We’ve had a hell of a year in America, and The Daily Banter has been hard at work keeping up every step of the way. Whether it’s dispatching Chez Pazienza (photo below) to a hotbed of racial conflict and police violence with no insurance or slaving to the point of suffocation in our hot content mines, Banter’s menagerie of writers and editors deserve credit for a job well done.
Here’s the Best of the Banter Awards, 2014.
Wittiest Headline: “Republicans’ New Black Friend Is Either A Stock Photo Or Is Having A Very Interesting Day” by Tommy Christopher
This whole post was hilarious, but the headline still makes me chuckle months later. Perfect job here.
Honorable mention: “Cops Continue Not Shooting Gun-Toting White Guys For Some Reason” by Tommy Christopher
Gnarliest Takedown: “New Atheist-Basher Is Apparent Plagiarizer and Thinks It’s No Big Deal” by Mike Luciano
This was a very bad year for author CJ Werleman, who has been intensely critical of the New Atheist movement. After Mike and philosophy professor Peter Boghossianexposed Werleman for numerous counts of bald-faced plagiarism (several of which were simply copy-pasted verbatim from other publications), the result was a career-ending crash.
Mike wasn’t just tilting at windmills here. Werleman got in very serious trouble with Alternet, which purged his work from the site. Salon issued bolded corrections for four of his articles after Mike pressured them to make corrections in a series of posts. Werleman had a full-on meltdown, even allegedly attempting to smear fellow atheist Sam Harris of the same plagiaristic practices in a clumsy web post. He later issued a non-apology, but the damage was done. Werleman’s Wikipedia page will forever have a big section denoting him as a serial plagiarist.
Honorable mention: “Perpetually Wrong Pretend Journalist and Douchebag Chuck Johnson Is an Unkillable Product of Our Internet Age” by Chez Pazienza
Best (Real) News Story: “Live From Ferguson: Peace and Pepper Spray” by Chez Pazienza
Armed with just a homemade press pass and a lot of determnation, Chez traveled to Ferguson after unarmed black teen Michael Brown was shot and killed by white FPD Officer Darren Wilson in August. His insightful coverage was well-written, intensively researched and culminated in Chez getting a faceful of police pepper spray:
One of the last things I remember seeing was a group of cops taking down someone just a few feet in front of me as I retreated quickly to what I thought was the relative safety of the media staging area, which had been specifically cordoned off for us. Then one of the officers reached for his belt, turned and sprayed me directly in the face with a deep orange liquid that created spots all over my camera. I blinked a few times — kept shooting. And then it hit me. If you’ve never been shot with law enforcement-grade oleoresin capsicum, trust me when I tell you you never want to. It’s excruciating.
In addition to exposing himself to serious physical danger to tell the news, Chez told the story unfolding in Ferguson with the attention to detail and thoughtful narrative lacking from most coverage on major networks.
Honorable mention: “Exclusive: The Daily Banter’s Investigation Helps Catch Sandy Hook Memorial Thief” also by Chez Pazienza
Best (Fake) News Story: “Please Feel Free to Shut the F*ck Up About Obama’s Tan Suit” by Bob Cesca
Obama wore a tan suit to a press conference and Twitter pretty much broke down into paroxysms of laughter and spite, even inspiring a ludicrous thinkpiece tying the president’s clothes to gender equality. Bob’s response was perfect in every way imaginable, including photos of every one of the last four presidents wearing tan suits.
“This tan suit business might be the dumbest thing I’ve seen in my career as a political writer. And that’s saying a lot.”
Honorable mention: “Darrell Issa Just Got Trolled Into Retweeting Photos Of Famous Murderers” by Tom McKay
Funniest Post: “How To Throw the Best Hipster Ebola Party In 5 Easy Steps” by Jamie Frevele
New York’s brief scare with Ebola left the city’s hipsters wondering what to do. Fortunately, Jamie had them covered on everything from decor to costume guidelines for their upcoming ironic Ebola parties:
“Everyone is over normcore. It’s time for quarcore — quarantine core. Pants tucked into boots. Long sleeves tucked into plastic gloves (which cannot be fingerless because of Ebola). … All topped off with a locally-made protective suit.”
Honorable mention: “The 12 Safest Places to be Black” by Tommy Christopher
Most Insightful Editorial: “MEMBERS ONLY: A Martial Artist’s Perspective on Eric Garner’s Death by Chokehold” by Ben Cohen
You might not have known this, but Fearless Leader Ben also happens to be an accomplished Krav Maga instructor and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner. (I did not know this, and now I am slightly terrified of him.) Amid the whole asinine debate over whether the chokehold that killed Eric Garner really was dangerous, Ben used his experience training his body into a deadly weapon to a) respond yes, duh and b) explain in detail just how NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo put Garner’s life at recklessly unnecessary risk.
“In my Jiu Jitsu class, Pantaleo would have been given a very serious warning by the instructor not to use such dangerous force against other classmates. A second offense, and he would have been asked to leave. No serious Jiu Jitsu instructor would sign off on sending someone as unskilled and aggressive as Pantaleo out onto the street to use his ‘skills’ on regular citizens.”
Honorable mention: “Hi, We’re the Digital News Media and We’re a Complete Mess Right Now” by Mike Luciano
Best running beef: Mike Luciano vs. God
Unfortunately, despite Mike’s best efforts he has been unable to categorically disprove the existence of the Creator. Thus I assume God is real and Jesus Christ is the savior of all men. Enjoy your simmering pool of hellfire, heathens!
Honorable mention: Bob Cesca vs. Glenn Greenwald
Best of the Banter, 2014: “If You Live With Depression, You Understand Why Robin Williams Took His Own Life” by Chez Pazienza
Eloquent, powerful, and emotional, Chez wrote one of the best responses to news of Robin Williams’ suicide on the entire web. As a survivor of depression, Chez offered unique insight into the pain it causes and the challenges it poses to its victims – as well as how it never really goes away.
“To bring that much laughter and joy to us, the darkness of his depression must have been a burden that always teetered on the edge of being achingly unbearable. He felt so much. It’s what made him brilliant beyond words. It’s probably also what killed him.”
This is powerful in the way a clickbait list of 30 random photos never will be. It’s damn good writing.
Honorable mention: Banter’s coverage of police killings of unarmed black men, the biggest story of 2014.
Here’s to a happy New Year’s Eve and the dawn of 2015. Go get wrecked and destroy things, you animals!