The US State Department was found to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy friends for its Facebook page. Globe columnist Alex Beam talked about it.

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Alex Beam Talks About Downton Abbey, Alcoholics Anonymous, And Buying Facebook 'Friends'

January 9, 2014

Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam was the Open Mic guest on Boston Public Radio Thursday. Beam talked to Jim Braude and Margery Eagan about the "Downton Abbey" phenomenon, the power of Alcoholics Anonymous, and buying fake friends on Facebook.

You have some reservations about PBS's runaway hit, "Downton Abbey."

I'm happy for WGBH, I'm happy it's been a cash cow for them.

I liked season one. Season two was execrable, just terrible, the examples are right there in front of you. [Series creator Julian] Fellowes knew he hit a goldmine (...) it just got worse, stupider and stupider, and the plot lines were kind of boring.

It's just horrible, tongue hanging out of month slobbering idolatry. I saw about 40 minutes of the season premiere (...) it was snoozy.

Women drive it in a positive and interesting way. Indeed, season one is all about the so-called injustice done to women. That was interesting.

Talk about your recent Globe column.

I know you can buy a lot of weird online stuff. (...) it turns out you can also buy Facebook friends, which the US State Department did with your money and my money. And they got busted last year. (...) Don't you always get on Facebook and people say, 'Would you please like my new book?' And you look and there's 13 likes. Well, when Procter and Gamble does that there are also 13 likes, so they go out and buy 400,000 likes. (...) [But] nobody gives a fig about their new detergent.

So they paid hundreds of thousands to bulk up their friend list.

The State Department bought Facebook friends for $630,000.

We have a new mayor of Boston. He's an open, Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-step guy. What's your fascination?

I have this ridiculous itch I'm thinking about scratching in print. I felt the media really mistreated [Pres.] George W. Bush on this point, they refused to take his word [he was sober]. They went into this whole thing about how he 'acts like a dry drunk.' I felt that that was unbelievably hostile, and I felt that no Democratic politician would've been subjected to that.

I'm very impatient with people who attack A.A.

Mayor Walsh has talked about blackouts, about how he drove drunk, about getting kicked out of a Bruins game. A.A. has an effect on your personality. It's going to be interesting to see how this affects Walsh in negotations.

I don't feel that Bush ever swept his drunken behavior [under the rug]. (...) I was really dumbfounded that this could be turned against someone for, in my opinion, partisan purposes. (...) They threw [his school] grades against him. It was later revealed that [Sec. of State] John Kerry had gone to Yale and had crappy grades.

You've been away for a couple weeks. Where did you go?

I was in St. Peter's Square in Rome on December 25th. I was holding a banner that said, 'Benvenuto Francis.' (...) My wife dragged me to Italy and my son and I went to [the square].

Apparently [Pope] Francis is extremely popular in Italy, and hilariously, [former Pope] Benedict is extremely unpopular now.

So you guys went to the Square for Christmas Mass?

If you're there in the square on Christmas day as my son and I were, you get a plenary indulgence. Your sins, except for your mortal sins, are forgiven up to that moment. But here's the crazy asterisk: it turns out, you didn't have to be in St. Peter's Square. (...) You [could've] gotten your sins wiped away by listening on the radio! (...) What the hell? Why did I go to St. Peter's Square?

To hear the entire interview with Alex Beam, click the link below.


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