Media News 2021-23




Several major media trends are seriously undermining American democracy and other quality of life issues. Among these developments are:

  • breaking news imgaeGovernment censorship, falsehoods, restrictions of access or covert manipulation;
  • Financial cutbacks in newsrooms eroding professional standards;
  • Slanted or otherwise manipulative "news" techniques;
  • Heavy-handed political control, increasingly with partisan agendas, over schools, colleges, textbooks
  • Outright "fake news" that makes scant pretense of honest coverage.

To counter such practices, we link to significant news reports and commentary below. The materials are in reverse chronological order and are drawn primarily from large news organizations and expert commentators. Most focus on U.S. mass media, but some items related to global press freedom, education, high tech, religion, sports and other entertainment.

    • Andrew Kreig / Justice Integrity Project editor


      andrew kreig c span

      The Justice Integrity Project's editor (shown above during a 2014 lecture shown on C-SPAN, is a public affairs commentator, author and attorney in the communications field

      Andrew Kreig, the editor of the materials excerpted below, is a former newspaper reporter, magazine editor and columnist. Also, he was the president / CEO (from 1996 to 2008) of the Wireless Communications Association, a Washington, DC-based trade association that advocated for wireless Internet services and advanced applications on behalf of members that included leading communications companies. For years, he edited its daily bulletins and supervised its conventions that gathered prominent government officials, companies, educators and other thought leaders in advanced communications.

      Also, he is the author of two books addressing problems in the news media that harm civic life. Read more.

      Based on such experience, the news excerpts below are chosen to illustrate important news and trends. The excerpts cite language from the outlets except for subheads and an occasionally clearly marked 'Editor's note.'


Note: This segment of our near-daily summary of Media News encompasses news stories that began in 2021. For previous periods extending back to 2018, kindly visit these links: 2018, 2019 and 2020.


May 23

ny times logoNew York Times, Spying in Mexico Strikes a New Victim: The President’s Ally, Natalie Kitroeff and Ronen Bergman, May 23, 2023 (print ed.). While looking into abuses by the armed forces, the country’s top human rights official was targeted with Pegasus, the world’s most notorious spyware.

He is a longtime friend of the president, a close political ally for decades who is now the government’s top human rights official.

And he has been spied on, repeatedly.

Alejandro Encinas, Mexico’s under secretary for human rights, was targeted with Pegasus, the world’s most notorious spyware, while investigating abuses by the nation’s military, according to four people who spoke with him about the hack and an independent forensic analysis that confirmed it.

Mexico has long been shaken by spying scandals. But this is the first confirmed case of such a senior member of an administration — let alone someone so close to the president — being surveilled by Pegasus in more than a decade of the spy tool’s use in the country.

The attacks on Mr. Encinas, which have not been reported previously, seriously undercut President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s pledge to end what he has called the “illegal” spying of the past. They’re also a clear sign of how freewheeling the surveillance in Mexico has become, when no one, not even the president’s allies, appears to be off limits.

Pegasus is licensed only to government agencies, and while there’s no definitive proof which one carried out the hack of Mr. Encinas’s phone, the military is the only entity in Mexico that has access to the spyware, according to five people familiar with the contracts. In fact, the Mexican military has targeted more cellphones with the technology than any government agency in the world.

Mr. Encinas has long been at odds with the armed forces. He and his team have accused them of being involved in the mass disappearance of 43 students, one of the worst human rights violations in the country’s recent history.

His cellphone has been infected multiple times — as recently as last year while he was leading a government truth commission into the abductions — giving the hackers unfettered access to his entire digital life, according to the four people who have discussed it with him.

Pegasus was wielded against some of Mexico’s most prominent journalists and democracy advocates several years ago, igniting an international scandal that stained the previous administration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Andrew Tate Thought He Was Above the Law. Romania Proved Him Wrong, Andrew Higgins, May 23, 2023 (print ed.). The online influencer is facing charges of human trafficking and rape, after seeking out a place where “corruption is accessible to everybody.”

andrew tate 2021Andrew Tate, right, a pugilistic online influencer and self-crowned “king of toxic masculinity,” never made any secret of why he had chosen Romania as his home and business base.

“I like living in a society where my money, my influence and my power mean that I’m not below or beholden” to any laws, Mr. Tate told his fans.

andrew tate graphicBut, like much of what the former kickboxer has told his millions of mostly young male followers on social media — including claims that he is a trillionaire and has 19 passports — Mr. Tate’s proclamation of faith in Romania as a risk-free haven for antisocial behavior reflected more fantasy than reality.

The Romanian authorities arrested Mr. Tate, a citizen of both the United States and Britain, and his younger brother, Tristan, in December on charges of human trafficking, rape and forming an organized criminal group. Held for three months in a jail in Bucharest, the capital, both men, who deny any wrongdoing, are now under house arrest, awaiting trial.

Their home is a sprawling compound down a dingy dead-end street in Voluntari, a town next to Bucharest that is dotted with shiny new office towers and derelict empty lots. It looks more like an industrial warehouse than the lair of a man who boasted of immense wealth and posted videos of himself hanging out in private jets with beautiful women and driving fast cars.

May 22

washington post logoWashington Post, E.U.’s record $1.3 billion fine for Meta could have broad effects on U.S. businesses, Naomi Nix, Annabelle Timsit and Cat Zakrzewski, May meta logo22, 2023. Facebook’s parent company was found to have broken the E.U.’s sweeping set of privacy laws by transferring user data from Europe to the United States. Critics say the ruling puts U.S. companies in limbo, threatening a common practice.

ny times logoNew York Times, Meta Fined $1.3 Billion for Violating E.U. Data Privacy Rules, Adam Satariano, May 22, 2023. The Facebook owner said it would appeal an order to stop sending data about European Union users to the United States.

Meta on Monday was fined a record 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) and ordered to stop transferring data collected from Facebook users in Europe to the United facebook logoStates, in a major ruling against the social media company for violating European Union data protection rules.

The penalty, announced by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, is potentially one of the most consequential in the five years since the European Union enacted the landmark data privacy law known as the General Data Protection Regulation. Regulators said the company failed to comply with a 2020 decision by the E.U.’s highest court that data shipped across the Atlantic was not sufficiently protected from American spy agencies.

meta logoThe ruling announced on Monday applies only to Facebook and not Instagram and WhatsApp, which Meta also owns. Meta said it would appeal the european union logo rectangledecision and that there would be no immediate disruption to Facebook’s service in the Europe Union.

Several steps remain before the company must cordon off the data of Facebook users in Europe — information that could include photos, friend connections, direct messages and data collected for targeting advertising. The ruling comes with a grace period of at least five months for Meta to comply. And the company’s appeal will set up a potentially lengthy legal process.

 roman protasevich

ny times logoNew York Times, Belarus pardoned an opposition activist who was hauled off a Ryanair flight in 2021, state media said, Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Ivan Nechepurenko, May 22, 2023. Belarus has pardoned an opposition activist who was arrested in 2021 after the Belarusian government forced the landing of a commercial flight he had been on that was transiting its airspace, state media reported on Monday.

The activist, Roman Protasevich, 28, above, was the editor of Nexta, a channel on the Telegram messaging app that was instrumental in organizing mass protests alexander lukashenko resized 2019against President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, left, after his disputed election victory in 2020. The details of Mr. Protasevich’s arrest drew international attention.

A Belarusian court in May sentenced Mr. Protasevich to eight years in prison for crimes including acts of terrorism and insulting the president. But on Monday, Belta, the Belarusian state news agency, reported that Mr. Protasevich had told journalists he had been pardoned, calling it “great news.”

Such leniency for someone who had been an active member of the opposition is unusual in Belarus, where, during nearly three decades in power, Mr. Lukashenko has a longstanding pattern of silencing dissent and violently suppressing opponents.

washington post logoWashington Post, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO booed at Boston University commencement speech over writers strike, Herb Scribner, May 22, 2023 (print ed.). The Writers Guild of America said it planned to picket during the speech. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav faced boos and jeers from audience members during his Boston University commencement speech on Sunday during the ongoing Hollywood writers strike.

Picketers and audience members broke out in chants, including, “pay your writers!” as Zaslav spoke about his career experience and how he rose up to become WBD’s president. Crowds yelled, “we don’t want you here!” and “shut up Zaslav!” as he spoke.

During his speech, Zaslav advised students that “some people will be looking for a fight, but don’t be the one they find it with,” which caused an eruption of boos and cheers from the crowd. He then told students to “focus on people’s good qualities,” which was a tip he said he received from the late General Electric CEO Jack Welch.

As he wrapped up his address — advising students to “figure out what you’re good at” and “show up for your friends” — audience members shouted expletives at him.

Zaslav, who wore sunglasses during the duration of speech, did not directly address the strike. But he may have been speaking to the picketers and protesters when he wrapped up, saying, “I hope to see all of you — and I mean all of you — along the way. The journey of life. There’s nothing better.”

Zaslav addressed the protests in a statement sent to The Washington Post Sunday afternoon.

“I am grateful to my alma mater, Boston University, for inviting me to be part of today’s commencement and for giving me an honorary degree, and, as I have often said, I am immensely supportive of writers and hope the strike is resolved soon and in a way that they feel recognizes their value,” he said.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House reporters stuck with $25,000 charges after Biden trip canceled, Paul Farhi, May 22, 2023 (print ed.). Some correspondents think it could prompt media bosses to pull back from covering the president on future overseas tours.

Every traveler dreads a sudden flight cancellation. But few travelers have been stuck with the kind of headache that White House reporters were left with this week.

In anticipation of covering President Biden’s trip to Japan and Australia, news organizations shelled out big bucks to charter a plane to carry journalists from Hiroshima to Sydney. But then Biden decided to skip the Australian leg of his trip to return to Washington for continuing negotiations with congressional Republicans over a debt ceiling increase.

The decision stuck media organizations with the tab for a trip that never happened. And some correspondents think it could prompt their bosses to pull back from covering the president on overseas trips, dooming future charter flights.

The now-canceled charter flight, organized by the White House Travel Office, cost $760,000, or about $14,000 for each of the 55 journalists who’d booked seats on it. Journalists will immediately lose their deposits, about $7,700 each, and may be on the hook for the rest, according to a memo sent to reporters on Wednesday by Tamara Keith, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association.

May 18

ny times logoNew York Times, In Battle Over A.I., Meta Decides to Give Away Its Crown Jewels, Cade Metz and Mike Isaac, May 18, 2023. The tech giant has publicly released its latest A.I. technology so people can build their own chatbots. Rivals say that approach can be dangerous.

In February, Meta made an unusual move in the rapidly evolving world of artificial intelligence: It decided to give away its A.I. crown jewels.

meta logoThe Silicon Valley giant, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, had created an A.I. technology, called LLaMA, that can power online chatbots. But instead of keeping the technology to itself, Meta released the system’s underlying computer code into the wild. Academics, government researchers and others who gave their email address to Meta could download the code once the company had vetted the individual.

Essentially, Meta was giving its A.I. technology away as open-source software — computer code that can be freely copied, modified and reused — providing outsiders with everything they needed to quickly build chatbots of their own.

“The platform that will win will be the open one,” Yann LeCun, Meta’s chief A.I. scientist, said in an interview.

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Rules Against Andy Warhol in Copyright Case, Adam Liptak, May 18, 2023. The question for the justices was whether the artist was free to use elements of a rock photographer’s portrait of the musician Prince.

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Andy Warhol was not entitled to draw on a prominent photographer’s portrait of Prince for a series of images of the musician, limiting the scope of the fair-use defense to copyright infringement in the realm of visual art.

The vote was 7 to 2. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the majority, said the photographer’s “original works, like those of other photographers, are entitled to copyright protection, even against famous artists.”

In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., wrote that the decision “will stifle creativity of every sort.”

“It will impede new art and music and literature,” she wrote. “It will thwart the expression of new ideas and the attainment of new knowledge. It will make our world poorer.”

  • New York Times, Supreme Court Sidesteps Ruling on Scope of Internet Liability Shield, May 18, 2023.

washington post logoWashington Post, Montana becomes first state to ban TikTok, but court challenges are likely, Erica Werner, May 18, 2023 (print ed.). The move was denounced by the ACLU and a court challenge.

tiktok logo square CustomMontana on Wednesday became the first state to enact a total ban on sales and use of TikTok in the state, as Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed legislation he said would “protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Tech is not your friend. We are. Sign up for The Tech Friend newsletter.

A spokesperson for the popular Chinese-owned app responded by accusing Gianforte of signing a bill “that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state.”

A number of states and the federal government already have barred the Chinese-owned app from public agencies’ devices, citing national security concerns, but the legislation in Montana goes much further.

Biden’s TikTok plan echoes failed Trump bid China called a ‘smash and grab’

It imposes fines of $10,000 per day on any mobile store making the app available, and on TikTok itself if it operates the app within the state. Individual TikTok users are not subject to the fines. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Musk says George Soros ‘hates humanity,’ compares him to Jewish supervillain, Avi Selk and Herb Scribner, May 18, 2023 (print ed.). The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League condemned Elon Musk’s comparison of Soros to Magneto — a Marvel villain who opposes humanity.

Elon Musk made a series of attacks on George Soros overnight, tweeting that the Jewish-born investor and liberal philanthropist, who often is subject to virulent antisemitic conspiracy theories, hates humanity and “wants to erode the very fabric of civilization.”

Musk, who has overseen an increase of antisemitism and other hate speech on Twitter since he bought the social media platform last year, did not give a reason for singling out Soros. But he made his comments three days after Soros’s investment fund reported that it had sold all its stock in Tesla, the electric carmaker that Musk also runs.

And Musk seemed to specifically reference the 92-year-old Holocaust survivor’s background by comparing Soros to Magneto — a Jewish supervillain who “fights to help mutants replace humans as the world’s dominant species,” as Marvel’s official character description puts it.

“Soros reminds me of Magneto,” Musk posted at 10 p.m. Monday, apropos of nothing. The tweet triggered a flood of replies comparing Soros to various symbols of evil, recalling long-standing conspiracy theories that paint him as a godlike billionaire Jew who uses his philanthropic foundations to flood Europe with refugees and corrupt American politics.

The left-wing commentator Brian Krassenstein replied to Musk, pointing out that Magneto is a Holocaust survivor in Marvel lore, where the character manipulates magnetic fields to oppose (and occasionally help) the heroes of X-Men films and comics. “[Soros], also a Holocaust survivor, get’s attacked nonstop for his good intentions which some Americans think are bad merely because they disagree with this political affiliations,” he wrote.

Musk replied to Krassenstein five minutes later: “You assume they are good intentions. They are not. He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity.”

washington post logoWashington Post, High-schooler gets suspended after filming her teacher using the n-word, Jonathan Edwards, May 17, 2023 (print ed.). The geometry teacher said the n-word twice in a 55-second video captured by the 15-year-old.

Mary Walton thought her teacher repeatedly saying a racist slur in class last week was wrong, so the 15-year-old sophomore at Glendale High School in Springfield, Mo., pulled out her phone and started filming, the student’s lawyer said.

She recorded him saying the n-word twice before he appeared to notice what she was doing.

“Put your phone away,” he told her, according to video reviewed by The Washington Post.

“No,” Mary said.

“Then go to the office,” he responded.

Days later, she was suspended for making the 55-second video, according to her lawyer. Mary and her mother, Kate Welborn, 44, are challenging the punishment and demanding the district apologize. Mary’s lawyer, Natalie Hull, said that the sophomore was essentially acting as a whistleblower by collecting evidence of an authority figure’s wrongdoing and that punishing her will have a “chilling effect” on students inclined to do so in the future.

“​​This kid did what we want people to do — see something, say something,” Hull said, adding: “Now we’re telling students, ‘If you see something, don’t show it, because then you’ll get suspended.’”

Officials maintain that, although the teacher’s actions were inexcusable, students are prohibited from recording in class without prior approval.

California teacher placed on leave after video shows her mocking Native American dance in headdress

On Monday, Principal Josh Groves announced that the teacher, who was initially placed on administrative leave, is no longer employed by the district. He has not been publicly identified. Officials said that while federal law prevented them from talking about student discipline, the student handbook is clear about the consequences of inappropriately using cellphones and other electronic devices.

Officials are “confident that the district appropriately and promptly handled all matters related to what occurred at Glendale,” Groves said Monday in an email to parents. “We want our schools to be safe and welcoming learning environments. When students have concerns, they should follow the appropriate steps for reporting.”

May 17



Sam Altman, the chief executive of the San Francisco start-up OpenAI 5 16 2023

ny times logoNew York Times, OpenAI’s Sam Altman Urges A.I. Regulation in Senate Hearing, Cecilia Kang, May 17, 2023 (print ed.). The tech executive and lawmakers agreed that new A.I. systems must be regulated. Just how that would happen is not yet clear.

The tone of congressional hearings featuring tech industry executives in recent years can best be described as antagonistic. Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and other tech luminaries have all been dressed down on Capitol Hill by lawmakers upset with their companies.

But on Tuesday, Sam Altman, the chief executive of the San Francisco start-up OpenAI, testified before members of a Senate subcommittee and largely agreed with them on the need to regulate the increasingly powerful A.I. technology being created inside his company and others like Google and Microsoft.

In his first testimony before Congress, Mr. Altman implored lawmakers to regulate artificial intelligence as members of the committee displayed a budding understanding of the technology. The hearing underscored the deep unease felt by technologists and government over A.I.’s potential harms. But that unease did not extend to Mr. Altman, who had a friendly audience in the members of the subcommittee.

The appearance of Mr. Altman, a 38-year-old Stanford University dropout and tech entrepreneur, was his christening as the leading figure in A.I. The boyish-looking Mr. Altman traded in his usual pullover sweater and jeans for a blue suit and tie for the three-hour hearing.


djt kaitlin collins cnn 5 10 2023

 ny times logoNew York Times, Kaitlan Collins, Moderator of Trump Forum, Named CNN’s 9 P.M. Anchor, Michael M. Grynbaum, May 17, 2023. CNN has selected Kaitlan Collins to host a new weeknight show at 9 p.m., elevating her to one of the most coveted time slots in cable news a week after she moderated a contentious town hall with former President Donald J. Trump.

The new role for Ms. Collins was announced by CNN’s chairman, Chris Licht, on Wednesday, just ahead of a presentation to advertisers in Midtown Manhattan cnn logohosted by Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN’s parent company.

Her show, which does not yet have a title, is set to begin in June. “She is a smart and gifted journalist who we’ve all seen hold lawmakers and chris licht wnewsmakers accountable,” Mr. Licht, right, wrote in a newsroom memo. “Kaitlan will expose uncovered angles and challenge conventional wisdom to make sure viewers are seeing a story from every side.”

The promotion of Ms. Collins, 31, a co-host of the network’s morning show, amounts to a major bet by CNN leadership on a rising star who has impressed colleagues with her interviewing and reporting chops, but remains relatively untested as a solo anchor.

It is also Mr. Licht’s latest attempt to revive his network’s sagging ratings.

The 9 p.m. hour at CNN — once its highest-rated time slot — has effectively been vacant since Chris Cuomo was fired in December 2021. Mr. Licht’s recent attempt to fill the hour with a variety of interviews and news specials fizzled with viewers. On weeknights, CNN lags behind Fox News and MSNBC, and on Friday, two days after the Trump town hall, it even lost to Newsmax, a fledgling conservative network that is available in fewer homes.


Author and investigative reporter Seymour Hersh (photo via Tablet).

Author and investigative reporter Seymour Hersh (photo via Tablet).

Medium, Opinion: The Sad Downfall of Seymour Hersh, Jeremy Fassler, May 17, 2023. Note: I originally wrote this piece in June 2018 for The Daily Banter upon the publication of Sy Hersh’s memoir, "Reporter." In the wake of his unacceptable reporting about Ukraine, I am republishing it here with some slight revisions.

Throughout his career, Seymour Hersh has been a crusading investigative reporter, exposing such stories as the My Lai Massacre in the Vietnam War and the abuses at Abu Gharib. With his memoir Reporter being released today, he finds himself once again in the news as journalists sing his praises. However, as they appraise his life’s work, they must take into account how, over the past decade, Hersh has grown increasingly conspiratorial and untrustworthy in his reporting, adopting bizarre theories that threaten to seriously compromise his legacy.

The first major sign of trouble came in 2013, when Hersh wrote “Whose Sarin?,” an article absolving the government of Bashar al-Assad for that summer’s chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, near Damascus, killing hundreds of Syrians and nearly bringing the United States to military action. Although a UN report on the attack laid the blame at Assad, Heresh argued that the real perpetrators were an Al-Qaeda spinoff group called Jhabat-al Nusra, citing anonymous military officials as his sources. In a follow-up article in 2014, he cosigned blame for the attack to the government of Turkey, which experts quickly debunked.

Sadly, Hersh has not let go of his Syria trutherism. Last April, after the U.S. launched missiles in retaliation to Assad’s chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun, he wrote in the German paper Die Welt that, according to anonymous military officials, the initial attack was a collaboration between the Syrian Air Force, the Russians, and Washington, and the targets were not innocent Syrians but Jihadist leaders. When Guardian reported George Monbiot asked him for the coordinates of the bombing site, Hersh dodged the question.

Hersh’s conspiratorial beliefs went mainstream in 2015 when he published “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” (later released as a book) in the London Review of Books. The 10,000-word article, which had been rejected by The New Yorker, argued that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) kidnapped bin Laden in 2006, locked him up with funding from the Saudis as leverage against Al-Qaeda, and sold him to the United States in exchange for increased military aid and a “freer hand” in Afghanistan. Instead of flying the Navy SEAls into the Abbottabad compound via helicopter, raiding the promises, and killing bin-Laden with a double tap, Hersh claimed a courier let the SEALs in and allowed them to shoot the world’s most famous terrorist multiple times.

As with any conspiracy theory, a number of variables contradict Hersh’s reporting. For example, assuming that Hersh is correct — and he claims he’s correct, despite offering no supporting documents — why would the U.S. drop Pakistani cooperation in Afghanistan in subsequent years? Why would the intelligence materials brought back from Abbottabad be made up, as he says they are, even though Al-Qaeda’s second highest-ranking member says they were real? And why would Pakistan even invite the U.S. to participate in a phony raid at all? Why not just kill him themselves? Hersh has never provided satisfactory answers to any of these questions, trusting his primary source, an anonymous retired senior intelligence official who supposedly had knowledge of the plan.

This is a large red flag with Hersh’s reporting. While anonymous sources are essential in journalism, Hersh over-relies on them, taking their word at face value without properly vetting them. In fact, ex-military and intelligence officials, or “cranks,” are often the worst kinds of anonymous sources, as Jamie Kirchik called them in this article responding to Hersh’s bin Laden reporting:

“Cranks are an archetype of the intelligence world…obsessive, frustrated idiot savants who perceive themselves as stymied by the paper pushers…who don’t have the courage to come out and tell it like it really is. Such people are naturally drawn to a reporter like Hersh, a crusading writer who ‘gets it,’ who sees the world in the same conspiratorial tones they do, where dark, shadowy forces manipulate global events.”

Hersh, a member of the Vietnam generation who learned the hard way not to take the government’s justifications for war at face value, may have good reason to identify with these sources. After all, identifying the crimes of the U.S. military brought him renown. But after nearly 50 years of exposing these illegalities, he can no longer tell the difference between a solid scoop and a conspiracy that has no business being in the news.

This leads us to the story of Seth Rich, a former DNC aide who, in the summer of 2016, was murdered in a botched robbery. Conspiracy theorists on both the far right and the far left argued that Rich, a disgruntled Sanders supporter, had been murdered by the DNC for leaking their emails to Julian Assange. The conspiracy when so far that Rich’s family sued Fox News for manipulating the investigation of their son’s murder into an unbelievable series of claims, one of which said that a suppressed FBI report proved he leaked the emails. Nobody apparently saw this report, except for an anonymous intelligence official who spoke to — you guessed it — Seymour Hersh.

In a conversation with Fox News reporter Ed Butowsky, Hersh said that his source told him Rich had shared the emails with Assange via Dropbox, and even shared them with friends “in case anything happens to me.” Hersh later denied having spoken to anyone at the FBI about the report, nor having seen it with his own eyes. But while believing that Seth Rich leaked the emails to Assange is bad enough, it’s this next quote from his talk with Butowsky that consigns Hersh to the loony bin:

“I have a narrative of how that whole fucking thing [the Russia investigation] began. It’s a Brennan operation, it was it was an American disinformation and fucking the fucking president, at one point when they, they even started telling the press, they were back briefing the press, the head of the NSA was going and telling the press, fucking cock-sucker Rogers, was telling the press that we even know who in the GRU, the Russian Military Intelligence Service, who leaked it. I mean all bullshit.”

One of America’s greatest investigative reporters doesn’t believe the Russian plot to interfere in the election was real. But why should he? Hersh not only ignored the Russia story in 2016, he actually abetted the enemy. That summer, at the Washington D.C. Newseum, he introduced a documentary by filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov attacking martyred Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, the namesake for the Magnitsky Act, as a liar. Hersh was still at it by the time Trump was inaugurated, when he attacked the media for taking the intelligence community’s word on the story at face value, and offered sentiments that would make Susan Sarandon blush:

“The idea of somebody breaking things away, and raising grave doubts about the viability of the [two] party system, particularly the Democratic Party, is not a bad idea.”

