We Are All the Bad Art Friend

Why a story about kidney donation, a Facebook post, and the fallout has readers riveted—and group-chat gossipers nervous.


Episode Notes

How many details must a writer change before real life turns into fiction? That’s a central question of “Who Is the Bad Art Friend?” the seismic New York Times Magazine article about a kidney donation, a Facebook post, and the subsequent fallout that has consumed social media this week. On today’s episode, Madison tries to summarize the story using only what she learned about it from reactions online. Then, Rachelle catches her up on the real story and all its bizarre details. Finally, they discuss whether anybody comes out of this situation looking like a hero, what writers owe to the people they know IRL, and the best practices for making sure your group chats aren’t the subject of the next big New York Times story.

Podcast production by Daniel Schroeder and Derek John.


About the Show

Join Madison Malone Kircher and Rachelle Hampton twice a week as they gaze deep into the online abyss—and tell you what’s gazing back. All episodes


  • Rachelle Hampton is a culture writer and reporter at Slate and co-host of ICYMI. Her work has appeared in the New Republic, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian Magazine, and In These Times. She still hasn't recovered from Tumblr’s demise.

  • Madison Malone Kircher is a senior writer at Slate and co-host of ICYMI. She was previously a staff writer at New York magazine, where she covered internet culture and edited New York’s Approval Matrix. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Vulture, and the Cut. Madison lives in Brooklyn, where she regularly drops her phone on her face watching TikToks in bed.