News O'Clock: Bill Gates, Dr. Fauci and a Coronavirus Vaccine Walk Into A Bar
We’re finally getting a black Disney prince, and we talk about the world of online coronavirus conspiracy theories.
Check out the full episode transcript here:
Casey Rackham: The CDC has new guidelines for what to look out for with Covid-19. There's going to be a black live-action Disney Prince finally. And we talked to BuzzFeed News' Ryan Broderick. He's been calling out some of the internet's wildest Coronavirus conspiracy theories and well, hold onto your butts.
Hayes Brown: The date, April 28, 2020.
CR: The time, news o'clock.
HB: Hello friends. I'm Hayes Brown.
CR: And I'm Casey Rackham. Welcome to News O'clock. Can I just say really quick how glad I am that we're not doing this podcast as a video series?
HB: That is a hard agree for me on that fact because ain't nobody trying to look like fully internet presentable every day like this. Like that's just not happening.
CR: No, and I'm starting to, at the beginning of all this, I was like showing my face during every Zoom meeting and now I'm just straight up not. I'm like on my couch, face down listening to what one person is saying.
HB: Oh man. The Coronavirus bits that are taking place out there are truly inspiring though. I mean, I personally do not subscribe to the theory of business on top, party down below because I've seen too many people make that fatal error and forgetting that their camera is on.
CR: Oh yeah. I mean definitely. And I know that would happen to me, although I had something happen to me yesterday on a family Zoom that I didn't think would happen. I was wearing like a long sleeve shirt with a scoop neck and where the camera was on me, my dad said it looks like you're only wearing sleeves. And I was like, great, great. So I still somehow looked like naked to everyone but I had sleeves on. It was great.
HB: What a look. Who would even promote that? Hot topic? Is that the vibe? This morning even, there was a Good Morning America reporter who had this happen on live television. He went for a workout, went to do his Hiit, kept his shorts on with the business top, tie and everything, and did not realize his camera angle was showing all of his down below. So poor dude. That has to suck.
CR: Do you know what I found out though? Who that man was? It's Christopher Reeve's son.
HB: Oh snap. Wait. Oh man. If anyone should know about how to dress to hide your secret identity, it should be him. Okay, and now I have to break this up because it's time for the Corona update and today I've got three things that you should probably know about.
CR: All right, let's go.
HB: Number one, the centers for disease control now says there are nine main symptoms of Covid-19 to be on the lookout for. They include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. That's an update from its last guidance a few weeks ago when CDC only listed cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and fever as the main symptoms. And for the record, this still isn't comprehensive. One of the things researchers have been the most surprised by is just how different the symptoms of Covid-19 present from case to case sometimes.
CR: Great. Great, great. So I'm super excited to just be afraid of everything my body does the next couple of months. I was on an exercise bike the other day and then I was sore the next day obviously, and I was like, Oh, those are my body aches. Those are the chills.
HB: That's the Covid. That's the Covid. So that's not what they are saying. But on the other hand, if you have any of those symptoms and we're not on an exercise bike, it is probably a pretty good time to stay as couch locked as you can. All right, number two, the President ignored warnings from intelligence services about the Coronavirus in January and February. Every day Trump gets what's called the president's daily briefing with top info from the intelligence agencies letting him know what's going on around the world. Trump hates reading it and apparently doesn't even pay much attention during the oral briefing he gets up to three times a week.
HB: The Washington Post says in their story that between January and February he got more than a dozen warnings in his PDB about the Coronavirus and how bad it could be in the US and how it was spreading overseas, which just really throws a wrench in his claim that nobody could have seen this pandemic coming.
CR: Okay, I got a really vivid image when you're talking about people reading the briefs to him. It seems like it would be like a Disney or Hallmark movie where it's like a young Prince or like a know it all Prince who hasn't really taken his duties on. He's over it all and everyone's like dressing him, making him right, telling him what to do and then usually it means someone comes along and rights him, but I don't know if that's happening here.
HB: No. Also, he's 73. He is not a young spoiled Prince. Okay. Onto number three, which is surprisingly even for me, a spot of potentially good news. An Oxford university group is possibly closing in on a Coronavirus vaccine. Oxford's Jenner Institute last year show that it's way of inoculating against an earlier strain of Coronavirus was safe for humans, so that's a huge headstart, which has meant that it is moving on to test its methods on about 6,000 people by the end of May. They've had some good tests on monkeys so far.