Well, the system is shook up now: 4600 dead in Puerto Rico, a Supreme Court that ruled in favor of small businesses discriminating against gays, and a “zero tolerance” policy at the border separating children from their families and locking them in cages, but at least Hersh got his wish. Whether or not he comes to his sense remains to be seen, but given how he’s entrenched himself on the fringes, it seems unlikely.

We need great investigative journalism now more than ever, and Reporter will make readers nostalgic for an age of journalism that no longer exists. Unfortunately, the book’s main character no longer exists either, as Hersh has devolved from a truth-teller into, like the anonymous sources he relies on, a crank.

Jimmy Fessler is freelance writer and journalist with bylines: in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, etc. Co-author of "The Deadwood Bible"with Matt Zoller Seitz.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Newspaper’s Closing Deals a Blow to Guatemala’s Democracy, Jody García and Elda Cantú, May 17, 2023. On Monday, elPeriodico, an investigative daily in Guatemala, published its final edition after more than 26 years. Its executive editor is in jail and some of its reporters are in exile.

When the newspaper elPeriodico was founded in Guatemala in 1996, the country was emerging from a brutal civil war, and there was a feeling that a small space for free thought might be opening.

That opening closed this week when elPeriodico, which made a name for itself and became a frequent target for trying to hold Guatemala’s governments to account, published its final digital edition.

The newspaper’s demise followed the jailing of its publisher after he was accused by the government of financial crimes and the freezing of its assets as part of the case, which dealt a financial blow and led to the suspension of the print edition in December.

The closing of elPeriodico is the latest setback for Guatemala’s increasingly brittle democracy, civil liberties groups say, as President Alejandro Giammattei steers the country toward greater repression, targeting critics, including the news media, opposition politicians and the judiciary.

ElPeriodico was founded during a more hopeful, if uncertain, time, not long before the signing of peace accords in December 1996. The agreement put an end to a civil war in the Central American country, which had lasted 36 years and left hundreds of thousands dead or disappeared.

The conflict, which is considered a genocide, decimated the nation’s Indigenous population and pitted neighbor against neighbor.

As elPeriodico got off the ground, there were no clear lines between what was publishable and what was still unspeakable. The country was recovering from a legacy of dictatorial military governments and the prosecution and targeted killings of intellectuals and dissidents.

“We wanted to be irreverent, not necessarily confrontational,” said Luis Aceituno, who was one of three dozen remaining staff members at elPeriodico, whose newsroom at its high point in 2012 had 400 employees. But over the years, elPeriodico has drawn the ire of the country’s ruling elite.


 florida map

washington post logoWashington Post, Teacher investigated for Disney movie says politics drove her to resign, Jonathan Edwards, May 17, 2023. A fifth-grade teacher in Florida is under investigation by state officials for showing students the film, the first Disney feature with an openly gay character.

Jenna Barbee said she wanted to give students a “brain break” during standardized testing earlier this month by showing them a movie. Barbee, a fifth-grade teacher at Winding Waters K-8 school in Brooksville, Fla., chose Disney’s “Strange World” because the film about journeying to a mysterious underground land related to recent science lessons about the environment.

But “Strange World” is also Disney’s first movie featuring an openly gay character, a fact that led a school board member to report Barbee to state officials, the teacher told the Hernando County School Board at its May 9 meeting. The Florida Department of Education is now investigating whether Barbee broke the state’s law forbidding public school teachers from talking about gender and sexual orientation with students, she said in a TikTok video, which has been viewed more than 5 million times in three days.

“This is the public education system, where students from all backgrounds, cultures and religions are welcomed and should be celebrated and represented. I am not and never would indoctrinate anyone to follow my beliefs,” she said at the start of the 6½-minute video. “I will, however, always be a safe person to come to that spreads the message of kindness, positivity and compassion for everyone.”

Barbee told CNN she had already submitted her resignation from the school a week before showing the movie. She said she did so because of “politics and the fear of not being able to be who you are” in Florida public schools.

Cassie Palelis, a Florida Department of Education spokesperson, said state law prohibits officials from talking about internal investigations or confirming whether they exist. Karen Jordan, a spokesperson for the Hernando County School District, said officials there are conducting their own investigation into what happened but declined to comment further.

washington post logoWashington Post, DeSantis might have met his match in Disney’s Iger as both sides dig in, Todd C. Frankel and Lori Rozsa, May 15, 2023.  ‘The mouse brought in the big guns,’ a former Democratic state senator said.

Bob Iger was getting restless.

It was late February 2022, and Iger was only a few weeks into his retirement after a storied career running the Walt Disney Co. He’d orchestrated deals to bring Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars to Disney. And he’d rarely shied away from fights on social issues he felt were important. In 2016, he was credited with helping persuade Georgia’s governor to veto an anti-LGBTQ bill when Disney threatened to stop filming in the state. A year later, he cited his concerns about climate change when he quit President Donald Trump’s business advisory council.

Now, Iger was sitting on the sidelines watching Florida lawmakers consider a new piece of legislation called the Parental Rights in Education bill. Critics had already labeled it “don’t say gay,” because the bill would prohibit classroom discussions involving sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades. The bill seemed to have little to do with Disney’s theme parks in Orlando. Still, Disney’s army of lobbyists in Florida kept an eye on the legislation.

The risk to Disney appeared so remote that top executives at Disney’s headquarters in Burbank, Calif., were still largely in the dark about the issue, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose corporate discussions.

Bob Iger rebuilt Disney. Fighting DeSantis could define his legacy.

“It was on no one’s radar,” said this person.

Then, on Feb. 24, 2022, Iger tweeted.

“If passed, this bill will put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy,” Iger wrote.

Iger’s tweet caught many in the Florida government and Disney’s headquarters by surprise. It suddenly set in motion an epic clash between two Florida powerhouses — Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Disney World, an economic engine that employs 75,000 people and attracts 50 million visitors per year. This dispute began with a contentious education bill, but, like a Magic Kingdom roller coaster, has taken numerous twists and turns in the past 15 months, picking up speed and intensity along the way.

And what started as DeSantis vs. Disney is now seen by many as DeSantis vs. Iger.

washington post logoWashington Post, Musk says George Soros ‘hates humanity,’ compares him to Jewish supervillain, Avi Selk and Herb Scribner, May 17, 2023. The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League condemned Elon Musk’s comparison of Soros to Magneto — a Marvel villain who opposes humanity.

elon musk 2015Elon Musk, right, made a series of attacks on George Soros overnight, tweeting that the Jewish-born investor and liberal philanthropist, who often is subject to virulent antisemitic conspiracy theories, hates humanity and “wants to erode the very fabric of civilization.”

Musk, who has overseen an increase of antisemitism and other hate speech on Twitter since he bought the social media platform last year, did not give a reason for singling out Soros. But he made his comments three days after Soros’s investment fund reported that it had sold all its stock in Tesla, the electric carmaker that Musk also runs.

And Musk seemed to specifically reference the 92-year-old Holocaust survivor’s background by comparing Soros to Magneto — a Jewish supervillain who “fights to help mutants replace humans as the world’s dominant species,” as Marvel’s official character description puts it.

“Soros reminds me of Magneto,” Musk posted at 10 p.m. Monday, apropos of nothing. The tweet triggered a flood of replies comparing Soros to various symbols of evil, recalling long-standing conspiracy theories that paint him as a godlike billionaire Jew who uses his philanthropic foundations to flood Europe with refugees and corrupt American politics.

The left-wing commentator Brian Krassenstein replied to Musk, pointing out that Magneto is a Holocaust survivor in Marvel lore, where the character manipulates magnetic fields to oppose (and occasionally help) the heroes of X-Men films and comics. “[Soros], also a Holocaust survivor, get’s attacked nonstop for his good intentions which some Americans think are bad merely because they disagree with this political affiliations,” he wrote.

Musk replied to Krassenstein five minutes later: “You assume they are good intentions. They are not. He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity.”

washington post logoWashington Post, High-schooler gets suspended after filming her teacher using the n-word, Jonathan Edwards, May 17, 2023 (print ed.). The geometry teacher said the n-word twice in a 55-second video captured by the 15-year-old.

Mary Walton thought her teacher repeatedly saying a racist slur in class last week was wrong, so the 15-year-old sophomore at Glendale High School in Springfield, Mo., pulled out her phone and started filming, the student’s lawyer said.

She recorded him saying the n-word twice before he appeared to notice what she was doing.

“Put your phone away,” he told her, according to video reviewed by The Washington Post.

“No,” Mary said.

“Then go to the office,” he responded.

Days later, she was suspended for making the 55-second video, according to her lawyer. Mary and her mother, Kate Welborn, 44, are challenging the punishment and demanding the district apologize. Mary’s lawyer, Natalie Hull, said that the sophomore was essentially acting as a whistleblower by collecting evidence of an authority figure’s wrongdoing and that punishing her will have a “chilling effect” on students inclined to do so in the future.

“​​This kid did what we want people to do — see something, say something,” Hull said, adding: “Now we’re telling students, ‘If you see something, don’t show it, because then you’ll get suspended.’”

Officials maintain that, although the teacher’s actions were inexcusable, students are prohibited from recording in class without prior approval.

California teacher placed on leave after video shows her mocking Native American dance in headdress

On Monday, Principal Josh Groves announced that the teacher, who was initially placed on administrative leave, is no longer employed by the district. He has not been publicly identified. Officials said that while federal law prevented them from talking about student discipline, the student handbook is clear about the consequences of inappropriately using cellphones and other electronic devices.

Officials are “confident that the district appropriately and promptly handled all matters related to what occurred at Glendale,” Groves said Monday in an email to parents. “We want our schools to be safe and welcoming learning environments. When students have concerns, they should follow the appropriate steps for reporting.”

May 16

Law & Crime Network, Fox’s law firm distances itself from Tucker Carlson as aftershocks of host’s firing ripple into bias suit, Adam Klasfeld, May 15, 2023.  Disavowing any conflict of interest, Fox Corporation’s powerhouse law firm distanced itself from ex-host Tucker Carlson as a client in a discrimination lawsuit brought by his former producer Abby Grossberg.

lawcrime logoShortly before Fox’s settlement with Dominion, Grossberg sued the network and Carlson in New York and Delaware, claiming pervasive religious abby grossberg johns hopkinsand gender bias. Grossberg, right, also accused Fox’s attorneys of coaching her into giving “coerced” and misleading testimony that would make her and host Maria Bartiromo the network’s “sacrificial female lambs.”

Fox later entered into a $787.5 million deal with Dominion on the eve of trial, but Grossberg’s litigation endured.

On Friday, Fox’s law firm Baker McKenzie — which has dozens of offices internationally and reported $3.1 billion in revenue in 2021 — affirmed in court that it had “not entered an appearance on behalf of Mr. Carlson on this Court’s docket.”

fox news logo Small“Mr. Carlson will be represented by separate counsel in this matter, who will enter an appearance reflecting as much,” the firm’s partner Paul Evans wrote.

Grossberg’s attorney Parisis G. Filippatos called that statement distancing the firm from Carlson “patently misleading and false.”

In an email on April 10, 2023, Evans told Filippatos that he could now “now confirm” that Baker McKenzie would “also be representing” Carlson and other individual defendants. Evans did not appear to file a notice of appearance indicating this to the court.

tucker carlson 2022An email from Fox’s attorney that Abby Grossberg’s legal team proves it also represented Tucker Carlson, right, despite asserting the contrary.

Some two days after that email, a Delaware judge sanctioned the network’s legal team for not telling him the full story about Rupert Murdoch’s role in Fox News, as opposed to the Fox Corporation.

“I need people to tell me the truth,” Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis scolded on April 12. “And by the way, omission is a lie.”

Grossberg’s legal team cited this exchange in a footnote.

“It is shocking that this is not the first litigation this year — involving both parties in some manner — where Fox, through its attorneys, has chosen to be less than fully honest and truthful with the Court,” Filippatos wrote in a footnote. “Thus, the evasive and deceptive conduct of Fox’s attorneys before your honor at the outset of this case is particularly troubling on the heels of Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis’s widely-reported stern rebuke of the Fox attorneys in the Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox matter for having made certain statements the veracity of which was very much in doubt.”

Grossberg’s legal team asked U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman to order Carlson to obtain new counsel before the next hearing scheduled for June 15, 2023, one month from today.

  • Fox News, Durham report shows Congress must leverage 'power of the purse' against FBI: Jordan, Sean Hannity, May 15, 2023. Rep. Jim Jordan tells 'Hannity' that agency appropriations are 'the only leverage we have' for reform. #foxnews #hannity

ny times logoNew York Times, Microsoft Says New A.I. Shows Signs of Human Reasoning, Cade Metz, May 16, 2023. A provocative paper from researchers at Microsoft claims A.I. technology is able to understand the way people do. Critics are skeptical.

ny times logoNew York Times, Tony Awards Broadcast Can Proceed After Striking Writers’ Union Agrees, Michael Paulson and John Koblin,May 16, 2023 (print ed.). The Tony Awards, a key marketing opportunity for Broadway, can go ahead in an altered form after the striking screenwriters’ union said it would not picket this year’s broadcast.

ny times logoNew York Times, Your DNA Can Now Be Pulled From Thin Air. Privacy Experts Are Worried, Elizabeth Anne Brown, May 16, 2023 (print ed.). Environmental DNA research has aided conservation, but scientists say its ability to glean information about human populations and individuals poses danger.

David Duffy, a wildlife geneticist at the University of Florida, just wanted a better way to track disease in sea turtles. Then he started finding human DNA everywhere he looked.

Over the last decade, wildlife researchers have refined techniques for recovering environmental DNA, or eDNA — trace amounts of genetic material that all living things leave behind. A powerful and inexpensive tool for ecologists, eDNA is all over — floating in the air, or lingering in water, snow, honey and even your cup of tea. Researchers have used the method to detect invasive species before they take over, to track vulnerable or secretive wildlife populations and even to rediscover species thought to be extinct. The eDNA technology is also used in wastewater surveillance systems to monitor Covid and other pathogens.

But all along, scientists using eDNA were quietly recovering gobs and gobs of human DNA. To them, it’s pollution, a sort of human genomic bycatch muddying their data. But what if someone set out to collect human eDNA on purpose?

New DNA collecting techniques are “like catnip” for law enforcement officials, says Erin Murphy, a law professor at the New York University School of Law who specializes in the use of new technologies in the criminal legal system. The police have been quick to embrace unproven tools, like using DNA to create probability-based sketches of a suspect.

That could pose dilemmas for the preservation of privacy and civil liberties, especially as technological advancement allows more information to be gathered from ever smaller eDNA samples. Dr. Duffy and his colleagues used a readily available and affordable technology to see how much information they could glean from human DNA gathered from the environment in a variety of circumstances, such as from outdoor waterways and the air inside a building.

The results of their research, published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, demonstrate that scientists can recover medical and ancestry information from minute fragments of human DNA lingering in the environment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Is It Last Call at New York’s Friars Club? Julia Jacobs, May 16, 2023 (print ed.). The headquarters of the legendary entertainment fraternity is facing the threat of foreclosure as its leaders look for a buyer to help keep the party going. 

One of the final episodes of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” released this month, captured the bawdy, profanity-laced ritual that was a celebrity roast at New York’s Friars Club — the kind of entertainment that helped make the club the buzzing epicenter of the comedy world.

But these days the landmark home of wisecracks and cigar smoke, and legends like Milton Berle and Jerry Lewis, is trying to fight off extinction.

A loan company has moved to foreclose on the club after it missed payments on a $13 million mortgage. And a federal judge is mulling whether to appoint an outside company to take over the Friars Club’s six-story townhouse on East 55th Street, which has been shuttered for months as the club’s financial problems have deepened.

An inspection in March by the loan company described a building marred by mounds of trash, signs of mice and roaches, mold damage and containers of “unidentifiable liquid waste,” according to court papers. The club said it has “improved the conditions of the property” since that inspection. Still, the Frank Sinatra Room, once a place of fine dining, remained a scene of unfinished renovations with light bulbs hanging from the ceiling during a recent visit.

Long a stomping ground for Manhattan’s showbiz elite, the club has seen its membership age and dwindle and its dues revenue diminish as it faced a series of crises. In 2017, federal agents raided its offices as part of an inquiry into its finances. The authorities later charged its executive director at the time for filing false personal tax returns. In 2020 came flooding that shut the club down, only to be followed by the pandemic. Last year there was enough financial strain that, after the club’s typical summer hiatus, it never resumed regular hours.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Football bonded them. Its violence tore them apart, Kent Babb, May 15, 2023 (print ed.). They were roommates and teammates at Harvard, bound by their love of football and each other. Then the game — and the debate over its safety — took its toll.

May 15


Rudy Giuliani speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election inside the Republican National Committee’s headquarters on Nov. 19, 2020. (Photo by Drew Angerer via Getty Images.)

Rudy Giuliani speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election inside the Republican National Committee’s headquarters on Nov. 19, 2020. (Photo by Drew Angerer via Getty Images.) Below is a scene from the documentary film featuring the character Borat where Giuliana flirts with what he was told was an underage teen shown in a hotel bedroom.

Law & Crime Network, ‘F— me like crazy’: Donald Trump crony Rudy Giuliani faces sexual abuse lawsuit using same law that scored E. Jean Carroll $5M against ex-president, Adam Klasfeld, May 15, 2023. Rudy Giuliani has been hit with salacious sexual battery claims by an ex-employee under the same law that produced a $5 million verdict against former President Donald Trump.

lawcrime logoThe former New York City mayor’s accuser, Noelle Dunphy, sued Giuliani and his business in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday. She claims that what seemed like a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” role as Giuliani’s director of business development at $1 million per year quickly took a sordid turn.

“Giuliani began abusing Ms. Dunphy almost immediately after she started working for the Defendants,” her 70-page complaint states. “He made clear that satisfying his sexual demands—which came virtually anytime, anywhere—was an absolute requirement of her employment and of his legal representation. Giuliani began requiring Ms. Dunphy to work at his home and out of hotel rooms, so that she would be at his beck and call. He drank morning, noon, and night, and was frequently intoxicated, and therefore his behavior was always unpredictable.”

“Giuliani also took Viagra constantly,” the complaint continues. “While working with Ms. Dunphy, Giuliani would look to Ms. Dunphy, point to his erect penis, and tell her that he could not do any work until ‘you take care of this.'”

Dunphy claims to have copious evidence backing up her account, in the form of text messages and consensually recorded conversations. Her complaint screenshots several of these alleged text exchanges.

This text message exchange appears the sex-abuse complaint against Rudy Giuliani.

“I’m dreaming about you,” Giuliani says in one, according to the complaint.

Dunphy claims that she has a recording of Giuliani promising to give her $300,000 if she would “forgo her legal rights in connection with her pending case and ‘fuck me like crazy.'”

In another recorded chat from Feb. 23, 2019, Giuliani allegedly told Dunphy that he could “get in trouble with underage girls” if they were 16 but looked 20, according to the complaint.

Those are far from the only damaging statements Dunphy claims to have of the former mayor on tape.

“In addition to his sexual demands, Giuliani went on alcohol-drenched rants that included sexist, racist, and antisemitic remarks, which made the work environment unbearable,” her complaint states. “Many of these comments were recorded.”

rudi giuliani borat

In 2020, Giuliani was caught with his pants loosened, if not down, by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who has a knack for catching political figures in compromising situations. In one of his “Borat” movies, a character playing the title character’s daughter took Giuliani to a hotel suite rigged with hidden cameras. In that footage, Giuliani can be seen lying on the bed and reaching into the crotch of his pants (as shown above). Borat then barges in and tells Giuliani: “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”

Giuliani, who claimed he had been trying to take off his electronic equipment, is seen in the screenshot leading up to that moment in the complaint.

ny times logoNew York Times, Vice, Decayed Digital Colossus, Files for Bankruptcy, Lauren Hirsch and Benjamin Mullin, May 15, 2023. Vice, which had wooed media giants, has struggled to adjust to the punishing realities of digital publishing. A group of creditors could buy Vice for $225 million.

vice newsThe bankruptcy will not interrupt daily operations for Vice’s businesses, which in addition to its flagship website include the ad agency Virtue, the Pulse Films division and Refinery29, a women-focused site acquired by Vice in 2019.

A group of Vice’s lenders, including Fortress Investment Group and Soros Fund Management, is in the leading position to acquire the company out of bankruptcy. The group has submitted a bid of $225 million, which would be covered by its existing loans to the company. It would also take over “significant liabilities” from Vice after any deal closes.

A sale process follows next. The lenders have secured a $20 million loan to continue operating Vice and then, if a better bid does not emerge, the group that includes Fortress and Soros will acquire Vice.

Still, the dreams that Vice executives once had of a stock market debut or a sale at an eye-popping valuation have been wiped away. The company was considered to be worth $5.7 billion at one point.

Investments from media titans like Disney and shrewd financial investors like TPG, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars, will be rendered worthless by the bankruptcy, cementing Vice’s status among the most notable bad bets in the media industry.

May 14

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: We’re Asking the Wrong Questions About the Trump Town Hall, Bill Sammon, May 15, 2023 (print ed.). Mr. Sammon is the former managing editor of the Washington bureau of Fox News.

As a former executive of Fox News, I never expected to write this: CNN performed a valuable journalistic service this week by hosting a spirited town hall with Donald Trump.

May 13

ny times logo

New York Times, Ex-ByteDance Executive Accuses Company of ‘Lawlessness,’ Thomas Fuller and Sapna Maheshwari, May 13, 2023 (print ed.). The former executive sued ByteDance, which owns TikTok, for wrongful termination and accused the company of lifting content from rivals and “supreme access” by the Chinese Communist Party.

A former executive at ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, has accused the technology giant of a “culture of lawlessness,” including stealing content from rival platforms Snapchat and Instagram in its early years, and called the company a “useful propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party.”

The claims were part of a wrongful dismissal suit filed on Friday by Yintao Yu, who was the head of engineering for ByteDance’s U.S. operations from August 2017 to November 2018. The complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, says Mr. Yu was fired because he raised concerns about a “worldwide scheme” to steal and profit from other companies’ intellectual property.

Among the most striking claims in Mr. Yu’s lawsuit is that ByteDance’s offices in Beijing had a special unit of Chinese Communist Party members sometimes referred to as the Committee, which monitored the company’s apps, “guided how the company advanced core Communist values” and possessed a “death switch” that could turn off the Chinese apps entirely.

“The Committee maintained supreme access to all the company data, even data stored in the United States,” the complaint said.


Tik Tok CEO Shou Zi  Chew (Reuters Photo by Evelyn Hockstein).

Tik Tok CEO Shou Zi Chew (Reuters Photo by Evelyn Hockstein during testimony, above, and in file photos below).

shou zi chew

ny times logoNew York Times, Striking Writers’ Union Denies Waiver, Imperiling Tony Awards, Michael Paulson and John Koblin, May 13, 2023 (print ed.). The Writers Guild of America indicated it would not grant a waiver to allow a live telecast of the Tonys on June 11.

The union representing thousands of striking television and movie writers denied a waiver that Broadway officials had sought that would have allowed the Tony Awards ceremony to proceed with a live televised broadcast on its scheduled date of June 11, two people briefed on the decision said on Friday night.

The denial by the union, the Writers Guild of America, described by people who were granted anonymity to disclose confidential discussions, is imperiling one of Broadway’s biggest nights — a key marketing opportunity that is even more crucial in the fragile post-shutdown theater economy. Industry leaders say that without the ability to reach the broad audience that tunes into a Tony Awards broadcast, several of the newest musicals are likely to close.

Broadway boosters are still hoping that over the weekend the writers’ guild might be persuaded to change its mind. But industry leaders are acknowledging that such a reversal seems unlikely. Without a waiver from the writers’ guild, a live broadcast ceremony is essentially impossible because much of Broadway, including nominees and presenters, would refuse to cross a picket line.

The management committee of the Tony Awards, which is the group charged with overseeing the broadcast, has scheduled an emergency meeting on Monday at which it will discuss how to proceed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Hodding Carter III, Crusading Editor and Jimmy Carter Aide, Dies at 88, Robert D. McFadden, May 13, 2023 (print ed.). As a journalist in Mississippi, he championed civil rights. He later became the face of the U.S. government during the Iranian hostage crisis.

In a career that paralleled the emergence of the New South as a region of rising racial tolerance and changing politics, Mr. Carter, a gregarious, ruddy-faced patrician with a magnolia drawl, was a journalist, author, Democratic Party reformer, national television commentator, press critic and university lecturer.

The son of the journalist Hodding Carter Jr., who won a Pulitzer Prize for editorials calling for racial moderation in the old segregated South, Hodding Carter III succeeded his father as editor and publisher of The Greenville Delta Democrat-Times, and as a voice of conscience in a state torn by violence and social change during the struggles of the civil rights era.


