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The cover image of Authentic: The Story of Tablo podcast. It is a black and white image showing three stacked images of the top half of Tablo's face.

Daily Helping for January 26th, 2023 – Authentic: The Story of Tablo

Everyone needs to listen to this podcast. Everyone. Authentic: The Story of Tablo is fascinating, illuminating, and horrifying. And it explains so much about the current state of political strife around the world. So I’m going to say it again. Everyone needs to listen to this podcast.

I came by this podcast because it was referenced in an article I was reading, and I looked it up out of curiosity. Authentic runs only eight episodes, but it tells the incredible and unimaginable story of Tablo, one third of the Korean hip hop group Epik High. In 2010, an online group called Tajinyo raised doubts about Tablo’s academic credentials, claiming that he was lying about graduating from Stanford with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just three and a half years. Which is clearly impressive. But not impossible. As many people would later attest.

What is extraordinary about this story is that the online rumours ultimately prompted the police in South Korea to launch a criminal investigation of Tablo. Stanford officially verified his credentials and the allegations were ultimately proven to be false. The police later went after the ringleaders of Tajinyo, with many receiving prison sentences for their online rumourmongering. But despite all this, a version of Tajinyo lives on today. In fact, the podcast host, Dexter Thomas Jr., interviewed a current member of Tajinyo in one of the episodes, during which the man admitted that he still doesn’t believe Tablo isn’t lying about Stanford. And that is exactly why everyone needs to listen to this podcast.

Tablo produced every piece of evidence he could to prove that he graduated from Stanford with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in three and a half years. A documentary film crew even accompanied him to the US where Stanford vouched for his credentials on camera. But despite all this, Tajinyo still claimed Tablo was lying and cried out for the “truth”. All of this predated the era of Trump, alternate facts, and the “stolen” 2020 election. But you can trace a direct line from the story of Tablo and Tajinyo to where we are today.

We live in a time where it doesn’t matter how much evidence you can produce on an issue. It doesn’t even matter what that evidence is or what point you’re trying to prove. Whether it’s countless audits showing no proof of election fraud or study after study showing that vaccines are safe. People are still going to believe their own version of the “truth”. And that is terrifying, because that means there’s no reasoning with them. And once you get to that point, how do you move forward?

The Internet is an amazing thing that has completely transformed every aspect of our lives in just one generation. But it has also ushered in a horrifying new reality where facts don’t matter. As Authentic lays out, the story of Tablo was just a preview of what was to come. It was scandal revolving around one person that had global implications. As host Thomas Jr. astutely points out, if only the rest of the world had been paying attention. Perhaps we could have all been better prepared for what was to come.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!