You know, we’ve been compiling this list for the better part of a decade now, and I can tell you that I have never encountered a more voluminous group of ineffectual bozos than the batch America offered to the world in 2017. This country is DYING, and yet there are tens of millions of us—me included!—who apparently are powerless to do much of anything about it. Few of us stand a chance against the country’s monstrous, destructive intractability. Hence, all our dread has manifested into real hatred, pain, and horror. I have aged 20 years this year alone.
And that glaring impotence extends all the way into the executive branch, to the inner circle of our blubbering boob of a president, all of whom claim to have his ear when the only thing President Trump listens to is the sound of his own dentures sloshing around in his burgerhole while Fox & Friends plays in the background. You could pinpoint Trump’s inauguration day as the beginning of mankind’s downward trajectory and no historian would quibble with you.
Normally, indulging in a year-end list is a pleasant holiday diversion. “Oh yeah, I remember that album! Good album!” But we live in a time when looking back is now so immensely painful that such listicles feel like historical sadism. But, dear reader, I live to serve the greater good. And so I must pinch my nose and dig through the archives to bring you this roll call of enablers, buffoons, and losers who not only contributed nothing to society in 2017, but actively helped ruin America by doing so.
All the Bad Men
In addition to shining a light on their monstrous behavior, 2017 also served to expose how many of these serial harassers were men who did consistently average, forgettable work. Like, Kevin Spacey and Louis CK were genuine talents. But Matt Lauer? Get the fuck outta here. Matt Lauer was television mayonnaise. It is a damning indictment of our culture that someone that bland and eminently worthless was able to command $25 million a year and occupy his own fiefdom within NBC.
And Harvey Weinstein? Holy shit, how many terrible movies has Harvey Weinstein foisted upon the general public? Apart from the occasional Tarantino movie, Harvey buried more good movies than he ever released, and spent the bulk of his career pushing horrible awards bait that vanished from the cultural radar the second the Oscar telecast ended. The greater world of film isn’t gonna suffer without the dude who financed Chocolat. Keep going down the list and you’ll find even more disposable losers like Leon Wieseltier, Mark Halperin, and that one That ’70s Show guy who was somehow less remarkable than Ashton Kutcher. The collective talents of these men aren’t close to the collective talents they suppressed, and I’m glad they’re going away.
Everyone in media got laid off in 2017, but you know who thrived? You know who networks find TRULY valuable? It’s a sociopathic political junkie, an ur-Halperin, who has carved out his own niche in punditry by saying absolutely nothing:
Chris Cillizza is the ideal embodiment of the quietly damnable state of the mainstream media. He is every White House press-corps member dutifully chuckling at Sarah Sanders’ jokes. He is every “let’s hear both sides” TV panel where a white supremacist gets treated to a seat at the table. He lives in a world where politics is entirely about optics and branding, and where the idea of journalism doubling as activism is plainly rude. He is Darren Rovell, but for politics.
The Atlanta Falcons
How hard is it to hold on to a 28-3 lead? I should’ve known they would choke. I should’ve known the Atlanta Falcons would revert to faceless anonymity the second they were within a whisker of capturing immortality. I’ll never get over it, and they aren’t even my team! Did I mention the malevolent cheaters they blew that game to ended up gifting Trump a Super Bowl ring? Of course they did. Literally no good guys won in 2017.
Seth Abramson/Eric Garland/Louise Mensch
These are the serial tweetstormers who show up any time something Russia-related happens to Trump, and then they act as if they have all the top-secret info to BLOW THIS WHOLE THING WIDE OPEN. They are…not reliable.
Seriously, every time someone I otherwise respect retweets one of these loons, I audibly groan. Donald Trump has openly committed roughly 78,000 impeachable offenses. There’s no curtain you need to peek behind, and these three certainly don’t have the access to do so anyway. Stop enabling them. Following Abramson is like subscribing to the worst podcast in world history. “Okay, so you already know about Sergei Cutyurkokov from my August 13th tweetstorm, now here is how he ties into the GORGOV MEETING 1/670.” I’m barely exaggerating here. Look at the size of this thread:
For God’s sake, get a Medium account and leave all this to Robert Mueller, people. He’s an actual professional.
Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone
Behold the men in charge of Twitter, two dudes who apparently had NO perception of the potential negative ramifications of launching a global social-media service and have utterly abdicated all of the enormous responsibilities that have come with its ascent. When confronted with the fact that Twitter has made only cursory efforts to rid its platform of hate speech, Nazism, open propaganda, and the president openly threatening nuclear war, here was Biz Stone’s pathetic response:
What leadership. No wonder this goddamn company can’t make a cent. Oh, and they expanded the character limit even though everyone hated it. Oh, and instead of getting rid of all the Nazis, they made it easier for serial tweetstormers to make more threads. Oh, AND they explained that they couldn’t pull any of the racist videos the president retweeted, not because they were, you know, AWFUL, but because it would have violated their own media policy, which is definitely a good one! Speaking of being ineffective…
T. J. Miller
You gotta be a real turd to get fired from one of the biggest comedies on TV despite being the best thing on it. But hoo boy, was T. J. Miller up to the task. He proved to be every bit as insufferable as Erlich Bachman was on that show, only with none of the charm. He trashed showrunner Alec Berg. He deliberately acted like an asshole to “infect” the news cycle. Oh, and he starred in The Emoji Movie, which makes him 2017’s greatest monster.
While Miller was an intolerable pretend tech-bro, Kalanick was the real deal. Uber was always touted as an innovation in ridesharing when, in truth, it has succeeded mainly in skirting regulations, bullying competitors, and denying drivers any kind of substantive benefits. But Kalanick, who mercifully stepped down this year, also presided over a company where harassment flourished both in the office and in the cars. Why, it’s enough to make me join the boycott, I tell you!
[remembers Lyft is partially owned by Peter Thiel]
[remembers the whole Lyft bus thing]
Against all odds, the most disturbing thing I saw in 2017 was this footage of Sheeran singing “Castle on the Hill” to a crowd of roughly 78 million screaming girls in Bogotá. I do not find it encouraging to see a massive international audience go wild for England’s pastiest coffeehouse busker. I thought Colombia was better than that. I thought HUMANITY was better than that. I grew up with Bon Jovi as watered-down Springsteen, and somehow Ed Sheeran is an even more watered-down version of that. I’d take a million boy bands over Ed’s sensitive-guy horseshit any day. And who let him get into sexy business with “Shape of You”? That’s disgusting, man. Keep that to yourself.
FIX THE FUCKING SUBWAY.
It’s never Rick Pitino’s fault. Alleged hooker orgies for Louisville recruits? Affairs at the Ground Round? Named in a federal bribery indictment? Rick Pitino doesn’t know about any of that, folks. In fact, he’s downright offended that you would even have the temerity to imply that a college basketball coach of his stature—who has his hands in virtually every part of the program in addition to greater school affairs—would be privy to such damning misdeeds. Why, he was teaching bounce passes to disabled puppies when all that was going down!
Here was a man who was paid to lie and couldn’t even do that capably. He couldn’t even put together a fucking sentence!
At the youth level, we live in an insanely competitive country. Too competitive, if you ask me. Children are subjected to cutthroat environments in sports, testing, and college admissions. So imagine you’re some kid who busted her ass to get a 4.0 GPA and ascended to captain of the debate team, and then had to sit there and not only watch Donald Trump get elected to the highest office in the land, but then see every unqualified moron riding his coattails prosper as well. Even after he got fired, Spicer prospered. He got on the Emmys! He got invited to Harvard! He’s writing a book! I’m gonna tell my kids to stop trying so hard and encourage them to eat more paste. Eat the whole tub, kids. It worked for Sean, and it can work for you.