Music radio legend Bruce

Music radio legend Bruce "Cousin Brucie" Morrow, left, a star on Sirius/XM radio and author of the book "Doo Wop: The Mustic, The Times, The Era," his wife Jodie Morrow and Justice Integrity Project editor Andrew Kreig on the occasion of book launch at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Dec. 12, 2009.

washington post logoWashington Post, End of a love affair: AM radio is being removed from many cars, Marc Fisher, May 13, 2023. Ford, BMW, Volkswagen, Tesla and other automakers are eliminating AM radio from some new vehicles, stirring protests against the loss of a medium that has shaped American life for a century.

ford logoAmerica’s love affair between the automobile and AM radio — a century-long romance that provided the soundtrack for lovers’ lanes, kept the lonely company with ballgames and chat shows, sparked family singalongs and defined road trips — is on the verge of collapse, a victim of galloping technological change and swiftly shifting consumer tastes.

tesla logoThe breakup is entirely one-sided, a move by major automakers to eliminate AM radios from new vehicles despite protests from station owners, listeners, first-responders and politicians from both major parties.

Automakers, such as BMW, Volkswagen, Mazda and Tesla, are removing AM radios from new electric vehicles because electric engines can interfere with the sound of AM stations. And Ford, one of the nation’s top-three auto sellers, is taking a bigger step, eliminating AM from all of its vehicles, electric or gas-operated.

Some station owners and advertisers contend that losing access to the car dashboard will indeed be a death blow to many of the nation’s 4,185 AM stations — the possible demise of a core element of the nation’s delivery system for news, political talk (especially on the right), coverage of weather emergencies and foreign language programming.

“This is a tone-deaf display of complete ignorance about what AM radio means to Americans,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers, a trade journal covering the talk radio industry. “It’s not the end of the world for radio, but it is the loss of an iconic piece of American culture.”

For the first hundred years of mass media, AM radio shaped American life: It was where Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his fireside chats; where a young Ronald Reagan announced Chicago Cubs baseball games; where DJs such as Wolfman Jack along the U.S.-Mexico border, Larry Lujack in Chicago, Alan Freed in Cleveland, “Cousin Brucie” Morrow in New York City and Don Imus in California, Texas, Ohio and New York howled, growled and shouted out the latest pop hits.

Through the snap and crackle of distant lightning and the hum of overhead power lines, AM radio’s sometimes-staticky signal dominated the country’s soundscape. From the 1950s into the 1970s, Top 40 hit music stations in many big cities maintained astonishing shares of the audience, with 50 percent and more of listeners tuned to a single station, meaning that people could walk along a city sidewalk and hear one station continuously blasting out of transistor radios, boomboxes and, above all, car radios.

But technology moved on, and the silky smooth sound of FM radio and then the crystal digital clarity of streaming stations and podcasts narrowed AM’s hold on the American imagination.

May 12


djt kaitlin collins cnn 5 10 2023

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Second-Term Goal: Shattering the Norms He Didn’t Already Break, Shane Goldmacher, Jonathan Swan, Maggie Haberman and Stephanie Lai, May 12, 2023 (print ed.). Former President Trump’s appearance on CNN signaled an escalation of his bid to bend the government to his wishes as he runs again for the White House.

cnn logoIn little over an hour, Donald J. Trump suggested the United States should default on its debts for the first time in history, injected doubt over the country’s commitment to defending Ukraine from Russia’s invasion, dangled pardons for most of the Capitol rioters convicted of crimes, and refused to say he would abide by the results of the next presidential election.

The second-term vision Mr. Trump sketched out at a CNN town-hall event on Wednesday would represent a sharp departure from core American values that have been at the bedrock of the nation for decades: its creditworthiness, its credibility with international allies and its adherence to the rule of law at home.

Mr. Trump’s provocations were hardly shocking. His time in office was often defined by a the-rules-don’t-apply-to-me approach to governance and a lack of interest in upholding the post-World War II national security order, and at 76 he is not bound to change much.

But his performance nonetheless signaled an escalation of his bid to bend the government to his wishes as he runs again for the White House, only this time with a greater command of the Republican Party’s pressure points and a plan to demolish the federal bureaucracy.

steve schmidt logo horizontalThe Warning, Steve Schmidt explains why CNN’s Donald Trump Town hall was an affront to journalism, Steve Schmidt, May 12, 2023. This represents the lowest moment in the media company’s history.

He explains why CNN CEO Chris Licht’s decision to go forward with this put Kaitlan Collins in a very bad spot, and his response to the the blowback from the event demonstrated incredibly flawed thinking. Steve goes on to break down why this disaster stands in stark contrast to true journalism demonstrated by illustrious figures such as Edward R. Murrow.

The Guardian, CNN was lambasted by even its own media reporter for what was seen as an event pandering to Trump voters, Hugo Lowell, May 12, 2023. Trump’s team revels in town hall victory as CNN staff rages at ‘spectacle of lies’; Questions also linger over what the network offered the ex-president in exchange for what some called a Trump infomercial.

Donald Trump believes he got everything that he wanted from the controversial town hall hosted by CNN, according to multiple people close to him, even as it embarrassed the network and prompted a wave of outrage, including from many of its own staff who were upset that it gave Trump a platform to lie to a large audience.

cnn logoThe former president was interested in doing a town hall mainly because it would give the campaign material to clip for social media. He was interested in doing it on CNN because the campaign reached an understanding – which a spokesperson denied – that it would book more Trump surrogates.

Trump was not particularly concerned by whether the broadcast would get high ratings, though he told CNN’s chief executive, Chris Licht, right, backstage that he chris licht wwould boost their ratings, to which Licht nodded and said he should have “a good conversation and have fun,” two of the people said.

Trump’s advisers saw the town hall ultimately as a strategic win for the former president, who revelled in playing off the live audience of Republican and Republican-leaning voters in New Hampshire, which is hosting the first 2024 GOP presidential primary, and talked over the CNN moderator, Kaitlan Collins, as she tried to factcheck him in real time.

Afterwards, Trump allies joked that the event in their eyes amounted to an hour of Trump infomercials and should be recorded as an in-kind campaign contribution, and that Trump’s nearest rival for the nomination, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, would be crushed in a similar debate.

The event – which saw Trump mock the writer E Jean Carroll, whom he had just been found liable of sexually abusing – may not help him in a general election, especially among female voters.

Joe Biden later tweeted: “It’s simple, folks. Do you want four more years of that? If you don’t, pitch in to our campaign.”

In stark contrast to the Trump camp’s jubilation, the mood inside CNN was dour amid widespread reports of internal disgust. The network’s own media reporter Oliver Darcy wrote in his newsletter on Wednesday that it was “hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN”.

But the Trump campaign appears to have got what it wanted out of the CNN town hall in part because it negotiated the terms of the event with an unusual degree of leverage, according to multiple people familiar with how the planning unfolded.

For starters, Trump’s team for months played hard to get with CNN – which first reached out to do a town hall almost as soon as Trump announced his 2024 candidacy. However, the campaign had always been more likely to go with CNN over NBC or Fox News, the other major networks in talks to host an event.

The campaign already had pro-Trump commentators and surrogates appearing on Fox News shows, and while MSNBC has recently had higher ratings than CNN, the liberal network was seen by advisers as being inhospitable ground compared with the Licht-era CNN that has tried to cater more to Republicans.

Trump’s team also figured that CNN worked for its needs because it could have Collins as the moderator, a rising star who co-hosts the network’s morning show but has also remained on the Trump beat and has taken care to preserve her relationship with the ex-president.

Pairing Collins with Republicans who mostly voted for Trump in 2020 was as close to home turf as the campaign could get. The team said it would have rejected Jake Tapper, after he threatened to ban Republicans who endorsed Trump’s 2020 election lies from his shows.

The campaign also made sure the pre- and post-town hall coverage featured Trump surrogates on air. Among the bookings: former Trump White House press aide Hogan Gidley, pro-Trump congressmen Brian Mast and Byron Donalds, as well as pro-Trump senator JD Vance.

A spokesperson for CNN denied that the network made any formal agreement to book surrogates as guests in order to host of the town hall.

Not every moment in the town hall was seen as a win for Trump, though, as his own missteps may have created more legal headaches for a man already surrounded by multiple investigations.

But Trump was personally jubilant on the flight back to Florida and played It’s a Man’s World by James Brown, people familiar with the matter said.

washington post logoWashington Post, CNN leadership under fire after ‘disastrous’ Trump town hall, Paul Farhi and Jeremy Barr, May 12, 2023. A furious backlash raised questions about the future of chief executive Chris Licht and the larger challenges facing the news media going into the 2024 election.

cnn logoCNN’s prime-time broadcast of a raucous town hall with Donald Trump propelled a tsunami of criticism from inside and outside the network Thursday — and renewed questions about how the news media will handle the challenge of covering the serial falsehoods of the Republican Party’s leading candidate going into the 2024 election.

The former president repeatedly dodged or sneered at questions from CNN’s moderator, Kaitlan Collins, during the live, 70-minute forum at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire on Wednesday night. He doubled down on false claims that “a rigged election” led to his 2020 ouster and referred to writer E. Jean Carroll, who just prevailed in her lawsuit against him for defamation and battery, as a “whack job,” to cheers and laughter from the audience, made up of local Republican voters.

And when Collins pressed him on why he removed classified documents from the White House, he replied: “You are a nasty person.”

“Predictably disastrous,” wrote former network TV news executive Mark Lukasiewicz, part of a chorus of media critics and political observers who bemoaned the on-air spectacle. “Live lying works. A friendly MAGA crowd consistently laughs, claps at Trump’s punchlines … and the moderator cannot begin to keep up with the AR-15 pace of lies.”

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: CNN shames itself by platforming one of the world's most despised individuals, Wayne Madsen, left, May 11-12, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2023. Trump in the eyes of other political leaders: fucking moron and corrupt motherfucker. 

wayne madesen report logoThe house that Ted Turner built, Cable News Network, completed its fall into irrelevancy by hosting a May 10 town hall meeting at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire featuring sex abuser Donald Trump.

The town hall audience was screened to include only Trump-supporting Republicans and Trump-leaning independents. Trump spent his free air time for his 2024 presidential campaign engaging in the same old tropes and bleated about a 2020 "rigged" election, January 6, 2021 being a "beautiful day," and demeaning E. Jean Carroll, a former magazine columnist he was judged by a New York jury of sexually abusing and defaming.

Trump has done more than any previous president to damage the image, perhaps irrevocably, of the United States in the eyes of the rest of the world. Trump's brand of fascism, a combination of P.T. Barnum-like sideshow performance art and Hitleresque calls to street violence, has been copied by demagogues from Brazil and Hungary to Russia and the Philippines.

As CNN and Fox News are in the process of rehabilitating the twice-impeached, indicted, and sexual abusing Trump, it's necessary to look back at what has been said or written about him by government leaders:

"[Trump's] divisive, stupid and wrong." -- British Prime Minister David Cameron, 2016.

"By saying 'our interests first and never mind the others' you stamp out the most precious thing a nation has - its moral values. -- French President Emmanuel Macron, 2018.


ron desantis hands out

washington post logoWashington Post, DeSantis wanted to rewrite press laws. Conservative media helped kill the effort, Lori Rozsa and Elahe Izadi, May 12, 2023 (print ed.). Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis got most of what he encouraged the state legislature to pass as he gears up for a likely presidential run. Lawmakers swiftly approved a six-week abortion ban, expanded restrictions on discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in school and more money to transport migrants to other states.

But there was one notable exception. His push to rewrite defamation law and challenge press rights failed to advance beyond a committee vote.

Opposition came from an unexpected sector: conservative media and lawmakers.

When it came to backing what First Amendment experts and journalists called a radical rewriting of press freedom laws, DeSantis-friendly outlets responded with a rare show of resistance from media companies that by and large support the governor’s agenda.

“He pushed his luck and he was doing so well, pushing everything and getting it,” said Javier Manjarres, publisher of the conservative news site the Floridian. “He got stung and a slap on the wrist from his supporters.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Elon Musk picks NBC’s Linda Yaccarino as new Twitter CEO, Faiz Siddiqui and Sarah Ellison, May 12, 2023. Yaccarino is set to depart NBC Friday morning and could start her new role within weeks, according to two people familiar with the matter.

elon musk 2015Elon Musk, left, has selected NBC Universal’s chairman of Global Advertising and Partnerships Linda Yaccarino to be the new CEO of Twitter, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations.

twitter bird CustomNBC plans to announce her departure from the company Friday morning, these people said. On Thursday Musk said that he would step aside from the CEO role in a matter of weeks after having chosen his own replacement.

The announcement could launch a new chapter for the troubled company, which has laid off roughly three quarters of its workers and has struggled in recent weeks with major changes to the platform and frequent outages. Adding to the pressure, Musk already runs several other companies, including Tesla, where investors have grown discontented with his distractions at Twitter.

Yaccarino in particular could serve to calm advertiser fears while balancing Musk’s demand for sweeping changes to Twitter’s policies on content moderation.

Musk provided little information about his pick but said the new CEO, a woman, would start in several weeks and that he would stay on as executive chairman and chief technology officer, running products, software and system operations — also prompting questions about whether his involvement there will significantly change. (Musk, who has adopted titles such a “Technoking” and “Chief Twit” responded with an eyes emoji to a tweet asking if the “T” in CTO stood for trolling, rather than technology.)

May 11


djt kaitlin collins cnn 5 10 2023

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Falsehoods and Bluster Overtake CNN Town Hall, Jonathan Weisman, May 11, 2023 (print ed.). Facing questions from the audience and the moderator, Donald Trump insisted, falsely, that the 2020 election was rigged. He also dodged questions on abortion, praised Jan. 6 rioters and mocked E. Jean Carroll.

Former President Donald J. Trump, shown above in a CNN photo with its moderator, used a raucous town hall meeting in New Hampshire — broadcast live on CNN — to resume the lies and name-calling that marked his presidency, signaling to voters that criminal investigations, a jury holding him liable for sexual abuse and ongoing struggles with swing voters have not changed him a bit.

cnn logoHe pressed his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him, praised the rioters who violently attacked the Capitol and suggested that Congress allow the federal government to default on its debt, at the risk of a global economic crisis. A day after a Manhattan jury ordered him to pay $5 million in damages to E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of sexually abusing and defaming her, he called her a “wack job,” and then called CNN’s moderator, Kaitlan Collins, “a nasty person.”

President Donald Trump officialCNN had been criticized by some Democrats for giving Mr. Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, such a platform. And from the outset, the former president showed how difficult a live television interview can be, though his bluster did not seem calibrated to appeal to swing voters.

Mr. Trump had not appeared on a major television channel outside the conservative media bubble since 2020, and his prevarications, half truths, lies and name-calling on Wednesday showed he had not changed his politics ahead of his run for another presidential term.

Even after a New Hampshire Republican voter asked if he would drop his polarizing talk, he hedged, saying he would drop it if there is no election fraud. He then showed he was unrepentant about the deadly attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, praising the rioters.

“They were proud. They were there with love in their heart,” he said, adding, “That was a beautiful day.”

Among the subjects Mr. Trump addressed:

A day after a jury found Mr. Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation, he viciously mocked his accuser, E. Jean Carroll. The audience laughed along. “I have no idea who this woman is,” he said. “This is a fake story.” He then called Ms. Carroll “a wack job.”

He lied continuously about the 2020 election, raising allegations on election fraud that have been repeatedly debunked. And he showed no contrition for behavior around the 2020 election that has sparked criminal investigations in Washington and the state of Georgia.

He counseled Congress to allow the federal government to default on its debt in June if President Biden did not come the Republicans’ way on deep spending cuts. A default could precipitate a global economic crisis. Mr. Trump shrugged: “Might as well do it now because we’re going to do it later,” he said.

In one of the few overtures to swing voters, Mr. Trump repeatedly dodged questions on whether he would sign a nationwide abortion ban or say at what stage of pregnancy abortion should be illegal. “What I will do is negotiate so that people are happy,” he said.

Mr. Trump hedged on the future of American military aid to Ukraine, saying Europe needed to spend more and that his emphasis would be ending the war, not ensuring Ukraine’s victory.

He also insisted that he now has no more classified documents at his Palm Beach, Fla., home at Mar-a-Lago, an answer that could impact the ongoing federal investigation of his handling of highly classified records after his presidency.

Mr. Trump also proudly defended his administration’s policy of separating young children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. When the policy was first exposed, he had denied it was happening. On Wednesday, he said such cruelty was necessary to deter families from illegally crossing the frontier.

The Warning, Steve Schmidt reacts to CNN’s “embarrassing” town hall with Donald Trump, Steve Schmidt, May 10, 2023. Steve Schmidt shares his reaction to the “appalling spectacle” that was the CNN town hall with Donald Trump. Steve breaks down how it was a mistake for CNN to host the town hall in the first place, as it is impossible to contain the former president’s lies. He also lays out the dangerous precedent this sets as we look ahead to 2024.

ny times logoNew York Times, The chairman of CNN issued a robust defense of his decision to host a town hall with former President Trump, Michael M. Grynbaum, May 11, 2023. “People woke up and they know what the stakes are in this election in a way that they didn’t the day before,” Chris Licht said in a morning call at the network.

cnn logoThe chairman of CNN, Chris Licht, issued a robust defense on Thursday of his decision to broadcast a live town hall with former President Donald J. Trump, an unruly and bracing event that has prompted criticism inside and outside of the network.

chris licht wOn a network-wide editorial call, Mr. Licht, right, congratulated the moderator, Kaitlan Collins, on “a masterful performance” before acknowledging the public backlash. “We all know covering Donald Trump is messy and tricky, and it will continue to be messy and tricky,” he said. “But it’s our job.”

“I absolutely, unequivocally believe America was served very well by what we did last night,” Mr. Licht added. “People woke up and they know what the stakes are in this election in a way that they didn’t the day before. And if someone was going to ask tough questions and have that messy conversation, it damn well should be on CNN.”

The town hall, which aired in prime-time on Wednesday, featured Mr. Trump deploying a fusillade of falsehoods, sometimes too quickly for the moderator to intercept.

Ms. Collins interrupted and corrected Mr. Trump again and again, calling out his lies about a rigged 2020 election and his depiction of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as “a beautiful day.” Mr. Trump, however, often talked right over her. The live audience, a group of Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters, often cheered him on, even when he derided Ms. Collins as a “nasty person.”

“While we all may have been uncomfortable hearing people clapping, that was also an important part of the story,” Mr. Licht said on Thursday, “because the people in that audience represent a large swath of America. And the mistake the media made in the past is ignoring that those people exist. Just like you cannot ignore that President Trump exists.”

Critics said it was reckless for the network to provide a live forum to Mr. Trump, given his track record of spreading disinformation. Even the network’s own commentators appeared taken aback by what had transpired on its airwaves. “We don’t have enough time to fact check every lie he told,” Jake Tapper told viewers on Wednesday night.

Mr. Licht, who took over CNN last year after the network was acquired by Warner Bros. Discovery, has had a rocky tenure, and some journalists there have bristled at his public comments that the network had veered too far into an anti-Trump stance when Mr. Trump was in the White House. Mr. Licht has said CNN must appeal to more centrists and conservative voters, a strategy that has support from his corporate superiors.

There were signs on Thursday that frustration inside CNN about the town hall were bubbling up. The network’s own media newsletter, “Reliable Sources,” published a tough assessment after the event, noting, “It’s hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s dumpster fire of a town hall was a disaster for both him and CNN, Bill Palmer, May 10, 2023. It’s easy enough to understand why Donald Trump felt he needed to do a “town hall” with CNN. Trump can barely string two sentences together these days without going completely off script and humiliating himself – no doubt why his handlers have mostly kept him out of the public eye over the past year. But now he’s been criminally indicted, he’s about to be indicted again, he’s increasingly being seen as a criminal defendant and not a candidate in a future election, and he has to try to find a way to change that. This town hall was a bad idea, but it was the kind of low percentage play that a desperate and nearly finished Trump had to try.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s far less clear why CNN felt it needed to do this town hall with Trump. New CNN boss Chris Licht has invoked a strategy of dumping the network’s most popular faces and shifting the content heavily in favor of right wing lies. It’s seemingly been an attempt at courting Fox News’ audience. But instead it’s saddled CNN with historically low ratings. This strategy has been a total failure, and Licht, right, is already on his last legs. Fully getting in bed with Trump for a “town hall” was precisely the kind of move that Licht couldn’t afford to make, because there was zero upside, and the real risk of permanently alienating what’s left of CNN’s audience.

chris licht wIn any case, Trump’s desperate desire to portray himself as a candidate, along with Licht’s desperate desire to fail, added up to one of the most hideously odious “town halls” in presidential electoral history. Host Kaitlan Collins (who conveniently used to work for right wing propaganda outlet Daily Caller) allowed Trump to walk all over her. And the audience appeared to consist entirely of die hard Trump supporters, meaning it wasn’t a town hall, it was a Trump rally.

Trump spent the entire time smirking, blowing off questions, making incoherent remarks, lying about the 2020 election, and – bizarrely yet predictably – attacking E. Jean Carroll. It was ugly enough that you half seriously wondered if Trump would end up owing Carroll another five million by the time the night was over. And now it’s fair to wonder if Chris Licht will still be employed at CNN by the end of the week. This is the kind of singular debacle that can get a failing newcomer fired much quicker than they otherwise would have.

The thing is, everyone knew this town hall was going to be a disaster. MSNBC scheduled Rachel Maddow to appear as an on-air guest, on her night off, while the CNN town hall was going on. MSNBC guessed that regular CNN viewers would be so disgusted by this town hall, they’d end up switching to MSNBC partway through it, and that guess was probably correct. By the end of the evening, nearly every trending topic on social media was some kind of condemnation of CNN. It was that kind of debacle.

And yet for all the ugly blows that CNN took for this town hall, there was never any possible upside. Even if ratings did end up being strong, an hour’s worth of ratings aren’t worth much. And for all the longtime viewers that this debacle chased away, there was no chance of gaining any new viewers. Everyone in the industry knows that you can only court right wing viewers by telling them the lies they want to hear 100% of the time, and not merely the 50% or 67% of the time that CNN’s new formula is based on.

Nor will this help Donald Trump any. Again, there’s a reason his handlers have spent the past two-plus years trying to keep him out of the public eye as much as possible. There’s a reason his handlers have convinced him not to go back onto Twitter, even with his account reinstated. They know that the more Trump puts himself out there, and the more voters in the middle see that he’s just as nasty ever and fairly senile on top of it, the more quickly Trump’s 2024 facade will fade. Of course it’ll all be over for Trump once the DOJ truly gets ahold of him. But Trump’s sudden desperation to put himself out there, after two years of hiding, is only going to help hasten his downfall before the DOJ can even finish him off.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Twitter’s new purge shows perils of public record-keeping online, Cristiano Lima and David DiMolfetta, May 11, 2023. Elon Musk said this week that Twitter will be “purging accounts that have had no activity at all for several years” to “free up abandoned handles,” his latest mass crackdown since taking over the platform.

twitter bird CustomBut the move alarmed some archivists and advocates who track public records and say it could shut down memorial and archival pages for former and deceased public leaders.

“My reaction was … ‘I hope every archive at every public agency that has a Twitter account is reading this,’” Nick Connizzo, a digital archivist at Norwich University, said of Musk’s tweets.

While Musk said Monday the removed accounts “will be archived,” it’s unclear whether they will remain accessible to the public, which could create complications for government officials looking to document their digital paper trail.

Twitter’s sudden shift underscores the obstacles government officials face in preserving records in the social media age, where private companies can shutter key channels policymakers use to communicate with the public on a whim.

A smattering of different standards govern the preservation of documents at the national level. Federal law largely requires members of the executive branch and federal agencies to preserve public records, including digital communications such as tweets.

But the standards for what activity constitutes a public record — posts, images, likes, messages — are not always clear, and much of the upkeep burden falls on individual offices.

washington post logoWashington Post, Historian and mystery novelist is first woman to head Archives, Michael E. Ruane, May 11, 2023. Colleen J. Shogan, educator and political scientist, was confirmed Wednesday by the Senate. Colleen J. Shogan, a former senior official at the Library of Congress and the White House Historical Association, and the author of a series of murder mysteries set in Washington, was confirmed Wednesday by the Senate to become the first woman to head the National Archives.

The National Archives and Records Administration said she will start work next week as the 11th archivist of the United States. She succeeds David S. Ferriero, who retired in April 2022, and Debra Steidel Wall, who has been acting archivist for the past 12 months.

Shogan, 47, was nominated by President Biden last year.

Ferriero has said that before he retired he told the White House: “Better not hire another White male. We’ve had 10 White males.”

In an email Thursday, he said he was “pleased to see that [Shogan] has finally been confirmed. Her experience on [Capitol Hill], the Library of Congress, and the White House Historical Association will serve her well.”

He said he was “particularly pleased that the White male … mold has been broken.”

Shogan said in a brief telephone interview Wednesday evening: “I’m very honored by the confirmation, and I look forward to getting to work.”

Regarding her role as the first female archivist of the United States, she said: “I almost can’t process it. I’m so proud.”

She told a Senate committee in February that her nomination was “the honor of a lifetime.”

“My passion for the American story started in the public high school I attended outside Pittsburgh,” she said.

