds or whatever. But the idea that they’re putting forth is wizards, wizards who are fucking wizards (PJ laughs) are like, “Oh, you know what? I’ve gotta drop a deuce. You know what I’m gonna do? Squat here in my office, and then wave my wand over it and send it elsewhere.” That’s not, that’s not civilized!
PJ: Well because–also why wouldn’t you just disappear the poop from your butt?
JASON: Great question. Or straight out of your body. You know, like why not–
ALEX: Yeah. I, I had a lot of those questions. My question was just like, did they do it in a way that was discreet? Or if they were like, walking down the hall, did they just like, lift up their wizarding robes, and crap, and then (JASON: Yeah.) wish it away.
JASON: These are people who have figured out–there are magical ways to do things that are so insanely complicated. I mean, Voldemort is able to split his soul into seven distinct pieces in order to remain immortal, and you are telling me that up until recently, these motherfuckers were shitting on the floor, and then just vanishing it? You’re telling me that more often than not, somebody would just turd the bed, and then be like, zip zap zop, it’s out of here, wave the old wandy?
JASON: Expecto pooptronum? I mean, get it out of here!
PJ: But then, why, what, I don’t understand as like a not devoted like, Harry Potter arcana person, is like, why are they even commenting on this?
ALEX: What I think is going on is, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which I guess is, it’s the second book, right Jason?
JASON: Yes, of cou–yes, uh it’s the one where the chamber–
ALEX: You sound so mad.
JASON: I’m so mad at you. It’s the one where the chamber of secrets is opened again, letting loose the basilisk that stood in uh–that Slytherin hid inside of Hogwarts, it’s a giant snake, it’s getting around through the pipes. By the way, spoiler alert for this book, because I’m like, full-blown spoiling it. But a huge portion of it takes place in a girl’s bathroom with a dead girl’s ghost named Moaning Myrtle.
ALEX: So this tweet on the Pottermore account about how wizards make their poop disappear, it is actually referencing an article that JK Rowling wrote on the Pottermore website a few years ago.
And I can read from it to you, give me just a second. [typing] Okay, and I quote, “When first created, the chamber was accessed through a concealed trap door and a series of magical tunnels. However, when Hogwarts plumbing became more elaborate in the 18th century,” parenthe–parenthetical “(this was a rare instance of wizards copying muzzles, because—)”4
PJ: Muzzles? Muggles.
ALEX: Muggles. “(this is a rare instance of wizards copying muggles, because ‘hih-there-toe’)”
PJ: “Hih-there-toe?” Hitherto.
ALEX: Hitherto. I don’t know how to read–
PJ: Are you okay?
ALEX: I don’t know how to–suddenly I’m having a stroke–
JASON: What’s happening? Honest-to-God, what’s happening?
PJ: “Hih-there-toe!” (laughing)
JASON: Alex, for real, are you okay? Like, you can’t pronounce words, you’re wearing a grossly stained sweatshirt.
PJ: [cross-talk] Covered in dosas.
JASON: Like, you are like.
ALEX: [apoplectic] I knew what it meant! I knew it!
PJ: I knew it!
ALEX: I just, I just misread it! Oh my god, I’ve never panicked like this before.
JASON: Hih-there-to? You just said “Hih-there-to.”
ALEX: [cross-talk] Oh my god I’ve never panicked like this before. I feel, I’m so embarrassed right now.
JASON: Aw man, I wish Blumberg was here right now to see this. Hih-there-to. Ha! You moron.
ALEX: Alright, let me try that again.
JASON: Yeah. No no no, hih-there-to. Yeah, go ahead.
ALEX: “(this was a rare instance of wizards copying muggles, because hitherto)”
ALEX: “(they simply relieved themselves wherever they stood and vanished the evidence) the entrance to the chamber was threatened, being located on the side of a–”
PJ: Wait, so she’s just moving on from that. She–like that’s closed parentheses.
ALEX: Closed parentheses–
JASON: Yes. Oh, no, that’s an aside.
ALEX: “The entrance to the chamber was threatened, being located on the side of a proposed bathroom.” So I think that they were trying to justify the existence of a bathroom in the Harry Potter universe, that would’ve been built on top of a mystical chamber.