At this point, I really thought Lonzo’s on-the-court play would overshadow all of his dad’s histrionics, but NOPE. No, turns out Lonzo is an utterly miserable shooter (31.7 percent from the field!), so much so that America would willfully rather watch LaVar Ball turd it up on CNN than see Lonzo clang another jumper off the rim. Between Lonzo and Markelle Fultz and even Ben Simmons, how are these rookie players all so terrible at shooting? It’s the most self-centered basketball act. They should all be brilliant shooters and MISERABLE passers. I condemn the millennials who killed shooting.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner
Every week I gotta rearrange my “I hope they rot in prison the most” rankings and, more often than not, one of these two occupies the top slot, even ahead of the dirty old man. Ivanka Trump is a craven social climber still laboring under the delusion that her daddy gives a shit what she says, and still pretending she belongs in high society, acting out an extended, empowering businesswoman fantasy like she’s Sheryl Sandberg of the runway. Look at her tweet out an alien vomit Thanksgiving arrangement and strain to have everyone forget she enables her dad, assumes positions of diplomatic leadership she neither officially holds nor deserves, exploits foreign child labor, and willingly serves to bleach her daddy’s grossest acts. She is low-class forever.
As for Jared…I really do wish he’d been sent into battle in this getup.
Ah yes, the General. The man who would finally bring some damn ORDER to the White House. Kelly represents one leg of a triumvirate of military babysitters (Kelly, Mattis, McMaster) who supposedly represent a kind of executive retaining wall, preventing Trump’s unhinged hatred from causing real catastrophe. Meanwhile, nearly a third of Puerto Rico remains without power, Nazis are gathering in public, ICE is hunting down immigrant families and tearing them apart with the zeal of a slave auctioneer, 500 people were shot in Vegas with no action taken, and North Korea can now hit Washington with a nuclear missile. Yeah, man, you guys have done a fucking sterling job keeping all the bad stuff at bay. I’m really indebted to you. If you aren’t turning over the pee tape, you are wasting my time.
It’s not a good sign of your tenure as Batman if you spent the majority of it trying to get OUT of being Batman.
Did you know she released an album this year? It’s true. I’m genuinely shocked that one of our shrewdest and most gifted pop stars could—with virtually all the songwriting talent in the universe ready at her disposal—put out an album as messy and unexciting as Witness. I think both Perry and Taylor Swift learned this year that if you gotta make a whole album about clapping back, it’s probably too late for you to clap back. She should have named the album I’m Not Owned.
Dennis Miller once said Alabama was Darwin’s waiting room. Well, it’s 2017 and Roy Moore is still waiting.
Well, look at that: It’s the senator who BRAVELY stood up to Donald Trump by confirming every last one of his appointees and judges, voting for his hideous tax bill, and then opting to retire and thus leave some Trumpist loon to fill his slot come 2018. Truly a profile in courage. Oh, but he sent Doug Jones a whopping $100 check to campaign against Roy Moore. I’m sure that’s what put him over the top.
Let me tell you something: These supposed conscientious objectors like Flake and John McCain are even worse than openly corrupt scum like Mitch McConnell. These guys want all the PR perks of opposing Trump without doing much, if any, actual opposition. These are not good guys. These are men who exist to strategically convince you the Republican Party has a heart when it doesn’t. That’s all a lie designed to feed into centrist wet dreams, and it’s one of the reasons Republicans get a strange benefit of the doubt from both the media and their Democratic colleagues that they do NOT deserve.
I don’t know how this nebbish stammered his way into immunity from The Great Reckoning, but his downfall is now roughly three decades overdue. Wonder Wheel is not only the title of his latest bore-a-thon jazz odyssey, it also doubles as a perfect descriptor of how this lech has been able to bilk the industry into letting him make the same gross May-December romcom over and over again. Truly, it is a marvel. God, please, someone hit Woody on the head with a clarinet case.
Does this name not ring a bell? What if I told you that ol’ Douggie here was the mastermind behind the Juicero? AHA! Now you remember. Now you remember the hilarious tale of the $400 million Silicon Valley startup that promised to revolutionize the juice space by selling…a juice press. Not only was the Juicero just a stupid juice press, but Bloomberg reporters found that they could get more juice from Juicero fruit bags simply by squeezing them by hand. It’s a near-flawless parable of how Silicon Valley is an empty vessel filled with greedy con men churning out crummy products based on used ideas. “No no no, it’s not an alarm clock. It’s a time-based morning wakefulness aid. SEED MONEY PLEEEEZ.”