“As a first-generation college student in my family, I was fortunate to receive a first-class education, which allowed me to explore the development and evolution of American ideas and institutions,” she said.

May 10

ny times logoNew York Times, Tucker Carlson, Still Under Contract at Fox, Announces Twitter Show, Jeremy W. Peters, Benjamin Mullin and Ryan Mac, May 10, 2023 (print ed.). Mr. Carlson’s declaration suggested that his negotiations to reach an amicable separation with the network had broken down.

tucker carlson 2022The former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, declaring, “We’re back,” said on Tuesday that he was starting a new show on Twitter, a sign that negotiations to reach an amicable separation with the network, where he is still under contract, had broken down.

Mr. Carlson, right, offered no details of when his new program would begin or what kind of content it would have. The many unanswered questions highlighted the uncertainties surrounding his future — a career in which he would be deprived of a prime-time platform on Fox News.

Among the possibilities: Fox could ultimately block any attempt by the host to return to a prominent role in conservative media.

A representative for the Fox Corporation, which has been engaged in negotiations over the details of Mr. Carlson’s exit from the network since he was taken off the air last month, had no comment.

On Monday, Mr. Carlson had a conversation with the Fox Corporation executive chairman, Lachlan Murdoch, to discuss a possible exit from the company, elon musk 2015according to a person with knowledge of the meeting.

Mr. Carlson’s remarks on Tuesday, posted on Twitter — a platform run by Elon Musk, left, a provocateur in a similar mold as the combative, contrarian host — consisted of a three-minute monologue delivered directly to the camera. The video could violate the terms of his contract twitter bird Customwith Fox, which prevent Mr. Carlson from hosting a show on an alternate network.

One way Fox could try to prevent Mr. Carlson from posting new videos would be to seek an injunction, said Andy Lee, an entertainment lawyer with Foley & Lardner. But the network would have to persuade a judge that Mr. Carlson was doing irreparable harm to the network, such as by damaging its reputation or disclosing sensitive information. It would also have to show a likelihood that it would win at trial, another hurdle.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lachlan Murdoch: Fox News is sticking with its programming strategy, Jeremy Barr, May 10, 2023 (print ed.). The network’s top corporate boss struck a unapologetic and unworried tone with economic analysts despite a costly lawsuit settlement and a ratings dip after the firing of Tucker Carlson.

In his first public remarks since Fox News settled a massive defamation lawsuit and parted ways with star host Tucker Carlson, the network’s top corporate boss signaled that the conservative-leaning cable channel has no plans for a course correction.

fox news logo Small“There’s no change to our programming strategy at Fox News,” Lachlan Murdoch said on Tuesday morning. “It’s obviously a successful strategy, and as always, we are adjusting our programming and our lineup and that’s what we continue to do.”

He made no direct reference to Carlson, an increasingly hard-right commentator who was until recently the network’s top-rated prime-time host. His firing last month, which remains officially unexplained, has led to a dip in Fox’s ratings.

Murdoch, chief executive of Fox Corp., made his comments during the question-and-answer portion of a conference call with economic analysts to discuss the company’s quarterly earnings report. In the second quarter of the year, Fox Corp. lost $50 million, which the company attributed “primarily” to the $787.5 million settlement forged to end the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems over a slew of on-air false claims alleging fraud in the 2020 presidential election.


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ny times logoNew York Times, CNBC Parts Ways With Anchor Who Made Accusations Against NBCUniversal C.E.O., Benjamin Mullin, May 10, 2023 (print ed.). Hadley Gamble, an anchor and senior correspondent for CNBC International, lodged a complaint in March that accused the former NBCUniversal C.E.O., Jeff Shell, of sexual harassment.

cnbc logoCNBC on Tuesday said it was parting ways with Hadley Gamble, an anchor and senior correspondent who accused the former chief executive of NBCUniversal, the network’s parent division, of sexual harassment.

In a brief and effusive statement, CNBC called Ms. Gamble, who worked at the business news network for more than a decade, “a distinguished journalist” who had developed “deep experience in the Middle East and beyond.”

“Her initiative and drive have secured valuable interviews with several world political leaders. We wish her every success in her future endeavors,” the statement said.

jeff shell 2013CNBC and Ms. Gamble have negotiated a financial settlement worth more than $1 million in connection with her exit, according to a person familiar with knowledge of the decision. In late March, Ms. Gamble lodged a complaint that accused Jeff Shell, right, who was the chief executive of NBCUniversal, of sexual harassment. It also raised allegations of bullying and discrimination at CNBC. The complaint, which ran more than a dozen pages, also named managers at CNBC’s international division.

That complaint kicked off an investigation that led to Mr. Shell’s firing last month, sending reverberations across NBCUniversal’s sprawling global enterprise. Michael Cavanagh, Comcast’s president, has stepped in to oversee NBCUniversal.


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ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Rip and Replace’: The Tech Cold War Is Upending Wireless Carriers, Cecilia Kang, May 10, 2023 (print ed.). As China and the United States jockey for tech primacy, wireless carriers in dozens of states are tearing out Chinese equipment. That has turned into a costly, difficult process.

Deep in a pine forest in Wilcox County, Ala., three workers dangled from the top of a 350-foot cellular tower. They were there to rip out and replace Chinese equipment from the local wireless network.

China FlagAs the United States and China battle for geopolitical and technological primacy, the fallout has reached rural Alabama and small wireless carriers in dozens of states. They are on the receiving end of the Biden administration’s sweeping policies to suppress China’s rise, which include trade restrictions, a $52 billion package to bolster domestic semiconductor manufacturing against China and the divestiture of the video app TikTok from its Chinese owner.

huawei square logoWhat the wireless carriers must do, under a program known as “rip and replace,” has become the starkest physical manifestation of the tech Cold War between the two superpowers. The program, which took effect in 2020, mandates that American companies tear out telecom equipment made by the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. U.S. officials have warned that gear from those companies could be used by Beijing for espionage and to steal commercial secrets.

Instead, U.S. carriers have to use equipment from non-Chinese companies. The Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the program, would then reimburse the carriers from a pot of $1.9 billion intended to cover their costs.

May 9


AFP journalist Arman Soldin snaps a selfie with a cat on his shoulder during an assignment for AFP in Ukraine.

AFP journalist Arman Soldin snaps a selfie with a cat on his shoulder during an assignment for AFP in Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images).

New York Daily News, AFP video journalist Arman Soldin killed by rocket fire in Ukraine, Staff Report, May 9, 2023. Soldin’s death was witnessed by colleagues on the war’s frontlines in the outskirts of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

The AFP team was with a group of Ukrainian soldiers that came under heavy fire around 4:30 p.m. The rocket struck close to where Soldin was lying but the rest of the journalists were uninjured.

“We are devastated to learn of the death of AFP video journalist Arman Soldin in eastern Ukraine today,” the news agency said Tuesday. “All of our thoughts go out to his family and loved ones.”

Soldin, 32, had been photographed frequently while in Ukraine wearing a helmet and armor labeled “PRESS.”

“His death is a terrible reminder of the risks and dangers faced by journalists every day covering the conflict in Ukraine,” AFP chairman Fabrice Fries said.

According to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, 11 reporters or local fixers for media have been killed while covering the war.
AFP journalist Arman Soldin, walks in a trench as he is covering the war in Ukraine on March 18, 2023.

AFP journalist Arman Soldin, walks in a trench as he is covering the war in Ukraine on March 18, 2023. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

“Arman’s brilliant work encapsulated everything that has made us so proud of AFP’s journalism in Ukraine,” the agency’s global news director Phil Chetwynd said in a statement. “Arman’s death is a terrible reminder of the risks and dangers of covering this war. Our thoughts tonight are with his family and friends, and with all our people on the ground in Ukraine.”

A French national, Soldin was born in Sarajevo. He started with AFP in 2015 and was part of the first AFP team to arrive in Ukraine after Russia’s invasion in February of last year. His last report was about a surgeon at a field hospital.

“He was a real on-the-ground reporter, always ready to work even in the most difficult places,” AFP’s Europe director Christine Buhagiar said. “He was totally devoted to his craft.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, New York Is Forcing Schools to Change How They Teach Children to Read, Troy Closson, May 9, 2023. Half of children in grades three to eight fail reading tests. The city’s schools chancellor will roll out new curriculums next year.

Hundreds of public schools have been teaching reading the wrong way for the last two decades, leaving an untold number of children struggling to acquire a crucial life skill, according to New York City’s schools chancellor.

Now, David C. Banks, the chancellor, wants to “sound the alarm” and is planning to force the nation’s largest school system to take a new approach.

On Tuesday, Mr. Banks will announce major changes to reading instruction in an aim to tackle a persistent problem: About half of city children in grades three through eight are not proficient in reading. Black, Latino and low-income children fare even worse.

In a recent interview, Mr. Banks said that the city’s approach had been “fundamentally flawed,” and had failed to follow the science of how students learn to read.

“It’s not your fault. It’s not your child’s fault. It was our fault,” Mr. Banks said. “This is the beginning of a massive turnaround.”

Over the next two years, the city’s 32 local school districts will adopt one of three curriculums selected by their superintendents. The curriculums use evidence-supported practices, including phonics — which teaches children how to decode letter sounds — and avoid strategies many reading experts say are flawed, like teaching children to use picture clues to guess words.

The move represents a sea change in a city where principals have historically retained authority over approaches to teaching at their individual schools.

Half of the districts will begin the program in September; the others will start in 2024. Waivers to opt out will only be considered for schools where more than 85 percent of students are proficient in reading, a threshold that only about 20 schools meet.

The move represents the most significant reading overhaul in New York City since the early 2000s, when some of the programs that the chancellor is now trying to uproot were first ushered in. It will immediately place the city at the forefront of a growing national movement to reform reading instruction.

 May 7

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ny times logoNew York Times, Newton N. Minow, F.C.C. Chief Who Deemed TV a ‘Vast Wasteland,’ Dies at 97, Robert D. McFadden, May 7, 2023 (print ed.). His stunning declaration caused an instant sensation when he made it in 1961 and ignited a national debate over Americans’ viewing habits.

newton minow wNewton N. Minow, right, who as President John F. Kennedy’s new F.C.C. chairman in 1961 sent shock waves through an industry and touched a nerve in a nation addicted to banality and mayhem by calling American television “a vast wasteland,” died on Saturday at his home in Chicago . He was 97.

His daughter Nell Minow said the cause was a heart attack.

On May 9, 1961, almost four months after President Kennedy called upon Americans to renew their commitment to freedom around the globe, Mr. Minow, a bespectacled bureaucrat who had recently been put in charge of the Federal Communications Commission, got up before 2,000 broadcast executives at a luncheon in Washington and invited them to watch television for a day.

“Stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit-and-loss sheet or rating book to distract you, and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off,” Mr. Minow said. “I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland.”

The audience sat aghast as he went on:

“You will see a procession of game shows, violence, audience participation shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, Western bad men, Western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence and cartoons. And endlessly, commercials — many screaming, cajoling and offending. And most of all, boredom.”

To broadcasters who for years had enjoyed a cozy relationship with the F.C.C., Mr. Minow’s scorching indictment opened a troubling new era of regulatory pressures that for the first time stressed program content and public service. While the F.C.C. had no authority to tell broadcasters what to air, Mr. Minow pointedly reminded them that it did periodically renew station licenses for the use of the public airwaves, and that it had the power to revoke them for irresponsible performance.

Mr. Minow’s characterization of TV as “a vast wasteland” — a phrase inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land” — was an instant sensation, entering the American lexicon and setting off an avalanche of headlines, editorials, cartoons and letters to the editor, and a national debate over the viewing habits of adults and children.

It also transformed Mr. Minow, a 35-year-old Chicago lawyer who had campaigned for Adlai E. Stevenson and President Kennedy, into an overnight celebrity — a household name that a poll of editors by The Associated Press found to be the “top newsmaker” of 1961, ahead of Jack Paar, Gary Cooper and Elizabeth Taylor.

Mr. Minow insisted that he had not meant his remarks to the National Association of Broadcasters as a frontal attack. But in the ensuing months, his public hearings and pronouncements kept up the pressure on networks to raise the quality and diversity of programming. And for a time it worked: TV violence appeared to recede, educational offerings for children expanded slightly, the stature of network news was reinforced.

But the networks — still reeling from the payola and quiz show scandals of the 1950s — contended that they were only giving the public what it wanted, and an NBC special about Mr. Minow’s hearings appeared to bear them out. The program attracted only a small audience and was swamped by ratings for the western “Maverick” on ABC and the talking-horse sitcom “Mister Ed” on CBS.

There was also a certain vengeance — perhaps lost on audiences — when the phrase “vast wasteland” was featured years later as an answer to questions on TV game shows, like “Jeopardy!” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

Mr. Minow served with the F.C.C. for only about two years. And in retrospect, experts say, his most important contributions probably had less to do with his famous speech than with his efforts on behalf of two laws adopted during the Kennedy administration.

One required TV sets sold in America to be equipped to receive ultra-high-frequency (UHF) signals as well as the very-high-frequency (VHF) broadcasts that predominated at the time. By the end of the 1960s, most Americans had reception on scores of channels, not just a dozen, with a wide diversity of programming, especially on independent and public stations.

Mr. Minow also pushed legislation that opened the era of satellite communications. It fostered the creation, by a consortium of interests, of the Communications Satellite Corporation (Comsat), and later the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat), which allowed the United States to dominate satellite communications in the 1960s and ’70s, and it ultimately led to greater program diversity.

In an interview for this obituary in July 2019, Mr. Minow bemoaned the likelihood that he would be remembered for his assessment of America’s television culture rather than for his efforts on behalf of communications satellites, which he said led to the global information revolution, to digital communications and to the internet.

“I went to the White House and told President Kennedy that these communications satellites were more important than sending men into space, because they would send ideas into space and ideas last longer than people,” he said. “I testified 13 times in Congress for the legislation to create the corporations and the funding. I think this is more important than anything else I’ve ever done, for its impact on the future of the world.”


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ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Tucker Carlson’s Dark and Malign Influence Over the Christian Right, David French, right, May 7, 2023. On April 25, the far-right network david french croppedNewsmax hosted a fascinating and revealing conversation about Tucker Carlson with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, one of America’s leading Christian conservative advocacy organizations.

Perkins scorned Fox News’s decision to fire Carlson, and — incredibly — also attacked Fox’s decision to fire Bill O’Reilly. These terminations (along with the departures of Glenn Beck and Megyn Kelly) were deemed evidence that Fox was turning its back on its conservative viewers, including its Christian conservative viewers.

What was missing from the conversation? Any mention of the profound moral failings that cost O’Reilly his job, including at least six settlements — five for sexual harassment and one for verbal abuse — totaling approximately $45 million. Or any mention of Carlson’s own serious problems, including his serial dishonesty, his vile racism and his gross personal insult directed against a senior Fox executive. It’s a curious position for a Christian to take.

Similarly curious is the belief of other Christians, such as the popular evangelical “prophet” Lance Wallnau, that Carlson was a “casualty of war” with the left, and that his firing was a serious setback for Christian Republicans. To Wallnau, an author and a self-described “futurist,” Carlson was a “secular prophet,” somebody “used by God, more powerful than a lot of preachers.”

Other prominent Christian members of the American right applauded Carlson’s “courage” or declared — after The Times reported that Carlson condemned a group of Trump supporters for not fighting like “white men” after “jumping” an Antifa member — that Carlson did “nothing wrong.” Rod Dreher, editor-at-large at The American Conservative, said, “I hope Tucker Carlson runs for president,” and a “Tucker-DeSantis ticket would be the Generation X Saves The World team.”

I’m going to pause now and confess that I was once naïve. I was especially naïve about human nature. As a much younger Christian, I’d read stories of unholy violence and hatred unleashed in Jesus’ name in religious conflicts of even the recent past and think, “Thank God that’s over.” I felt comfortable in my Christian conservatism. My conservatism reflected my best effort to discern the policies that would contribute to justice and human flourishing, while my Christianity hovered over everything, hopefully (though not always, I must confess) infusing my public engagement with humility and kindness.

After all, isn’t “love your enemies” a core Christian command? The fruit of the spirit (the markers of God’s presence in our lives) are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” not Republicanism, conservatism and capitalism.

But the temptations — including the will to power and the quest for vengeance — that plagued the Christians of the past still plague the Christians of today. These temptations can plague people of any faith. If you infuse an issue or set of issues with religious intensity but drain a movement of religious virtue, then profound religious conflict — including violent conflict — is the inevitable result. Indeed, we saw religious violence on full display when a mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and it is no coincidence that one of Carlson’s most mendacious projects was his effort to recast the Jan. 6 insurrection and its aftermath as a “patriot purge.”

The great tragedy is that a moment of dangerous national polarization is exactly when a truly Christian message that combines the pursuit of justice with kindness and humility would be a balm to the national soul. A time of extraordinary social isolation, where people report less companionship, less time with friends, and less time with family, is exactly the time when a healthy church community can be a beacon of inclusion and hope.

May 4


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ny times logoNew York Times, Lina Khan: We Must Regulate A.I. Here’s How, Lina M. Khan (above, chair of the Federal Trade Commission), May 4, 2023 (print ed.). It’s both exciting and unsettling to have a realistic conversation with a computer. Thanks to the rapid advance of generative artificial intelligence, many of us have now experienced this potentially revolutionary technology with vast implications for how people live, work and communicate around the world. The full extent of generative A.I.’s potential is still up for debate, but there’s little doubt it will be highly disruptive.

The last time we found ourselves facing such widespread social change wrought by technology was the onset of the Web 2.0 era in the mid-2000s. New, innovative companies like Facebook and Google revolutionized communications and delivered popular services to a fast-growing user base.

Those innovative services, however, came at a steep cost. What we initially conceived of as free services were monetized through extensive surveillance of the people and businesses that used them. The result has been an online economy where access to increasingly essential services is conditioned on the widespread hoarding and sale of our personal data.

ftc logoThese business models drove companies to develop endlessly invasive ways to track us, and the Federal Trade Commission would later find reason to believe that several of these companies had broken the law. Coupled with aggressive strategies to acquire or lock out companies that threatened their position, these tactics solidified the dominance of a handful of companies. What began as a revolutionary set of technologies ended up concentrating enormous private power over key services and locking in business models that come at extraordinary cost to our privacy and security.

The trajectory of the Web 2.0 era was not inevitable — it was instead shaped by a broad range of policy choices. And we now face another moment of choice. As the use of A.I. becomes more widespread, public officials have a responsibility to ensure this hard-learned history doesn’t repeat itself.

As companies race to deploy and monetize A.I., the Federal Trade Commission is taking a close look at how we can best achieve our dual mandate to promote fair competition and to protect Americans from unfair or deceptive practices. As these technologies evolve, we are committed to doing our part to uphold America’s longstanding tradition of maintaining the open, fair and competitive markets that have underpinned both breakthrough innovations and our nation’s economic success — without tolerating business models or practices involving the mass exploitation of their users. Although these tools are novel, they are not exempt from existing rules, and the F.T.C. will vigorously enforce the laws we are charged with administering, even in this new market.

While the technology is moving swiftly, we already can see several risks. The expanding adoption of A.I. risks further locking in the market dominance of large incumbent technology firms. A handful of powerful businesses control the necessary raw materials that start-ups and other companies rely on to develop and deploy A.I. tools. This includes cloud services and computing power, as well as vast stores of data.

Enforcers and regulators must be vigilant. Dominant firms could use their control over these key inputs to exclude or discriminate against downstream rivals, picking winners and losers in ways that further entrench their dominance. Meanwhile, the A.I. tools that firms use to set prices for everything from laundry detergent to bowling lane reservations can facilitate collusive behavior that unfairly inflates prices — as well as forms of precisely targeted price discrimination. Enforcers have the dual responsibility of watching out for the dangers posed by new A.I. technologies while promoting the fair competition needed to ensure the market for these technologies develops lawfully. The F.T.C. is well equipped with legal jurisdiction to handle the issues brought to the fore by the rapidly developing A.I. sector, including collusion, monopolization, mergers, price discrimination and unfair methods of competition.

And generative A.I. risks turbocharging fraud. It may not be ready to replace professional writers, but it can already do a vastly better job of crafting a seemingly authentic message than your average con artist — equipping scammers to generate content quickly and cheaply. Chatbots are already being used to generate spear-phishing emails designed to scam people, fake websites and fake consumer reviews —bots are even being instructed to use words or phrases targeted at specific groups and communities. Scammers, for example, can draft highly targeted spear-phishing emails based on individual users’ social media posts. Alongside tools that create deep fake videos and voice clones, these technologies can be used to facilitate fraud and extortion on a massive scale.

When enforcing the law’s prohibition on deceptive practices, we will look not just at the fly-by-night scammers deploying these tools but also at the upstream firms that are enabling them.

Lastly, these A.I. tools are being trained on huge troves of data in ways that are largely unchecked. Because they may be fed information riddled with errors and bias, these technologies risk automating discrimination — unfairly locking out people from jobs, housing or key services. These tools can also be trained on private emails, chats and sensitive data, ultimately exposing personal details and violating user privacy. Existing laws prohibiting discrimination will apply, as will existing authorities proscribing exploitative collection or use of personal data.

The history of the growth of technology companies two decades ago serves as a cautionary tale for how we should think about the expansion of generative A.I. But history also has lessons for how to handle technological disruption for the benefit of all. Facing antitrust scrutiny in the late 1960s, the computing titan IBM unbundled software from its hardware systems, catalyzing the rise of the American software industry and creating trillions of dollars of growth. Government action required AT&T to open up its patent vault and similarly unleashed decades of innovation and spurred the expansion of countless young firms.

America’s longstanding national commitment to fostering fair and open competition has been an essential part of what has made this nation an economic powerhouse and a laboratory of innovation. We once again find ourselves at a key decision point. Can we continue to be the home of world-leading technology without accepting race-to-the-bottom business models and monopolistic control that locks out higher quality products or the next big idea? Yes — if we make the right policy choices.

ny times logoNew York Times, F.T.C. Seeks ‘Blanket’ Ban on Meta’s Use of Young Users’ Data, Natasha Singer, May 4, 2023 (print ed.). Citing privacy failings by the tech giant, regulators proposed to stop sites like Instagram and Facebook from profiting off the data of users under 18.

ftc logoThe Federal Trade Commission escalated its fight with the tech industry’s biggest companies on Wednesday as it moved to impose what it called a “blanket prohibition” on the collection of young people’s personal data by Meta, Facebook’s parent company.

meta logoThe commission wants to significantly expand a record $5 billion consent order with the company from 2020 and said that Meta had failed to fully meet the legal commitments it made to overhaul its privacy practices to better protect its users.

Regulators also said Meta had misled parents about their ability to control whom their children communicated with on its Messenger Kids app and misrepresented the access it gave some app developers to users’ private data.

The proposed changes mark the third time the agency has taken action against the social media giant over privacy issues.

ny times logoNew York Times, Four Horse Deaths Renew Safety Concerns on Eve of Kentucky Derby, Joe Drape and Melissa Hoppert, May 4, 2023. At Churchill Downs, two horses were euthanized after injuries and two died while training. The track called the deaths “unusual” and “unacceptable.”

Only days before horse racing’s signature event, the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs is looking into the recent deaths of four horses, including a colt who was scheduled to run in Saturday’s Derby.

Wild on Ice, a 3-year-old who had three wins in five career starts and was in the Derby field, was euthanized after he was injured while training on the dirt track on Thursday, Churchill Downs said in a statement. Take Charge Briana was put down after an injury during a turf race on Tuesday.

Two horses trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. died suddenly for unknown reasons, the track said. Parents Pride collapsed on Saturday, and Chasing Artie on Tuesday.

“This is something that doesn’t happen,” Joseph said on Wednesday morning at his Churchill Downs barn. “I’m shattered, basically, because I know it can’t happen. The odds of it happening twice is in the trillions. I run almost 4,000 horses and it’s never happened. It doesn’t make sense.”

ny times logoNew York Times, It’s Not Just Math and Reading: U.S. History Scores for 8th Graders Plunge, Sarah Mervosh, May 4, 2023 (print ed.). Latest test results continue a nearly decade-long decline. Try a sample quiz to test your knowledge.

National test scores released on Wednesday showed a marked drop in students’ knowledge of U.S. history and a modest decline in civics, a sign of the pandemic’s alarming reach, damaging student performance in nearly every academic area.

The pandemic plunge in U.S. history accelerated a downward trend that began nearly a decade ago, hitting this recent low at a time when the subject itself has become increasingly politically divisive.

A growing number of students are falling below even the basic standards set out on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a rigorous national exam administered by the Department of Education. About 40 percent of eighth graders scored “below basic” in U.S. history last year, compared with 34 percent in 2018 and 29 percent in 2014.

Just 13 percent of eighth graders were considered proficient — demonstrating competency over challenging subject matter — down from 18 percent nearly a decade ago.


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ny times logoNew York Times, In Blow to DeSantis, Florida Bills to Limit Press Protections Are Shelved, Ken Bensinger, May 4, 2023 (print ed.). Gov. Ron DeSantis, above, usually gets what he wants from the State Legislature. But on high-profile defamation bills, it was right-wing news media that flexed its muscle.