HB: A lab in Montana used the Oxford vaccine trial on a set of monkeys that was then exposed to the Coronavirus that causes Covid-19 and they were all still fine a month later. Again, no guarantees and someone else could come up with a vaccine sooner and this one could just not work, but hey, positive news.
CR: Wow, okay. You never give me positive news so I'm going to keep this rolling with some more good news. It is time for today's good news, bad news. As you might guess from the name, this is where I bring you some of the most, oh my God, yes, and most no thanks stories from around the internet. So first up, good news. Disney is finally giving us a black live action Disney Prince. Niles Fitch plays teenage Randall in This Is Us and will appear as Prince Tuma in Disney+ original movie Secret Society of Second-Born Royals.
CR: And I am so super excited because Niles Fitch is actually my favorite character in This Is Us. I do a bad thing while I watch the show and that it's that I only watch Randall's family's storyline.
HB: No, that's appropriate. I got to say it. That's really appropriate.
CR: I get like really annoyed by everyone else and so sometimes I'll have to go back and watch someone else's to figure out how it affected Randall and his family. But usually I find them the most entertaining.
HB: So what is this movie?
CR: Okay. I'm sorry. So the plot sounds wild. It follows a princess who learns she has super powers and joins a group of other super powered second-borns. I don't know what it means, but I'm into it. Also, if you're thinking what about Prince Naveen in The Princess and the Frog, let's just remember that Disney kept him racially ambiguous and also Tiana, the first black princess, spent most of the movie as a frog. So there's that.
HB: Never forget. I don't know what this movie is. It sounds like Royal X-Men, which I guess we should expect since Disney bought 20th Century Fox and owns Marvel. Why not throw some superheroes into this?
CR: I mean, I'm like really into this. I love Sky High so much. So I love kids with super powers. So it's just like, I'm going to be like super into this. It's just going to be like a ragtag group of second-borns. I mean, what an origin story. They're just born second and there go.
HB: And there you go. Now you have super powers and you're rich and powerful. What are the odds. Also just the fact that this is the first black Disney Prince to quote Beyonce Beychella, "Ain't that 'bout a bitch?"
CR: Oh boy. I mean, are we surprised with Disney right now? No, that it's taken this long that it checks out. So anyways, onto some bad news, we are apparently still body shaming people in the middle of a pandemic. And that includes the likes of Chrissy Teigan, who is an actual model. So Chrissy posted a video of herself on Saturday in a swimsuit making fun of those traps, which you could tell by how she made fun of those traps.
I never post those traps. So here I am trapping you in thirst with thirst.
CR: And of course because it's the internet, she got dragged. Someone was mean enough to call her SpongeBob shaped, like square shaped. And then she ... I know, that's like ridiculous. And then she basically got online to say that everyone is used to surgically enhanced curves and then she said, "I've been a square my whole life and let me tell you, it's paid off nicely in many ways."
HB: What a wildly new insult. I've never heard someone called SpongeBob shape. I got to put that one out there. I've never seen that thrown around as an insult.
CR: I don't know. I'm just like literally so ... When I saw it, I'm just like literally over this conversation already because I'm like, how are we still just judging women by their bodies? Everyone is different. I don't know like how many times people have to say it. It just like doesn't make sense that people are still doing it. It's so frustrating. I'm sure she has to deal with it all the time. And as she pointed out, if she did get surgery, people would be shitting on her too. Like that's just how it's going to work. She's never going to win.
HB: Never. So Chrissy, if you're listening, and I hope you are, please, if you want to come on News O'clock and yell about this with us, we are more than happy to have you on board. All right, when we come back, we've got Ryan Broderick with us to explain those weird conspiracy memes your aunt keeps tagging you in on Facebook. Stay right there.
HB: It's time for Say More. This is where we get to talk to some of the best people out there into spending some quality time with us.
CR: There's a lot, and I mean a lot, of just weird ass conspiracy theories out there about the Coronavirus. They range from what caused it to what can cure it to which secret society is to blame. So today we're diving into that world. Thoughts and prayers for us please.
HB: We're joined in this impossible journey by BuzzFeed news tech reporter and internet conspiracy theory Sherpa, Ryan Broderick. Thank you for joining us.
Ryan Broderick: No problem. Let's go down the rabbit hole, shall we?
