“You smell that?” Johnny Depp asks towards the end of The Rum Diary, Bruce Robinson’s 2011 adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson novel of the same name. Playing Paul Kemp, Thompson’s thinly veiled self-portrait and protagonist, Depp stands in the middle of a Puerto Rican newspaper office, which has been gutted by the American businessman whose shady dealings Kemp was about to expose. “It smells like bastards,” he says.
Al Jazeera English’s Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) has a very similar sense of smell. Since the op-ed columnist and self-described “recovering academic” began publishing opinion pieces on the news channel’s English-language website nearly two years ago, she has demonstrated a remarkable knack for sniffing out bastardry wherever it may fester. And I do mean wherever: rather than merely focusing her ire on Wall Street, the rotten wellspring of American wealth inequality, Kendzior has boldly resolved to call bullshi-t on the less obvious but no less deserving bastards of what she calls the country’s “prestige economy” as well.