Lately, I have witnessed considerable evidence that white-tailed deer are apparently more intelligent than one would initially suppose. In the months since their widespread infection with the covid virus was ballyhooed in the media, Fairfax county bow hunters have been stalking the regional parks near my home in Great Falls, Virginia in the wee small hours of the morning, using night-vision goggles to identify their prey, ostensibly massacring the deer in the name of public health. In order to minimize the possibility that a human being might get an arrow in the chest, residents have been warned to stay away from the parks after dark. The bow hunters don’t come onto private property, however, since this has been deemed to pose an unacceptable hazard to local residents.
I have no idea who told the current matriarch of the deer herd that has been visiting my back yard since I moved here about this, but she certainly seems to know. Maybe she figured it out on her own – in any case, every evening, she leads them out of the regional park into the adjoining woods on the rear half-acre of my back yard. Consequently, after sundown, it now resembles a scene from some fantasy-world veldt where deer populate the grasslands as thick as wildebeest on the Serengeti.
In response, I have arranged for the landscaping company that maintains my property, a local produce supplier and a feed store in Leesburg to deliver bags of sugar beets and Purina deer chow to a couple of mangers in the back yard every other day, as well as to place four large plastic tubs of water under the sheltering fruit trees that line the yard on either side. From a landscaping perspective, I’m at a point of economic indifference: I pay for the deer treats now and save money on fertilizer that I would have to buy in the spring.
And no, I’m not worried about contracting covid from the deer. First of all, sitting on my deck, twelve feet above the ground and fifty feet away from the closest of them, I am socially distanced to the max. Secondly, I am completely vaccinated. And thirdly, there hasn’t been a single verified case of anybody catching covid from a deer anywhere in the United States – the folks out in Trump land, still in the thrall of their politically motivated refusals to wear masks or get vaccinated, are all doing a splendid job catching it from each other without the least bit of help from animals of any species, and the USA just recently surpassed one million deaths from the covid virus, every single case of which was transmitted from one human to another.
That’s way above the number of people who died in this country in the 1918 influenza epidemic, and what do you know, there we Americans go, breaking another of our own records – unfortunately, this time, it’s a record born of recklessness and idiocy. We had an excuse back in 1918, of course – hardly anybody, including most doctors, had any idea what a virus was. Now we can see them with electron microscopes, build computer models of their organic nucleotide and protein structures, and use robotic technology that would have been dismissed as pure science fiction a hundred years ago to produce preventative injections, all of which, at this point, looks like it might have been more or less for nothing. True, our population now is more than three times what it was then, and we will have to achieve 2.1 million covid deaths to equal the total carnage of the 1918 flu epidemic in terms of the percentage of US population that dies. But I have complete confidence in the continued stubborn ignorance and willful stupidity of the American people, which they have so thoroughly demonstrated over the last two years, and sincerely believe that we will make it there before the authorities across this great nation of ours throw up their hands and officially declare the covid virus to be endemic, after which, of course, no further deaths will count.
Thus were my ruminations as dusk descended yesterday while I lounged behind the weatherized sliding glass doors that lead to the deck, comfortably out of the bitter February cold, sipping hot cider I made from fermenting the backyard heirloom apples I picked last fall, mulled with Twine spices and fortified with a shot of Rémy Martin XO. In a pleasant reverie, I watched the first deer filter out of the woods to chow down on their latest piles of regular night-time snacks and an additional sixty pounds of sliced carrots ordered from the Harris Teeter warehouse that I had the landscapers lay out for them in honor of Washington’s birthday.
Then my cell phone rang (yes, I have it set to the sound of a traditional telephone; frankly all that other stuff strikes me as rather silly). Looking at the Caller ID, I could see that it was Jesse Watters, who considers himself to be some sort of journalist at Fox News. Briefly, during the first two rings, I debated with myself as to whether I should answer, then realizing I had about an hour free before Cerise arrived for dinner, I figured what the hell, why not?
Jesse: Tom Collins?
Tom: That’s me.
Jesse: This is Jesse Watters, world-famous telejournalist and best-selling author.
Tom: Well then, consider me honored. What can I do for you?
Jesse: They say you’re the smartest person inside the Beltway.
Tom: Which is a lot like being the tallest building in Baltimore.
Jesse: Baltimore? That [expletive] hole full of police-de-funding, woke-cancel-culture [expletive], worldwide-conspiracy-mongering Jews and politically correct, effete, white liberal socialist elitists?