Legislation that would have sharply curbed press protections in Florida has stalled in the State Legislature and won’t face a vote this year — a rare example of forces on the right thwarting a piece of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s agenda.

The bills, introduced in February, proposed sweeping changes to laws that shield media outlets from liability in defamation cases and sought to make it easier for private citizens to file libel suits. Mr. DeSantis has been outspoken in pushing for laws he says would “hold these big media companies accountable.”

But Mr. DeSantis, a Republican typically known for having his finger on the pulse of the right, appears to have misjudged the issue. In addition to opposition from news outlets and free-speech groups, the legislation faced a wave of resistance from his allies, including right-wing media outlets, Christian organizations and business groups. They argued that the legislation would harm all news media, including conservative outlets, and lead to an increase in frivolous and costly lawsuits.

The Florida bills were part of a broader effort to revisit the First Amendment protections for the media. In recent years, a collection of judges, politicians and lawyers — most of them conservatives — have fiercely criticized The New York Times Company v. Sullivan, the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1964 that made it more difficult for public figures to win libel cases against publishers.

pursued its lawsuit against Fox News. A last-minute settlement of that case two weeks ago put off a high-profile test of the bounds of that precedent. The quiet demise of the closely watched Florida legislation, which would have been challenged in court, appears to have blocked another.


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ny times logoNew York Times, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. was “intensely engaged” in efforts to free Evan Gershkovich, Edward Wong and Daniel Victor, May 4, 2023 (print ed.). The Wall Street Journal reporter has been held for more than a month on espionage charges that the United States considers bogus.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Wednesday that the U.S. government remained “intensely engaged” in efforts to get Moscow to free Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter who has been held for more than a month on espionage charges that his employer and American officials vehemently deny.

Speaking at a World Press Freedom Day event at The Washington Post, Mr. Blinken reiterated that President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia Russian Flaghad a “special channel” for discussing prisoners.

“I wish I could say in this moment there was a clear way forward,” he said. “I don’t have that in this moment.”

“We have a country in the case of Russia that like a handful of other countries around the world is wrongfully detaining people, using them as political pawns, using them as leverage in a practice that is absolutely unacceptable and that we’re working both broadly to try to deter — but also at the same time to try to secure the release of those who are being unjustly detained,” Mr. Blinken said.

May 2


capitol right full crowd uncreditedny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Carlson’s Text That Alarmed Fox Leaders: ‘It’s Not How White Men Fight, Jeremy W. Peters, Michael S. Schmidt and Jim Rutenberg, May 2, 2023. The discovery of the text message contributed to a chain of events that ultimately led to Tucker Carlson’s firing.

A text message sent by Tucker Carlson that set off a panic at the highest levels of Fox on the eve of its billion-dollar defamation trial showed its most popular tucker carlson 2022host sharing his private, inflammatory views about violence and race.

The discovery of the message contributed to a chain of events that ultimately led to Mr. Carlson’s firing.

fox news logo SmallIn the message, sent to one of his producers in the hours after violent Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Carlson described how he had recently watched a video of a group of men — Trump supporters, he said — violently attacking “an Antifa kid.”

It was “three against one, at least,” he wrote.

And then he expressed a sense of dismay that the attackers, like him, were white.

“Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously,” he wrote.

“It’s not how white men fight,” he said. But he said he found himself for a moment wanting the group to kill the person he had described as the Antifa kid.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘The Godfather of A.I.’ Leaves Google and Warns of Danger Ahead, Cade Metz, May 2, 2023 (print ed.). “It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,” said Geoffrey Hinton, who has worked on A.I.-related technology for 50 years.

Geoffrey Hinton was an artificial intelligence pioneer. In 2012, Dr. Hinton and two of his graduate students at the University of Toronto created technology that became the intellectual foundation for the A.I. systems that the tech industry’s biggest companies believe is a key to their future.

google logo customOn Monday, however, he officially joined a growing chorus of critics who say those companies are racing toward danger with their aggressive campaign to create products based on generative artificial intelligence, the technology that powers popular chatbots like ChatGPT.

Dr. Hinton said he has quit his job at Google, where he has worked for more than a decade and became one of the most respected voices in the field, so he can freely speak out about the risks of A.I. A part of him, he said, now regrets his life’s work.

“I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have,” Dr. Hinton said during a lengthy interview last week in the dining room of his home in Toronto, a short walk from where he and his students made their breakthrough.

ny times logoNew York Times, Vice Is Said to Be Headed for Bankruptcy, Lauren Hirsch and Benjamin Mullin, May 2, 2023 (print ed.). The company, which was once valued at $5.7 billion, has been struggling to find a buyer this year.

Vice, the brash digital-media disrupter that charmed giants like Disney and Fox into investing before a stunning crash-landing, is preparing to file for bankruptcy, according to two people with knowledge of its operations.

The filing could come in the coming weeks, according to three people familiar with the matter who weren’t authorized to discuss the potential bankruptcy on the record.

The company has been looking for a buyer, and still might find one, to avoid declaring bankruptcy. More than five companies have expressed interest in acquiring Vice, according to a person briefed on the discussions. The chances of that, however, are growing increasingly slim, said one of the people with knowledge of the potential bankruptcy.

A bankruptcy filing would be a bleak coda to the tumultuous story of Vice, a new-media interloper that sought to supplant the media establishment before persuading it to invest hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2017, after a funding round from the private-equity firm TPG, Vice was worth $5.7 billion. But today, by most accounts, it’s worth a tiny fraction of that.

In the event of a bankruptcy, Vice’s largest debtholder, Fortress Investment Group, could end up controlling the company, said one of the people. Vice would continue operating normally and run an auction to sell the company over a 45-day period, with Fortress in pole position as the most likely acquirer.

Unlike Vice’s other investors, which have included Disney and Fox, Fortress holds senior debt, which means it gets paid out first in the event of a sale. Disney, which has already written down its investments, is not getting a return, the person said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Hollywood Writers Will Go on Strike, Halting Production, John Koblin and Brooks Barnes, May 2, 2023 (print ed.). The dispute, which pits 11,500 television and screenwriters against the major studios, has shattered 15 years of labor peace in the entertainment business.

Hollywood’s 15 years of labor peace was shattered Tuesday, as movie and television writers went on strike, bringing many productions to a halt and dealing a blow to an industry that has been rocked in recent years by the pandemic and sweeping technological shifts.

  • New York Times, In the book “Traffic,” the journalist Ben Smith chronicles how “going viral” became a thing, May 2, 2023 (print ed.).



April 30


President Joe Biden speaks during the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, Saturday, April 29, 2023. (Associated Press Photo by Carolyn Kaster).

President Joe Biden speaks during the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, Saturday, April 29, 2023. (Associated Press Photo by Carolyn Kaster).

ny times logoNew York Times, President Biden praised the “absolute courage” of Evan Gershkovich, the American journalist detained in Russia, Matthew Mpoke Bigg, April 30, 2023. At the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, the president said his administration was “working every day” to secure the release of Evan Gershkovich.

President Biden has called for the release of Evan Gershkovich, right, an American Wall Street Journal reporter imprisoned in Russia, praising his courage and saying the United States was working tirelessly to bring him home.

evan gershkovitzMr. Gershkovich was detained in Russia last month and accused of espionage, a charge that his employer and the United States emphatically reject. The State Department this month designated the journalist as “wrongfully detained,” signifying that the U.S. government sees him as the equivalent of a political hostage.

In a speech at the annual White House Association Correspondents’ dinner on Saturday, Mr. Biden spoke of Mr. Gershkovich’s “absolute courage” and said everyone at the event stood with the reporter.

“We’re working every day to secure his release, looking at opportunities and tools to bring him home. We keep the faith,” Mr. Biden said told the audience. “Our message is this: Journalism is not a crime.”

Mr. Gershkovich’s case represents the most significant attack on international journalists in Russia since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year. It is also the first time that a Western journalist in Russia has been charged with espionage since the end of the Cold War.

In his speech on Saturday, Mr. Biden asserted the importance of a free press worldwide and also spoke of Austin Tice, a freelance journalist who disappeared in Syria in August 2012, soon after the country’s civil war began. It is believed that, since then, he has been held captive by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“Evan and Austin should be released immediately along with every other American held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad,” Mr. Biden said. Debra and Marc Tice, the parents of Mr. Tice, wrote an opinion article, published in The Washington Post last August, in which they urged Mr. Biden to step up diplomatic efforts to free him.


 U.S. President Joe Biden smiles during the White House Correspondents' Association dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC, April 29, 2023 (AFP photo by Saul Loeb via Getty Images).

 U.S. President Joe Biden smiles during the White House Correspondents' Association dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC, April 29, 2023 (AFP photo by Saul Loeb via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Gets a Chance to Mock Fox News, and Gleefully Takes It, Peter Baker and Katie Robertson, April 30, 2023. At the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, President Biden also teased CNN and made light of his age.

Whatever news gods decided that the cable television stars Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon should be fired the same week that President Biden was scheduled to give a funny speech ribbing the news media certainly were generous in providing fresh material. And Mr. Biden took advantage on Saturday night as he gleefully mocked some of his favorite foils.

fox news logo SmallIn his annual appearance at the black-tie White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, the one night a year that a president is expected to play a stand-up comic, Mr. Biden made the most of the opportunity with some timely skewering of those who usually skewer him — most notably Fox News, which fired Mr. Carlson on Monday just days after settling a defamation lawsuit for $787.5 million.

“Last year, your favorite Fox News reporters were able to attend” the dinner “because they were fully vaccinated and boosted,” Mr. Biden said, in a nod to his coronavirus response strategy. “This year, with that $787 million settlement, they’re here because they couldn’t say no to a free meal.”

“And hell, I’d call Fox honest, fair and truthful,” he told the crowd gathered in a cavernous ballroom in Washington as well as a national television audience watching at home. “But then I could be sued for defamation.” When some groaned, he quipped, “It ain’t nothing compared to what they do to me.”


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ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: Fox News Gambled, but Tucker Can Still Take Down the House, Jason Zengerle, April 30, 2023 (print ed.). Mr. Zengerle, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, is working on a book about Tucker Carlson.

The cable host has left Fox News. But his dark and outsize influence on the conservative movement — and on American politics — is hardly over.

For the quarter-century-plus that the Fox News Channel has been coming into America’s living rooms, it has operated according to a cardinal tenet: No one at the cable network is bigger than Fox News itself. It’s a lesson Glenn Beck, Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly all learned the hard way after they left Fox and saw their fame and influence (if not their fortunes) evaporate. Once the biggest names in cable news, they now spend their days wandering in the wilderness of podcasts and third-tier streaming platforms. Even Roger Ailes, Fox News’s original architect and the man who devised — and then ruthlessly enforced — the no-one-bigger-than rule, discovered that he was expendable when Rupert Murdoch pushed him out as Fox’s chairman and chief executive in 2016 amid sexual harassment allegations. Mr. Ailes soon disappeared to a mansion in Florida and, less than a year later, died in exile from the media world he’d once commanded.

When Fox News abruptly fired Tucker Carlson, the network’s most popular prime-time host and the most powerful person in conservative media, many savvy press critics predicted the same fate for him: professional oblivion. Mr. Carlson had himself once replaced Ms. Kelly, and later Mr. O’Reilly, and each time he climbed to a new, better slot in the Fox News lineup he garnered bigger and bigger ratings. Now, according to the conventional wisdom, some new up-and-comer would inherit Mr. Carlson’s audience and replace him as the king (or queen) of conservative media. “The ‘talent’ at the Fox News Channel has never been the star,” Politico’s Jack Shafer wrote earlier this week. “Fox itself, which convenes the audience, is the star.”

But there’s good reason to believe Mr. Carlson will be the exception that proves the rule. For one thing, unlike previous stars who have left Fox News, Mr. Carlson departed when he was still at the height of his power, making his firing all the more sudden and shocking. Three days before his sacking, he gave the keynote address at the Heritage Foundation’s 50th anniversary gala. Two weeks before that, he browbeat Texas’ Republican governor to issue a pardon to a man who had been convicted of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester in Austin.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mark Zuckerberg survived years of scandal, but a pivot to VR might break things, Naomi Nix, April 30, 2023. The Facebook founder has shepherded Meta through public crisis, but amid layoffs, insiders say he has lost his vision and the trust of his workforce.

mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wMark Zuckerberg sounded nervous.

The Meta CEO, left, had just announced that his company would slash thousands of jobs last month, on top of 11,000 layoffs in November.

meta logoDuring an hour-long town hall meeting from the company’s Menlo Park headquarters in California, the decimated workforce peppered Zuckerberg with questions — including why they should have confidence in his leadership.

“That’s a completely fair question,” Zuckerberg responded without his usual bluster, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The Washington Post.

It was a sobering admission for the CEO, who popularized the phrase “move fast and break things” to describe how he made a scrappy start-up into a towering $116 billion symbol of Silicon Valley success. Zuckerberg has shepherded Meta through years of public turbulence, offering employees confident defiance and facebook logothe security that, despite some missteps, their CEO always bet on the correct future.

But now, roiled by economic tumult, waves of layoffs that will slash some 21,000 workers and a costly investment in the virtual reality “metaverse” that shows no immediate signs of paying off, many inside Meta say Zuckerberg has lost his vision — and the trust of his workforce. Instead, he is steering the company into an unprecedented morale crisis, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Requiem for the Newsroom, Maureen Dowd, right, April 30, 2023 (print ed.). I don’t want this to be one of those pieces that bangs on about how maureen dowd thumbLarge Customthings used to be better, and they’ll never be as good again.

But, when it comes to newsrooms, it happens to be true.

As my friend Mark Leibovich, a writer at The Atlantic, noted: “I can’t think of a profession that relies more on osmosis, and just being around other people, than journalism. There’s a reason they made all those newspaper movies, ‘All the President’s Men,’ ‘Spotlight,’ ‘The Paper.’

“There’s a reason people get tours of newsrooms. You don’t want a tour of your local H&R Block office.”

Now, Leibovich said, he does most meetings from home. “At the end of a Zoom call, nobody says, ‘Hey, do you want to get a drink?’ There’s just a click at the end of the meetings. Nothing dribbles out afterward, and you can really learn things from the little meetings after the meetings.”

As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.

But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels.

I’m mystified when I hear that so many of our 20-something news assistants prefer to work from home. At that age, I would have had a hard time finding mentors or friends or boyfriends if I hadn’t been in the newsroom, and I never could have latched onto so many breaking stories if I hadn’t raised my hand and said, “I’ll go.”

April 29


nora roberts hideway

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Florida’s book-ban frenzy targets Nora Roberts, and she’s not happy, Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman, April 29, 2023. Tiffany Justice, co-founder of the right-wing book-purging organization Moms for Liberty, offered a righteous-sounding answer when asked this past weekend on “CBS Sunday Morning” what sort of book she wants to see remain in schools.

“Books that don’t have pornography in them,” she piously declared. “Let’s just put the bar really, really low. Books that don’t have incest, pedophilia, rape.”

That’s hard to square with what just happened in Martin County, Fla. The school district there recently decided to yank from its high school library circulation eight novels by Nora Roberts, shown above with the cover of one of her more than 220 books, that are not “pornography” at all — largely prompted by objections from a single woman who also happens to be a Moms for Liberty activist.

“All of it is shocking,” Roberts told us. “If you don’t want your teenager reading this book, that’s your right as a mom — and good luck with that. But you don’t have the right to say nobody’s kid can read this book.”

This signals a new trend: Book banners are increasingly going after a wide variety of titles, including romance novels, under the guise of targeting “pornography.” That term is a very flexible one — deliberately so, it appears — and it is sweeping ever more broadly to include books that can’t be described as such in any reasonable sense.

Martin County is where 20 Jodi Picoult novels were recently pulled from school library shelves. This, too, was largely because of objections from that same Moms for Liberty activist, Julie Marshall, head of the group’s local chapter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey says Musk wasn’t an ideal leader after all, Faiz Siddiqui and Will Oremus, April 29, 2023. The former CEO issued his strongest criticism yet of Musk’s takeover of the social media site.

jack dorsey small twitterFormer Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, right, issued his sharpest criticism yet of Elon Musk’s leadership of Twitter on Friday, saying Musk has not proved to be the platform’s ideal steward — and should have walked away from buying the site.

The criticisms and explanations came in a series of reply posts Friday night on the fledgling social network Bluesky, a potential Twitter rival that Dorsey helped to start. The remarks illustrate how Musk’s erratic leadership has disillusioned a one-time friend and powerful ally, reflecting a growing backlash against a tumultuous tenure that has sent advertisers fleeing and users searching for alternatives.

Dorsey said he thought Musk, the Tesla CEO who serves in the same role at Twitter today, should have paid $1 billion to back out of the deal to acquire the social media platform. The comments are a stark reversal from Dorsey’s strong endorsement of Musk’s takeover, when he wrote a year ago that if Twitter had to be a company at all, “Elon is the singular solution I trust.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Black Va. lawmakers, NAACP demand ouster of Youngkin’s diversity chief after VMI speech, Ian Shapira, April 29, 2023. Martin D. Brown generated outrage by declaring ‘DEI is dead’ at Virginia Military Institute last week.

virginia military institute logoBlack lawmakers in Virginia’s General Assembly joined the state’s NAACP Friday in calling for the resignation of Martin D. Brown, the state’s chief diversity officer, after he blasted diversity, equity and inclusion programs in a speech at Virginia Military Institute.

State Sen. Lamont Bagby (D-Richmond), the chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, described Brown’s rhetoric as “appalling” and said that all 19 members of his group believe that he needs to leave his job at once.

The Virginia NAACP also issued a statement demanding that Brown step down immediately, citing his “erroneous assumptions” and “lack of fitness for the critically important position he occupies.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Some Colleges Offer Quotes of Competitors’ Prices. Be Wary, Ron Lieber, April 29, 2023. Schools may try to guess other campuses you’re considering and provide a list of their prices. They may not be accurate, our columnist writes.

Every year, a new crop of innocents arrive in the marketplace for an undergraduate degree. Very quickly, they get an education in some unwritten rules.

Families often don’t pay the listed rate. Schools offer website calculators that estimate what families may have to pay, but they make no guarantees. Aid seekers can’t get a real price quote until they’ve applied and been accepted.

And if a student is considering a school like Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., something strange could happen when the student both seeks the estimated cost and gets the real one after being accepted: The college will quote the prices from five competitors, even though the student didn’t ask for them. Those quotes may all be higher than Manhattanville’s, too.

These estimates come with a big disclaimer: They may be wrong. As you can imagine, some of these other schools are not thrilled with this state of affairs. So why would an institution that offers instruction in mathematics and economics put out suspect figures?

ny times logoNew York Times, An Emotional Answer Shows the Power of Reporter-Player Relationships, Sam Amick, April 29, 2023 (print ed.). Giannis Antetokounmpo was asked a simple question after the Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs. What came next sparked a philosophical discussion.

April 29

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 washington post logoWashington Post, He blew the whistle on Trump’s Truth Social. Now he works at Starbucks, Drew Harwell, April 29, 2023. “It’s an honest day’s work,” he says about the $16-an-hour job, the only work he’s found since he was fired from the Trump Media platform he helped found.

About six months ago, Will Wilkerson was the executive vice president of operations for former president Donald Trump’s media business, a co-founder of Trump’s Truth Social website and a holder of stock options that might have one day made him a millionaire.
Today, he is a certified barista trainer at a Starbucks inside a Harris Teeter grocery store, where he works 5:30 a.m. shifts in a green apron and slip-resistant shoes, making Frappuccinos for $16 an hour.

“It’s an honest day’s work,” he says, sitting near the flower kiosk of the supermarket in a North Carolina suburb, which he asked not be named due to fears of harassment. “I love what I do.”

Wilkerson, 38, has become one of the biggest threats to the Trump company’s future: a federally protected whistleblower whose attorneys say has provided 150,000 emails, contracts and other internal documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission and investigators in Florida and New York.

Wilkerson last year publicly accused Trump Media and Technology Group of violating securities laws, telling The Washington Post he could not stay silent while the company’s executives gave what he viewed as misleading information to investors, many of whom are small-time shareholders loyal to the Trump brand.

The company fired him shortly after, saying he had “concocted psychodramas” but not responding to the specifics of his claims. This month, the company’s chief executive, the former Republican congressman Devin Nunes, sued Wilkerson for defamation in a Florida circuit court, claiming he had been subjected to “anxiety,” “insecurity,” “mental anguish” and “emotional distress” as a result of Wilkerson’s comments.

April 28

ny times logoNew York Times, Hollywood, Both Frantic and Calm, Braces for Writers’ Strike, John Koblin, Brooks Barnes and Nicole Sperling, April 28, 2023. Studios have moved up deadlines for TV writers, and late-night shows are preparing to go dark. But for other parts of the industry, it’s business as usual.

With a Hollywood strike looming, there has been a frantic sprint throughout the entertainment world before 11,500 TV and movie writers potentially walk out as soon as next week.

The possibility of a television and movie writers’ strike — will they, won’t they, how could they? — has been the top conversation topic in the industry for weeks. And in recent days, there has been a notable shift: People have stopped asking one another whether a strike would take place and started to talk about duration. How long was the last one? (100 days in 2007-8.) How long was the longest one? (153 days in 1988.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Newsmax Ratings Climb After Tucker Carlson’s Exit at Fox, Michael M. Grynbaum, April 28, 2023. The niche conservative news channel is still small compared with Fox News, but its viewership has doubled and in some time slots even tripled since Tucker Carlson was dismissed.

Newsmax, the niche conservative news channel that has long played David to Fox News’s Goliath, has seized on Tucker Carlson’s shock dismissal from its rival network and declared itself the true TV home for right-wing Americans.

So far, the strategy is showing some promise.

Viewership of Newsmax remains far below that of Fox News. But its audience at certain hours has doubled, and in some time slots tripled, in the immediate aftermath of Mr. Carlson’s exit — an abrupt spike that has turned heads in conservative circles and the cable news industry.

On Monday evening, Eric Bolling’s 8 p.m. Newsmax program drew 531,000 viewers, according to Nielsen. One week earlier, it had 146,000. On Tuesday, Mr. Bolling’s audience grew to 562,000 viewers, equal to about 80 percent of Anderson Cooper’s CNN viewership that evening. Newsmax’s other prime-time shows also experienced big jumps.

The sharp rise in viewership can be timed almost to the minute of Fox News’s announcement on Monday that it was parting ways with Mr. Carlson, in part because of private messages sent by the anchor that included offensive and crude remarks.

April 27

ap logoAssociated Press, Tucker Carlson emerges on Twitter, doesn’t mention Fox News, David Bauder, April 27, 2023. Tucker Carlson emerged Wednesday, two days after Fox News fired him, with a two-minute, campaign-style monologue that didn’t address why he suddenly became unemployed.

He posted a video on Twitter shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern, the time his Fox show used to begin, that talked about a lack of honest political debate in the media.

Carlson said one of the things he noticed, “when you step away from the noise for a few days,” is how nice some people are, and how hilarious some are.

“The other thing you notice when you take a little time off is how unbelievably stupid most of the debates you see on television are,” he said. “They’re completely irrelevant. They mean nothing. In five years we won’t even remember we heard them. Trust me, as somebody who participated.”

Fox fired its most popular personality on Monday without explanation, less than a week after settling a lawsuit concerning the spread of lies about the 2020 presidential election.

fox upside down news

washington post logoWashington Post, For the Murdochs, Tucker Carlson became more trouble than he was worth, Sarah Ellison and Jeremy Barr, April 27, 2023 (print ed.). Precise reasons for the top-rated host’s dismissal remain clouded, but the move reflected a reversal for the exasperated family that once championed himTucker Carlson had dinner with his ultimate boss, Rupert Murdoch, two weeks ago in Los Angeles, and everything seemed just fine.

But according to people familiar with their conversation and Murdoch’s thinking, the 92-year-old billionaire founder of Fox News had grown weary of some of Carlson’s increasingly far-right commentary on his nightly prime-time show — as well as some of the swaggering host’s behind-the-scenes attitude.

At that particular moment, he was disturbed by Carlson’s stance on Ukraine. A graphic on Carlson’s show had referred to Volodymyr Zelensky, president of the besieged nation, as a “Ukrainian pimp,” and the host had repeatedly excoriated the U.S. government for providing aid to its defense against Russian attacks.

These stances had made Carlson a star on Russian state-controlled TV. But they had drawn furious blowback from powerful Republicans who see U.S. support for Ukraine as a bulwark in a fight for freedom and democracy — some of whom had Murdoch’s ear. After one such on-air segment in mid-March, Murdoch joined a Fox newsroom meeting to loudly challenge Carlson’s message, according to people familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of newsroom confidentiality policies.

Two days after Fox News abruptly fired its top-rated host, ambiguity still swirled around the question of how exactly Carlson, a major influencer in GOP politics, had fallen from grace so quickly within a network that soared to success by catering to conservative audiences.

But interviews with people inside Fox or close to the situation made it clear that the decision rested with the powerful family that controls the company, who finally determined that Carlson was more trouble than he was worth.

Where can Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon go now?

When Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott called Carlson on Monday morning to tell him he would be “parting ways” with the network, the host repeatedly asked why, according to people familiar with the conversation. Scott would only tell him that the decision came “from above” — meaning Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan, CEO of Fox Corp.

Scott and Lachlan Murdoch had made the decision to fire Carlson on Friday evening, and Lachlan spoke to his father about it on Saturday, according to two people familiar with the discussion. The decision also came after months of tension and complaints within Fox about Carlson’s lack of respect for Fox’s upper ranks.

Related Media News

April 25

ny times logoNew York Times, Updates: Fox News Parts Ways With Tucker Carlson Days After Dominion Settlement, Jeremy W. Peters, Katie Robertson and Michael M. Grynbaum, April 25, 2023 (print ed.). The announcement came less than a week after the network agreed to pay $787.5 million in a defamation lawsuit in which Mr. Carlson’s show, one of the highest rated on Fox, figured prominently. He was said to be surprised by the move.

Here is the latest on Tucker Carlson’s departure from Fox News.

April 24



fox upside down news

Axios, Tucker Carlson out at Fox News, Sara Fischer, April 24, 2023. Fox News on Monday said the network and its star primetime host Tucker Carlson "have agreed to part ways," after more than a decade, 

axios logoDriving the news: Carlson's last program was Friday April 21st, Fox News said, meaning Carlson did not get a chance to sign off to his viewers.

Why it matters: The news comes days after Fox News reached a historic 11th hour settlement with Dominion Voting Systems for over $787 million.

dominion voting systemsDetails: "Fox News Tonight will air live at 8 PM/ET starting this evening as an interim show helmed by rotating FOX News personalities until a new host is named," Fox News said in a statement.

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The Warning with Steve Schmidt, Steve Schmidt reacts to Tucker Carlson parting ways with Fox News, Steve Schmidt (former top GOP strategist, shown above), April 24, 2023. Steve Schmidt reacts to the news that Fox News Corp has parted ways with one of their biggest liars, Tucker Carlson.

Steve breaks down how Carlson’s eight o’clock hour has been an abomination filled with lies and hate for years, and is solely responsible for mainstreaming the fascist ideology of replacement theory. He goes on to say that while it is a good thing that Tucker is gone, this doesn’t change the fact that Fox News is an incredible danger to America and whoever fills Carlson’s slot, will continue to lie to the American people.


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ny times logoNew York Times, What Tucker Carlson Leaves Behind as He Is Shown the Door, Nicholas Confessore, April 24, 2023. In the days after the 2020 election, the Fox host Tucker Carlson sent an anxious text message to one of his producers. Fox viewers were furious about the network’s decision to call Arizona for Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The defeated president, Donald J. Trump, was eagerly stoking their anger. As Mr. Carlson and his producer batted around ideas for a new Carlson podcast — one that might help win back the audience most angry about Mr. Trump’s defeat — they saw both opportunity and peril in the moment.

“He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong,” Mr. Carlson warned, in a text released during Fox’s now-settled litigation with the voting software company Dominion.

Mr. Carlson proved prophetic, if not entirely in the way he had predicted. His nearly six-year reign in prime-time cable came to a sudden end on Monday, as Fox abruptly cut ties with the host, thanking him in a terse news release “for his service to the network.”

And while the exact circumstances of his departure remained hazy on Monday evening, the dismissal comes amid a series of high-stakes — and already high-priced — legal battles emanating from Fox’s postelection campaign to placate Mr. Trump’s base and win back viewers who believed that his defeat was a sham.

Mr. Carlson’s departure upended Fox’s lucrative prime-time lineup and shocked a media world far more accustomed to his remarkable staying power. Over his years at Fox, the host had proved capable of withstanding controversy after controversy.

The network stuck by him — as did Lachlan Murdoch, chief executive of the Fox Corporation — after Mr. Carlson claimed that immigration had made America “poor and dirtier.” He seemed to shrug off his on-air popularization of a racist conspiracy theory known as the “great replacement,” along with revelations that he was a prodigious airer of the company’s own dirty laundry. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Mr. Carlson’s show frequently promoted the Kremlin’s point of view, attacking U.S. sanctions and blaming the conflict on American designs for expanding NATO.

The drought of premium advertisers on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” — driven away by boycotts targeting his more racist and inflammatory segments — did not seem to dent his standing within the network, so long as the audience stuck around. Disdainful of the cable network’s top executives, Mr. Carlson cultivated the impression that he was close to the Murdoch family and, perhaps, untouchable.

Mr. Carlson’s rise as a populist pundit and media figure prefigured Mr. Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party: His own conversion from bow-tied libertarian to vengeful populist traced the nativist insurgency that fractured and remade the party during the Obama years. But he prospered in tandem with Mr. Trump’s presidency, as the New York real estate tycoon made frank nativism and seething cultural resentment the primary touchstones of conservative politics.

The host’s abrupt dismissal upends Fox News’s prime-time lineup — and the carefully honed impression that the ratings star was all but untouchable.

Politico, CNN ousts host Don Lemon, who responds with fiery tweet: “I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated. I am stunned," Lemon politico Customwrote, Matt Berg, April 24, 2023. Host Don Lemon has been fired by CNN, he announced Monday afternoon.

“I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated. I am stunned,” Lemon wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.

don lemon wHe had worked at the outlet for 17 years, and said he believed “that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly.”

“At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network. It is clear that there are some larger issues at play,” he wrote.

Shortly after Lemon’s announcement, CNN characterized the situation as the company having “parted ways” with the host.

cnn logo“Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions,” the company tweeted. “We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.”

CNN then pushed back on the host’s statement, calling his claims “inaccurate.” Instead of being fired without warning, the company tweeted that Lemon was “offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”

The high-profile departure comes just after Fox News announced that host Tucker Carlson was leaving the outlet. It’s a major shift for both companies, as they lose two of the most popular hosts on cable television.

Politico, Russian propagandist says U.S. media ‘lost its last remaining voice of reason’ after Carlson exit, Kierra Frazier, April 24, 2023. “We’ll happily offer you a job if you wish to carry on as a presenter and host!” Russian state TV anchor Vladimir Solovyov said.

politico CustomA prominent anchor on Russian state TV said on Monday that the U.S. mainstream media had “lost its last remaining voice of reason” after Fox host Tucker Carlson abruptly left the network.

In an email to Carlson posted to Telegram, Vladimir Solovyov, an anchor on Russia-1, said he “wholeheartedly” supported Carlson’s decision.

Russian Flag“You have our admiration and support in any endeavor you choose for yourself next, be it running for president of the United States (which you probably should totally do, by the way) or making an independent media project,” Solovyov said. “We’ll happily offer you a job if you wish to carry on as a presenter and host!”

Solovyov is one of the most influential propagandists in Russia. He has been an anchor on the television show “Evening with Vladimir Solovyov” on Russia-1 since 2012. In March 2022, YouTube blocked Solovyov’s channels for violating the company’s “incitement to violence” rules.

Carlson has become a frequent reference for Russian media, along with other Fox News hosts, for defending Russia in its war on Ukraine.

Forbes Breaking News, Brian Stelter Reacts To Tucker Carlson, Don Lemon Departures, April 24, 2023. Vanity Fair columnist Brian Stelter joins "Forbes Newsroom" to respond to the departures of Tucker Carlson from Fox News and Don Lemon from CNN.

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washington post logoWashington Post, NBCUniversal CEO departs after ‘inappropriate relationship,’ Anumita Kaur, April 24, 2023 (print ed.). NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell will leave the company “effective immediately” following an investigation into a complaint of inappropriate conduct, Comcast announced Sunday.

“Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal. I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret,” Shell, shown in a 2013 photo, said in a jeff shell 2013statement Sunday. “I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege.”

An outside law firm conducted the investigation, and Shell’s departure was mutually agreed upon, the company stated. Comcast is NBCUniversal’s parent company.

comcast logoIn a memo to employees, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and Comcast President Mike Cavanagh stated that they were “disappointed to share this news.”

“We built this company on a culture of integrity. Nothing is more important than how we treat each other. You should count on your leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace,” Roberts and Cavanagh stated. “When our principles are violated, we will always move quickly to take appropriate action, as we have done here.”

nbc logoThey added that NBCUniversal “is performing extremely well operationally and financially.”

Comcast did not name Shell’s successor and did not immediately respond to The Washington Post for comment. Cavanagh will head Shell’s team — and NBCUniversal — in the interim, the company’s internal memo stated.

Shell was named NBCUniversal CEO in 2020, where he pushed forward the company’s streaming service Peacock and oversaw the media giant’s vast portfolio, including its news and entertainment TV networks, film studio and theme parks.

washington post logoWashington Post, Their voices are their livelihood. Now AI could take it away, Pranshu Verma, April 24, 2023. Advances in generative AI — technology that forms texts, images or sounds — has allowed software to recreate people’s voices with eerie precision.

Companies clamor to use Remie Michelle Clarke’s voice. An award-winning vocal artist, her smooth, Irish accent backs ads for Mazda and Mastercard and is the sound of Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, in Ireland.

But in January, her sound engineer told Michelle Clarke he’d found a voice that sounded uncannily like hers someplace unexpected: on, credited to a woman named “Olivia.” For a modest monthly fee, Revoicer customers can access hundreds of different voices and, through an artificial intelligence-backed tool, morph them to say anything — to voice commercials, recite corporate trainings or narrate books.

April 22

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Politico Magazine, Elon Musk Figured Out the Media’s Biggest Weakness, Jack Shafer. April 22, 2023.  Why do reporters and editors continue to treat Elon Musk's every gesture from the grandstand as worthy of coverage? 

politico CustomNobody says, “Hey, look at me!” with an authority and confidence to match that of Elon Musk, above. Not the Kardashians, not Donald Trump, and not even Marjorie Taylor Greene when she sees a camera following her. Like clockwork, Musk feeds a compulsion to work himself in the daily news cycle with a tweet, a threat, a product promise, a media interview or a stunt like smoking dope on Joe Rogan’s show.

This week alone, Musk earned headlines for vowing to sue Microsoft, for talking to the BBC about the “painful” part of running Twitter, for promising to compete with ChatGPT by creating his own AI platform, for attaching the “government-funded media” label to NPR, BBC and CBC’s accounts and then dropping it, for claiming Twitter is “roughly breaking even,” for telling Tucker Carlson birth control will lead to the “end of civilization,” for sharing his views on violent crime in San Francisco and for anointing his dog the CEO of Twitter.

As Elon Musk media weeks go, it was a light one. But it illustrates his strategy, almost certainly calculated, to hog our newsfeeds by quipping and provoking those around him, by making promises or predictions, and by lofting crude insults or weird theories. In a free country, there’s no law against being a dork or a fantasist of the Musk type, so we can’t ride him too hard for his incitements. And given his status as one of the world’s richest men, he probably deserves at twitter bird Customleast some of the outsize attention he draws from the press. But factoring all of that in, why do reporters and editors continue to treat his every gesture from the grandstand as worthy of paper and ink, airtime and Internet pixels? Why has the press become such a willing accomplice in his narcissism?

A vapor trail of broken Musk promises and failed predictions, all of which became news stories, have been documented by the website. tter.

This column suggested late last year that journalists wean themselves from the Musk habit. But instead of giving the once-over twice to his antics, the press corps has further devoted itself to his promotion. He offers reporters table scraps. They turn it into a banquet. He picks a petty fight. They report it as if it were a global war. He’s got the media machine’s number, and keeps pressing it.

Here’s how it works: Too many editors are eager to assign an easy-to-assemble story from the components of a Musk prediction, threat or stunt. And readers seem to love the copy. It’s Musk-press synergy all the way down.

tesla logoWhat’s in it for Musk? He has long disdained advertising, believing that the unearned media of a stunt (or the quality of a great product) is advertising enough. According to Ashley Vance’s book, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, Musk ordered his Tesla staff to produce at least one barnburner of a public relations announcement a week to stimulate interest in the company’s cars. But in a 2021 court appearance, Musk made transparent how he keeps playing the press. “If we are entertaining, then people will write stories about us, and then we don’t have to spend money on advertising that would increase the price of our products,” he said.



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ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Has Held the Fewest News Conferences Since Reagan. Any Questions? Michael D. Shear, April 22, 2023. As President Biden prepares to announce his bid for a second term, his decision to keep the news media at arm’s length is part of a deliberate strategy.

In the 100 years since Calvin Coolidge took office, only Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan held as few news conferences each year as the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Traveling in Ireland last week, President Biden abandoned the decades-old tradition of holding a news conference while abroad. On Thursday, President Gustavo Petro of Colombia met with Mr. Biden, but the two did not hold a news conference together, another practice of his predecessors that Mr. Biden has frequently chosen to skip. After the meeting, Mr. Petro took questions from reporters — alone — at microphones in front of the West Wing.

And despite his press secretary pledging that Mr. Biden would “bring transparency and truth back to the government,” the president has granted the fewest interviews since Mr. Reagan was president: only 54. (Donald J. Trump gave 202 during the first two years of his presidency; Barack Obama gave 275.)

More than any president in recent memory, Mr. Biden, 80, has taken steps to reduce opportunities for journalists to question him in forums where he can offer unscripted answers and they can follow up. The result, critics say, is a president who has fewer moments of public accountability for his comments, decisions and actions.

Mr. Biden has not accused the news media of being “the enemy of the people,” as his predecessor did during four years in which news organizations documented thousands of lies by Mr. Trump.

But as Mr. Biden prepares to announce his bid for a second term as soon as Tuesday, he is accelerating the demise of traditions that have underpinned the relationship with the news media for decades. The president’s strategy of keeping the press at arm’s length is a bet that he can sidestep those traditions in a new media environment. And it is public evidence that Mr. Biden’s political strategists want to protect him from the unscripted exchanges that have often resulted in missteps and criticism.

White House officials do not dispute their different approach. They say it is part of a deliberate strategy to go around the traditional news media to connect with audiences “where they are,” without being subjected to the filter of political or investigative journalists.

“Our ultimate goal is to reach the American people wherever and however they consume media, and that’s not just through the briefing room or Washington-based news outlets,” said Ben LaBolt, the White House communications director. “The fracturing of the media and the changing nature of information consumption requires a communications strategy that adapts to reach Americans where they get the news.”


disney world mickey mouse facebook

washington post logoWashington Post, Disney parks ban costumes for adults. These fans have a way around it, Hannah Sampson, April 22, 2023 (print ed.). Disneybounding allows adult fans to channel their inner character with everyday clothes and accessories.

For a subset of Disney superfans, preparing for a day at the theme parks means asking, “what would Snow White wear?”

disney logoOr maybe Donald Duck. Or Tiana from “The Princess and the Frog.” Or the iconic Haunted Mansion ride. Or even a theme park garbage can.

Welcome to the creative, color-blocking, accessory-rich world of Disneybounding, a practice that allows Disney adults to channel their favorite characters, experiences or objects without running afoul of the company’s no-costume rules for grownups. Outfits are inspired by characters but use everyday clothes.

Disney parks don’t allow costumes or masks for anyone 14 or older, except at certain special events. Because the company has its own costumed characters that interact with guests, it doesn’t want those likenesses to be misrepresented.

“It’s a fun way to, as an adult, have a similar interaction to what a kid would have when they’re in their costumes,” said Leslie Kay, who coined the DisneyBound term, runs sites devoted to the practice and wrote a book on the topic that was published by Disney in 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Belgian customs destroy 2,352 Miller High Life cans over ‘Champagne’ label, Emily Heil, April 22, 2023. The organization tasked with protecting champagne is not pleased with the American brand’s claim of being the “Champagne of Beers.”

April 21


smithsonian view

washington post logoWashington Post, A new Smithsonian boss settled multiple employee retaliation lawsuits, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Thomas Floyd, April 21, 2023 (print ed.). When the Smithsonian Institution (shown above in a file photo) announced in March the selection of Nancy Yao to be the founding director of the new American Women’s History Museum planned for a prestige locale on the National Mall or alongside the Tidal Basin, the timing seemed apt: It was national Women’s History Month.

But, in some corners of the museum world, the choice of Yao has evoked uncomfortable echoes of a recent and traumatic period in the history of American women: the national reckoning over sexual harassment brought on by the #MeToo movement. In the year and a half before Yao’s selection, the history and culture institution where she served as president — the Museum of Chinese in America, commonly known as MOCA — has settled three wrongful termination lawsuits stemming from alleged incidents during her tenure.

The lawsuits were filed by former employees who said they were fired in retaliation for reporting alleged sexual harassment on behalf of young female staffers at the museum. The two men who were accused internally of harassment kept their jobs; one was later promoted by Yao.

Poynter, BuzzFeed shuts down Pulitzer Prize-winning newsroom, lays off 180 staff across the company, Angela Fu, April 21, 2023 (print ed.). BuzzFeed will concentrate its news efforts on HuffPost, CEO Jonah Peretti said.

After 11 years of high-profile scoops and multiple nods from the Pulitzer Prizes, BuzzFeed News will close, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti announced Thursday.

The company will also lay off roughly 15% of its total workforce, representing approximately 180 people. Peretti shared the news in a memo to staff, stating that the cuts will affect nearly every division of the company and are a consequence of recent financial challenges.

“We’ve faced more challenges than I can count in the past few years: a pandemic, a fading SPAC market that yielded less capital, a tech recession, a tough economy, a declining stock market, a decelerating digital advertising market and ongoing audience and platform shifts,” Peretti wrote.

BuzzFeed will concentrate its newsgathering efforts on HuffPost, Peretti wrote. (BuzzFeed acquired HuffPost from Verizon Media in 2020). Unlike BuzzFeed News, HuffPost is profitable, thanks to a “highly engaged, loyal audience” that is not as dependent on social platforms, he wrote. HuffPost and will open some roles to BuzzFeed News employees.Politico, Teachers union chief hires seasoned lawyer ahead of Hill testimony

Politico, Teachers union chief hires seasoned lawyer ahead of Hill testimony, Juan Perez Jr., April 21, 2023 (print ed.). The American Federation of Teachers president has retained a top white-collar defense attorney ahead of her scheduled testimony on school closures during the height of the Covid-19 crisis to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic next week.

politico CustomWeingarten is taking a swipe at the panel’s Republicans ahead of an all-but-assured grilling from conservatives looking to probe the union’s alleged influence over federal disease-mitigation guidelines the GOP blames for closing schools.

She’s turned to Michael Bromwich, senior counsel at the white shoe Steptoe law firm, for help.

“It is undeniable that the pandemic resulted in tragic and continuing consequences for children,” Bromwich wrote on the union’s behalf Wednesday to subcommittee chair Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) and ranking member Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.).

U.S. House logo“We make no progress towards addressing those very real problems by engaging in the type of scapegoating built on false allegations that appear to be the basis for this Subcommittee’s ‘investigation,’” Bromwich wrote in his letter to lawmakers, which was obtained by POLITICO.

Bromwich is widely known in Washington for his work representing former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe during the Trump-Russia investigation and Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who alleged she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

A former Justice Department inspector general, Bromwich has garnered a reputation as a pugnacious defender. His message to congressional Republicans on Wednesday suggests he will deploy a similar strategy.

Earlier this month, Wenstrup asked Weingarten to testify at an April 26 hearing on the consequences of Covid-19’s school closures.

That request followed a March 28 letter from Wenstrup to Weingarten, which informed the teachers’ union chief that the select committee was investigating “potential political interference” with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on reopening schools issued in February 2021.

Wenstrup’s March 28 letter alleged the union was granted “uncommon” access to edit the guidance before its release, citing media reports at the time, which it said ultimately resulted in the CDC advising that schools should remain closed in much of the country.

  • The Legal Breakdown, Fox faces BOMBSHELL new threat, could leave network BANKRUPT, Brian Tyler Cohen, April 20, 2023. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Barbara Lynch, a Leading Boston Restaurateur, Is Accused of Workplace Abuse, Julia Moskin, April 21, 2023 (print ed.). The chef has spoken out against sexism and abuse, but many former cooks and staff members say she has verbally and physically harassed workers for decades.

During her 25 years as one of Boston’s most acclaimed chefs and one of the most renowned restaurateurs in the country, Barbara Lynch has told and retold her origin story: how she rose above her poor and violent childhood in South Boston, and fought sexism as a line cook to reach the top of her profession.

So on March 15, when she gathered two dozen employees of Menton, the most prestigious of her seven establishments, for a meeting after dinner service, they were hoping for support and inspiration.

But instead of support, Ms. Lynch — who several employees said had been drinking beforehand in the restaurant’s private dining room — delivered outrage and self-pity, in an expletive-laced confrontation that one employee recorded and shared with The New York Times.

April 20

ny times logoNew York Times, After Fox Settlement, Assault on Media Protections Is Likely to Continue, David Enrich, April 20, 2023 (print ed.). Those who argue that the news media should pay a steeper price for mistakes are pushing to have a landmark Supreme Court ruling overturned.

fox news cultThe last-minute settlement of Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit against Fox News defused a high-stakes test of the First Amendment protections afforded to the media. But more challenges are likely on the horizon.

Nearly 60 years after the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in New York Times v. Sullivan, which made it harder for public figures to win libel cases against the media, the landmark ruling is under sustained assault from judges, politicians and lawyers, most but not all of them conservatives.

The Dominion lawsuit, in which the voting machine company sought $1.6 billion in damages from Fox News for spreading falsehoods about Dominion’s role in the 2020 elections, had the potential to reshape the debate.

If Fox News lost, a powerful news organization faced the prospect of record-breaking damages. But a victory for the cable news network would have raised questions — even among lawyers who represent the news media — about whether federal courts’ interpretations of the First Amendment made it impossible to hold anyone accountable for reckless and damaging lies.

It’s not a coincidence that a founder of one of the law firms that represented Dominion is leading a campaign to get the Supreme Court to overturn its decision in Sullivan.

Elizabeth M. Locke, a founding partner at Clare Locke, a defamation law firm that represented Dominion in its lawsuit against Fox News, has emerged as one of the most vocal advocates for overturning the Sullivan ruling.

“It’s virtually impossible to bring and win one of these cases,” Ms. Locke said this year. The media “have complete immunity from liability.” (In fact, Ms. Locke’s law firm and others have recently secured multimillion-dollar jury verdicts for public figures suing the media for defamation.)

Ms. Locke was speaking at a televised event that Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida hosted to build support for reversing Sullivan.

Mr. DeSantis has pushed the State Legislature to curtail legal protections for the media, which some experts regard as an attempt to trigger litigation that would give the Supreme Court an opportunity to reconsider Sullivan.

April 19


netflix logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Netflix Will End Its DVD Service, 5.2 Billion Discs Later, Nicole Sperling, April 19, 2023 (print ed.). Sending movies through the mail, in recognizable red-and-white envelopes, helped the company become a behemoth in Hollywood.

After 25 years, Netflix is ending its DVD-by-mail business.

Before it was upending the entertainment industry and ushering in the streaming era, Netflix was a company whose business model revolved around sending DVDs through the mail in easily recognizable red-and-white envelopes. At its peak, in 2010, roughly 20 million subscribed to the DVD service. But the practice has long felt anachronistic, and the company said on Tuesday that it will ship its final DVDs to customers on Sept. 29.

How many customers? Netflix doesn’t break out those numbers anymore. But whoever they are, it’s time for them to dust off any DVDs they might have lying around and send their red envelopes back to Los Gatos, Calif., where they can be retired to the landfills for good.

“Those iconic red envelopes changed the way people watched shows and movies at home — and they paved the way for the shift to streaming,” the company’s co-chief executive Ted Sarandos said in a letter. “To everyone who ever added a DVD to their queue or waited by the mailbox for a red envelope to arrive: thank you.”

April 18

 fox upside down news

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Fox News Is on Trial, and So Are Falsehoods About 2020, Jeremy W. Peters, April 17, 2023 (print ed.). A jury in Delaware will be asked to weigh the limits of the First Amendment. Another question is whether Fox will pay a financial penalty over election lies.

fox news logo SmallOn Monday, a judge in Delaware Superior Court (Judge Eric M. Davis, right) is expected to swear in the jury in a defamation trial that has little precedent in American law. Fox News, one of the most powerful and profitable media companies, will defend itself against extensive evidence suggesting it told its audience a story of conspiracy and fraud in the 2020 election it eric davisknew wasn’t true.

The jury will be asked to weigh lofty questions about the limits of the First Amendment and to consider imposing a huge financial penalty against Fox. Some of the most influential names in conservative media — Rupert Murdoch, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson — are expected to be called to testify. But there is another fundamental question the case raises: Will there be a price to pay for profiting from the spread of misinformation?

dominion voting systemsFew people have been held legally accountable for their roles in trying to delegitimize President Biden’s victory. Sidney Powell, a lawyer who was one of the biggest purveyors of conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems, the company suing Fox for $1.6 billion, avoided disbarment in Texas after a judge dismissed a complaint against her in February.

jenna ellis cropped screenshotJenna Ellis, right, an attorney who worked with Ms. Powell and the Trump campaign, received a reprimand last month instead of losing her license with the Colorado bar. Donald J. Trump, whose false insistence that he was cheated of victory incited a violent mob on Jan. 6, 2021, is running for president a third time and remains the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination.

