Introducing the first-ever, sort-of-annual Bulls**t Awards: Not just for Republicans!

Of course your favorite ex-president gets a special prize. But there are so many other contenders. Stay tuned!

By Brian Karem


Published March 2, 2023 9:33AM (EST)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) laughs with Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) as voting for speaker continues for a third day during a meeting of the 118th Congress, Thursday, January 5, 2023, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) laughs with Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) as voting for speaker continues for a third day during a meeting of the 118th Congress, Thursday, January 5, 2023, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Longtime White House correspondent Brian Karem writes a weekly column for Salon.

I woke up to see snow in the mountains north of the San Fernando Valley. I am told it is a rare occurrence.

I don't know. I was told Donald Trump was a rare occurrence too, and now we've got him and Ron DeSantis. They seem to be part of a metastatic cancer. In his last news conference at the White House, Joe Biden said — with a wee bit of a smile on his face — that he looked forward to watching Trump and DeSantis have at each other.

Me? I've never liked mud wrestling, but some have the taste for it and others like to watch it.

Speaking of "watching," those who watch Fox News were reminded again last week that most of its "news" is nothing but fiction. Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity discussed trying to get Fox White House reporter Jacqui Heinrich fired because she fact-checked Donald Trump. In other words, she did her job. Carlson and Hannity did not. Yet so far, management at Fox has apparently done nothing to reprimand either man for undermining the foundations of our democracy by promoting lies that led to an insurrection.

The fallout from this is ongoing: My former White House comrade Jim Acosta has been trending on social media for calling Fox out as a "bullshit factory."

Jim is masterful at understatement. Fox is actually more like a cancer on the media landscape.

If you had told me at the beginning of 2016 that in a mere four years you could undo 50 years of social progress, I would have recommended that you put down the crack pipe.

Shows you what I know. In Kentucky they're talking about banning drag shows. In Florida they're refusing to teach history while trying to shut down Disney World. In Texas — well, hell, Texas has always been anally retentive when it comes to social issues, so nothing new there. Handguns are cheap and plentiful.

Maybe the next evolution of man, if we don't blow ourselves up, will include the ability to better detect and isolate bullshit. It is, after all, a survival issue.

In the meantime, you can rest assured that Fox News isn't the only source for bullshit in the Washington, D.C., area. My father, a very successful car salesman and no stranger to bullshit, used to say, "With all the bullshit in D.C., there's got to be a loose herd around somewhere."

Trump and his continued grifting guarantees that the bullshit keeps spreading.

So in recognition of that pervasive bullshit, let me be the first to announce the semi-regular Bullshit Awards. They are given to politicians and other miscreants in the public eye who deserve recognition for their invaluable service to the low art of subtle and blatant bullshit, meaning a dedication to spreading deception while sometimes being the victim of the same. These are high honors for lowbrows. Moos for the cows. But it remains my joyful responsibility to remind everyone just how full of bullshit these folks actually are.

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So with no further ado, dim the lights, open the curtains and let us begin:

First we have the Clueless Bullshit award, which goes to those who don't recognize their own bullshit. This is for those who label themselves as "woke" when they are not, the self-proclaimed "alpha males" who are nothing of the sort and those who want to ban books, erase the past, re-edit old novels and movies to remove "offensive" material — and anyone who believes the NFL or Major League Baseball is better with clocks, replays, larger bases or smaller shoulder pads. It's all bullshit.

Next is the Victim Bullshit award. I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't call out Harry and Megan for being so full of bullshit that they'd consider suing "South Park" for satire. Harry called his self-pitying autobiography "Spare." Big deal. He's a spare king used to living in privilege and unaware of what it means to fight for survival. The South Park parody of his book, "Waaagh!", is more accurate. 

Prince Harry, Duke of SussexPrince Harry, Duke of Sussex (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

And, of course, a Golden Calf Bullshit award goes to those Christians who won't embrace Jimmy Carter. The former president is in hospice care, facing the end of a long life in public service and putting himself on the line for his fellow human beings. He served on a nuclear submarine, and has spent most of his life in the same home he and his wife owned before he became president.  He spent years building homes for the poor through Habitat for Humanity, saying his Christian beliefs told him to do everything he could for everyone he could with whatever he could for as long as he could. Most American evangelicals embrace Donald Trump. Bullshit. Those folks have earned a Stupid Dumbass Bullshit award.

Speaking of Trump, he remains the flatulent, corpulent aging steer sitting at the top of the bullshit — the apex bullshitter. He continues to proclaim his innocence and his superior intellect, and revises history to suit whatever argument he is making at the time. He receives the coveted Silver Steer award for his bullshit efforts.

A Mini-Me Bullshit award goes to Ron DeSantis, who while proving to be smarter than Trump (at least in some ways) has the charisma of roadkill and the smell of a dead skunk in the middle of the road. (That's a reference to an obscure song lyric — actually, DeSantis is so far to the right he's off the road). He mimics Trump's fascism in every move he makes, but takes it even further as he tries to turn the state of Florida into a Disney version of Germany in 1937. 

