Biased and Faulty: “Ponyville Confidential” review

The thing about journalism is that it has become kinda shitty in recent years. “If it bleeds, it leads,” is the new adage among many newsrooms, and this has caused many people to either ignore these morons, or take them seriously, and I’m not sure what’s worse.

The role of journalists is to report the truth in the most honest and even-handed way possible. To be fair and accurate, as my old journalism professor put it so many times. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really sell papers, or get ratings, or page hits. Fear, controversy and rage are what get people’s attention, and so that’s what editors tend to push to the front page.

You ever see Moonlight? It premiered a few years ago and only lasted half a season, so it’s okay if you didn’t. Anyway, one of the characters was a reporter for a website called BuzzWire, and when her editor is murdered by a vampire, her replacement says his top priority is getting the story out before anyone else. So, forget fact checking, if it’s wrong they can print a retraction later. What a cunt! This is not the way to do business! At least not ethically!

There was a time when journalism wasn’t about the money, it was about doing the right thing. A company would gain money from other sources and use the profits to fund a media outlet that wasn’t necessarily designed to make a profit. But in recent years, it’s something the shareholders frown upon.

With all that in mind, we move to the latest episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, as the Cutie Mark Crusaders try their hoof at journalism, and learn these ethical principles the hard way.

We open with Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle upset that another classmate has gotten their cutie mark, and they’re still lacking.

Apple Bloom comes up with a plan, and brings the school newspaper to demonstrate, but is called off before she can explain. So the other two try using the paper to get their cutie mark. By packing, making nests, and a giant paper boat. All of which fail, and when they tell Apple Bloom, she laughs at them. I would too, I mean that’s just stupid! We all know the best application of newsprint is to give your pet pigeon something to poop on!

But, Apple Bloom explains, her idea was to report for the newspaper, not make a boat out of it! Journalism cutie marks! I’m so excited!!! Do me and my brothers proud, Crusaders!!!

I’d like to point out the Rainbow Dash memorabilia adorning the walls of the Crusader clubhouse. Was that in earlier episodes? I’m not sure, but one of them reminds me of Nyan Cat.

Anyway, the paper has their first meeting and the Crusaders sign up. Cheerilee announces the paper’s editor-in-chief graduated last year, meaning there is a void to be filled, which she had already filled with Diamond Tiara. Already we are off to a bad start with this paper aren’t we. You’re appointing a pony we’ve previously established as a bitch to the position of editor-in-chief! This can only end badly!

Here’s my question: Why was Tiara leaving the classroom at the beginning of the meeting when she’s supposed to be in charge? For the sole purpose of making a dramatic entrance!? I could understand if she was in a different class, but that’s not the case, we see her leaving the class at the beginning! You know what!? Forget it!

Tiara’s first order as editor-in-chief is to demand hard-hitting stories from her reporters! I like the way she thinks. Soft news always kinda annoyed me. I always found it to be simple filler. Not that they aren’t interesting on occasion, but what should hold a paper up is the hard, event-driven news! Not boring feature pieces.

So the Crusaders go looking for news, but end up just getting some feature pieces and no hard stories, and they go through a lot of grief to get it. We’re one again reminded Scootaloo can’t fly, which really bugs me. She needs to work on that!

Of course because it’s not hard news, Tiara dismisses it out of hoof. The hardest piece they get is a story about a few baby birds that were born. You’ve got to be shitting me. But at least one can use it to fill some space on the page.

So eventually Sweetie Belle notices our resident morons, Snips and Snails, recently got covered in bubblegum. So the trio decides to do a story on that. Well, it certainly qualifies!

They throw in a few jokes and it becomes a hit with the town, not just the school. Tiara tells them this is now their beat: The gossip column. Funnily enough, that isn’t really hard news, but, you know, whatever.

Anyway the point is, Diamond Tiara demands more, so the Crusaders get to work! This is when they are introduced to the hardest part of being a journalist! Getting story ideas and sources. The writing, which comes after, is the easy part. So writer’s block sets in, at least I think it would be called writer’s block in this case, and it is revealed that Sweetie Belle enjoys coffee. I thought they would be too young for that. Don’t they know it stunts your cutie mark!? Sorry, I couldn’t come up with a better joke for that.

Anyway, they come up dry until Rarity runs across the paper while snooping through Sweetie Belle’s bag. Do these two live together, or are their parents just out of town again? Or are they dead!? That would be one hell of an episode! I want to see a season three episode deal with bereavement!

Anyway, Sweetie Belle is incensed at her sister’s snooping and bops her on the horn. Which is revealed to both disrupt unicorn magic and be extremely hilarious. The young unicorn then realizes that the column can have appeal outside the school. Which means they have reason to cover the whole town.

Something I figure I should mention is that Rarity is completely unaware that the Crusaders wrote the column because they used a pseudonym, Gabby Gums, because they couldn’t fit all three names on the byline. I don’t know if I like the name, but it works. I have no idea how they came up with it. That would be an interesting story. Fancomic writers! Get on that!

So, they begin reporting on events outside the school, and it becomes a major hit. Ponies all across Ponyville love it! Featherweight, their official photographer, needs to start putting in some overtime, because there’s a lot more to cover now! You’d think the more logical solution is to try to recruit more photographers instead.

