The Weekly What is canceled! … April Fools!

Are these stories true, or a colossal April Fools' Day joke?
By Esther D. Kustanowitz  Published on 03/30/2018 at 1:15 PM EDT
Roseanne Barr, Michael Fishman, Sara Gilbert, Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman star in the Roseanne reboot. ABC/Adam Rose

In honor of the first of April, when it’s really hard to tell what’s true and what’s intentionally fake news, let’s play “April Fools? Or Legit News Story?” We have four categories up on the board today: The 2020 Census, Crime & Punishment, Entertainment and Potpourri.

The 2020 Census

LGBTQ Americans will not be counted in the 2020 census. This one’s, unfortunately, legit: Proposed questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity were removed Tuesday from a just-released draft of the 2020 U.S. Census. (The previous draft did feature the questions.) “If the government doesn’t know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need?” Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director at the National LGBTQ Task Force, asked in a statement Tuesday (quoted in NBCNews).

Here’s another one. Households will be asked to record which of their family members are citizens for the 2020 census. Also legit. The U.S. Census Bureau announced on Monday night that the 2020 census will ask every American household to record which members of their family are U.S. citizens. Fourteen states (led by California) are suing, trying to get the citizenship question removed from the census. The government says that “asking about citizenship will provide more information about who is in the United States, and more information is always good,” and points out that this question was on every previous census except 2010. But let’s face it, this administration doesn’t err on the side of caring for immigrants, especially non-citizens (hello, DACA)… and people are worried that the citizenship data will be used to justify government actions against undocumented people (  

Just to sum up, those behind the 2020 census are looking to count straight, cisgender citizens as representing the entirety of America…

Crime & Punishment

A 22-year-old unarmed black man was fatally shot by police in his grandparents’ backyard because he was holding a cell phone that police thought was a gun. The case of Stephon Clark is not anything to joke about, especially since this is only the latest in a series of deadly confrontations between law enforcement and people of color. Stephon Clark’s family urged the Sacramento, CA, district attorney’s office to bring criminal charges against the two officers who fired about 20 shots at Clark, killing him. For holding a cell phone. The incident has provoked a hashtag (#StephonClarkLastOne) and has prompted people to assemble in protest. Tiffany Fears, who attended the funeral in support of Clark’s family, said, “In the church and then with this guy who killed all the kids in Florida, how did the guys with the guns walk away from that?” referring to the Charleston, SC shooting and the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. “But here, this one kid hasn’t done anything and he doesn’t walk away. I don’t get that. I just don’t get that.” (via NPR and NBCNews)

People are sending sexually suggestive photos to Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz in prison. True. Cruz is receiving photos of women in lingerie and letters from people offering to be a source of support. This is pretty common, actually: After the Boston Marathon bombing, girls wrote to the bomber, Jahar Tsarnaev, because they had crushes on him. Cruz, who is currently on suicide watch, is actually not permitted to read the letters, but he is getting more letters than any previous prisoner at that prison has. (CNN and New York Post)

A FOX News anchor made fun of a Parkland shooting survivor for not getting into four of the colleges he applied to. Totally true: Laura Ingraham of The Ingraham Angle mocked David Hogg on Twitter. Hogg responded by tweeting a call to action urging Ingraham’s advertisers to take action. At least four—Wayfair, Expedia, TripAdvisor and Rachael Ray pet food brand Nutrish—have announced they’ll stop advertising on her show. Ingraham has since apologized “in the spirit of Holy Week.” ( According to The New York Times, Hogg said that getting some of the companies to pull their ads was  “just the beginning.” He said that if all the advertisers stopped their ads, “we can show that if you continue to bully the students that survived a mass murder, there’s going to be consequences. Deal with the issues, not the individuals.”


Meryl Streep may replace Carrie Fisher as Princess General Leia in Star Wars Episode IX. While this hasn’t been proven to be an April Fools joke, MovieWeb does say this is only a rumor. So is it true? I guess it depends on how credible you think MovieWeb is. (According to most Star Wars fans who have tweeted at me, not very credible.)

The President takes credit for the high ratings of Roseanne’s return to television. Duh, of course he did. He spoke with Apprentice producer Mark Burnett, saying “[The ratings] were unbelievable. Over 18 million people. And it was about us.” He even called Roseanne Barr to congratulate her. If you haven’t seen the premiere double episode, it features a rift between Roseanne and Dan Conner—working-class middle Americans who voted for Trump and his promises of more jobs—and Roseanne’s liberal sister Jackie, who shows up in a pink hat and a “Nasty Woman” T-shirt. In the space of the episode, the two clash and then agree to disagree because they’re family. If only all family conflicts could be solved in 22 minutes… (CNN)

Someone bit Beyonce’s gorgeous face. Crazy, but true, Tiffany Haddish revealed in a GQ interview, launching a hashtag #WhoBitBeyonce and a million speculative jokes, some of which resurrected famous face-biters past, including Hannibal Lecter and Mike Tyson (who was partial to ears back in the day). Trevor Noah, during a behind-the-scenes moment at The Daily Show, tries to figure out who the culprit was, with the help of the studio audience:


SodaStream, the Israel-based seltzer machine makers, have created a new bath product—SodaSoak—that adds effervescence to your tub. Although it’s fun to think about a bath with bubbles provided by SodaSoak, this one was created especially for April Fools’ Day, so you can enjoy it guilt-free, without the sense of “what is this world coming to” that often accompanies unbelievable news stories LIKE ALL THE OTHER ONES IN THIS WEEKLY WHAT.

April Fools Day is Sunday, so be wary of more internet tricksters who lurk about with stories about how you could win a million dollars by using Facebook at a certain time of day, Lady Doritos, or any other ludicrous thing that sounds just normal enough to be true in our current landscape of disbelief.

To our Jewish and Christian friends who are observing Passover or Easter, wishing you a wonderful holiday, filled with joy, family, friends, food and meaning.

What will you be discussing with family and friends this weekend? Tell us in the comments…

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