From Jenna Ryan to Delta-8: The Observer’s Five Most Popular News Stories of 2021

Ted Cruz made the list in 2021. Let's hope he doesn't make the list in 2022.
Ted Cruz made the list in 2021. Let's hope he doesn't make the list in 2022. Chip Somodevilla/Getty
In a perfect world, we’d right about now thank the universe that it was a slow news year. Honestly, we’d like to celebrate that Christmas is upon us. We’d like to all be enjoying the company of our relatives. We’d like to hardly feel the need to drink at all.

But 2021 wasn’t a kind one. There was a lot of news. Bad stuff just kept happening. The year kicked off with a bang: supporters of former President Donald Trump, including dozens from North Texas, stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Closer to home, some Texans — including some lawmakers — kept embarrassing the rest of us. So, the Observer had its hands full all year long. Here are the five most-read news stories of 2021:

Jenna Ryan's White Skin and Blond Hair

In March, North Texas real estate broker and U.S. Capitol rioter Jenna Ryan infamously took to Twitter to assure the world she wasn’t going to jail. Why? Because she has white skin and blond hair. As staff writer Simone Carter reported at the time, the comments didn’t win Ryan a lot of fans. In fact, they were later cited at her sentencing hearing by the judge and prosecution.

Click here to read the whole story.

Drinking Chemicals with the Dallas QAnon Cult

In December, the family of a Delaware woman who traveled to Dallas with the fringe cult of QAnonists said that their relative had been one of several people drinking toxic chemicals from a communal bowl with the crowd that's still spending their days at Dealey Plaza, waiting for the assassinated President John F. Kennedy and his son John F. Kennedy Jr., who died in 1999, to return and reinstall Donald Trump as president. The Leek family said their relative, whose name has not been released, has been mixing and distributing the chemical cocktails, which include chlorine dioxide (an industrial disinfectant similar to bleach).

Click here to read the whole story.

Move Aside, Delta-8

Texas politicians don’t like weed, sure. But they really don’t like weed. In fact, they dislike weed so much they don’t want anyone to be able to smoke anything vaguely similar to weed, such as delta-8 THC.

But as staff writer Jacob Vaughn reported, smoke shops around North Texas took a different tack once the legal battle over delta-8 heated up. They started stocking products with delta-9, the main ingredient that gets you high in actual weed, by putting it in dry goods as a way to skirt the law.

Click here to read the whole story.

Also: Move Aside, Ted Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has always tended to make enemies. But he really ruffled some feathers this year. Cruz led 11 Republican senators in a plan to object to the certification of the November 2020 election results, earning the group the nicknames “sedition caucus” and “dirty dozen.” After the U.S. Capitol riot, groups around Texas called for the senator to step down. (Cruz didn't step down and has since gone on to lead an illustrious career picking fights with Big Bird, Australia and just about every other living or non-living being.)

Click here to read the whole story.


When Texas Republicans pushed for an audit of an election of an election they handily won, the news seemed to catch election officials in Collin and Tarrant counties flat-footed. No one seemed to know what the audit would like, and no one seemed to know why the audit was necessary, emails showed.

Click here to read the whole story.
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Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.