ALEX: So, we’re all clear on the floor-pooping.
PJ: We’re all clear (JASON: Yes.) on the floor pooping, I guess. So she just, she has an arbitrary, arbitrary habit of just updating answers to questions no one had, and then sometimes making it worse in the process.
ALEX: Right. Well, I mean, some examples were like- like- she said–shortly after the last book came out, she was like, “Oh, by the way, never mentioned in the books, Dumbledore’s gay.” She just- just–
PJ: But I get that more actually. Like, I get being like, hey, I keep thinking about these characters I made up, and I want to tell you something that will be interesting and make you think about it.
ALEX: Some other things that I've learned that she, that she included after the book is, um, someone asked her about the religions of the people there. And she was like- they–they were like, "Are there any Jewish people at Hogwarts?" And she was like, "Yes, but no Wiccan."
JASON: I mean this is a fanta- a series–a wonderfully-written, wonderfully-structured series of children's fantasy novels. Guess what I don't need to know. Oooh, where do they poop?
ALEX & PJ: (laugh)
JASON: And also how many Jews? Like, what? What are we doing?
ALEX: So, so, the original tweet, if we go back to it, it says, “Huh, didn’t realize Chuck C. Johnson went to Hogwarts.”
JASON: Okay, so who’s Chuck C. Johnson? That’s what I don’t know. Now, my presumption based on the previous thing that I read, was that uh, he’s some sort of internet troll.
ALEX: Uh, that is correct. Um.
ALEX: So Chuck C. Johnson is this guy. He’s, he’s sort of like this classic alt-right guy. He’s like very fringey and like super conservative and kind of a troll and like a bomb thrower. He’s not–he calls himself a reporter but really I wouldn’t call him a reporter.
JASON: Is he a reporter for a very reputable website, like The Drudge Report?
ALEX: Oh, it’s way more reputable than that. He has his own website, well, he used to have his own website, it was called GotNews.com–
JASON: Oh, okay, cool.
ALEX: But he started off as this wanna-be journalist like he really wanted to be taken seriously. He would like be–he was on Megyn Kelly's show and stuff. He was on Fox. And he tried to set himself up as this really serious journalist, but one of the things he decided to focus on was women who had come forward saying they’d been harassed or assaulted and he took it upon himself to prove that they were lying.
JASON: Oh wow–
ALEX: Yeah. It was pretty gross. So for example there was this woman. She was a reporter. Her name was Michelle Fields and she said she was assaulted by Corey Lewandowski, who worked for Trump.
PJ: Oh, I remember that.
PJ: Like, he like grabbed her really hard or something?
PJ: Like, like in front of people?
PJ: Like, I think he bruised her?
ALEX: And so Chuck Johnson writes all these articles which are like, Michelle Fields is a liar, here are all the reasons I think she's a liar. She lied about this, she lied about that, she's a totally fake victim blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then, he happens to see her out on the street.
PJ: Chuck Johnson?
ALEX: Yeah, Chuck Johnson sees her on the street with her fiancé. And–
JASON: Oh, wow.
ALEX: And…I think there’s actually video of this. Hold on just a second, I’m gonna find it and I’m going to send it to you.
CHUCK JOHNSON: Is it recording?
JASON: That's Chuck Johnson in the red hat and the beard?
ALEX: Yeah, so just to describe him a little bit for the listeners, he has kind of like a baby face and like this very thick red beard. He’s wearing a Make America Great Again cap.
JASON: And there's a lot of other Make America–oh he takes the hat off. Interesting move.
ALEX: As you can see, he’s like walking super fast. His cameraman is behind him and the couple that he’s like hustling up to right there, that is Michelle Fields and her fiancé. And like right as he’s about to confront her, Michelle Fields’s fiancé turns around and like blocks him?
[voices arguing in the video]
JASON: Oh, oh boy. Oh, boy.
ALEX: So like in this video Michelle Fields’s fiancé, considering some stranger has just come up and accosted them, is being relatively calm. And Chuck Johnson is just like freaking out, like you assaulted me! You assaulted me!