Did you know he was on The View the other day? Please stop doing this. We don’t need to make permanent mini-celebrities out of every Trump administration disgrace. That’s exactly how Trump got elected to begin with. The Mooch is gonna succeed him in the Oval Office and send out Holocaust polls twice a day.
David Brooks and the New York Times op-ed section
As long as The New York Times pays good money for David Brooks to piss and moan about modern morals and for Tom Friedman to take cab rides in Saudi Arabia, they can cool it with their whole “truth” marketing spiel. This year, they gave op-ed space to Erik Prince AND Erick Erickson. All the bad Eri(c)ks. They are still striving to be “balanced” just to appease a handful of wingnut hate-readers who will never be appeased. Clean out the old rich guys, cool it on the soft-focus Nazi profiles, and stop giving columns to people who belong in jail.
The Ginger Hammer makes this list every year, but this year’s a REALLY special inclusion because he inked a $200 million contract extension that ensures he’ll be around to desecrate the sport of football until at least 2024. Think of all the suspensions he’ll botch! Think of the surprising owner feuds he’ll instigate! And think of how low the ratings can get! By 2024, there’ll be six people watching Thursday Night Football streaming on Vudu, and Goodell will get another extension worth half a billion. It’s gonna be great.
Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi
On a certain level, I get it. Bereft of majorities anywhere, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have opted to play “the game” with Trump, meeting with him and currying his favor and staging an end-around on Republicans by getting Trump to “agree” to a replacement for the DACA program (Surprise! That deal is still in limbo). And I understand that perhaps they’re waiting for the exact right spot to expend their political capital to get rid of Trump for good, maybe even when the Mueller investigation wraps up.
But Trump’s word means absolutely nothing, and getting him to agree to something is essentially an exercise in dividing by zero. And I don’t think Schumer and Pelosi understand the horrible drain in morale their constituents feel when they cheerfully mingle with Trump and tweet out dreck like this:
What has a sincere desire to work with Republicans EVER gotten them? I am so, so sick of Democrats extending an olive branch to a party that’s about as amenable to compromise as the aliens in Independence Day. Modern Republicans don’t give half a shit about the law or anyone who opposes them. Routine political gamesmanship isn’t gonna cut it, and every day Trump is in power, things get worse. Whatever long game these two are playing needs to get shortened the fuck up.
Donald Trump Jr.
You would think it would be a real derby to earn the title of Stupidest Trump Child, but Lil’ Donnie has long since proven he’s got a lockdown on it. “You guys think I colluded with the Russians? Well, here are some e-mails I did with the Russians! CHECK AND MATE!”
Ah yes, that freestyle rap at the BET Awards truly ANNIHILATED Trump and finished him off once and for all. Why, he’ll never recover from such vicious parking-lot ownage. Lemme tell you something: There are two kinds of Eminem songs. The first is the kind that becomes dated within ten seconds of its release. The second is “Lose Yourself.” My man needs to make more of the latter and way less of the former.
Mr. Wheeler is the dad on Stranger Things who spends both seasons supernaturally oblivious to the fact that his children are off battling netherdemons and having overnights with gonzo journalists. He is the laziest dad on television, and thus he is my favorite character on that show by far. He is my spirit animal. I love him. Like, when his wife gives him a dirty look because he won’t even get up from his chair when a child goes missing, and then he reacts defensively, like, “The fuck did I do?” That’s my guy. I aspire to give so few fucks. He’s the best. I want a spinoff show where Mr. Wheeler just spends every episode reading his paper and being left alone.
America, Just in General
Maybe you still have hope for the Republic, but the rest of the world has basically written us off. We’re a nutjob racist backwater now, and we probably deserve to be dismissed as such. You can see this every time Trump goes abroad and world leaders hand him a shiny orb to play with while the real players get down to business. Then Trump declares the trip a success and the world laughs behind his ample, fatty back. We’re a joke, and we’re gonna be a joke for a long, long time.
This is why we can all learn so much from Ted Wheeler. After all, nothing bad can happen if you just stop paying attention. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.