CR: Yes, please. So there's some wild things floating around out there, but none of them seems to be causing more IRL damage than the 5G Coronavirus conspiracy. Can you walk us through that one?
RB: Yeah, it's definitely a confusing one. It's been around for a long time. I'm sure like everyone kind of remembers the panic over wifi or cell phone signals giving you cancer, things like that. Well this sort of skepticism or suspicion or paranoia about technology has found its way into the Coronavirus era, namely because these 5G truthers think that 5G cellular technology gives you physical ailments. And you can see 5G towers, you can't see the Coronavirus.
RB: So it's very simple for them to say, actually the thing that's making you sick is the thing you can see. And more importantly, the thing that you can burn down as we've seen in the UK over the last month, where people are attacking cell phone towers rather than a virus that you can't see or can't understand. And people really love that because a virus is scary and invisible and nothing you can do about it. Whereas 5G cellular technology, you can blame all you want on it. So it's very useful.
HB: Setting that one aside for a second. Two of the names that I've seen pop up the most often in these weird Coronavirus Facebook posts that I've seen floating about the internet have been Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Health and Bill Gates. Why these two and what are people saying about them?
RB: Right. So with Anthony Fauci, it's a lot to do with the fact that Trump supporters have to believe that everything that Trump says and does makes sense and has a purpose. Because if it doesn't, they just live in a chaotic nightmare world. So they have to believe that everything that Trump does is right. So if a doctor goes on TV and contradicts the President, that shakes their understanding of reality where maybe the President isn't particularly scientifically informed. Shocking. I know. So the fear and mistrust of Anthony Fauci is definitely related to that. Bill Gates is a very different scenario where, and we talk about conspiracy theories, we talk about people who believe fake news. But I do want to make it clear that I think that these people are rational actors and they are responding to something that is real, which is that in the way society works, rich people have a lot more agency than poor people.
RB: And I think that when you have something like the QAnon movement or Trump's hardcore supporters, they are reacting to this fact that they don't feel in control of their own world. And so to have an incredibly wealthy man like Bill Gates show up and say that he wants to help and he wants to develop vaccines and he cares a lot about pandemic research, they don't trust that. And I think it's because the wealth inequality that is present in that scenario is absolutely frightening. And they react in completely irrational and bizarre and extremely racist and violent ways. But I do think that that is the heart of it, which is that why is this rich man able to exert so much influence over how I live my life?
HB: Right. And so that then mutates into, well Bill Gates secretly took out a patent on a Coronavirus vaccine and he and Fauci are working together to make sure that nobody gets it without Bill Gates making even more money.
RB: Oh God. I mean, yeah, we do need to bring up the patent thing, which is that, and I've dug into a little bit this myself and you can check out my feed on BuzzFeed news to read more about it, but a lot of people, when they, and we've all felt this way on the internet where you're just like up late at night and you're Googling and you aren't really reading stuff and you're screenshotting things and all of a sudden everything just seems really conspiratorial. These people, they Google stuff, they don't really know what patents are, which is that you're patenting a virus to study it and not to develop it. As one virologist recently told me this week, Covid-19 would make a terrible bio weapon. It is just not a particularly useful bio weapon.
HB: That's good to know. Good to know.
RB: Angela Rasmussen, a virologist I spoke to this week said, "Look, it's a pretty shit bio weapon. Don't worry guys." So you know, people don't really understand how this works. And also the scientific community isn't really used to this much public attention. So we find ourselves in a very strange moment where the American public is desperate for answers about scientific data, but they don't have the patience or perhaps education or even interest to learn enough about it to understand it.
CR: So is it all just ignorance and fear causing these conspiracies to spread? Because I feel like people also have to be trying to make money.
RB: There's definitely a grift component to this, particularly in the 5G community. I found a bunch of websites that are selling these thumb drives you plug into your computer for hundreds of dollars that these 5G truthers are selling as a preventative method for protecting your brain from 5G, which is not a thing.
HB: So wait. It's like a USB, microwave-proof, tinfoil hat situation?
