Apr 22 • 1HR 29M

Episode 161: Detective Herzog And The Millionaire Kitty Cartel

Katie goes undercover to infiltrate a secretive feline drug ring, Jesse investigates the data on Long COVID, and Rebekah Jones makes another surprise appearance

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Blocked and Reported
Journalists Katie Herzog and Jesse Singal scour the internet for its craziest, silliest, most sociopathic content, part of an obsessive and ill-conceived attempt to extract kernels of meaning and humanity from a landscape of endless raging dumpster fires.
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Image courtesy of Alison/Winnie.

I was alone in the office. Jesse was out at the FIRE Gala, but I was just happy to get away from my racist neighbor. It was barely half past two when Trace stepped into my office, casefiles in hand. The first one gave me a good chuckle. Apparently Elon had removed “legacy verification” from Twitter — meaning the only way to get a blue check now was to give him eight smackeroos a month. Everyone from Jason Alexander to SCOTUSblog was threatening to bounce, someone had impersonated the Big Apple itself, and Elon had footed the bill for LeBron James, Stephen King, and — her?! No way.

I gazed at the smoke detector above me, two rectangular holes where its batteries should be, and flipped to File #2. A writer for The Atlantic named Ed Yong had crossed the line from “journalist” to “activist” in his coverage of “long COVID.” Something about the evidence he used smelled fishy as hell. I put it to the side — this was one for Jesse to handle.

The last file was something else entirely. I took a drag of my cigarette, watching the smoke curl lazily towards the ceiling as I kept reading. An old grandma gets raided by the DEA for traffickin’ human growth hormone. No charges. Turns out what she was pushin’…wasn’t exactly intended for human consumption. Then the FDA busts a lady importing “beauty products” from Hong Kong. Confiscate her cars, her mansions. A spreadsheet she kept shows she moved a whopping $10 million worth of product.

“You think they’re connected?”

“A listener tipped us off. Said her cat needed meds, but they’re illegal. The dame says her vet pointed her towards a Facebook group that could hook her up under the table. I think they’re the missing link. Real secretive, though. Won’t talk to anyone who’s not a buyer, so I sent them an invite, pretending to be —"

Suddenly, the phone rang. A booming voice on the other end spoke. “Your invitation to join FIP Warriors® 5.0 has been accepted.

I stood up and brushed the flakes of weed off my trenchcoat as Trace unholstered his trusty snubnose revolver and adjusted his fedora.

“Start the car, Trace. Looks like we’re going undercover.”

Blue Checks

The backstory on King’s Hand


The results of the legacy checkmark removal




Musk buys Twitter Blue for Stephen King



Ed Yong’s article on Long COVID


The CDC on Long COVID


Evidence is mixed as to whether vaccines reduce the chances or severity of long COVID


Household Pulse survey on Long COVID


Federal Reserve report on Long COVID


Survey about discrimination against those with Long COVID


Jesse’s response to the article

Shoddy Research Won’t Help People Who Actually Have Long Covid
Long Covid is a little-understood subject. The Centers for Disease Control certainly views it as a real thing, explaining that “Some people who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can experience long-term effects from their infection, known as post-COVID conditions (PCC) or long COVID…
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The New Republic: We Might Have Long Covid All Wrong


Stuart Ritchie: Does Long Covid really exist?


Ed Yong’s first article on Long COVID


Jesse responds to an unrelated article by Yong

Another Gripe With How Journalists Write About Survey Research
I feel like I’m getting increasingly interested in the use and misuse of polling by journalists, and another pretty rich example just popped on my radar. It’s in an article in The Atlantic by Ed Yong, arguably the most celebrated journalist during the pandemic and a…
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The Kitty Cartel

The Atlantic’s 2020 piece on black-market cat remdesivir


Business Insider’s article


Robin says she doesn’t get kickbacks


OneZero: Inside a Facebook ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ for Cat Drugs


Cure FIP exposes FIP Warriors


FIP Warriors


FIP Global Cats


Zen By Cat