Political misinformation has become so pervasive in part because, there is little the government can do to stop it.

andrew weissmann cropped“Lying to American voters is not actually actionable,” said Andrew Weissmann, right, the former general counsel of the F.B.I. who was a senior member of the special counsel team under Robert S. Mueller that looked into Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign.

It’s a quirk of American law that most lies — even ones that destabilize the nation, told by people with enormous power and reach — can’t be prosecuted. Charges can be brought only in limited circumstances, such as if a business executive lies to shareholders or an individual lies to the F.B.I. Politicians can be charged if they lie about a campaign contribution, which is the essence of the criminal case against Mr. Trump by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.


Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

washington post logoWashington Post, Dominion v. Fox trial delayed for settlement talks, people familiar with the matter say, Rosalind S. Helderman, Sarah Ellison and Jeremy Barr, April 17, 2023 (print ed.). Two people familiar with the case said the sides are scheduled to meet Monday to determine if a last-minute deal can be brokered.

dominion voting systemsThe beginning of the much-anticipated defamation case between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News has been delayed by one day, until Tuesday, to allow both parties to hold conversations about the possibility of a settlement, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.

No reason was officially given for the delay, which was announced Sunday evening by the judge overseeing the case. Jury selection had been scheduled to conclude on Monday and then both sides were expected to give opening statements, kicking off a weeks-long trial. Voting technology company Dominion filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the network alleging that Fox guests and hosts defamed the company and severely damaged its business by connecting it to a plot to fraudulently steal the 2020 presidential election.

In a statement provided by a public information officer on Sunday night, Judge Eric M. Davis of Delaware Superior Court said only that he would make an announcement on Monday morning delaying proceedings by 24 hours. But two people familiar with the case said the two sides are scheduled to meet Monday to determine if a last-minute deal to avoid trial could be brokered. One of the people said the judge had asked the parties to make a final effort to settle the issue before proceeding with a trial.

The two people spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose sensitive information. Spokespeople for Dominion and for Fox News’s parent company, Fox Corp., declined to comment.

Big questions loom in the Dominion vs. Fox defamation case

Late settlement talks were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which, like Fox News, is controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s family.

Fox and Dominion engaged in a round of mediation in December 2022 but were unable to reach a settlement agreement at that time, the court has previously said.

In the weeks leading up to the start of the trial, Davis issued adverse rulings for Fox, constraining its legal strategy. For one, Davis ruled that Fox cannot contest that the statements it aired about Dominion were false and harmful to the company. Instead, the trial will hinge on whether Fox aired the falsehoods with “actual malice” — that is, with knowledge the statements were false or without regard to their truth or falsehood. Plaintiffs must establish that a defendant acted with actual malice to prove a libel or defamation claim under a nearly 60-year-old standard established by the Supreme Court.

Fox also faces a potentially challenging jury pool. The trial is scheduled to be held in Delaware, where Dominion is incorporated. Therefore, jurors will be drawn from among the state’s electorate, which voted overwhelmingly in the 2020 presidential election for Joe Biden, one of the state’s most popular politicians.

A settlement could help Fox avoid several weeks of potentially embarrassing courtroom testimony from some of its biggest stars. Possible witnesses include popular Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Maria Bartiromo and Sean Hannity as well as Rupert Murdoch, the 92-year-old chairman and chief executive of Fox Corp.

 media matters logo

Media Matters for America, Rep. Paul Gosar promotes pro-Hitler and Holocaust-denying site after it praised him for attacking “Jewish warmongers,” Eric Hananoki, April 17-18, 2023. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) used his newsletter to direct people to a story posted on a Holocaust-denier website that praised him for attacking “Jewish warmongers” for their support of Ukraine.

paul gosarGosar, right, was promoting Veterans Today, an antisemitic website that has called the Holocaust a “lie” and a “hoax” and praised Hitler as a “great man” and “a man of valor.”

Gosar’s promotion of Veterans Today is another chapter in his extensive book of antisemitic associations. He has embraced Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes; praised Holocaust denier Vincent James Foxx and promoted his work (including in his newsletter); and defended and praised social media platform Gab and its CEO, Andrew Torba.

Gosar releases a weekly newsletter which includes a section about “Gosar in the News and Other Must-Read Stories.” His April 16 newsletter included a link to a February 26 Veterans Today post by senior editor Jonas E. Alexis that has the headline “Congressman: Jewish warmongers Nuland & Blinken ‘Are Dangerous Fools Who Can Get Us All Killed.’” (Gosar’s newsletter omitted the word “Jewish" before warmongers from its link description.) The Veterans Today article is actually a repost of an article by the Kremlin-funded Sputnik that did not carry the “Jewish warmongers” descriptor.

Gosar is sending readers to an antisemitic site that frequently publishes content denying the Holocaust. For instance, Veterans Today posted an article titled “Who Really Wanted the Holocaust? (Not the Nazis!)” which claimed to “document why it was that the Nazis did not want the Holocaust and why, instead, Jewish Zionists did” and another piece -- since deleted -- which claimed that “the Holocaust was in fact a (Big Zionist) Jew on (Little non-Zionist) Jew False Flag operation.” It also reposted a piece by neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin with the headline “Malignant Jew Goofball Dennis Prager Says You’re Going to Hell If You Don’t Believe His Ridiculous Gas Chamber Hoax.”

Veterans Today has published pro-Hitler propaganda. One piece (“A Defense of Hitler as a Heroic War Veteran?”) called Hitler “a man of valor” and “a great man.” Another stated that while Hitler “intended to save humankind, instead, he has been vilified with the epithet of being the most hated man—and most evil ruler—in human history.“

Jonas E. Alexis, whose byline is on the post that Gosar promoted, has a history of antisemitism. His prior articles include:

  • “The six-million figure: another holocaust lie and the lying liars who enable it”;
  • “Why Not Question ‘the Holocaust’ in Schools?”t.”

In 2017, Politico reported that Veterans Today is connected to Kremlin propaganda and that “the site has consistently published articles that push the Kremlin party line.”

House Republicans reinstated Gosar to committee assignments after he was removed in the prior Congress for posting an anime video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

ny times logoNew York Times, Hollywood Writers Approve of Strike as Shutdown Looms, John Koblin and Brooks Barnes, April 18, 2023 (print ed.). The writers have not gone on strike in 15 years, and the vote gives their unions the right to call for a walkout when their contract expires on May 1.

Hollywood is getting ever closer to a shutdown.

The unions representing thousands of television and movie writers said on Monday that they had overwhelming support for a strike, giving union leaders the right to call for a walkout when the writers’ contract with the major Hollywood studios expires on May 1.

The unions, which are affiliated East and West Coast branches of the Writers Guild of America, said more than 9,000 writers had approved a strike authorization, with 98 percent of the vote.

W.G.A. leaders have said this is an “existential” moment for writers, contending that compensation has stagnated over the last decade despite the explosion of television series in the streaming era. In an email last week to writers, the lead negotiators said that “the survival of writing as a profession is at stake in this negotiation.”

With two weeks to go before the contract expires, there has been little sign of progress in the talks. In the email, the negotiating committee said the studios “have failed to offer meaningful responses on the core economic issues” and offered only small concessions in a few areas.

April 17

washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: Russians boasted that just 1% of fake social profiles are caught, leak shows, Joseph Menn, April 17, 2023 (print ed.). An analysis of Russia’s effectiveness at boosting propaganda on social media platforms is part of a trove of documents recently leaked on the chat app Discord.

Russian FlagThe Russian government has become far more successful at manipulating social media and search engine rankings than previously known, boosting lies about Ukraine’s military and the side effects of vaccines with hundreds of thousands of fake online accounts, according to documents recently leaked on the chat app Discord.

The Russian operators of those accounts boast that they are detected by social networks only about 1 percent of the time, one document says.

meta logoThat claim, described here for the first time, drew alarm from former government officials and experts inside and outside social media companies contacted for this article.

“Google and Meta and others are trying to stop this, and Russia is trying to get better. The figure that you are citing suggests that Russia is winning,” said Thomas Rid, a disinformation scholar and professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

The undated analysis of Russia’s effectiveness at boosting propaganda on Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Telegram and other social media platforms cites activity in late 2022 and was apparently presented twitter bird Customto U.S. military leaders in recent months. It is part of a trove of documents circulated in a Discord chatroom and obtained by The Washington Post. Air National Guard technician Jack Teixeira was charged Friday with taking and transmitting the classified papers, charges for which he faces 15 years in prison.

elon musk 2015The revelations about Russia’s improved misinformation abilities come as Twitter owner Elon Musk, right, and some Republicans in Congress have accused the federal government of colluding with the tech companies to suppress right-wing and independent views by painting too many accounts as Russian attempts at foreign influence. A board set up to coordinate U.S. government policy on disinformation was disbanded last year after questions were raised about its purpose and a coordinated campaign aimed at the person who had been selected to lead it.

Twitter employees also say they worry that Musk’s cutbacks have hurt the platform’s ability to fight influence operations. Propaganda campaigns and hate speech have increased since Musk took over the site in October, according to employees and outside researchers. Russian misinformation promoters even bought Musk’s new blue-check verifications.

Many of the 10 current and former intelligence and tech safety specialists interviewed for this article cautioned that the Russian agency whose claims helped form the basis for the leaked document may have exaggerated its success rate.


Tik Tok CEO Shou Zi  Chew (Reuters Photo by Evelyn Hockstein).

Tik Tok CEO Shou Zi Chew (Reuters Photo by Evelyn Hockstein during testimony on March 23, 2023, above, and in file photos below).

shou zi chew

washington post logoWashington Post, The Discord Leaks Analysis: Discord leak suggests China doesn’t need TikTok to find U.S. secrets, Will Oremus, April 17, 2023 (print ed.). The leak of classified documents via U.S.-based app Discord is a reminder that social media is hard to control.

On March 23, lawmakers crowded into a packed Capitol hearing room to harangue the CEO of the social app TikTok about the company’s Chinese ownership and the risks it posed to U.S. national security. Months earlier, President Biden had signed a bill banning TikTok from federal employees’ devices, to prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

China FlagWhat the members of Congress didn’t know was that state secrets had been trickling out for months on social media and were beginning to circulate in ever-wider online forums — not on TikTok, but on U.S.-owned Discord. In the two weeks after the TikTok hearing, those classified documents would make their way into public view on U.S.-owned Twitter — and remain there for days, as owner Elon Musk mocked the idea that he ought to remove them.

The leaks, which included assessments of the Ukraine war and revelations of U.S. spying, didn’t stem from any foreign adversary’s sinister plot. Rather, they appear to have stemmed from a 21-year-old U.S. National Guard member’s desire to impress his online pals.

The Discord document dump is the latest in a colorful 21st-century tradition of secrets spilled online, from WikiLeaks’ earliest uploads to Russian operatives’ dnc square logohack of the Democratic National Committee. At a time when swaths of the U.S. government are fixated on Chinese spycraft, it serves as a reminder that information leaks in the internet age can come from just about anywhere — a risk the U.S. government has generally accepted as a price of free speech, said Anumpam Chander, a law professor at Georgetown University and an expert on technology regulations.

“The internet was never designed with national security at its heart,” Chander said. “It’s inherently vulnerable.”

The hypothetical threats posed by TikTok’s Chinese ownership aren’t about leaked classified documents. They include fears that China’s government might demand or covertly gain access to data on the app’s American users, or persuade the company to secretly manipulate its algorithms in ways that promote or suppress certain ideas. In particular, the ban of TikTok from government devices is meant to guard against the possibility that Chinese Communist Party members or officials could gain access to the personal data of U.S. officials.

There’s no hard evidence that any of those things have happened. Both the Chinese government and TikTok insist they never will, and TikTok has taken unusual steps to limit the exposure of Americans’ data, such as not tracking their precise location using GPS, as countless other mobile apps routinely do. And the Pentagon has official guidance for troops on how to use TikTok safely.

Still, the theoretical possibility has sparked bipartisan furor in Washington. Not content with the government devices ban, some congressional Republicans and Democrats, and the Biden administration, are scrambling for a legal basis on which to ban the app altogether. One approach would give the secretary of commerce special powers to crack down not just on TikTok, but also on whole categories of apps whose parent companies are based in countries designated as “foreign adversaries.”

The fears are understandable. China is known to spy. Barriers between Chinese companies and the Chinese government are flimsy. And President Xi Jinping has put the screws to tech firms in the past.

Russians boasted that just 1% of fake social profiles are caught, leak shows

Why a 21-year-old had a top-secret security clearance

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Kids Can’t Read’: The Revolt That Is Taking on the Education Establishment, Sarah Mervosh, April 17, 2023 (print ed.). Fed up parents, civil rights activists, newly awakened educators and lawmakers are crusading for “the science of reading.” Can they get results?

In suburban Houston, parents rose up against a top-rated school district, demanding an entirely new reading curriculum.

At an elementary school in Hutchinson, Minn., a veteran teacher is crusading for reform, haunted by the fear that, for 28 years, she failed children because she was not trained in the cognitive science behind reading.

And Ohio may become the latest state to overhaul reading instruction, under a plan by Gov. Mike DeWine.

“The evidence is clear,” Mr. DeWine said. “The verdict is in.”

A revolt over how children are taught to read, steadily building for years, is now sweeping school board meetings and statehouses around the country.

The movement, under the banner of “the science of reading,” is targeting the education establishment: school districts, literacy gurus, publishers and colleges of education, which critics say have failed to embrace the cognitive science of how children learn to read.

Research shows that most children need systematic, sound-it-out instruction — known as phonics — as well as other direct support, like building vocabulary and expanding students’ knowledge of the world.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Promising Signs for Free Speech on Campus, David French, right, April 17, 2023 (print ed.).The extremist attack on free speech (from right and left) degrades American david french croppeddemocracy, and that attack is especially acute on college campuses, whether it comes from angry left-wing students who shout down conservative speakers, vengeful right-wing legislators who pass laws restricting free expression in the academy or the online activism that often demands that universities discipline scholars for engaging in provocative (but constitutionally protected) speech.

This isn’t a column about doom, however, but rather about hope. I litigated free speech issues on college campuses for almost 20 years, and I’ve never seen such widespread, institutional academic support for free expression.

Let’s take Stanford University, for example. In the days and weeks since law students shouted down and disrupted a speech by a federal judge, the center has taken a stand. The dean of Stanford Law School, Jenny Martinez, penned a powerful, 10-page memorandum that mandated a half-day of instruction on free speech and legal norms, reaffirmed the school’s dedication to the Stanford Statement on Academic Freedom and declared: “Unless we recognize that student members of the Federalist Society and other conservatives have the same right to express their views free of coercion, we cannot live up to this commitment nor can we claim that we are fostering an inclusive environment for all students.”

Then there’s Cornell University. In March, the school’s undergraduate student assembly unanimously approved a resolution calling for trigger warnings in syllabuses to warn students of “graphic traumatic content” in course content. Cornell’s president, Martha E. Pollack, promptly vetoed it.

In a joint letter with Cornell’s provost, Michael I. Kotlikoff, she explained that the trigger warning policy “would violate our faculty’s fundamental right to determine what and how to teach, preventing them from adding, throughout the semester, any content that any student might find upsetting.” Moreover, the letter said, the policy would “have a chilling effect on faculty, who would naturally fear censure lest they bring a discussion spontaneously into new and challenging territory, or fail to accurately anticipate students’ reaction to a topic or idea.”

The faculty at Harvard University is also stepping up. In an opinion essay in The Boston Globe, Harvard’s Steven Pinker and Bertha Madras announced the creation of the Council on Academic Freedom, a coalition of 50 faculty members and several other Harvard employees “devoted to free inquiry, intellectual diversity and civil discourse.”

On Monday, Vanderbilt University will announce the expansion of its Future of Free Speech Project, run with Denmark’s Aarhus University and the think tank Justitia, which will include an international focus on free expression. I spoke to the project’s executive director, Jacob Mchangama, and he emphasized that American support for free speech can have a global impact in combating tyranny. He pointed to a piece he wrote in Foreign Policy noting that American legal standards have influenced foreign courts, specifically by enhancing press freedom. In our conversation, he made a point that’s critical in contemporary debates. “Free speech and equality,” he said, “are mutually reinforcing, not mutually exclusive.”

That’s four elite American academic institutions that have doubled down on free speech in just one month.

And we cannot forget the University of Chicago. Since 2014, it’s arguably been the single most influential academic institution in the United States supporting academic freedom. Its statement on free speech declares the “university’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the university community to be offensive, unwise, immoral or wrongheaded.” A version of the Chicago statement has been adopted by almost 100 colleges, universities and state university systems, including Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University and the North Carolina and Wisconsin state university systems.

I share this not to declare that the battle for free speech on campus is won. Far from it. The Stanford statement was in response to a student disruption. This month, the former N.C.A.A. swimmer Riley Gaines alleged she was assaulted after speaking at San Francisco State University in opposition to transgender women competing in women’s sports. There’s video evidence that Gaines was chased through the halls by angry protesters and that her event was disrupted by chanting, foot-stomping protests.

And disruptions like those we witnessed at Stanford and San Francisco State have occurred alongside hundreds of recent attempts to fire or punish scholars for speech that’s protected by the First Amendment or basic principles of academic freedom.

It’s important to emphasize that the fight over free speech on campus is not left versus right. Attempts to suppress ideas and stifle speech come from both ends of the political spectrum. The faculty and administrators at Stanford, Cornell, Harvard and Chicago who are making their stands aren’t a collection of conservatives taking on woke college students. Instead, they represent the moral and legal center of the American academy taking on the extremes.

Left and right tend to challenge free speech on campus in different ways. Left-leaning students have led shout-downs and disrupted events, while right-leaning legislators have passed or considered laws stifling the expression of controversial ideas about race and gender. Both sides have proved capable of mobilizing online outrage to punish professors who offend their constituencies.

The First Amendment cannot be tied to one side of our partisan divide. It’s not a Republican value or a Democratic value but rather an American value, and it’s a value that’s particularly important in the academy.

April 16

Washington Post, Elon Musk reinvented Twitter. Now people are leaving, Faiz Siddiqui, Rachel Lerman and Jeremy B. Merrill, April 16, 2023 (print ed.). Twitter has been dramatically transformed under Musk and few — even among some in the billionaire’s corner — say the changes have been for the better.

A year ago this month, Elon Musk turned to his favorite social media site with a question. “Is Twitter dying?” he asked.

On the anniversary of his hostile takeover bid to buy the social media company, he may have his answer.

Twitter has been dramatically transformed under Musk and few — even among some in the billionaire’s corner — say the changes have been for the better. In recent weeks, government agencies, news organizations and powerful social media influencers have questioned the usefulness of the platform, with some major players publicly abandoning their accounts or telling users they can’t rely on it for urgent information.

Advertisers have fled in droves over Musk’s policy changes and erratic behavior on the site, causing advertising revenue to recently drop by as much as 75 percent, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share sensitive internal information. Rounds of layoffs have left Twitter operating with a skeleton staff of 1,500 — an 80 percent reduction — and so riddled with bugs and glitches that the site goes down for hours at a time.

Meanwhile, the company’s valuation has cratered, Musk has said, to less than half the $44 billion he paid when he bought the company roughly six months ago.

The resulting changes have left a key venue for seeking critical information unreliable, hindering the flow of critical information.

“I’d say the pain level of Twitter has been extremely high,” Musk said in an interview this week with the BBC, assessing his first six months in charge. “It’s been really quite a stressful situation.” But he added that advertisers were returning and that he anticipates a roughly “break even” financial picture, adding: “Overall, I think the trend is very good.”

Even some Musk fans see things quite differently. Musk has garnered a reputation as a business genius with a Midas touch, but his erratic decision-making at Twitter has taken some of the sheen off his supposed brilliance.

“I am disappointed that he seems to have made as many mistakes as he’s made with Twitter. I don’t think the product’s gotten materially better,” said one person in Musk’s orbit who initially cheered the takeover, speaking on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment of his tenure.

“He overpaid. He got a lot of bad press,” the person added. “It’s surprising.”

Musk and Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Saturday morning, Musk tweeted that he’d deleted his list of blocked accounts on Twitter. “Negative feedback received on this platform is great for reducing ego-based errors,” he added.

washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: Russians boasted that just 1% of fake social profiles are caught, leak shows, Joseph Menn, April 16, 2023. An analysis of Russia’s effectiveness at boosting propaganda on social media platforms is part of a trove of documents recently leaked on the chat app Discord.

The Russian government has become far more successful at manipulating social media and search engine rankings than previously known, boosting lies about Ukraine’s military and the side effects of vaccines with hundreds of thousands of fake online accounts, according to documents recently leaked on the chat app Discord.

meta logoThe Russian operators of those accounts boast that they are detected by social networks only about 1 percent of the time, one document says.

That claim, described here for the first time, drew alarm from former government officials and experts inside and outside social media companies contacted for this article.

twitter bird Custom“Google and Meta and others are trying to stop this, and Russia is trying to get better. The figure that you are citing suggests that Russia is winning,” said Thomas Rid, a disinformation scholar and professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

The undated analysis of Russia’s effectiveness at boosting propaganda on Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Telegram and other social media platforms cites activity in late 2022 and was apparently presented to U.S. military leaders in recent months. It is part of a trove of documents circulated in a Discord chatroom and obtained by The Washington Post. Air National Guard technician Jack Teixeira was charged Friday with taking and transmitting the classified papers, charges for which he faces 15 years in prison.

elon musk 2015The revelations about Russia’s improved misinformation abilities come as Twitter owner Elon Musk, right, and some Republicans in Congress have accused the federal government of colluding with the tech companies to suppress right-wing and independent views by painting too many accounts as Russian attempts at foreign influence. A board set up to coordinate U.S. government policy on disinformation was disbanded last year after questions were raised about its purpose and a coordinated campaign aimed at the person who had been selected to lead it.

Twitter employees also say they worry that Musk’s cutbacks have hurt the platform’s ability to fight influence operations. Propaganda campaigns and hate speech have increased since Musk took over the site in October, according to employees and outside researchers. Russian misinformation promoters even bought Musk’s new blue-check verifications.

Many of the 10 current and former intelligence and tech safety specialists interviewed for this article cautioned that the Russian agency whose claims helped form the basis for the leaked document may have exaggerated its success rate.

April 15

truth social logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Six Takeaways From Trump’s New Financial Disclosure, Michael C. Bender, Eric Lipton, Matthew Goldstein and Ken Bensinger, April 15, 2023 (print ed.). In a 101-page filing, Donald Trump revealed lower-than-expected values on his social media company and sizable bank loans.

Former President Donald J. Trump provided the first look at his post-presidency business dealings on Friday with a new personal financial disclosure. Though light on specifics, the documents filed with the Federal Election Commission revealed lower-than-expected values on his social media company, two additional hefty bank loans and a new income stream for former first lady Melania Trump.

The former president filed his disclosure after requesting multiple extensions. He had been warned that he would face fines if he failed to file within 30 days of a March 16 deadline.

fec logo black background CustomThe financial disclosure shows cumulative income from January 2021 to Dec. 15, 2022, as required by the Federal Election Commission, and the value of assets as of December 2022, according to a person familiar with the documents.

Here are six takeaways from the 101-page filing.

Trump’s social media company takes a valuation hit. The disclosure valued the parent company of Truth Social, the former president’s social media platform and personal megaphone, at between $5 million and $25 million. That reported value for the parent company, Trump Media & Technology Group, was considerably less than the potential $9 billion valuation for the company when it announced a merger in October 2021 with a cash-rich special purpose acquisition company called Digital World Acquisition Company.

The estimate reflected the current value for Mr. Trump’s holding and was not an attempt to price the assets after a potential estimate, a person familiar with the filing said. Still, the intrinsic value of Trump Media is considerably less than he had hoped for when he launched the company in early 2021.

The merger deal has been held up by dual investigations by federal prosecutors and securities regulators, causing the stock of Digital World to tumble from a high of $97 a share to its current price of $13.10 a share. Still, if the deal is ever completed, it will bring at least $300 million in badly needed cash to Trump Media and potentially increase Mr. Trump’s paper wealth by a considerable amount. And Mr. Trump stands to get 70 million shares.

Trump’s online trading cards show underwhelming early sales. Late last year, Mr. Trump announced a foray into digital assets known as NFTs, or nonfungible tokens. Trump Cards, virtual trading cards illustrated with a variety of cartoonish images of the former president, first went up for sale on Dec. 15.

Expectations for the deal — orchestrated by Bill Zanker, a serial entrepreneur who had previously co-authored a book with Mr. Trump and paid him millions of dollars in speaking fees — were high: NFTs had commanded stunning prices in recent years, with one single token topping $22 million in early 2022.

Privately, Mr. Trump had been assured the venture could hit as much as $100 million in sales, but early returns suggested a less spectacular outcome, with analysts estimating less than $6 million in total revenue by early February.

Mr. Trump’s new financial disclosure states that the company he created for the NFT project, CIC Digital LLC, had between $100,001 and $1 million in income. But because the filing cuts off on Dec. 15 — the exact day that Trump Cards began trading — it was unclear how much of the early sales of the NFTs was included.

 ny times logoNew York Times, 35 Ways Real People Are Using A.I. Right Now, Francesca Paris and Larry Buchanan, April 15, 2023 (print ed.). Planning workouts. Creating cocktails. Designing spaceship parts. Here’s how A.I. models have found their way into work, life, play and procrastination.

