June 8, 2017

#98 Fog of Covfefe

by Reply All

Background show artwork for Reply All

The last person on earth who has not heard about covfefe walks into a studio, and a strange journey begins.

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ALEX GOLDMAN: From Gimlet this is Reply All, I’m Alex Goldman.

PJ VOGT: And I’m PJ Vogt

ALEX GOLDMAN: Welcome once again to Yes Yes No, the segment on the show where the, uh, students become the teachers, and we go to our boss Alex Blumberg. Doesn't know much about Internet goofs and gaffes.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing)

ALEX GOLDMAN: And, uh, we teach him about uh stuff that's going on on the Internet.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Goofs and gaffes?




ALEX GOLDMAN: Do you have some, uh, tweets for us?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh, all right. So, this is a tweet that I found. This tweet feels like it has levels.


ALEX BLUMBERG: I'm-I'm--I'm confused in many, many ways. So I'm like, I'm very eager to have this explained to me. And it's--it's--it's a tweet within a tweet within a tweet.

PJ: You mean--

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yes, that's right--

PJ: Oh ok. So, it's a series of embedded quote tweets?

ALEX BLUMBERG: It's a tweet, quoting a tweet that's quoting a tweet.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Oh my god, this is like Inception.

ALEX BLUMBERG: It is. This is the Inception episode of Yes, Yes, No.

ALEX GOLDMAN: All right, go.

ALEX BLUMBERG: All right. Um. Can we play some Inception music?

PJ: No! (laughing) I am putting my foot down!

ALEX GOLDMAN: Ready? Here it comes: [in low, gravely Inception voice] Aaahhhhh. That was uh, the--the entire thing was just--

ALEX BLUMBERG: Ah, that's right! Do it again, do it again.

ALEX GOLDMAN: [in Inception voice] Aaaahhhhhhh.....

ALEX BLUMBERG: All right, so the tweet starts--

PJ: I just want to say I'm so against this. (laughing) I'm so against this! Literally, like, not to be like, hacky, whatever, but like, people comparing anything that is all complicated to Inception. It's always like, people are like, "I ordered a popsicle, but I got two popsicles. It's like Inception!”

ALEX GOLDMAN: [Inception voice] Aaaaaahhhhh...

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing)

ALEX GOLDMAN: Sorry. Let's just--

ALEX BLUMBERG: You're right.

PJ: (laughing) I've ruined the fun!

ALEX BLUMBERG: OK. Uhhhh, ready?

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX BLUMBERG: All right so, I guess I'm going to start from the top? The outer level.

PJ: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah,

ALEX BLUMBERG: All right. So, the tweet is a guy named, uh, Dollars Horton. That's the name and then it's @crushingbort.

PJ: Oh yeah.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah, I know @crushingbort.

ALEX BLUMBERG: You know @crushingbort?

ALEX GOLDMAN: He's one of my favorite tweeters, honestly.

PJ: Really?

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah, I really like him.

ALEX BLUMBERG: All right. And then, his tweet is simply, the caption is: “five months from now.” And then he has an embedded--then he's linking to a tweet. And the tweet he's linking to is... from Hillary Clinton. And I-I--I got to believe that this is a fake, that this is a photoshopped Hillary Clinton tweet (laughing)?


ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh, and Hillary Clinton, in this, uh, alleged universe, has, is tweeting the following: "The only kerplappy…” (laughing) It has funny words in it.

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: It's gonna be hard for me to get through. "The only kerplappy that covfefes in these gelpsfss--(laughs)--gelpsfssAAaæ5 are the millions dead! pongebob face.

PJ: Ok.

ALEX BLUMBERG: You got it?

ALEX GOLDMAN: (laughing)


PJ: Yeah.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Let me read it one more time: "The only kerplappy that covfefes in these gelpsfss,” and then it's just like a bunch of As and weird, ending in the number 5, “are the millions dead! spongebob face." And then… that tweet quotes another tweet from Donald Trump, um, that says: “the media ignores my sincere kerplappy to Australia.” (laughs)

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: “no one will--” “no one will report,” uh, “no one will report nuclear missile create JOBS.”

PJ: Ok.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh wait. And it doesn't say ignores, it says ingores.


PJ: Ok. Uh, where are we at on this?

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

PJ: Yes.

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

ALEX BLUMBERG: No. Alex Goldman, do you understand this tweet?


