People With Big Platforms Have Some Responsibility To Tamp Down Online Derangement, Or At Least Not Contribute To It So Enthusiastically
This "Let's go Brandon!" Southwest Airlines thing is weirdly revealing — and depressing
You may have heard that conservatives have begun saying “Let’s Go Brandon” as code for “Fuck Joe Biden!”
Here’s where this comes from, as explained by NPR:
The origins of the meme go back to Oct. 2, when race car driver Brandon Brown won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race and was being interviewed by NBC reporter Kelli Stavast. In the background, some in the crowd can be heard chanting, "F*** Joe Biden," though Stavast says, "You can hear the chants from the crowd, 'Let's go, Brandon!' " in her broadcast.
It remains unclear if Stavast misheard what the crowd was saying or if she purposely tried to change the message.
Here’s a copy of the original video that sparked the meme.
A few months or days or weeks or decades ago — who can tell at this point, honestly? — a Southwest Airlines pilot apparently said the L-G-B-slurs on his PA system. We probably shouldn’t assume, with 100% certainty, that this occurred. Our only evidence is that an AP reporter writing on that very subject happened to be on the plane and thought she heard it, and since plane PA systems are notoriously fuzzy, there’s always a chance the pilot said something else. The Atlanta Braves are in the World Series, for example, and “Let’s go Braves!” sounds fairly similar. The flight wasn’t from or to Atlanta, but it could always be that the pilot was a Braves fan.
Things were made much more confusing by the New York Post. Or at least I think this is the Post’s fault. A Post article published yesterday originally included the following, according to an archived version:
“We’re heading east at about 107 or 108 mph,” the pilot said, according to a clip of the incident posted on TikTok. “Clear visibility, mostly clear skies, about 77 degrees. Thanks for coming out, flying Southwest Airlines, welcome home and let’s go Brandon.”
Of course this makes no sense, because airliners don’t fly nearly that slow (or taxi nearly that fast).
Here’s the clip the Post originally embedded. What the pilot really says in the clip is that the winds are coming out of the east at seven or eight miles per hour. Then he thanks everyone for coming out and makes a statement that gets cut off but which sounds like it could just as easily be “Let’s go Braves” as “Let’s go Brandon.”
But this doesn’t appear to be the same incident, because it seems to take place after landing. Indeed, the TikTok video’s publisher posted a ‘LANDED’ animation. But the original AP story referred to the pilot’s greeting to passengers. Plus, how did we suddenly get a video of the incident in question? The Post, and everyone else who suddenly treated this video as new and important evidence, just glossed over that. The pilot, after making this controversial remark… just posted or allowed someone else to post a video of it? Huh? Also, and perhaps most importantly, the TikTok video was posted weeks before the AP reporter witnessed whatever she witnessed. No one who began spreading the idea that we had potentially exculpatory video of the pilot’s statement noticed any of this. The live version of the Post article has a tiny little ‘update’ to the right of the headline, but the reference to the TikTok video has been quietly removed with no explanation. More stealth editing. I hate stealth editing!