RB: Yeah, but it costs $350. To answer your question though about is this ignorance, I spoke to a historian this week about what types of fake news were popular during the 1918 pandemic because my personal theory is that nothing on the internet is new. It's just faster. Right. And the historian I was talking to did say that one of the big hoaxes of the time was called sunshine therapy, which is that medical workers at the time misunderstood the effects of sunlight. They thought, Oh, you put the patients outside, the sun will cure them. What was probably happening is that you're just getting better and thus able to go outside. You know, it's like a carriage before the horse situation. But what's interesting is that the second most shared medium piece on Facebook right now, in the last six months, it's been shared 800,000 times. Guess what it's for? Sunshine therapy.
RB: So it just goes to show you that these sort of fake cures and ailments, they last hundreds of years in certain situations. Like a very popular cure for the 1918 influenza pandemic was ingesting strong alcohol. Well, that has come back as well.
HB: Yep. Wow.
CR: So what are some of the other conspiracy theories that have been spreading overseas? I saw something wild about Iran go by my feed the other day. What was that?
RB: Ah, so that's what I meant by ingesting strong alcohol. So this is a very longterm piece of medical misinformation. In Iran, there were deaths and injuries after a rumor spread on WhatsApp and Facebook that if you drank really, really, really, really high proof alcohol, it would essentially clean your insides and rid you of the virus, which is not true. That does not work.
RB: It's not totally dissimilar from our President perhaps suggesting that you should ingest bleach inside of yourself. It's just a serious, serious lack of scientific understanding. And I don't want to make huge light of these things because I do think it reveals like a fear and a desperation from the average person. We see this with the wellness industry where people want to feel like they're in control of their health. So they do crazy things like eat a bunch of zinc and vitamin C or take a bath in bleach to reenergize their vibrations or whatever the hell. Like none of this is real, but it makes people feel like they're in control. And that's all I think anyone really wants right now is a sense of control.
HB: Ryan, thank you for giving me more of a sense of control right now, helping me wrap my brain around all these things we see flying around and I'm sure the audience feels the same. So thank you so much for coming through and giving us all these facts.
RB: No problem. And I will say if you want to cure the Coronavirus with UV light or sunlight, I had a medical expert tell me yesterday that you would literally need to burn yourself alive with it to get rid of the Coronavirus. So please don't do that.
HB: Pro tip.
CR: Hayes, I hope you're ready because it's time for my favorite game and yours, Got to Pick One.
HB: Oh man, I am in fact not ready for this. Okay. What's today's topic?
CR: Okay, we're going all in on '90s nostalgia music. The oldies as the kids would say now.
CR: Never. Okay, quick reminder for how this works. We have two categories, each with four choices. You can only pick one. The other three will have never existed. Our first category today, boy bands of the '90s.
HB: I hate this already.
CR: Sorry. Okay. Your choices. NSYNC.
NSYNC: I don't want to see you out that door. Baby bye, bye, bye. Bye-bye.
CR: The Backstreet boys.
The Backstreet Boys: Tell me why. Ain't nothing but a heartache. Tell me.
CR: Boyz II Men.
Boyz II Men: I'll make love to you, like you want me to.
CR: And 98 Degrees.
98 Degrees: Give me just one night, una noche.
HB: This one is a tough one. Okay. So I think the two that I'm most torn between right now are Boyz II Men and NSYNC. And I'm going to have to say that I got to keep Boyz II Men around. I'm so sorry. I got to. They have to be around for the culture. NSYNC, I'm sorry. Backstreet Boys, they were great for what they did for the people. However.
CR: No, I completely agree with you. Okay. So that is who I was going to choose. And then very quickly, I had this horrible memory of this time that I crashed a date night with my parents. This was like three years ago and we went to this restaurant and we were waiting for our food and there's a candle and then all of a sudden, Boyz II Men, I'll Make Love to You starts playing. And I'm just sitting across from my parents in silence. So if they didn't exist, then I wouldn't have that memory. But also, I still want them to exist.
HB: I mean it does wipe out a bunch of memories of middle school and high school dances, but you know what, for that, I think the trade off is worth it.
CR: Okay, so onto the second category. 90s girl groups. Your choices are the Spice Girls.
The Spice Girls: Yo, I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want. So tell me what you want, what you really, really want.
TLC: Don't go chasing waterfalls.
CR: The Dixie Chicks.
The Dixie Chicks: That Earl had to die. Na, na, na, na, na, na. Goodbye.
CR: And Destiny's Child.