PJ: (inhales deeply) We’re home again guys. (laughs) The fact that you're a “no” on this makes me thing, you um--

ALEX GOLDMAN: Haven't looked at the computer in a while.

PJ: Yeah, there's like a--

ALEX BLUMBERG: What--ok. I know about covfefe--

PJ: Ok, ok, ok, ok.

ALEX GOLDMAN: That's a good place to start.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yes. I know--I know that it's a thing. And I know that it's a thing that emanates like, everything on the internet, today, from Donald Trump.

PJ: But you don't know more than that?

ALEX BLUMBERG: I--uh--and I--I think--no, I don't really know more than that.


PJ: Ok. It's exciting to get to tell you about this thing.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah, seriously.


PJ: Um. Ok. So late last Tuesday night, uh, at like midnight...

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah, it was 12:06.

PJ: Trump had just gotten back from like, the Europe trip, and like he hadn't really tweeted in any sort of Trumpian way all week.


PJ: And so he gets home, and like, everybody else goes to bed, and he's alone with his phone. And he did this tweet--he did this thing that he often does on Twitter, which is that he'll start like a rant. Like he'll--he'll say something kind of inflammatory, but it won't finish the sentence and like, everyone will react and go crazy, and like, wait for him to finish the thought. And sometimes it takes him actually quite awhile to finish the thought, like an hour.


PJ: And it's never clear like whether what's happening is like a bunch of people are like wrestling with him for the phone--

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing)

PJ: Or he's like, enjoying like the crowd that assembles, or like he just got distracted. Like, you kind of don't know.


PJ: But when you're there when it happens, it feels kind of exciting?


PJ: So...

ALEX BLUMBERG: And you were there when this happened?

PJ: I was there.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing)

PJ: And it was a tweet from him...

ALEX GOLDMAN: It was a tweet that said, "Despite the constant negative press covfefe."

PJ: And like, everybody went crazy! In a way that, for the record, like, the next day, people were kind of making fun of people for going so crazy, but if you were there, it was a very exciting moment.


PJ: ‘Cause it's very clear that he meant to say, "Despite the negative press coverage," and he just like...

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing)

PJ: (laughing) So profoundly screwed up!

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing) And then it was--and it was literally just the-the-the-the clause?

PJ: Yeah. And he never--all night--all night--like, all night he never followed up on it.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing) So it's just literally like somebody saying, uh, "Let me just say one more teggalangaga."

PJ: And then that's it!

ALEX BLUMBERG: And then that's it.

PJ: That's it.

ALEX BLUMBERG: And then you're like, "Wait! What's the next thing?" (laughing) Ok.

PJ: So, he tweets that out, and just like, more so than any other times, there's like the long--like everybody just kind of goes nuts who's awake right then. And it's like, there was this like golden period where every joke was funny.


PJ: Like--like the worst jokes were like so funny, ‘cause you're just so excited about the weirdness of it?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Like, what were some of the good ones?

PJ: I don't even. Ok! They're not gonna, like--(sighs) it's like--I feel like I don't wanna say them to you guys, because they won't-their--they don't stand up to the light of day. Oh, let me look at the ones that I favorited that in the moment I thought were funny. Oh, this is gonna be sobering. Ok. Like, “I don't remember liberals freaking out when Obama covfefe." "Covfefe? I barely know fefe.” Um.


ALEX GOLDMAN: This is tough to listen to.


PJ: But I don't like--I don't like wanna be like crapping on people's tweets, because in the moment--

ALEX BLUMBERG: No, no, no!

PJ: --these tweets were so good!

ALEX BLUMBERG: I get it. I get it.

PJ: (sighs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: Give me some more though.

PJ: "Hey I just met you and this is crazy, despite the neg--the constant negative press covfefe."


PJ: Um.

ALEX GOLDMAN: That's kind of good.

ALEX BLUMBERG: That's alright.

ALEX GOLDMAN: It's alright.

PJ: That was like the--the highest point of it, was like just successfully rhyming. Um.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right, and you were like, "Does the human imagination know no bounds!?" (laughs)

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: You know what else--you know what else, though, occurs to me?

PJ: What?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Is that all of you people who thought you were like, so different from the president you were mocking, you're all doing the same thing.

PJ: Yeah!

ALEX BLUMBERG: You're all up at--you're all up too late, tweeting shit you shouldn't tweet.

PJ: (exhales)

ALEX GOLDMAN: You are getting owned so hard by Alex Blumberg right now.

