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Alex Murdaugh was convicted of murdering his wife and son on Thursday. (Photo via Twitter)

TGIF: Crime & Punishment

Murdaugh’s a murderer. Lightfoot’s a loser. Ghislaine goes hungry. Plus, the latest scary TikTok trend.

Suzy here! Nellie’s on a work trip this week, so she has let me out from the closet under the stairs that I am very lucky to call home so that I could step into the TGIF spotlight.

You know that part in Cinderella where she finally gets to go to the ball? This is like that but we just talk about myocarditis for a bit and then I get to go back to sleep. Let’s get started. (And yes, I promise Nellie will be back next week.)

The lab leak gets the stamp of approval: The Department of Energy, The Wall Street Journal reports, has concluded that Covid-19 most likely emerged from a lab, flying in the face of nearly all the mainstream reporting on the subject from 2020, which called it a “fringe theory” and a “conspiracy.” 

A slew of other agencies—the National Intelligence Council, the Central Intelligence Agency—continue to hem and haw over their confidence levels when it comes to lab leak versus zoonotic (that’s the wet market one) origins, but you know who is always at a very-high, never-been-wrong confidence level? Everyone online. 

MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan explained quite bluntly why the lab leak had to be verboten among polite society: right-wingers made him do it!

Don’t hold your breath for an apology from those who pooh-poohed the lab leak theory. Those smeared as conspiracy theorists will remain smeared as such. The people in charge will remain in charge, and the journalists will keep going, smug, content to be wrong but to have always been, most importantly, emotionally right.  

Let’s all agree China is a bad source: While reporters were eager to eat up China’s propaganda when it came to Covid, it seems Republican politicians are doing the same when it comes to the war in Ukraine. Rep. Matt Gaetz was trying to make a point about U.S. funds maybe going to the Azov battalion, a far-right militia in Ukraine, when he tried to enter into the record a report from the Global Times (one of China’s national newspapers) during a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Watch the exchange for yourself: 

Goodbye, Lori! No one’s favorite mayor, Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, is out of a job. Lightfoot conceded Tuesday night, telling her supporters, “Obviously, we didn't win the election today. But I stand here today with my head held high.” 

Lightfoot won only one term as the Windy City’s head honcho, but what a term it was. The homicide rate is up 40 percent since she took office in 2019; public transit ridership has plummeted; and O’Hare has become a homeless shelter. There’s also a new casino. TGIF will miss Lori! 

The race is now between two opposing visions for the future of the Dems: Paul “Proactive Policing” Vallas and Brandon “Defund the Police” Johnson. The runoff election will be in April.

→ ‘Thank God for Bubba’: In the closing arguments of the Murdaugh murder trial—where now-disgraced Good Ole Boy Alex Murdaugh stood accused of murdering his wife and son—the prosecutor reminded the jury of one central figure to this alarming case: Bubba, the family’s golden retriever. Murdaugh swore he was nowhere near the dog kennels the night his son Paul and wife Maggie were shot, but it seems he was outfoxed by a dog. In a Snapchat video taken by Paul minutes before he and his mother were murdered, you can hear other voices in the background, including Maggie commenting that the dog might have a bird in its mouth. One of the voices was “100 percent” Alex Murdaugh, according to witnesses. Maggie and Paul were killed minutes later. 

When they played the video in court, Murdaugh began to cry. 

None other than O. J. Simpson predicted that Murdaugh would go to jail for stealing money, but “it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this guy beats this case.” 

O. J. was wrong: Murdaugh was convicted of the murders at around 7 p.m. last night. 

The hottest new TikTok trend is crime: Because I don’t value my privacy or time, I love TikTok. The dances are cute, the little makeup trends are fun, and I like to watch this one girl painstakingly organize her pantry. But this latest viral sensation is a little troubling, specifically because it’s grand theft auto. 

Kia and Hyundai cars are being stolen at staggering rates (two-thirds of the 9,700 cars stolen in Milwaukee in 2021 were Kias or Hyundais) by teenagers in America’s cities, who take them for joyrides, or crash them, and abandon them when they’re done. You too can become a “Kia Boy” with a screwdriver and an iPhone charge cord, which is apparently all that’s required to hotwire these exceedingly easy-to-steal vehicles. Tutorials and victory spins are posted—where else?—on TikTok. There’s so much blame to go around here: TikTok, the car manufacturers, the insurance companies, the police, the parents, the Kia Boys themselves.

For a fascinating and in-depth look into the youth crime wave, including why you might not have heard of it until now, check out Nick Russo in Pirate Wires. And if you have one of these cars, here’s a new explainer on how to keep said car. 