Destiny's Child: Say my name, say my name. When no one is around you, say baby, I love you. If you ain't running-
HB: This is unfair. I completely got to say up front that this is entirely unfair because I think that the world is at a loss if any of these are taken away. All right? So I think Destiny's Child, as much as I love Say My Name and everything of that era, I think that Beyonce would have been okay. She would have made it through at some point. So I think I'm going to give it to the Spice Girls for so many memories.
CR: I think that's a good one. How I'm looking at this one very specifically is which one do I want to sing at karaoke? Like which one would I be so sad if we went out to karaoke and someone didn't sing this? And for me that is definitely between the Spice Girls and TLC. Oh, okay. I think I'm going to go with the Spice Girls just because that's like a really good group one. Everyone's going to jump in on If You Want to be my Lover. I just think I have to do it.
HB: That's so true.
CR: I have to do it.
HB: Absolutely. Yes. I remember being in fifth grade when the Spice Girls first made it over here. I remember seeing them on All of That on Nickelodeon. I remember the platform, chunky wedges being everywhere all of a sudden. And I remember being a 10 year old boy going, I don't know what you mean by ginger. Is that the spice? Like the actual spice? I don't. I don't know, but sure. Why not? Okay. Think we're idiots. We want to hear which 90s boy or girl bands you would have picked to keep around. Just open the voice memo app on your phone. Record your brilliant opinion including your name and where you're sending this from. An email to us at email@example.com. That's news o'clock, all one word, at BuzzFeed.
CR: Or DMS on Twitter at News O'clock. We're going to be gathering up the best answers you all send in and compiling them into one mega list, so be sure to listen out for yours.
HB: Okay. We're trying something new today with a bit that we're calling Rant O'clock.
CR: Okay. Yes. I love ranting.
HB: I mean, same. And this will be our space to air out some takes, hot or otherwise about something we spotted out there on our timelines.
CR: Wait, is this going to just turn into that one Family Guy bit?
HB: Absolutely not, but thank you for putting that fear into my head.
CR: Okay. So what are you ranting about today? I am very ready.
HB: Okay, so there's this tweet from CNBC, the network, that's been going around Twitter. Belgians urge to eat fries twice a week as Coronavirus creates massive potato surplus.
CR: Wait, okay. I want to eat more potatoes. What is wrong with this?
HB: Thank you for asking. So I'm mad because just who is telling the Belgians to eat more fries? So yes, there is a potato surplus in Belgium right now and yes, Belgium fries are absolutely delicious. As someone who's had to go on a fry-atus at points in my life because I would absolutely eat them for every meal, I can relate and apparently there are 750,000 tons of potatoes that might have to be destroyed because restaurants aren't open to use them.
CR: Hayes, I am not seeing a problem.
HB: But the story that people are sharing, it's all quoting a guy named Romain Cools. Mr. Cools, which is such a good name, is the Secretary General of a group called Belgapom, which is the Belgian potato lobby. They're working with supermarkets that people eat more frozen fries because industrial freezers are getting crowded as restaurants stay closed. I mean of course he is urging people to eat more French fries. He represents the potato growers and other spud related companies. Now if doctors or the Belgian government were like, "Hey friends, please shovel more fried potato into your face." That's interesting.
HB: But the dude is a shill for big potato who wants to keep his members happy and rolling in those sweet, sweet tater dollars. So if you are really worried and want more people to eat those potatoes, give them out. Give them out to the Belgian people for free. And that's my rant today.
CR: Okay, so you're choosing to be mad at big potato.
HB: Yes, yes I am.
CR: Okay, fine. Here at Rant O'clock, we can be our pettiest selves.
HB: Thank you for that affirmation. And I just want to go on the record to say that I do believe that the steak fry is underrated as a French fry cut and I just want to put that out there as just a really strong and good opinion.
CR: Okay. We're not going to agree with each other, but I know what we can agree on and it's that actually, probably tater tots are the best form.
HB: Okay, fine. I can live with that.
CR: That's it for today. Join us tomorrow for an exploration of TV in the time of Coronavirus.
HB: And remember, where there's a will, there's a way and where there's a Will in your way, you tell Will to fix his mask and maintain social distancing.
CR: Be sure to subscribe to News O'clock on the iHeart radio app, Apple podcasts, or wherever you go for your sound stories.
HB: And please take the time to leave us a rating and review. It helps us figure out what you like about the show or what you love about the show, and tell your friends about us so that they could set their alarms and never miss another News O'clock.