An irreverent and not always accurate view of the world

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Brian Williams returned to the journalism fold this week with an assignment to cover the Pope’s U.S. visit for MSNBC.

Williams used his airtime masterfully recalling his youth when he and the Pope lived next door to one another in a far away third-world country. Williams described how his backyard was separated from the Pope’s by a tall wooden fence with only a single hole to the other side. Williams told how one day a hand  appeared through the hole offering a small toy sheep as a gift. Williams took the toy from the hand and then went inside to retrieve his prized pinecone, which he placed in the same hole as his gift in return. The hand from the other side of the fence never appeared again. But the next day the pinecone was gone.

Williams described how it was only years later, after the toy sheep had been destroyed in a fire, that he learned it was the Pope who had been on the other side of the fence. Williams was in tears as he explained to millions of people the profound impact the interaction had on his life, even crediting the longago gift exchange with being the pivotal point in his decision to become a writer/journalist.

At that point Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski interrupted Williams to point out that his account of this childhood experience with the Pope sounded exactly like an experience described by renowned Chilean poet and Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda known as “The Hand Through the Fence,” which appeared in an essay by the poet in the 1950s.

Williams then apologized to viewers saying, “I’ll see you next year” and left the set. He later clarified that he had actually been in a yard where two other kids had poked something through a hole in the fence. He concluded that in the excitement of the moment he had mistakenly thought it was his yard, that he was the one poking something through the fence and that it must have been the Pope on the other side.

No big deal. It could happen to any of us.


Martin Shkreli, the 32-year-old CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, has come under Internet fire for recently raising the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill overnight.

The medicine, Daraprim, has been on the market for more than 70 years and attacks a relatively rare but often fatal illness called toxoplasmosis.

Now, Shkreli has a history of raising prices, just as pharmaceutical companies have a history of cornering drug markets and gouging consumers.

So how do we combine our collective outrage and serve Shkreli his comeuppance?

Good news: He’s a bro. We raise prices on tank tops 3,000 percent; we make Pitbull and Fast and Furious movies off limits; we put a prohibition on Jäger and Red Bull; and, for some reason, we make him watch Elton John and Eminem’s 2001 duet at the Grammys on repeat for 72 straight hours.

We could also just give him toxoplasmosis…