And now a little diversion from our friend David Mamet:

Can she speak with the manager? In a bid to get her sex trafficking conviction thrown out, Ghislaine Maxwell is claiming that she was kept under inhumane conditions at the Brooklyn Detention Center while awaiting trial. Maxwell says she was held in solitary confinement and that she was “malnourished,” which, I think for British former billionaire socialites, just means there wasn’t a full English and savory pudding every morning. Her attorney is saying that by the time of her trial, Maxwell was too exhausted and deflated to contribute to her own defense. 

Maxwell is now being kept at a correctional facility in Tallahassee in Florida—not quite the Palm Beach spread she’s used to—where she’s expected to serve out her 20-year sentence. There, the joke goes, she wakes up every morning shocked that she didn’t commit suicide. 

→ When you’re here, you’re fired: Salesforce laid off 8,000 employees in January, joining the other tech giants (Alphabet, Amazon, Meta) who are slashing their workforce and attempting to adopt a more efficient profit-driven culture, instead of one defined by U2-headlining sales conferences and matchas on demand.

Gone are the “well-being days” at Salesforce. Work from home forever is coming to an end. Baristas at their San Francisco HQ have been released back into the wild. The Ohana vibe (Ohana means family) that CEO Marc Benioff has tried to cultivate will live on, as long as your department of the Ohana gets its numbers up. 

Call it the Musk-ification of Silicon Valley: If you aren’t willing to be extremely hardcore, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. 

Chloe Cole sues Kaiser Permanente: Chloe Cole has lodged a complaint against the hospital where she received a gender-affirming double mastectomy at 15. 

“I’m hoping that through my lawsuit I can finally get appropriate treatment for my physical complications from transitioning and the trauma that transitioning has caused,” Chloe told me via Twitter DM. “I also want to create a precedent for other detransitioners and transgender people to seek damages.”

I wonder if Chloe will be America’s Keira Bell, the British detransitioner whose own lawsuit contributed to the fall of the Tavistock clinic (read the full filing here).

 → I yearn for the day when we’re not talking about: Dominion Voting Systems. They’re suing Fox News for defamation—to the tune of $1.6 billion—because of all their 2020 election fraud coverage, which made Dominion look pretty bad. Rupert Murdoch was deposed this week, and he said that Fox News hosts “endorsed” the election fraud narrative and that he “would’ve liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight.” Well, yeah. 

The trial is set to begin next month in Delaware, but it’s going to be an uphill battle for Dominion: defamation cases against news outlets are hard to win, and Dominion would have to prove Fox knew they were lying and said it anyway. Fox is telling their hosts not to cover this story. 

The words Dominion Voting Systems, like Cambridge Analytica, Steele Dossier, and Mueller Report mean nothing to me anymore. They just feel like weird word souvenirs from places I don’t want to go back to. 

→ Woody Harrelson goes off-script: At his fifth SNL hosting gig, Woody Harrelson pulled a Woody Harrelson and started getting all plan-demic during his monologue. I’m not saying the guy who thinks Covid was caused by 5G towers is right; I’m just saying even a blind squirrel finds some acorns. Watch the full thing below: 

I don’t know when 30 Rock became based, but Woody, Kanye, and Chappelle have all gone very rogue in their most recent appearances. Is Lorne Michaels handing out red pills backstage? As if to tempt fate, the next host is a football player whose team has a risky name—Travis Kelce, the tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Something nice: This story is about a lady, Carol Buckley, who is best friends with this elephant, Tarra, and the decade-plus custody battle she waged to get Tarra back. Tarra and Buckley met in a tire store outside of L.A. And the pictures are just stunning. 

 → SBFDGAF: I’m rooting for Sam Bankman-Fried. Let me explain. I don’t think anyone has ever fallen so hard and so fast as SBF, the millennial Bernie Madoff who helmed the crypto exchange FTX. He was also a prominent political donor, though now it’s coming out that he didn’t really buy into the progressive causes he championed. SBF hired a political consultant to help him figure out how to donate his money to politicians. The consultant told an FTX exec (who donated so much money on behalf of SBF that he became one of the largest donors to the Democrats last year) that he’d be “giving to a lot of woke shit for transactional purposes,” according to a new indictment. Just think about it: Drag Queen Story Hour, brought to you by FTX, as an elaborate political scheme to skirt regulatory oversight and defraud investors. I mean, I don’t know about you but I’m having fun. 

Apparently, SBF directed funds to Republican candidates but kept those expenditures “dark” so that he could keep up appearances as King of the Effective Altruists. 

I love this story. I love that a dork was able to buy friends like Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen. I love that his idea of a good time is railing Adderall and hanging out on bean bags in the Bahamas. 

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