I recently had the honor and privilege of interviewing my jerk face friend, Mick Zano. We met over a beer in downtown Flagstaff to discuss fake news, satire, and what Zano calls the State of the Onion. We had our fair share of battles in the lead up to the election, as he was a little more Bernie and I was totally with her. Post the election, we both fear for our country’s future at the hands of this mad man. Though it pains me to admit it, the Zanster has made some good points over the beers. Whether you call it fake, satire, spoof, or per the website ‘pseudo journalistic’, the Discord continues to be a fun and informative read. But he’s still a jerk face and he made me say that under duress!
Cokie: Thanks for meeting with me today, Zano …at a place that only has what you like on tap.
Zano: You like no-cal pilsners. Nobody likes pilsners.
Cokie: Whatever. So it seems like an interesting time to be a blogger. What’s the hardest part about political comedy in the Trump era?
Zano: The GOP is a joke, but it’s not really a funny joke, is it? Sure there’s plenty of material, but every news cycle I’m convinced Trump is going to invade Toronto. The Discord actually had a bit of a surge on the lead up to the election, but the web is now inundated with this shit, so I’m thinking about going back to my original idea of a quilting blog.
Cokie: I can see that. How has Fake News impacted the Discord and satire in general?
Zano: The Discord is not Fake News, or click bait, and we have the lack of clicks to prove it. I’m a comedy writer, but no one can distinguish reality anymore so comedy, spoof, satire are all in danger of being lumped into the same ‘fake’ bucket. Although, one of my recent posts was taken seriously by some:
U.S. Nuclear Subs Mysteriously Beach Themselves Shortly After Trump Command Tweet
I Photoshopped that on my lunch break …with crayons. How can this possibly be mistaken for real?
Cokie: Then why do it? That’s the question I have heard journalists asking fake newsers over and over again.
Zano: See, you’re lumping them together too! Anderson Cooper recently asked that same question of Paul Horner, a self-proclaimed fake new guy. I can’t speak for fake news, but satire rocks. I have watched Maher, Oliver, Stewart, Colbert over the years and they get it. They top the Coopers, Mathews or Carlsons of the world. Even I have been fairly insightful at times, but unless you are Stephen Colbert, you may be mislabeled.
Cokie: Do you think pulling out of the Paris Accords was a good idea?
Zano: It’s the most honest thing Trump has done to date. It’s usually, hey, let’s replace that horrible, nation-ending Obamacare with the same thing with a different name. At least in Paris, Trump said loud and clear, ‘We are republicans and we are not horribly bright. History, please damn us.’ If Trump had agreed to stay in, it’s not like he’d have enforced anything.
Cokie: With what’s happening here and in the UK are we shifting into a full blown era of populism?
Zano: Oh, hell no. They’re fools. Will all this stupidity implode before or after the west is laid waste is my question.
Cokie: Do you have anything positive to say about the GOP?
Zano: They’re consistent. They always have a compelling argument against the right course of action. They also managed a super majority with zero relative skill. They can effectively use propaganda and fear as a motivator. They have harnessed ignorance in a way that would astound even Orwell. It’s a shitty resume, but it keeps them in power.
Cokie: Why did Hillary lose the election? Was it a misogyny thing? A Comey thing? A Russia thing or what?
Zano: Those all factored in, but Comey was YUUUGE! I remember having this conversation with you. When she picked Kaine as VP I said I was very concerned she was already looking passed November. She thought she had this thing in the bag, when libs were still very divided. There was too much at stake to nonchalant this shit. We will pay dearly for her overconfidence. In her defense, it was the perfect storm against her.
Cokie: What about 2020?
Zano: Wasn’t that show cancelled?
Cokie: You’re an idiot. Will Warren run? If so, will gender play a major role again?
Zano: I think Warren and Biden are too old. That’s not ageism, it’s just a fact. Both would have been better choices, just because of Hillary’s unpopularity, justified or not. The next election I don’t care if it’s a man, woman, trans, badger, trans-badger, piece of Ikea furniture, we need to start winning against these clowns. They have a supermajority and I used to like clowns. They’ve taken that away from me too.
Cokie: Scary clown movies again?
Zano: Are the Koch Brothers paying you?!
Cokie: You certainly aren’t. Is the Wonder Woman movie an accurate metaphor for Hillary’s plight?
Zano: Really? I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’m waiting for it to come out on VHS, but I’m pretty sure Wonder Woman wasn’t wearing a pant suit.
Cokie: Go see it! I’ll wait here. Honest. Do you think Trump will fire Mueller?
Zano: I can’t even hazard a guess on that one, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Cokie: How long will Paul Ryan and the rest of the establishment make excuses for Trump’s behavior?
Zano: As long as they can. They will continue to spin everything and anything to pass their sick agenda, and the base will likely hold strong regardless of the facts on the ground. My main theme has always been that 35% of our population impervious to facts will be our undoing. With a super majority they can also avoid impeachment proceedings, perhaps indefinitely.
Cokie: How many in Trump’s cabinet live in constant fear?
Zano: Every single one not in ‘the family’. Did you see that praise-fest Trump orchestrated last week? Kim Jong Un would be proud. He’s like that kid from that Zone episode—everyone’s worried about being wished away to the cornfield.
Cokie: I think I would enjoy your comedy more if I was old. Any advice for the Dems in 2018, 2020 and beyond?
Zano: There will be a wave against Trump, no doubt, but will it be enough to top all the gerrymandering? I danno. Millennials suck almost as bad as republicans. The Dems need to shift left. Obama was a pragmatist and Hillary was a neocon. We need a liberal. We never tried one of those before. We need liberal portions of liberals.
Cokie: Any advice for republicans?
Zano: If you are still a republican in 2017, find another hobby. Politics isn’t your thing. And try a full psychological exam, you may be eligible for the services your president is currently cutting.
Zano: Try finding real news sources. There’s next to no one on your side with a clue. For Christian Conservatives try Damon Linker or Andrew Sullivan, for establishment republicans try George Will or David Frum, for a quality liberal perspective try Juan Cole, Jonathon Chait or Paul Waldman. If you are spending your time linking to Breitbart and Fox and Frauds, you are the problem.
Cokie: Before we go, I found this link that really speaks to some of your points …only coherently.
Satirists know how to cover genuine bullshit. The news media, by and large, doesn't. pic.twitter.com/OmwowfPHaq
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) April 3, 2017
Zano: Yeah, but I’m better than Ezra. Ha! That was a nice piece, Cokie, thanks for sending it. It also happens to be true. Satire is doing a better job than our journalists. We have entered an absurd landscape so, to borrow a slogan, leave the blogging to us.