PJ: This is not what I come to this segment for (laughing). Yeah, that's totally true. Anyway, the thing that happened the next day was like--

ALEX GOLDMAN: It was like Cinderella had turned back into a pumpkin.

PJ: Yes! But then there were all these people trying to put on Cinderella shoes.


ALEX GOLDMAN: In fact, I woke up, having not been awake for the thing--for the original tweet just being like, “What are all these ug--what are all these rotten pumpkins strewn about Twitter?” (laughing) “This joke is bad!”


PJ: And like, the sort of like, the point where I think like, even the people who were like, "But it was funny last night," like had to give up, uh… Do you have the Hillary Clinton tweet?

ALEX GOLDMAN: I don't. Hold on (typing sounds).


PJ: Yeah. Do you see where this is going?

ALEX BLUMBERG: The guh--the joke killer in chief.

PJ: Yes. Um.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Uh, here. So uh the day after covfefe fever Donald Trump tweeted -- made a totally unrelated tweet that said, "Crooked Hillary Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible candidate, hits Facebook and even Dems and DNC."

PJ: And so, she responds probably 12 hours after this joke is like fully, fully, fully dead and she says: "People in covfefe houses shouldn't throw covfefe." And she quote tweets him. And it gets 306,000 retweets.

AB: Yeah...

ALEX GOLDMAN: She didn't do a great job with the joke. It's kind of--she just kind of replaced a couple words with a gibberish word.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing) Yes.

PJ: And it's just like--that feeling of like, “Oh god. The thing we had to suffer through for like a year, of like Donald Trump says something wild and unintelligible. Hillary Clinton like, makes a joke about it that's not very funny.” And it was like, at least like the election was supposed to end that. And so it was just like--


PJ: It's not a good feeling.

ALEX GOLDMAN: There's actually like a whole other facet to this story which we haven't really talked about, which is while you were rolling your eyes at Hillary Clinton's lame joke, the Trump internet saw covfefe as something totally different. So, there is this idea among sort of ardent internet Trump supporters that no matter what he does he's always--he's always like, several--several steps ahead of people, and he's actually much smarter than everybody gives him credit for.

PJ: He's a chess master.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Yeah. He's playing what they call ten-dimensional chess. So, everybody just rightly just agreed that covfefe was a typo, except for the Trump...

PJ: Like the super diehard--

ALEX GOLDMAN: 4--4chan the donald subreddit people... they decided that it was not a typo.

PJ: Really?

ALEX GOLDMAN: That it was deliberate. And--

PJ: And what did it deliberately express?

ALEX GOLDMAN: Can I, uh, ask you guys to do me a favor?

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Ok. Uh, I've got up Google Translate. Can you go ahead and type in, uh, C-O-V.

PJ: [a long pause] What the hell?




ALEX GOLDMAN: Space. F-E-apostrophe-F-E. Ok. What does it say?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh. It says uh--oh, apparently that's an Arabic word--or an Arabic sentence that says, "I will stand up.”

ALEX GOLDMAN: So, uh, if-- if you believe the ten-dimensional chess version of Donald Trump--

PJ: (whispering) This is insane.

ALEX GOLDMAN: What he said was, "Despite negative press, I will stand up." Um. Now, a bunch of Arabic linguists have said: that's a terrible, uh, translation, no one speaks like that.

PJ: But what do they know?


ALEX GOLDMAN: But what do they know?

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing)

ALEX GOLDMAN: Uh, Donald Trump was--was doing some ten-dimensional chess.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Native Arab speakers.

PJ: (laughing) That is so funny!

ALEX GOLDMAN: Isn't that crazy?

PJ: Oh man. So, if we return to our original tweet, uh … Alex, are you at a point where you could try to explain this?


PJ: (laughs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: This might be the hardest recap yet.

PJ: (laughing) There have been some tough ones.

ALEX BLUMBERG: I know. But not like, Inception level.

ALEX GOLDMAN: [Inception voice] Uuuuhhhhhhhh...

ALEX BLUMBERG: Thank you. Uh...

PJ: Oh god. (laughing)

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing) I'm gonna make it so you can't edit it out.

PJ: (laughing) I have so much hatred in my heart! Just like watching like a running joke get forced in.


ALEX BLUMBERG: All we have to do is one more call back, and then it'll be funny.

PJ: (laughing) I hate this so much...!