Ron DeSantis; Donald TrumpRon DeSantis and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Speaking of Disney, a Dumbo Bullshit award goes out to Marjorie Taylor Greene, who says she was "attacked" recently while dining at a local restaurant. She claims everyone is entitled to a quiet dinner with friends and family without being verbally assaulted. She is right on that one, but she's full of bullshit because she's never extended that courtesy to victims of mass shootings, or to the president of the United States while he delivers the State of the Union address. The problem with calling out Greene for this award is that she has ingested and regurgitated so much bullshit that you can't tell if she is crafting the stuff or has become its human embodiment, actively decaying in real time.

Another Dumbo Bullshit award goes out to George Santos. Poor old George is so full of bullshit his eyes are brown, as my pop used to say. He is so divorced from reality he thinks bullshit is filet mignon. He is Marjorie Taylor Greene on bullshit steroids. 

A final Dumbo Bullshit award goes to Matt Gaetz, who quoted actual Chinese propaganda in a congressional hearing this week. He also earns special acknowledgment as probably being too stupid to realize how stupid he is.

A Holy Shit Bullshit award goes to Kevin McCarthy, who apparently made a deal to turn over 40,000 hours of surveillance video from the Jan. 6 insurrection to Tucker "Bullshit" Carlson. This will also become known as the "Fox in the Henhouse" award for future reference.

Joe Biden; Kevin McCarthyU.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) listen on February 7, 2023 in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. (Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

A Perennial Bullshit award goes out to the Department of Justice for pursuing Julian Assange. At this writing Donald Trump remains unindicted, while the DOJ spends money trying to extradite Assange from Britain because he published information obtained by Chelsea Manning. The DOJ once again proves it's more interested in pursuing those who provide factual information about our government's misdeeds than in punishing those guilty of the misdeeds. Bullshit.

A special "C'mon Man" Bullshit award goes to Joe Biden for saying on the campaign trail that he'd do something about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi — and then doing nothing.

The Rookie of the Year Bullshit award goes to House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky for his crusade against Hunter Biden while ignoring Trump's misdeeds. Kurt Bardella, who worked for that committee when Republicans were in the majority during the Obama years, said in an op-ed for MSNBC this week, "This glaring act of hypocrisy once again undermines the legitimacy of the committee's activities."

An Epic Bullshit award is granted to the right-wing justices of the U.S. Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade. Let's give them a hand, folks. It takes a lot of cunning and cowardice to overturn 50 years of established law regarding human health rights because you claim your version of God told you to. 

Neil Gorsuch; Brett Kavanaugh; Amy Coney Barrett; Samuel Alito; Clarence ThomasUS Supreme Court Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. (Photo illustration by Salon/Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)

A regional Rainbow Bullshit award goes out to every state legislature currently crafting legislation to ban or limit drag shows under the pretense of protecting children, while failing to address the need to ban guns — a much bigger threat to kids than cross-dressing and wearing makeup. Check out a drag show, people. My wife and I have never been to a bad one. 

Of course the same Christians opposed to drag shows are often the same Christians who turn their preteen daughters into sex symbols at youth beauty pageants. Those folks have earned the Double Bullshit award for hypocrisy.

A Possible Bullshit award (is that a bull fart?) goes to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, who, according to published reports, has determined that the "Havana Syndrome" is "very unlikely" to have been caused by foreign foes. Instead, she says all those symptoms were probably the result of "pre-existing conditions, conventional illnesses and environmental factors."

She could actually clear all that up if her office would respond to a FOIA request I filed a year ago. But since the intelligence bureaucracy refuses to be transparent, Haines can say anything she wants and we cannot prove otherwise.

Finally — a drum roll please — it's time for the Golden Perennial Bullshit award. It was close, folks, but the anticipation is now over. Those who are idly rich among us can rest easy. The top trophy is yours — as it has been for millennia. The award goes to the eager oligarchs and the 0.1 percenters who have sold supply-side economics to the masses for 40 years, destroying pensions, unions, mental health care and prenatal care, while also making sure that the U.S. is at the ass-end of family leave when we do have children.

Man with Cash (Getty/kali9)

Oh, but wait, Hank! We have a special award for the idle rich as well: The rare Double Dumbass award will be presented by William Shatner after he sings his version of Elton John's "Rocket Man." Bill, come on down and hand it out to the ultra-rich who continue to make bank while the rest of us fight over issues that ultimately don't matter. Donald Trump is just the tip of the grift — and we're all the suckers.

That about covers it from here. Let's take a short commercial break, where another bullshit artist will try to sell you a product you don't need but will end up wanting anyway.

We'll be back with sports and weather, and finish up the broadcast with a funny feature story about a guy with a beard made of honeybees.

And as the anchors say, "Have a pleasant tomorrow."

By Brian Karem

Brian Karem is the former senior White House correspondent for Playboy. He has covered every presidential administration since Ronald Reagan, sued Donald Trump three times successfully to keep his press pass, spent time in jail to protect a confidential source, covered wars in the Middle East and is the author of seven books. His latest is "Free the Press."

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Commentary Donald Trump George Santos Joe Biden Marjorie Taylor Greene Prince Harry Ron Desantis