Tom: Aw, gee, Jesse, there’s plenty of your kind of folks in Baltimore, too, you know.
Jesse: Really? Where?
Tom: East Baltimore, mostly, hon. Great cuisine there, by the way. You know how to make Baltimore steamed crabs?
Jesse: How’s that?
Tom: Put on rubber underwear in August and run three times around Druid Hill Park, hon. Who gave you this number?
Jesse: Bill O’Reilly. He said he got it from Ted Cruz.
Tom: I must remember to thank Ted for the recommendation, then. Now, as I said, what can I do for you?
Jesse: Tell me how to get Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2024.
Tom: Excuse me? Did I hear that correctly? You want Hillary Clinton to run for president again?
Jesse: If at all possible, yes.
Tom: Why in the world would you want that? Didn’t you just accuse Hillary Clinton of paying hackers to break into Donald Trump’s various computer systems and plant evidence that would frame him for collusion with the Russian government?
Jesse: You bet your sweet [expletive], I did.
Tom: And you want to figure out how to get her to run for president again?
Tom: Again, sir, may I ask why?
Jesse: Um… this is all… free… right?
Tom: Since it’s your first consultation, yes. That’s how that part of my marketing plan works.
Jesse: And, even though it’s free, it’s… all… confidential… right?
Tom: I can assure you of the same degree of confidentiality I extend to all of my clients.
Jesse: Okay, then, the reason is, Fox needs the ratings.
Tom: You think Hillary Clinton running for president again will increase ratings at Fox News?
Jesse: I’m absolutely sure of it. Anytime we trash Hillary Clinton, Fox viewers lap it up, our ratings go through the roof and our advertising revenue spikes like Facebook clicks chasing a hot meme about a new Sasquatch sighting!
Tom: And you figure, if Hillary declares her candidacy for president of the United States, that will stir up Fox’s audience?
Jesse: Stir them up? [Expletive], man, we’ve spent the last ten years convincing them Hillary Clinton is the Devil incarnate! If she declares for president, the Fox viewer demographic will [expletive] detonate in total [expletive] rage!
Tom: And thus exponentially magnify anything you… shall we say… report… about her?
Tom: So, um… how did your latest jab at her go?
Jesse: It went just fine. We got an awesome bump in the ratings. But that it wasn’t easy, see, because the whole thing’s a bit… complicated… you know… for the typical Fox viewer. So we had to… massage… the story a bit.
Tom: I can appreciate that, because in order to really get worked up about the story if you told it straight, the typical Fox viewer would have to understand that Bill Barr appointed John Durham special counsel.
Jesse: Right – and they’d have to remember that Bill Barr was Trump’s Attorney General.
Tom: And then, they’d have to remember that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed another special counsel, Robert Mueller, before that to investigate allegations of Trump’s collusion with the Russian government, and that John Durham is investigating alleged irregularities in the FBI’s conduct of the investigation Mueller was in charge of and…
Jesse: Right, right – that’s the problem right there, see?
Tom: Oh, I get it, definitely. Because, as I recall, the issue about the investigation of the investigation was that Durham has charged an attorney linked to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign with making a false statement to the FBI, and Durham’s indictment alleges that the material fact of the crime is that the attorney, Micheal Sussman…
Jesse: Right – another name they have to remember – only this time, it’s somebody none of them have ever heard of…
Tom: …during the Mueller investigation, which Durham is investigating, provided the FBI General Counsel with data and “white papers” that allegedly demonstrated a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and a Russia-based bank…
Jesse: Yeah, yeah… see how gnarly it’s getting? And if the viewer’s get confused, they can’t focus their anger!
Tom: Understood. So when it comes to expecting the viewers to comprehend that the alleged crime committed is that this lawyer Sussman lied to the FBI in that meeting by falsely stating to the General Counsel that he was not providing the allegations about Trump to the FBI on behalf of any client, I would imagine you’ve lost quite a few of them.
Jesse: Quite a few? You tell it that way and you’ve lost all of them! That’s why I had to boil it down, you know, and make it simple enough so that the typical Fox viewer would follow the Money Cycle.
Tom: Money Cycle?
Jesse: Yeah, the Fox Money Cycle. Step 1, we say something about a liberal target like Hillary Clinton or AOC that will get a typical Fox viewer hopping mad. Step 2, the Fox viewer tunes in to get more stuff on the target. Step 3, we say more stuff about the target that gets the Fox viewer even madder. Step 4, Fox ratings go up. Step 5, Fox sells more advertising at higher prices. Step 6, Fox gets huge money. Step 7, go to Step 1.