ALEX BLUMBERG: One more. It'll be funny. Uhhhh … ok. Uh...alright. Ok, so: Dollars Horton. Once again, the tweet is: "Five months from now," and then he is quoting a fake tweet from Hillary Clinton, that says, The only kerplappy that covfefes in these gelpsfssAAaæ5 are the millions dead! spongebob face.” And then, that fake Hillary Clinton quote includes a fake Donald Trump quote that says, "The media ingores my very sincere kerplapy to Australia, no one will report nuclear missiles create jobs." Jobs is all capitalized.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Alright. So what does this mean, Alex Blumberg?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh, Alright. So what this means--it all goes back to a tweet that Donald Trump sent out a couple weeks ago, or about a week and a half ago. In which he said, "Despite the media covfefe" and then just stopped. And then twelve hours after that, in waltzes Hillary Clinton with a-with a--with a tweet that had a bad joke in it.

PJ: Mhm.

ALEX BLUMBERG: So that was the original event. And that was--so that was sort of--that was the whole covfefe cycle. And now, so Dollars Horton in this tweet is imagining the covfefe cycle just, sort of like, continuing on for months and months and months, and in this imagined future, five months from now, Donald Trump (laughing) has accidentally nuclear bombed Australia...

PJ: (laughing)

ALEX BLUMBERG: Which if it really happened, I wouldn't be laughing at. Just so everybody knows. Uh… he's accidentally nuclear bombed Australia. Followed by a tweet in which he says (laughing), which is really a funny scenario. I mean it's not a funny scenario...

PJ: (laughing)

ALEX BLUMBERG: But the--the, imagine this tweet of like, if I accidentally bombed Australia, this is what I would be tweeting. But it--in the--in this imagined future in which he accidentally bombed Australia, with nuclear weapons, he--his first act was to tweet the following: "The media ingores my sincere kerplappy to Australia. No one will report nuclear missiles create JOBS." So that was, like, which is actually a very--I feel like a very effective, um, uh satire of a Donald Trump--Trump tweet.

PJ: Mhm.

ALEX BLUMBERG: And then, Hillary Clinton, also in a very effective satire, has… sort of gone completely off the rails in this imagined future, and is just sort of like, jumping on in all sorts of confused and jangled ways, and trying to, like, poke fun and also point out how actually horrible it is to accidentally nuclear bomb a country, in a confused sort of muddled way that results in this tweet: "The only kerplappy that covfefes in these gelpsfssAAaæ5 are the millions dead! spongebob face."

ALEX GOLDMAN: Uh, I think we're at Yes, Yes, Yes.

PJ: Feels good!

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh, Goldman, you wanna play us out?

ALEX GOLDMAN: (sings) Ba da da da da da!


ALEX GOLDMAN: (laughs)

PJ: (laughing) You guys can't even pull off you're terrible--!

ALEX BLUMBERG: What's the theme song of our fuckin' segment, dude?

ALEX GOLDMAN: Oh! [Inception voice] Ehhhhhrrrrrrr...

PJ: This is really the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Ehhhhhrrrrr…

PJ: More Yes Yes No coming up after the break.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Are you ready for another one?


ALEX BLUMBERG: Alright, this one--this one is so weird.

PJ: (laughs) Good...

ALEX BLUMBERG: Um. Let's start with the name, shall we?

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX BLUMBERG: The tweeter: Gregory-Cat Botherer?


ALEX BLUMBERG: The Twitter handle is @cat_beltane. Um, cat beltane wrote this tweet recently: “the Dog_Rates account would like to apologize for saying "doggos think sweatshops are h’cking bad" hecking hecking bad and vows to be neutral about sweatshops.” You guys are laughing.

ALEX GOLDMAN: It's a good joke.

PJ: It’s a good joke. We are still stuck in covfeve

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing)

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

PJ: Yes.

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

ALEX BLUMBERG: (sad voice) No!

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: Not even close.

ALEX GOLDMAN: You sound exasperated.


PJ: So the first thing you need to know.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing) Yeah, good.

PJ: There's a lot of things you need--

ALEX BLUMBERG: Out of seven million.

PJ: Well, ok.


PJ: So, here's question. How far can you go into this tweet before you're confused? What is the first thing that confuses you?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh...the--the second word.

PJ: Ok. Wh--

ALEX BLUMBERG: Dog--dog rates.

PJ: Dog underscore rates. Ok. So, there is a--there is a Twitter account, uh, that has over 2 million followers.