Anyway, a few papers later, Twilight and the gang, plus Spike are all at the spa, discussing the latest Gabby Gums column. The Great and Powerful Trixie’s secrets revealed! Wait, she’s still breathing!? Here I thought we’d never hear from her again! How’d this happen? Where’s she been hiding?

Twilight is a little concerned about the implications of the column, but everypony else thinks it’s pretty harmless. Though Twilight’s concern may only be due to her mentor, Princess Celestia, being the subject in one issue. She was pigging out on cake. Not really befitting royalty.

In other news: the Mayor is revealed to be dying her hair. Why is that scandalous? She dyes it grey! What the fuck!?

Rainbow mentions how exciting it would be to have her name in the paper, and…wait…what the fuck does Twilight have her hooves in!? It’s like one of those toe separators people use to…keep their toes separated for…I assume nail painting, I’m not really sure. The reason they’re needed is because toes bunch up on their own, so they sometimes need to be physically separated. But why exactly is the same thing needed for hooves? You know what!? I don’t care.

Meanwhile Rarity tries to coax Rainbow into getting a hooficure, which I assume is related to a pony pedi, as mentioned in season one’s A Dog and Pony Show. Anyway, Rainbow eventually gives in, but backs off, because apparently she has a fear of hoof-files! She is one weird pony.

Meanwhile, the Crusaders drop off their latest piece, an exclusive interview with Spike the Dragon. I’d read that. Tiara dismisses it for being too soft. IT’S A GOSSIP COLUMN!!! Anyway, the group reveals they’ve been feeling a bit guilty about all their stories. This is a very important life lesson for all ponies people! If it feels bad, don’t do it! But the girls feel they must give the ponies what they want, so they, oddly enough, and with great reluctance, get more aggressive, and begin outright lying!

I shouldn’t have to explain why this is unethical!

Everypony, or at least everypony in Twilight’s gang, get’s pissed off at this latest turn of events. But one thing I’d be remiss to mention, is that they certainly didn’t lie about Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy didn’t deny that she uses tail extensions, so it might not all be lies.

Rainbow arrives with a giant pile of newspapers. I think somepony needs to tell her it would be easier if she carried them in bundles instead. Find some twine and wrap them up. Anyway, she’s upset because, while she finally made it into the paper, it was in a story that called her a pansy because she was at the spa! But instead of saying, “Yeah, I like to hit the spa and relax! Got a problem with that!?” She tries to cover it up. In my opinion, going to the spa doesn’t make her any less of a bad ass! Didn’t she learn anything from Read it and Weep!? Apparently not.

Everyone’s distraught about this except Rarity, until she sees herself in one of the columns. Her entire diary has been published in the newspaper. Holy shit! The Drama Queen Diaries! At least the headline’s apt! The girls decide they need to put a stop to this reign of terror! Step one: expose Gabby Gums’ real identity! Twilight suggests they ask Sweetie Belle, since they’re apparently colleagues. Which should raise some eyebrows right? I mean, I doubt Sweetie Belle has a single byline in the entire paper, all her work is likely published under Gabby Gums, but no one mentions that! Why do you never see Superman and Clark Kent at the same time!?

On that note, why don’t they just ask Spike? He would have learned Gabby’s identity when he gave her an exclusive interview. Then again, the interview wasn’t published, but why wouldn’t he volunteer the information?

Anyway, Rarity announces her scepticism at Sweetie’s complicity. There’s no way she could know Gabby’s true identity. She continues to believe this, until she begins snooping again and finds her diary in Sweetie’s saddlebag. Rarity confronts Sweetie, aka, Gabby, and Sweetie agrees to end it once and for all. After all, it’s unlikely this is their special talent anyway. I don’t know about that, apparently they’re getting the content out, and it’s quite entertaining, so they’re definitely good at it. The only thing they need to work on is the ethics.

However, Tiara refuses to let them quit, and resorts to blackmail and extortion to get them to continue the column. She has some embarrassing photos they do not want published, taken by ace photojournalist, Featherweight. So the trio are resigned to continue the column. Unfortunately, because they’ve been outed as Gabby Gums, no pony wants to talk to them. Which is another obstacle to being a journalist, no sources, no news. So tomorrow, the embarrassing photos will be released, unless they can get some type of column out. Here’s my solution: let the photos come out. Best way to get people to forgive you is to try to even the score.

Instead they give Tiara a column the next morning and she publishes it without reading it. It turns out to be an open letter of apology from the Crusaders. Then, I don’t know how exactly, but Tiara is kicked out of the editor’s chair and replaced by Featherweight. Are you shitting me!? He was part of the problem! Anyway, Tiara is left to run the printing press, and she gets covered in ink in the process, which is apparently typical for the press operator. That’s a pretty shitty press! I doubt Gutenberg had that problem! Don’t worry Tiara fans, she’ll be back on her hooves by next season, I’m sure of it.

Speaking of which, only three episodes left! This season just flew by didn’t it!? Next week, Pinkie Holmes solves a robbery by getting high on opium. At least that’s what I think will happen. The following week, the two-part season finale, where Twilight’s brother get’s married to Celestia’s niece. Am I the only one perplexed by that? Apparently it involves cloning!

Well at least it’s not going to suck.

I remember reading that a major plot-point will be a big secret hidden by the bride, Princess Cadence. Whatever it is, it better be enough to justify cancelling the wedding. Otherwise I will be sorely disappointed.


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