The 25 Worst Headlines of 2018

In this Year Of Very Bad Takes, Lyta Gold rounds up the absolute worst…

In a year of evil clickbait, it’s hard to choose the wickedest. Is open contempt for the poor worse than endorsement of a brutal dictator, and is either sentiment worse than a sunny declaration of “Everything Is Fine, Actually?” It’s hard to say. Consider this less a definitive ranking and more a gaggle, a collection, a herd of hideousness. A “murder of headlines,” if you will. There were far more than 25 terrible articles and op-eds in 2018, so feel free to tweet at us or reply to us on Facebook with any favorites we may have missed.

1. Forbes: 21 Ways to Crush Student Loan Debt Repayment

  1. Chug a beer. Crush the empty can against your forehead, screaming THERE IS NO DEBT I HAVE NO DEBT
  2. Take your debt to a public park. Find an isolated spot. Dig a shallow pit, wall it with stones, and lay out your logs in a pyramidal structure. Place your debt in the middle of the pyre. Light it. Gaze upon it for a few beautiful minutes. Walk away.
  3. With your family, friends, and at least 50 million of your fellow citizens, declare a student debt jubilee. You’re not paying. No one’s paying. Debt is dead. You’ve totally crushed it.

2. The Wall Street Journal: Sorry, Feminists, Men Are Better at Scrabble: Nothing stops women from competing at the game’s highest levels, but almost none of them do.

Sorry, feminists. I know it’s always been a central plank of the feminist movement, this strident demand that everyone accept the equality of the sexes at word-based board games. But when it comes to competitive Scrabble, a sport that relies on a pedantic knowledge of rare words and the best configuration of triple word and triple letter bonuses, I’m afraid men are simply better. You see, men evolved to be more tedious than women, and to derive smug satisfaction from high skill at extremely unimportant pursuits. It’s an evolutionary strategy that allowed some men to appear too pathetic to kill even when they had nothing useful to offer the tribe, which allowed them to partake in communal meals hunted and gathered by more interesting individuals. Once in a while, these superfluous men were even able to breed, passing along their obnoxious genes to future generations of pedants.

3. Forbes: Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries To Save Taxpayers Money

After librarians destroyed this article like Amazon fulfilment centers destroy their workers’ bodies, Forbes took down this op-ed and erased it from the internet. Don’t fuck with librarians. We will shush you.

4. The Wall Street Journal: Leadership and Life Lessons from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: Make three good decisions a day and no meetings before 10 a.m., Amazon chief tells D.C. audience

Also don’t forget to torture your workers, folks!

5. The Wall Street Journal: Brazilian Swamp Drainer: A conservative populist charges ahead in the presidential race.

Why on earth would you say “swamp drainer” here, when it would be much more accurate to call Bolsonaro a “war crimes doer,” “LGBT people-murderer,” “indigenous people-disappearer” and “rainforest clear-cutter,” “climate-wrecker,” and “planet-killer”?

I’m sure the Wall Street Journal was just being lazy, and America-centric—as usual—but there’s an easy solution for them: They can hire Frederico Freitas as their fact-checker.

6. The Economist: The Drug That Is Starving Yemen: Famine in Yemen could be avoided if the men chewed less qat.

A little-known fact about neoliberalism is that it’s quite emotionally satisfying. If everything bad that happens to someone is their own fault—or, more specifically, you can find some small negative aspect of their behavior and blow it up to outsized proportions of blame—then you never have to feel sorry for people, or take responsibility for the fact that you yourself are complicit in harming them. Say it out loud: “The U.S. isn’t starving Yemen, the bad moral choices of Yemeni men are starving Yemen.” How did that feel? It felt good, right? In fact it feels so good it’s practically addictive. Time for another headline: “Neoliberalism: The Ideology That Is Psychologically Starving America,” and its subtitle: “Moral rot in America could be avoided if we collectively declared ‘Death to the Economist.’”

(headline suggested by @shinjinobrave)

7. Fortune: Higher Rents Correlate To Higher Homeless Rates, New Research Shows

The correct response here is the ORLY owl, but that meme is sooo 2006, so just imagine the ORLY owl flying into the high-ceilinged living rooms of wealthy people who are reading Fortune with furrowed brows and exclamations of “you don’t say!” Now picture the ORLY owl swooping down upon them in a blur of talons. Now that’s what I call emotionally satisfying.

8.The Telegraph: Half of the Russians in London are spies, claims new report

This new report is a Tom Clancy knockoff novel called Red Attack Order, and it features the stunning return of MI6 hero Jake Explosion. In Red Attack Order, Agent Explosion faces his most fearful enemy yet: the Russian spies of London, all of whom are leggy, tempestuous blondes.