PJ: And it is devoted to rating peoples’ dogs,

ALEX BLUMBERG: Rating them.

PJ: Yeah. So like, scale of one to ten?


PJ: Except they always give them above 10. Like, every single time. Um, can I just show you the best moment in WeRateDogs™’ history? Where a guy got angry, that he thought the ratings system was skewed?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh, so, this guy Brant?

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX BLUMBERG: He was like, "@dog_rates You're rating system sucks! Just change your name to cute dogs!" And then WeRateDogs™ wrote back: "Why are you so mad, Bront?" And then he said, "Well, you give every dog 11s and 12s, it doesn't even make any sense!" (laughing) That's a guy who is not in on the joke.

PJ: Yes.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing) And then WeRateDogs™--and then WeRateDogs™ says, "They're good dogs, Brent." Brant: "It's a cheap gimmick!" WeRateDogs™: "Well Brint, (laughing) the people love it and I'm doing it for them, not you." Uh. Brent: "All I'm saying is you could have real legitimate ratings instead of every just saying (laughing) every dog is a 10, 11, or 12

PJ: So like, that is basically--that is like a good encapsulation of what is good about this.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing)

PJ: (laughing) Alex Blumberg is losing his mind.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Oh, “They’re good dogs, Brent” is really funny.

PJ: Yeah. Yeah. And like, they're just good at--they're both--they're both funny, and they're good at like, whatever the internet jiu jitsu is of that. Like they, they made that guy look dumb, but not in like a particularly mean way, do you know what I mean?

ALEX BLUMBERG: I know, every--every once in awhile we'll do--we'll be doing on of these Yes Yes Nos and I'll--and I will have the feeling about a tweet the way that you sometimes feel about like a line of poetry or something, where it's just sort of like, it's so--it's so… there's a world in the line.

PJ: Yes!

ALEX BLUMBERG: You know what I mean? And that's how that feels? “They’re good dogs, Brent” is just so--there's so much in there!

PJ: Yes. Yes. And like--

ALEX BLUMBERG: And it's so… delightful. When you know the backstory.

PJ: And there was--there was a while where you could just say like, "They're good dogs, Brent," or "They're good dogs, Brant" and it was just like, a very nice passphrase or whatever.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right. And when would you say it? Use it in a sent--use it in a tweet.

PJ: Um… well, I wouldn't use it in a tweet. But like--


PJ: Like, I'd be at a dog park and like--like, uh, I'd be there with Lola, and she'd be like… she'd be--we'd be--we would fall into that really simpering, horrible, just like, cute overload thing where you're just like, "That dog’s cute. That dog’s cute! That dog’s cute!" And then you'd just be like, "They're good dogs, Brant."

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing)

PJ: Or you could do it, if somebody was really mad in a way that was missing the point, you would just be like, "They're good dogs, Brant." Do you know what I mean?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Right, so you could use it either literally, about actual dogs--

PJ: Or as a way to be like--


PJ: “You're really mad and I'm just gonna like squeeze a clown nose right now.”


PJ: It like--it's like this deescalating, absurd thing.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Simmer down.

PJ: Yes. And--

ALEX BLUMBERG: But without--with--but in a funny way.

PJ: Yeah and like and like sorta everything they do is like that like their avatar is a cute dog so they talk in this like made up cutsie dog language they say hecking all the time time so that’s why it says h *


PJ: Like hecking bad. I'm saying this like a beleaguered person, I love this so much. It makes me really happy. It's a horrible part of me that will like, look at dog internet and just like feel joy the whole time. Just full disclosure.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing) Got it.

PJ: Love dog_rates. So! Basically the only thing you need to know is that, WeRateDogs™ account is extremely good at the internet, it has made this thing that everybody likes and nobody ever gets mad it. Like, never messes up. Until the night of covfefe.




PJ: And it as this crazy thing--

ALEX GOLDMAN: He was a covfefe casualty.

PJ: Where he's like, I think never blundered, and it was like Blunder City in this way that was like, truly insane. Like truly, truly insane.

ALEX BLUMBERG: What happened?

PJ: Ok, so. Covfefe goes down. People get very excited. The dog_rates guy.. (clicking sound) makes makes a post where he's like...

ALEX GOLDMAN: He tweeted a picture of a hat, and it said "I'm so sorry" at the top. And it was a picture of a hat that he'd made that said: "Covfefe AF." Which means “I'm covfefe as fuck.”