Tom: Oh, how ingenious.
Jesse: Yeah, I know. But you see the problem? You gotta make them mad! And to do that, they have to understand what you’re telling them.
Tom: So instead of explaining the actual facts, you just went ahead and told them Clinton paid hackers to spy on Donald Trump before and during his presidency, break into his computers, and then fraudulently frame him for colluding with Russia.
Jesse: Something like that.
Tom: Which the typical Fox viewer could understand.
Tom: And get hopping mad about.
Tom: And jump start another Money Cycle for Fox News.
Tom: The only problem being, what you told them didn’t boil the story down, it basically replaced the real story, which is complicated, nuanced and not particularly significant, with a simplistic, provocative, bald-faced lie.
Jesse: Yeah, sure. That’s what we call “Fair and Balanced.”
Tom: And, I suppose, the only problem you have with that is Hillary Clinton declaring, while addressing the New York State Democratic Convention, that what Fox claimed about her in that story was, quote, “getting awfully close to actual malice.” In response to which, your mentor, Bill O’Reilly, dared Clinton to sue Fox for defamation.
Jesse: Yeah, sure, let’s hope she does! That would send the Money Cycle into [expletive] overdrive!
Tom: Listen to what you just said.
Tom: Okay, just follow me for a second here, all right? You want Hillary Clinton to declare her candidacy for president of the United States, and you want her to do it as soon as possible, right?
Jesse: Yes, definitely, that’s why I called you.
Tom: And you just said that if she sued Fox for defamation, that would juice up your Money Cycle like crazy, right? It would make Fox viewers so angry, your ratings would skyrocket!
Jesse: Um… yeah… yeah…
Tom: Your advertising sales would blast off!
Jesse: Uh, uh, oh, oh, yeah…
Tom: Fox News revenue would totally… explode!
Jesse: Oh, oh, oh, oh my God… oh, ah, ah… ahhh… Um… yeah… I guess they would.
Tom: You, um… need a cigarette… or something?
Jesse: No, no… I’m… okay. Just fine. Your point is?
Tom: My point is, start making up the worst lies you can imagine about Hillary Clinton and start spewing them out Fox News’s gaping maw of malice as soon as possible. Because doing so will goad her into suing Fox for defamation, that, in turn, will initiate an inevitable spiral of events that culminates in her declaring her candidacy for president. After which, Fox will rule the ratings – and essentially all of the media advertising revenue world outside the Internet – until at least November, 2024.
Jesse: Okay, great! Excellent! Outstanding! I’ll start off by saying Hillary is a crypto-lesbian feminazi blowhard airhead who could never even have been elected to a local school board if she hadn’t forced herself to [expletive] her sexual predator husband enough times to get pregnant with that hideously ugly little witch Chelsea so the two of them would appear to be a normal couple instead of the moral abominations that they actually are!
Tom: No, no, no… that won’t work.
Jesse: Really? Why not?
Tom: Because all that stuff is either opinions… or actually true. You have to make up malicious lies about someone if you want to get sued for defamation! Face it, sir, you’re definitely going to have to do way better than that.
Jesse: Hey, wait a minute… if Fox actually broadcasts genuine malicious lies about Hillary Clinton, isn’t is possible that she might win a defamation lawsuit?
Tom: Yeah, maybe, after years of wrangling with Fox’s legion of lawyers. So what? Any settlement Fox has to pay her will be chump change compared to the profits Fox will make stoking your Money Cycle with Trumpista rage. Call it the cost of doing business. And besides, with Hillary running for president while shooting her mouth off about the trial – as she most likely would be unable to resist doing – making the Democrats all look as repugnant as she is, not only would Trump’s election to a second term be a virtual certainty, but winning Republican control of both houses of Congress would be a cakewalk. So don’t sweat the defamation suit – just concentrate on coming up with some hot, juicy malicious lies about Hillary Clinton.
Jesse: Oh, all right, yeah, I guess so. You have any ideas?
Tom: My idea at the moment is, this consultation is over. If you want me to suggest some effective lies about Hillary Clinton that will definitely get Fox News sued by her for defamation, you’ll have to pay me for them.
Jesse: Oh, really? Um, well, I’d have to get permission from the Murdochs to do that; and Bill O’Reilly, too, of course.
Tom: Okay, so get it. Then call me back.
Jesse: I guess it’s worth a try.
Tom: Let’s see if it is. Right now, I need a refill on my hot cider. Goodbye.