ALEX: and if you actually look at the title of the video, the video is, "Jamie Weinstein," which is the name of her fiancé, "Assaults Charles C. Johnson." [video stops] Like he’s not being a journalist. He's just being a troll. He's trying to goad people into behav–into like doing something that will, um, make them look bad.
But like, but like, the thing that he's most well known for is, and this is where we’re going to get back to the tweet, is do you remember a few years ago there was this article in Rolling Stone that was about an alleged and very brutal assault at a university in Virginia? At the University of Virginia?
JASON: [cross-talk] Yes. And, right, and it was, it turned out to have been like uh, like, pieces of it were either made up or fabricated or something? Or–
ALEX: So the principal character in that Rolling Stone story was this woman who went by a pseudonym they called her “Jackie” in the story -- um she said she had been assaulted, it turned out that the account wasn’t verified by the journalist and it wasn’t properly fact-checked and they ended up having to retract it.
JASON: Right. Okay. Yes.
ALEX: So, Chuck Johnson, um, basically tweeted, “I’m giving Jackie until later tonight to tell the truth, and then I’m gonna start revealing everything about her past.”
PJ: Oh yeah, that, yeah–
ALEX: And then he named a person, and used their picture, and it was the wrong person.
PJ: Oh wow.
JASON: Oh wow.
ALEX: Yeah. So, in response, journalists are naturally doing stories about the guy who got the wrong person. And they're like, "Who is Chuck Johnson? Where did he come from?" They're reaching out to people who knew him, like, people who went to college with him.
And, at that point, it's like December 2014, Chuck Johnson posts on his Facebook page an open letter to his former college classmates that said um, “I’ve received a number of emails, tweets, and phone calls from, from you, and I want to make something clear, some things clear about me and you, now.”
PJ: Okay. So he’s like, hey everybody from college, I want to say something.
ALEX: Yes. Uh. So, further down, he says, “Now that I have some measure of notoriety and success, I don’t owe you phone calls or responses to your condescending concern for me. Please know that most of these emails will be deleted or archived, some will be openly mocked, others may be retweeted or written about in future things.”
And so he says, “Some of you have talked to the press about me and pretended we were close. We were not, but you’ve decided to trade on relationships we never had in the hopes of seeing your name in the press. This is pathetic. Here is what you may not do. You may not accuse me of racism, sexism, blah blah-ish, without asking me for my point of view first. I may or may not choose to give it to you. I’m also not interested in your pop-psychological explanations about what’s wrong with me. The truth of the matter is that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, doing the work I love doing. I’m very busy on that project.”
PJ: What an angry, lonely-sounding person.
ALEX: Right. So he goes on and on. Um. And the, uh, the, the reporter from Deadspin wrote an email to him just to say, “Hey, did you actually write this? I want to confirm before I put it in the story.” They have a back and forth. And then, unprompted, Chuck Johnson sends a one-line email that says, “Oh, and the comments about me–”
JASON: To the Deadspin reporter?
ALEX: It, it says, “Oh, and the comments about me shitting on the floor were made up.”
ALEX: And then, the Deadspin reporter says, sure enough, on the Facebook post–
PJ: Wait, and the Deadspin reporter, just to be like, in, 100 percent crystal clear, had not asked any questions about him shitting on the floor–
ALEX: Uh uh.
JASON: I was gonna say, had that been reported?
JASON: Oh wow.
ALEX: And then the Deadspin reporter said, “Sure enough, on the Facebook post, there are cryptic comments from friends and former classmates about some mysterious floor-shitting incident.” But, are you familiar, Jason, with the concept of a Streisand Effect? Do you know what that is?
JASON: I’m not sure I do.
JASON: I’m a, I’m a “No” on this, I think.
ALEX: What about you PJ?
PJ: I do.
ALEX: So, many years ago, Barbra Streisand got upset about a um, image that was taken of her mansion–
JASON: Oh, wait, I do know this. I do know this–
ALEX: And, and, and tried to get it taken off the internet–
JASON: And- and then–and because of that it became much more widely seen.