ALEX GOLDMAN: And… he was selling this hat. And right away people were upset about it, because it just seemed really crass like the moment this meme breaks that this guy just was like, “Oh, I’m gonna make a hat for it. Tryna make a quick buck.” People, like, got really annoyed at him.

PJ: and then then he tried to apologize. He said--he said: “Pupdate: half of all profits will be donated to Planned Parenthood.” So that was like him trying to dig himself out of people who were like, "You shouldn't be profiting off like a Trump tweet” I guess? And then, all of his followers who were conservative, all of these people got really angry at him because they were like, "I come here for cute pictures of dogs! Not to, like, see you support abortion!"


PJ: So then, he tried to apologize to those people, and he was like, he wrote this really long like out-of-voice thing, that was like, let me actually find it, it was like--he said: "I let my personal beliefs infiltrate an account that's not meant to share them. If my actions offended you, I'm sincerely so--sorry. Alienating a portion of my audience is stupid and unnecessary. Different opinions are good. Conversations about those opinions are valuable. I'll do my best to put the train back on the tracks to the wholesome, pure, escape from reality account you all have come to love.” In a note that he titled “Regarding the events of last night.”


PJ: So then, people were angry because they were like,”How dare you! You don't stand with women! You don't stand with women's rights!” The conservative people were mad because he made it about abortion. The progressive people were mad because he made it about abortion, and then like flinched when people got angry. Like, it was like--it was so cra--like, I never… It was almost beautiful--

ALEX BLUMBERG: And all he was trying to do was make a buck off a meme.

PJ: Yes!


ALEX GOLDMAN: The other thing is that--it--it really (laughs) it really demonstrated to me, how like, we really can't enjoy anything without it turning into a political fight.

ALEX BLUMBERG: I know. Like, the entire internet is like...Thanksgiving with the in-laws. Alright  so now i think i got it. I think it's--I think it's time for a recap.

PJ: Alright, let's go back to the tweet.

ALEX BLUMBERG: The tweet is, from Gregory Cat-Botherer: “The @dog_rates account would like to apologize for saying, quote: ‘doggos think sweatshops are hecking bad’ and vows to be neutral about sweatshops.” Um. So this is a tweet that is in, uh… in the wake of what I now know to be the dog_rates controversy. Um and I would say, this is coming from the progressive side of things.


PJ: Mhm.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Where he's like… he's mad at dog_rates for going back on his like progressive stance. Um and sort of like imagining a world in which, uh, instead of tweeting about… abortion, he tweeted about sweatshops.

PJ: Mhm, mhm.

ALEX BLUMBERG: And saying “sweatshops are bad” and now in imagining a world in which there has been sort of conservative backlash against the anti-sweatshop tweet, and now he's saying that he's gonna be neutral about sweatshops.

ALEX GOLDMAN: We're at Yes Yes Yes.

ALEX BLUMBERG: We're at Yes Yes Yes.

PJ: Alright

PJ : Hello hello.


PJ: Okay sorry let me just get my bearings. Okay so that last conversation we had was on monday it’s now Wednesday. I have a small but exciting update about dog rates but also there’s this thing i’ve been really excited about telling you guys that I forgot to tell you. you know about it but alex i don’t think you know about it


PJ: so i feel like we actually there's been like a couple Yes Yes Nos where we talked about like, Ken Bone, or like, whatever, that there's like a--there's a thing that happens where the internet really loves somebody and they want to know everything about them until they find the thing they don't like and then they hate the person as quickly with the same force. And there's like, I didn’t--there's a word for that, which I didn't know.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Oh yeah. Great shorthand.

PJ: So, uh--Milkshake duck? So, there's this viral tweet by this account Pixelated Boat, that just says, (laughs) “The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes!” Five seconds later: “We regret to inform you that the duck is racist.”

ALEX BLUMBERG: Uh huh (laughing).

ALEX GOLDMAN: So, Pe--people--people be--rapidly become milkshake ducks.

PJ: Yeah. So you'd be like, "Oh" and I think he did like kind of like a rare like double milkshake duck, like he like, milkshake ducked himself to the conservative side of the internet, then he milkshake ducked himself to the progressive side of the internet.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing)

PJ: Like, it was like, usually you just do one.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing) Right. You don't double down.

PJ: (laughs) Yeah. So I wanted to talk to the guy who did this so I called Dog_Rates yesterday.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughing) Ok.