(headline suggested by @Jasonearthstri1)

9. Forbes: America’s Healthcare System Is A Reason To Smile

I have nothing to say here that The Simpsons didn’t say better.

10. Forbes: Surging Wealth Inequality Is a Happy Sign That Life is Becoming Much More Convenient

Candide: But Doctor Pangloss, sometimes I look upon all the poverty and the misery in my environs and I wonder: Is this indeed the best of all possible worlds?

Pangloss: Indeed, my boy! Gaze upon the convenience of this turnip here, thrown at us carelessly by a noble fop amused at our sordid display of ruin! We shall feast tonight!

Candide: But my dear Doctor Pangloss, I no longer have teeth with which to chew upon this turnip!



11. The Federalist: You’re Not Allowed To Knock Trump For Stormy Daniels If You Watch Porn

A hot take from the incels at the Federalist. Don’t worry, my sex-free lads: Getting in trouble for having an affair and paying to cover it up isn’t something you’ll ever have to worry about.

12. Politico: Biden Should Run On a Unity Ticket With Romney. It could totally work. Here’s how.

There is no more appealing ticket than Joe Biden and Mitt Romney, argues a former Republican policy adviser currently working for the Biden Institute Policy Advisory Board. What America wants is the down-home bonhomie of a 76 year old who gets handsy with little girls and has total contempt for struggling millennials, plus the awkward stiffness of a milquetoast also-ran who once tied a dog to the roof of his car and gives off a vibe “like the guy who fired your dad.” Their bipartisan slogan will be: “Centrism! It Just Makes Sense, You Whiny Poors.”

13. The Wall Street Journal: Bernie Sanders and the Misery of Socialism

Less popular than the preceding books “Bernie Sanders and the Awkwardly Phrased Comment About the Intersection of Race and Class” and  “Bernie Sanders and the Order That Got Confused at the Deli Counter and It Was a Whole Thing For a Minute,” everyone agrees that “Bernie Sanders and the Misery of Socialism” gets bogged down in the middle, plus Ginny never has quite enough to do, and also maybe billionaire novelists who live in literal castles should be more thoughtful about their anti-Labour tweets.

14. The New York Times: Proud Boys Founder: How He Went From Brooklyn Hipster to Far-Right Provocateur

Fun fact: The distance between a white Brooklyn guy who got famous for “ironic” racism and a far-right provocateur can only be measured with an electron microscope!

15. The Guardian: Hillary Clinton: Europe must curb immigration to stop rightwing populists

Fun fact: The distance between a well-heeled liberal centrist and a far-right demagogue can be measured in civility!

(headline suggested by @RyanAEMetz)

16. Choke it down, and vote for Menendez

CORRUPTION. IT’S JERSEY! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH JERSEY? TOO BAD. CHOKE IT DOWN AND VOTE ANYWAY! I like this headline, and the article itself, because in crude Jersey fashion it lays out everything that’s wrong with the national Democratic party. You don’t like extravagantly corrupt politicians who are in the pay of whichever wealthy donors lavish them with gifts and praise and free rides on private jets? Well, too bad. Choke it down and vote for them anyway, because “drain the swamp” is a Republican slogan, and also if you drain the Jersey swamp there literally won’t be a state left.

(headline suggested by @IraNHlfod)

17. Only Chumps Work More than 40 Hours a Week

I have chosen to misread this headline as “chimps.” Why do chimps work so hard? How long does it really take them to complete the tasks that tend to their biological needs? Who are they picking figs for, if not for themselves and their community? Is there some percentage of the chimp population—let’s just pick, for no particular reason, 1 percent—that claims ownership of the trees and takes an enormous cut of their fellow chimps’ production, forcing the worker chimps to put in much longer hours so they can afford enough figs to eat and not starve? What sorts of practices and behaviors should the chimps implement in order to take back control of their land and labor so they can have enough free time to relax and fuck and groom each other as nature intended?, we await your response.

18. CNBC: Goldman Sachs asks in biotech research report: Is curing patients a sustainable business model?

Socialists ask in economics research report: Is keeping Goldman Sachs undissolved and unpitchforked a sustainable civilization model?

(headline suggested by @robinroberts58)

19. The Wall Street Journal: Ken Langone Wants You to Know He Loves Capitalism: Alarmed by what he views as some young people’s tilt toward socialism, the Home Depot co-founder has written a book defending capitalism

Hi Ken! We want you to know we think you should have your wealth appropriated. Let’s discuss! Preferably in the company of your mistreated and furious workers!

20. The Wall Street Journal: The Climate Won’t Crash the Economy: A worst-case scenario projects annual GDP growth will be slower by 0.05 percentage point.