ALEX: Right so, Chuck Johnson saying like, “By the way, the floor shitting stuff is not true,” that’s all anybody wanted to talk about.
PJ: Also it’s kind of just like, the floor-shitting effect. (ALEX laughs) Like, when someone says they pooped somewhere that they weren’t supposed to, people get real curious.
ALEX: Um. So like, not even a week after this article comes out, um, Gawker does a follow-up article where they ask a bunch of people who went to college with him about the floor pooping incident and they got a bunch of people talking about the rumor, one person says, uh, quote: “Hilariously, he graduated being best-known for pooping on the (I think I’m remembering this right) seventh floor of Stark, a dorm. I’m sad this idiot’s getting any attention at all, but I hope this guy becomes famous for the same reasons he was in college: his public pooping problems.”
PJ: And what–
PJ: Was there a context?
JASON: Yeah, do we ever find out why he did it?
JASON: Maybe it was a hilarious prank?
ALEX: to me it almost feels like an urban legend. Like no one ever produced any evidence that he did it.
PJ: But it’s weird. It’s not, like, it’s a weird thing to just make up.
ALEX: I can totally imagine being like, “Hey, you know that obnoxious guy, who’s like, who’s constantly bragging, and he’s like blustery.” Like, Chuck Johnson, from the writing that I have read, doesn’t seem like a particularly pleasant guy. I can imagine people saying like, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we said he pooped on the floor?”
PJ: Right. Or they even could have done that in college, if he was a jerk then.
PJ: But also he could have pooped on the floor–
JASON: Guys, I don’t know. Maybe he had the flu, and he couldn’t get to the bathroom, and he fell down and he pooped on the floor.
ALEX: I like the idea of him falling down–
JASON: And everybody was–
PJ: But then it would have been a story (JASON: Yeah) about how he pooped his pants, it wouldn’t have been that he pooped on the floor.
PJ: Like, this is like—
JASON: Well maybe he started to pull his pants down.
JASON: Can’t we get in touch with the–this is something you guys should do. Get in touch with the college, see if a complaint was filed.
PJ: Yeah. Or call the people on the Facebook comments.
JASON: Uh, go to India, Alex, figure it out.
PJ & ALEX: (laugh)
ALEX: Alright. So in June of the- that–that article was written in December of 2014. In June of 2015, uh, Chuck Johnson sues Gawker for 66 million dollars.
PJ: Why not 67 million dollars?
ALEX: I don’t know how that number was, was uh, reached. I read the–
JASON: Wow. Because of this?
ALEX: Yeah. Because of this.
JASON: And did he win?
ALEX: It got rejected by the judge, but then there was the whole big Hulk Hogan lawsuit–
JASON: Hulk Hogan thing, yeah.
ALEX: So, for anybody who does not know, uh, Gawker posted a, an excerpt of a sextape of Hulk Hogan, and Hulk Hogan sued and bankrupted the company.
PJ: Well what, what really happened was, they did a post about Peter Thiel who’s like, a tech billionaire who’s gay, where they said he was gay, and he hated them. And so then, he would fund lawsuits of anybody, well not anybody, but a bunch of different people that wanted to sue them. And the Hulk Hogan one was one, but then after that, it turned out like, he was bankrolling other people as well.
ALEX: He was. He bankrolled a number of people. So, so during the bankruptcy of Gawker, Chuck Johnson basically said like, I’m gonna, I’m gonna sue you again, and got a settlement from them.
ALEX: And, the article that I was reading you about whether he pooped on the floor, um, was taken down.
PJ: (whispers) Oh my god!
ALEX: But, since the internet is forever, I was reading it off the internet archive. And um, if you want it, you can find it there.
PJ: Because like, basically, whoever ended up with like the distressed property that was Gawker, was just like, we don’t wanna fight this.
ALEX: Basically, Gawker sort of was, was bought at like this fire-sale price, and there were a bunch of people who like, availed themselves of this opportunity. There, there’s a guy named Shiva Ayyadurai who says that he invented email–
PJ: Invented email. And sues everybody that says he didn’t.