PJ:  Yeah he’s a totally nice guy his name is Matt Nelson.


PJ: Hey, Matt?

MATT: Yes. How are you?

PJ: Hey, this is PJ. How’s it goin?

MATT: Good. Exciting slash scary last 72 hours-ish?

PJ: So I don't know who I was picturing would the WeRateDogs™ account but it definitely wasn’t Mat like he’s a college sophomore and his whole motivation for doing this thing it’s not really money it’s he just has a very pure love of the feeling of writing a funny tweet and lots of people liking it. Like I think his motivation is basically he’s like a class clown for the internet. So it’s been really weird for Matt to suddenly feel like his tweets have gotten him in the crosshairs of what feels like to him a national scandal.

MATT: so the National Review Online has now made three or four articles on this now

PJ: really

MATT: Which is yeah. OK. Ian Tuttle has made two. He himself has written two full length articles about the WeRateDogs™ covefe incident that to me like whaat?

PJ: So part of why this is so confusing for Matt is because this wasn’t like his first political post, like he’s done a bunch since the election every time he did ‘em mostly people liked em and if someone got mad Matt would just do you know the internet jiujitsu stuff we talked about before, he’d manage the situation it would turn out fine and like it just wouldn’t be a problem. Like for instance he talked about this post he did back in January after the Women’s March of this dog with a sign that said I march for my moms.

MATT: And then someone responded I don't like to see this on my timeline," just uh--and I said, "This is something you can't ignore right now." Um, and then someone said, "100 percent unfollowed," and I said, "I 100 percent don't give a shit."

PJ: (laughs)

MATT: And so like someone-someone--someone screenshotted that, and that went just as viral as the actual post. Um, so from that, and like we, so that was our most unfollowed day ever, we like lost 800 people, but we gained 37,000.

PJ: in the right.. it seems like the thing you had sort of identified like there are certain issues that are that you can be a bit political and people will like it. And then if someone says something mean to you and you retort people were really excited to see Dog Rates kind of like having a backbone.

MATT: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. Well first of all if you enter an argument with my avatar online you've already lost. You look like an idiot

PJ: because you're yelling at a picture of a cute dog.

MATT: Exactly. Exactly.


ALEX GOLDMAN: But I don't understand then why… this--he treated this particular situation as a teachable moment where he had to walk it back.

PJ: Yeah I mean Matt seems confused by that too, like i think that he he described covfefe night the same way I did. I do think a mysterious fog rolled into town and clouded everybody's judgement. He thinks he made a big mistake and some of that was the joke wasn’t even funny in the first place and he kinda knew that and for him the thing he most regretted was just the apology. He’s like it wasn’t in my voice it didn’t sound like me it came from a place of fear I just shouldn’t have apologized

ALEX BLUMBERG: See, the thing about the internet, for all, like--the thing that like, I feel like, we've talked about this before, but the thing that is like, it's really annoying and it's like crowd, and like all--and it reacts in this crazy way, and it's got mob mentality, but it does-- It is really, really, really good at pinpointing exactly when people are disingenuous. And that's the thing that drives it crazy.

PJ: Yeeaah! Yeah.

ALEX BLUMBERG: And that's what he was doing

PJ: Yeah he flinched…. And he sorta knows it…

MATT:  I’ve accepted with a following such as mine you can’t please everyone. In this case I tried to. I can assure you there are more mistakes coming. Like that’s just that’s just the nature of it there’s gonna be uhh I think  I believe there was a picture of a dog and there was like a peeled banana in front of him and then some other bananas. And I said that he unpeeled the banana. And immediately people were like no he peeled it. And so I was like oh shit what do I do and I looked it up and I was like it can be either what. What. What do I do. Unpeeled or Peeled. Like but those are the things I should be worrying about.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt and me Alex Goldman the show is produced by Phia Bennin, Sruthi Pinnamaneni, and Damiano Marchetti. The show is edited by Tim Howard and Jorge Just. The theme song is by the Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder and our ad music is by Build Buildings. Matt Lieber is that playlist that has that Beach Boys song “Windchimes” on it but then right after that song ends “Snowblind” by Black Sabbath comes on. Our show was mixed by Kate Bilinski. Congratulations to Rick Kwan who is out this week because he just had a baby boy. We can seriously hardly wait to meet him. You can find the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever else you listen to podcasts. Thanks for listening! We’ll see you next week.