It’s time to put an end to climate hysteria. Yes, the seas will rise, millions of people will drown, others will be consumed by rampaging fire tornadoes, and many more millions will starve from unprecedented famines, but the economy is going to be just fine. The bunker economy, that is. The trade in high-priced handbags and rare collectibles will thrive, as we send our treasures down hyperloops that link our luxury bunkers together. Elon Musk promises us the hyperloops will be super safe, the safest, we don’t have to worry about our precious possessions disintegrating on impact–did he say impact? Ah, it’s just a figure of speech. The hyperloop will be as safe as Tesla car batteries.

21. The Spectator: It is time we civilised the Sentinelese people

Before clicking the link, I want you to imagine the face of the man who wrote this article. What sort of shape is it? What kind of expression is he making? Are you holding the image in your mind? Good. Click the link.

I KNOW. WHY DO THEY ALWAYS LOOK LIKE THIS? Yeah, sure, it’s a caricature, but this is the image he chose to go with. This is how he chose to be presented to the world. He really thought he could put that face next to the sentiment “these primitive natives need to be civilised” and we wouldn’t laugh our fucking guts out at him. It is time we stopped paying attention to people like this.

22. The New York Times: Why We Miss The WASPs

Ross Douthat yearns for the good old days when a particular group of people ruled this country, you know the kind he means, *wink wink*, the kind who were raised with plentiful resources and a set of cultural values, *nudge nudge*, the kind who know the value of a hard day’s work, *whistle whistle*, the kind who just, you know, look a particular way, *buzz buzz*, with a narrow waist, hard exoskeleton, two sets of membranous wings, a head, a mesosoma, and a metasoma. And don’t forget the mandibles!

(headline suggested by @mikedeiro)

23. The New York Times: The Murder-Suicide of the West

David Brooks, don’t flirt with us like this. If the bullshit concept of the West is dead at last, we need to know. At Current Affairs, we’re planning a whole themed party around it, complete with Turkish coffee.

(headline suggested by @colddayonmars)

24. The Wall Street Journal: The Attack on Kavanaugh is Un-American

I will give the Wall Street Journal a great degree of credit here. They are right. The attack on Kavanaugh really WAS un-American. It has always been un-American to point out that a wealthy, powerful white man is a horrible monster who damaged people around him in his rush toward fame and fortune. You could say, in fact, that Kavanaugh fully embodies the story of America: great success built on the trauma of others. Consider this op-ed in conjunction with its predecessor below…

25. The Wall Street Journal: A Spectral Witness Materializes

…you might indeed say that a specter is haunting America: the specter of an egalitarian socialist society where everyone is equal, abuse is not permitted, and the Brett Kavanaughs of this country are consigned to the barf bag of history.


1. Bloomberg: Americans Are Dying Younger, Saving Corporations Billions: Life expectancy gains have stalled. The grim silver lining? Lower pension costs.

This headline technically ran in 2017, but as this is the inaugural year of the Current Affairs Worst Headlines program, we didn’t want to let this truly execrable sentiment pass unscathed just because it was too early. Anyway, to this headline’s credit, it’s not often that the true sentiments of the Fortune 500 crowd are expressed so openly, with only the barest nod to human decency. (Take special notice of “grim,” doing a lot of work in that subtitle, struggling against the rest of it like Hope fighting her way out of Pandora’s jar amid a buzzing crowd of humankind’s worst tendencies.)

2. The Wall Street Journal: Is 30,000 a Month Too Much to Spend on Wine?

Another from 2017. There’s an old saying that if your headline is a question, the answer is always plainly obvious. In this case, however, 30,000 isn’t JUST too much to spend on wine, it’s also too much for any person to have as monthly discretionary spending. If you disagree, remember that it’s basically just immoral to be rich.

3. National Review: Do Millennials Dislike Capitalism Because it’s Not a Safe Space?

“Do people dislike me because they think my ideas are bad?” David French mused in 2016. “No. Clearly it’s because I make them uncomfortable.”

4. Slate: Sex robots are coming. We need to research and debate them now

Technically, this is a tweet, not a headline, asking the brave question WHY WON’T THE SEX ROBOTS DEBATE ME? Here’s one debate topic: Do men want sex robots for sex, or because they’ll finally be able to win an argument?

5. CNBC: JUST IN: Verizon says 10,400 employees, or nearly 7% of its workforce, have been accepted as a part of a voluntary program to leave the company

Another tweet, rather than a headline. In other news, I have been accepted as part of a “voluntary program” to leave my in-laws’ house just because I “knocked over the Christmas tree” and “all the ornaments smashed” and “the angel rolled into the fireplace” and there was a “minor blaze” which I tried to put out “with wine” and “screaming at it.” Happy holidays, everyone!

(headline suggested by @0x262D)

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