ALEX: And sues everyone that says he didn’t. He got a settlement, and he got an article taken down. Uh. Chuck Johnson got articles taken down. So like, there are all these articles that now, if I, if I actually go to where–
PJ: It was like a holiday where every person who sues newspapers got–
ALEX: Right. Got money and got their thing, got the article taken down. And since this whole floor pooping story reached its end, like Chuck Johnson was sort of a personality in the right-wing media sphere for a while, but he got kicked off of Twitter, he tried to start his own crowdfunding site, that didn’t work out, uh, he shut down his news site this fall. He’s kinda like disappeared.
Jason: Wow there is so much to this tweet that I was thinking was just an opportunity to talk about Harry Potter.
So, Jason, do you think that you, now that, now that you know this, this uh, the components of this tweet, could you back and explain it for us?
JASON: Yeah. I think I could. Hold on, let me uh, let me just reopen it again. Hold on one second.
PJ: Open your scroll of paper.
JASON: We can cut this out, we can cut this out, we can cut this out. Cut it out. Finding it. And here we go. Okay, yeah, I think I can answer this. Okay, so, once again, this is from “Please @ me for access to my powerful brain,” a.k.a @ChrisCaesar. “Huh. Didn’t realize Chuck C. Johnson went to Hogwarts. Just goes to show you there’s a little magic in all of us.” And so this tweet is essentially um, combining, uh, the story about Chuck C. Johnson, um, Internet’s troll provocateur type person, um, who at one point had some sort of scandal go on in which he either did or didn’t admit to shitting on the floor at his college.
ALEX: He says he didn’t.
JASON: He sued, he settled, he made money off of it. It is a combination of that story, be it apocryphal or not, and its intersection with the recently um, divulged, or popularized information that JK Rowling has been made–has made known, which is, in the wizarding world, prior to adopting muggle plumbing, uh, wizards would shit freely wherever they wanted, and then use magic to vanish those turds.
By the way, “Vanish Those Turds” is the name of a heavy metal band that I’m working with, and it is pretty great. Anyway, so I think that gets to me. So this person is basically saying Chuck C. Johnson must have gone to Hogwarts, because that’s the school where it’s appropriate to poop on the floor. Kaboom.
PJ: I think we’re–
PJ: At yes, yes, yes.
ALEX: Wow. Good work–
JASON: And the Slenderman.
PJ: (laughs) What?
JASON: And als–and also the Slenderman? No? He’s, he’s not involved in this one? Okay cool.
PJ & ALEX: (laugh)
ALEX: Uh, Jason. It is uh, it’s–
JASON: [exasperated] What?
ALEX: It’s such a pleasure to have you on, even though you’re talking about the poop and grime that’s on my sweatshirt.
JASON: I just see Alex, Alex cutting a hole in a garbage bag, (ALEX & PJ laugh) so he can wear it, so he can wear it like a poncho, and the dosa guy arrives and just throws it at Alex’s head. You fucking monster.
ALEX: Uh, I’m like so desperate to end this phone call right now. I’m just feeling like so, I’m feeling so abused.
PJ: But “high-there-to” this you were feeling fine, right?
ALEX: Alright Jason, thanks so much, man.
JASON: Thank you guys. Ah, I will talk to you soon.
Jason Mantzoukas currently stars in The Long Dumb Road, which is a movie that’s available on all streaming services. And he’s the co-host of the How Did This Get Made podcast.
Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt and me, Alex Goldman. We’re produced by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Phia Bennin, Damiano Marchetti, Anna Foley and Jessica Yung. Our show’s edited by Tim Howard. We’re mixed by Rick Kwan. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Our intern is Christina Ayele Djossa. This is our last week with our outgoing intern Heather Schröering. Thank you so much for all your help, Heather! We will miss you. Our theme song is by the mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Our ad music is by Build Buildings.
Special thanks this week to Matt Shilts and Earwolf Studios.
Matt Lieber is one of those cotton candy machines where you get to dump in the cotton candy mixture and then you turn it on and you put a stick in there and then the cotton candy magically weaves out of thin air onto the stick.
You can listen to the show on Spotify, iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. See you in two weeks.