The public release of ChatGPT last fall kicked off a wave of interest in artificial intelligence. A.I. models have since snaked their way into many people’s everyday lives. People are using ChatGPT and other A.I. tools to save time at work, to code without knowing how to code, to make daily life easier or just to have fun.

It goes beyond everyday fiddling: In the last few years, companies and scholars have started to use A.I. to supercharge work they could never have imagined, designing new molecules with the help of an algorithm or building alien-like spaceship parts.

April 14

ny times logoNew York Times, Misinformation Defense Worked in 2020, Up to a Point, a Study Finds, Tiffany Hsu, April 14, 2023 (print ed.). Nearly 68 million Americans still visited untrustworthy websites 1.5 billion times in a month, according to Stanford researchers, causing concerns for 2024.

Not long after misinformation plagued the 2016 election, journalists and content moderators scrambled to turn Americans away from untrustworthy websites before the 2020 vote.

stanford bannerA new study suggests that, to some extent, their efforts succeeded.

When Americans went to the polls in 2020, a far smaller portion had visited websites containing false and misleading narratives compared with four years earlier, according to researchers at Stanford. Although the number of such sites ballooned, the average visits among those people dropped, along with the time spent on each site.

Efforts to educate people about the risk of misinformation after 2016, including content labels and media literacy training, most likely contributed to the decline, the researchers found. Their study was published on Thursday in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

“I am optimistic that the majority of the population is increasingly resilient to misinformation on the web,” said Jeff Hancock, the founding director of the Stanford Social Media Lab and the lead author of the report. “We’re getting better and better at distinguishing really problematic, bad, harmful information from what’s reliable or entertainment.”

Still, nearly 68 million people in the United States checked out websites that were not credible, visiting 1.5 billion times in a month in 2020, the researchers estimated. That included domains that are now defunct, such as and Some people in the study visited some of tiktok logo square Customthose sites hundreds of times.

As the 2024 election approaches, the researchers worry that misinformation is evolving and splintering. Beyond web browsers, many people are exposed to conspiracy theories and extremism simply by scrolling through mobile apps such as TikTok. More dangerous content has shifted onto encrypted messaging apps with difficult-to-trace private channels, such as Telegram or WhatsApp.

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas County Keeps Public Libraries Open Amid Book Ban Controversy, David Montgomery and Alexandra Alter, April 14, 2023 (print ed.). Officials in Llano County considered closing the entire library system in lieu of returning challenged titles to its shelves.

A small Texas county decided to keep its public libraries open amid a monthslong fight over keeping challenged material available to residents. During a heated public meeting on Thursday, county commissioners weighed whether to close the library system after a judge had ordered the county to restore 17 banned books to its shelves.

The decision was seen as a victory for a group of residents who had sued the county and library officials, arguing that the book removals were unconstitutional and violated citizens’ First Amendment rights.

The judge, Robert Pitman, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, ordered Llano County to return the books to their place while a lawsuit over the banned books, brought on by a group of county residents, proceeds. After the judge’s order was issued, county commissioners called a special meeting to decide whether to “continue or cease operations” at the library.

The ongoing fight has divided the community and made Llano, a rural county in central Texas about 80 miles northwest of Austin, a new testing ground for citizens invoking First Amendment protections in the face of rising book bans.

After impassioned statements from residents on both sides of the issue, including those who support removing books, Llano County commissioners voted unanimously to keep the library system open as the confrontation plays out in the courts.

They then adjourned without further comment.

Several of the books in question in Llano County have L.G.B.T.Q. themes or characters, or addressed racial inequality, but they also include goofy children’s titles, such as a series of picture books about flatulence.

Nationally, attempts to remove books nearly doubled last year over 2021, according to the American Library Association. There were 1,269 attempts to ban books and other resources in libraries and schools last year, the association found, the highest number since it began studying censorship efforts more than 20 years ago. The vast majority of the books are by or about L.G.B.T.Q. people or people of color, the association reported.

The battle over the contents of Llano County’s public libraries started in 2021, when library officials began removing specific books after members of the community complained that the titles were inappropriate for children — including Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen and Robie H. Harris’s It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health.


Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and his wife, the NFL team's current CEO (Washington Post photo).

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and his wife, Tanya Snyder, the NFL team's current CEO (Washington Post photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Dan Snyder Agrees to Sell Washington Commanders for $6 Billion, Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman, April 14, 2023 (print ed.). The N.F.L. team is on track to be sold for a record figure to a group led by Josh Harris, as investigations into sexual harassment claims and the team’s finances continue.

Josh Harris, an owner of the N.B.A.’s Philadelphia 76ers and the N.H.L.’s New Jersey Devils, agreed in principle to buy the Washington Commanders for a record $6 billion from Dan Snyder, the longtime owner of the team plagued by scandals that drew investigations from the N.F.L., Congress and other government agencies.

With the end of Snyder’s tenure nearing, the N.F.L. can begin to distance itself from a painful chapter in its history and right the future of the popular franchise, which under Snyder had been tarnished by accusations of a toxic workplace and an inability to secure a new stadium.

The sale, first reported by Sportico, was confirmed by a person with knowledge of the agreement who was not authorized to speak publicly about the terms.

The agreement comes as the N.F.L. continues its second investigation into allegations of widespread sexual harassment made against executives at the team, including Snyder, as well as potential financial improprieties. Those allegations, coupled with Snyder’s inability to build a new stadium and a backlash from the team’s fans, had pushed many of the owners of the league’s other teams to consider voting to force him to sell the team, which he bought in 1999 for $800 million.

Harris’s group includes Mitchell Rales, a billionaire from the Washington, D.C., area, and a group of limited partners that includes Magic Johnson. Once they submit the deal, the sale would have to be approved by the league’s finance committee and by at least three-quarters of the 31 other team owners, who next meet in person on May 22 and 23 in Minneapolis.

Last June, the Walton family, founders of Walmart, bought the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion, about twice as much as the previous record high for an N.F.L. team.

The Washington Commanders roll out their team name and logo at media reveal from FedExField, Landover, Maryland, February 2nd, 2022 (Joe Glorioso | All-Pro Reels) Snyder, 58, shown in a 2022 photo via Wikimedia, and his wife, Tanya, a co-owner of the team, formally began a search for a buyer in November 2022, when they hired Bank of America to seek offers for all or a portion of the Commanders. They began to field offers just weeks after the owner Jim Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts said that Snyder “needs to be removed,” confirming what owners had been saying privately for months.

April 13


Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Landmark Trial Against Fox News Could Affect the Future of Libel Law, Michael M. Grynbaum, April 13, 2023. Jury selection starts on fox news logo SmallThursday in Delaware Superior Court, where the proceedings will tackle misinformation and the limits of journalistic responsibility.Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation case against the network will tackle misinformation and the limits of journalistic responsibility.

dominion voting systemsDominion Voting Systems’ defamation case against Fox News, which goes to trial in Delaware next week, is expected to stoke hot-button debates over journalistic ethics, the unchecked flow of misinformation, and the ability of Americans to sort out facts and falsehoods in a polarized age.

For a particular subset of the legal and media communities, the trial is also shaping up as something else: the libel law equivalent of the Super Bowl.

“I’ve been involved in hundreds of libel cases, and there has never been a case like this,” said Martin Garbus, a veteran First Amendment lawyer. “It’s going to be a dramatic moment in American history.”

With jury selection set to begin on Thursday in Delaware Superior Court in Wilmington, the case has so far been notable for its unprecedented window into rupert murdoch pink shirtsleevesthe inner workings of Fox News. Emails and text messages introduced as evidence showed the Fox host Tucker Carlson insulting former President Donald J. Trump to his colleagues, and Rupert Murdoch, left, whose family controls the Fox media empire, aggressively weighing in on editorial decisions, among other revelations.

Now, after months of depositions and dueling motions, the lawyers will face off before a jury, and legal scholars and media lawyers say the arguments are likely to plumb some of the knottier questions of American libel law.

Dominion, an elections technology firm, is seeking $1.6 billion in damages after Fox News aired false claims that the company had engaged in an elaborate conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election for Joseph R. Biden Jr. The claims, repeated on Fox programs hosted by anchors like Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, were central to Mr. Trump’s effort to persuade Americans that he had not actually lost.

Lawyers for Fox have argued that the network is protected as a news-gathering organization, and that claims of election fraud, voiced by lawyers for a sitting president, were the epitome of newsworthiness. “Ultimately, this case is about the First Amendment protections of the media’s absolute right to cover the news,” the network has said.


fox upside down news

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Imposes Sanction on Fox for Withholding Evidence in Defamation Case, Katie Robertson and Jeremy W. Peters, April 13, 2023 (print ed.). Judge Eric Davis also said an investigation was likely into Fox’s handling of documents and whether it had withheld details about Rupert Murdoch’s corporate role.

dominion voting systemsThe judge overseeing Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit against Fox News said on Wednesday that he was imposing a sanction on the network and would very likely start an investigation into whether Fox’s legal team had deliberately withheld evidence, scolding the lawyers for not being “straightforward” with him.

The rebuke came after lawyers for Dominion, which is suing for defamation, revealed a number of instances in which Fox’s lawyers had not turned over evidence in a timely manner. That evidence included recordings of the Fox News host Maria Bartiromo talking with former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, which Dominion said had been turned over only a week ago.

eric davisIn imposing the sanction on Fox, Judge Eric M. Davis, right, of the Delaware Superior Court ruled that if Dominion had to do additional depositions, or redo any, then Fox would have to “do everything they can to make the person available, and it will be at a cost to Fox.”

He also said he would very likely appoint a special master — an outside lawyer — to investigate Fox’s handling of discovery of documents and the question of whether Fox had inappropriately withheld details about the scope of Rupert Murdoch’s role. Since Dominion filed its suit in early 2021, Fox had argued that Mr. Murdoch and Fox Corporation, the parent company, should not be part of the case because Mr. Murdoch, the chair, and other senior executives had nothing to do with running Fox News. But in the past few days, Fox disclosed to Dominion that Mr. Murdoch was a corporate officer at Fox News.

Dominion, a voting technology company, accused Fox and some of the network’s executives and hosts of smearing its reputation by linking it to a nonexistent conspiracy to rig voting machines in the 2020 presidential election. Fox had said that it was just reporting on newsworthy allegations from Mr. Trump, who was then the president, as well as his lawyers and supporters, who told Fox’s hosts and producers that they would prove their allegations in court.

Jury selection starts on Thursday, and the trial is scheduled to begin on Monday. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Dominion would avail itself of the judge’s ruling allowing its lawyers to conduct additional depositions. But it was clear from Judge Davis’s stern reprimand of Fox’s lawyers on Wednesday — and similarly piqued remarks from him during another hearing on Tuesday — that he was losing patience.

The judge told Fox’s lawyers to retain all internal communications, starting from March 20 of this year, that related to Mr. Murdoch’s role at Fox News. That was the date the lawyers submitted a letter to Judge Davis asking that Mr. Murdoch and other Fox Corporation executives not be forced to testify at the trial in person, saying they had “limited knowledge of pertinent facts.” The letter did not mention that Mr. Murdoch was also a Fox News executive.

Judge Davis said he would weigh whether any additional sanctions should be placed on Fox.

He also said he was very concerned that there had been “misrepresentations to the court.”

“This is very serious,” Judge Davis said.

Davida Brook, a lawyer for Dominion, told the court that they were still receiving relevant documents from Fox, with the trial just days away.

“We keep on learning about more relevant information from individuals other than Fox,” she said. “And to be honest we don’t really know what to do about that, but that is the situation we find ourselves in.”

She pointed to one email that had recently been handed over, between Ms. Bartiromo and Ms. Powell on Nov. 7, 2020. In the email, Ms. Powell was forwarding evidence to Ms. Bartiromo that Dominion said was proof Fox had acted recklessly: an email from a woman Ms. Powell relied on as a source who exhibited signs of delusion, claiming, for instance, that she was aware of voter fraud because she had special powers, including the ability to time travel.

“I just spoke to Eric and told him you gave very imp info,” Ms. Bartiromo wrote back to Ms. Powell, most likely referring to Eric Trump, Mr. Trump’s son.

Ms. Brook also played two recordings for the court of pre-interviews, which are preliminary conversations before an on-air interview, conducted by Ms. Bartiromo that Ms. Brook said were received only after they were revealed in legal complaints filed by Abby Grossberg, a former Fox News producer who is suing the network.

In one of the recordings, on Nov. 8, 2020, Ms. Bartiromo asks Mr. Giuliani about Dominion’s software. In it, he admits that he doesn’t have hard evidence to back up the claim that the software could be manipulated, saying it was “being analyzed right now.” When Ms. Bartiromo asks about a conspiracy theory circulating at the time that claimed Dominion was connected to Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, Mr. Giuliani says: “Yeah, I’ve read that. I can’t prove that yet.”

A Fox News spokeswoman said in a statement on Wednesday: “As counsel explained to the court, Fox produced the supplemental information from Ms. Grossberg when we first learned it.”

Justin Nelson, another lawyer for Dominion, told Judge Davis that had Fox Corporation, the parent company, been quicker to share the information about Mr. Murdoch’s role as an officer of Fox News, the universe of documents Dominion could have obtained during discovery from him and other Fox Corporation executives would have been much larger. He also said that Fox might have failed to produce relevant documents.

“We have been litigating based upon this false premise that Rupert Murdoch wasn’t an officer of Fox News,” he said.

npr logoNational Public Radio (NPR), NPR announced it would cease posting to Twitter after the social media platform labeled the nonprofit "Government-funded Media," David Folkenflik, April 12-13, 2023. NPR will no longer post fresh content to its 52 official Twitter feeds, becoming the first major news organization to go silent on the social media platform. In explaining its decision, NPR cited Twitter's decision to first label the network "state-affiliated media," the same term it uses for propaganda outlets in Russia, China and other autocratic countries.

The decision by Twitter last week took the public radio network off guard. When queried by NPR tech reporter Bobby Allyn, Twitter owner Elon Musk asked how NPR functioned. Musk allowed that he might have gotten it wrong.

twitter bird CustomTwitter then revised its label on NPR's account to "government-funded media." The news organization says that is inaccurate and misleading, given that NPR is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence. It receives less than 1 percent of its $300 million annual budget from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

By going silent on Twitter, NPR's chief executive says the network is protecting its credibility and its ability to produce journalism without "a shadow of negativity."

"The downside, whatever the downside, doesn't change that fact," NPR CEO John Lansing said in an interview. "I would never have our content go anywhere that would risk our credibility."

Elon Musk says NPR's 'state-affiliated media' label might not have been accurate

elon musk sideviewIn a BBC interview posted online Wednesday, Musk, shown above in a file photo, suggested he may further change the label to "publicly funded." His words did not sway NPR's decision makers. Even if Twitter were to drop the designation altogether, Lansing says the network will not immediately return to the platform.

"At this point I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter," he says. "I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again."

NPR's Allyn emailed Musk on Wednesday morning asking for "your reaction" to the news organization quitting Twitter.

Initially, Musk didn't respond, but a couple of hours later Musk tweeted out Allyn's email followed with a tweet saying "Defund @NPR." His followers quickly piled on.

NPR is instituting a "two-week grace period" so the staff who run the Twitter accounts can revise their social-media strategies. Lansing says individual NPR journalists and staffers can decide for themselves whether to continue using Twitter.

In an email to staff explaining the decision, Lansing wrote, "It would be a disservice to the serious work you all do here to continue to share it on a platform that is associating the federal charter for public media with an abandoning of editorial independence or standards."


pbs logoAxios, PBS stops tweeting after Musk adds "government-funded" label, Sara Fischer, April 12-13, 2023. PBS has not tweeted from its main Twitter handle since April 8, following Elon Musk's decision to label the outlet "government-funded news."

axios logoWhy it matters: PBS joins NPR, another major editorially independent outlet that receives some government funding, in halting its Twitter activity in light of the new label.

NPR said Wednesday it was suspending its use of Twitter after the platform labeled it "government-funded."

twitter bird CustomDetails: Twitter added a "government-funded" label to PBS' main Twitter account last weekend, a spokesperson confirmed.

“We did stop tweeting at that point as soon as we discovered it," a PBS spokesperson confirmed. "We have no plans to resume tweeting."

The label was placed only on PBS' main Twitter handle, not any of the accounts affiliated with PBS, like its local stations or individual shows.

State of play: NPR and PBS are the second and third major outlets to stop tweeting since Musk bought Twitter last fall. CBS news last year paused its use of Twitter temporarily after Musk purchased the platform.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jeff Bezos isn’t planning Commanders bid, clearing path for Josh Harris group, Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala, April 13, 2023 (print ed.). Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has no plans to enter the bidding for the Washington Commanders, a person familiar with the bidding process said Wednesday, potentially clearing the way for a group led by Josh Harris to complete a deal to purchase the franchise from Daniel Snyder.

amazon logo smallBezos, who owns The Washington Post, declined to comment through a spokesperson. But the person with knowledge of the process said Bezos does not intend to bid on the team, and others familiar with the sale process have said they believe Harris’s group would be the favorite to purchase the franchise from Snyder if Bezos does not bid.

It was not clear Wednesday whether an agreement between Harris’s group and Snyder might be close. The Commanders declined to comment through a spokesperson.

Snyder has not notified the NFL and its finance committee that he has reached a deal to sell the team, a person with direct knowledge of the league’s inner workings and the views of the owners said Wednesday. But hopes are growing that a sale could occur in the coming weeks, that person said.

Harris, the owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, is estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of $5.9 billion. His investment group includes Potomac, Md., businessman and philanthropist Mitchell Rales and Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. Rales, the co-founder of the Danaher Corporation, has an estimated net worth of $5.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Harris-Rales partnership gives Daniel Snyder a strong non-Bezos option

Harris’s group and another group led by Canadian commercial real estate developer and private equity executive Steve Apostolopoulos entered competing formal bids last month for the Commanders, people with direct knowledge of the sale process said then. The bid by Harris’s group was for about $6 billion, according to a person with direct knowledge of the process.

April 12

ny times logoNew York Times, Mass Layoffs and Absentee Bosses Create a Morale Crisis at Meta, Sheera Frenkel and Mike Isaac, April 12, 2023. Workers at Facebook’s parent have been increasingly alarmed by job cuts and the company’s direction.

mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wMark Zuckerberg, left, Meta’s chief executive, has declared that 2023 will be the “year of efficiency” at his company. So far, efficiency has translated into mass layoffs. He has conducted two rounds of cuts over the past six months, eliminating more than 26,000 people, or nearly 30 percent of his company’s work force.

meta logoAt the same time, some of Meta’s top executives have moved away and are managing large parts of the Silicon Valley company from their new homes in places like London and Tel Aviv.

The layoffs and absentee leadership, along with concerns that Mr. Zuckerberg is making a bad bet on the future, have devastated employee morale at Meta, according to nine current and former employees, as well as messages reviewed by The New York Times.

facebook logoEmployees at Meta, which not long ago was one of the most desirable workplaces in Silicon Valley, face an increasingly precarious future. The company’s stock price has dropped 43 percent from its peak 19 months ago. More layoffs, Mr. Zuckerberg has said on his Facebook page, are coming this month. And for the first time, some of those cuts could be in engineering groups, which would have been unthinkable before the trouble started last year, two employees said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Should College Come With Trigger Warnings? At Cornell, It’s a ‘Hard No,’ Katherine Rosman, April 12, 2023. When the student assembly voted to require faculty to alert students to potentially upsetting educational materials, administrators pushed back.

cornell bannerLast month, a Cornell University sophomore, Claire Ting, was studying with friends when one of them became visibly upset and was unable continue her work.

For a Korean American literature class, the woman was reading The Surrendered, a novel by Chang-rae Lee about a Korean girl orphaned by the Korean War that includes a graphic rape scene. Ms. Ting’s friend had recently testified at a campus hearing against a student who she said sexually assaulted her, the woman said in an interview. Reading the passage so soon afterward left her feeling unmoored.

Ms. Ting, a member of Cornell’s undergraduate student assembly, believed her friend deserved a heads-up about the upsetting material. That day, she drafted a resolution urging instructors to provide warnings on the syllabus about “traumatic content” that might be discussed in class, including sexual assault, self-harm and transphobic violence.

The resolution was unanimously approved by the assembly late last month. Less than a week after it was submitted to the administration for approval, Martha E. Pollack, the university president, vetoed it.

“We cannot accept this resolution as the actions it recommends would infringe on our core commitment to academic freedom and freedom of inquiry, and are at odds with the goals of a Cornell education,” Ms. Pollack wrote in a letter with the university provost, Michael I. Kotlikoff.

To some, the conflict illustrates a stark divide in how different generations define free speech and how much value they place on its absolute protection, especially at a time of increased sensitivity toward mental health concerns.

After decades of university battles over tinderbox issues of students’ rights, speech codes and how best to grapple with unpopular speakers and ideas, proponents of free speech are lauding Ms. Pollack’s quick and unequivocal action. They characterize it as part of a larger national shift, marked by university leadership more forcefully pushing back against efforts to shut down speakers and topics that might offend.

“What was unique about the Cornell situation is they rapidly turned in a response that was a ‘hard no,’” said Alex Morey, the director of campus rights advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a nonpartisan organization focused on issues of free speech. “There was no level of kowtowing. It was a very firm defense of what it means to get an education.”

The current free speech issue at Cornell is one that has been debated on campuses across the country. “Content warnings” or “trigger warnings” refer to verbal or written alerts that assigned material, including academic writing or artistic expression, may involve sensitive or upsetting themes or details that may cause a student to have an emotional response tied to a personal experience.

Professors on some campuses use such warnings, though mandates are rare.

April 9


matt taibbi elon musk

washington post logoWashington Post, Twitter targets its rival Substack, forcing well-known journalists to choose, Taylor Lorenz, April 9, 2023 (print ed.). Matt Taibbi, above left, whom Elon Musk, above right, solicited to write the ‘Twitter Files,’ says he’ll start using Substack’s new Twitter clone.

twitter bird CustomMatt Taibbi, who was chosen by Twitter owner Elon Musk to write segments of the controversial “Twitter Files,” announced Friday that he’s quitting the platform to protest new restrictions on links to Substack, a rival newsletter and social media platform where Taibbi is one of the most popular contributors.

The split comes just days after Substack announced that it was starting a new service, Substack Notes, that appears to be a Twitter-like platform.

“It turns out Twitter is upset about the new Substack Notes feature, which they see as a hostile rival,” Taibbi wrote in a Substack post he titled “The Craziest Friday Ever,” adding: “I’m staying at Substack. You’ve all been great to me, as has the management of this company. Beginning early next week I’ll be using the new Substack Notes feature (to which you’ll all have access) instead of Twitter, a decision that apparently will come with a price as far as any future Twitter Files reports are concerned.”

In a tweet, Taibbi also announced his planned departure from Twitter. Earlier, @BigTechAlert, an account that monitors Twitter activity between Silicon Valley and media leaders, announced that Musk’s Twitter account had unfollowed Taibbi.

The split is an ironic development given Taibbi’s role in the “Twitter Files,” Musk’s attempt to expose alleged collusion between previous Twitter management and the federal government to censor conservatives.

Musk did not respond to a request for comment. Taibbi also did not respond to a request for comment. (Disclosure: This reporter has a free Substack newsletter.)

Friday’s events were the culmination of two days of turmoil between the two Silicon Valley platforms. On Wednesday, Substack announced that it would be releasing Notes, which looks like Twitter and functions almost identically to it. The platform had been testing it for weeks, wooing high-profile figures away from Twitter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Meta paid VR developers salaries of up to $1 million. Facebook’s owner is now in financial trouble, Naomi Nix, April 9, 2023 (print ed.). Programmers’ high pay is just a sliver of the company’s multibillion-dollar metaverse investment.

meta logoFor years, Meta has pushed a rosy vision about the future of human communication in which people — represented by a diverse slate of avatars — work, play and shop together in immersive digital worlds accessible through virtual reality-powered devices.

What the company hasn’t said is that it’s paying exorbitant salaries to programmers to turn that vision into a reality. Programmers capable of building out virtual reality-powered games, apps and technology can earn total compensation from $600,000 to packages approaching $1 million, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

facebook logoThe Facebook parent company is “paying significantly more than a lot of gaming companies,” said Andiamo chief executive Patrick McAdams, whose firm recruits tech talent for big and small companies. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that their total compensation is double or more than double of what you’ll get at a large gaming company.”

“It’s not abnormal to be $500,000- plus,” said McAdams, who added that the highest packages were often awarded to highly skilled developers or technical team leaders.

The eye-popping compensation packages are just a sliver of the multibillion-dollar investment the company is making to build the metaverse, seemingly realistic computer-generated spaces in which users interact with one another. Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has theorized that virtual reality-powered headsets, augmented reality-powered glasses and a bevy of corresponding programs will become the next great computing platform, eventually replacing some in-person communication. The company changed its name from Facebook to Meta in 2021 to reflect these ambitions.

Meta doesn’t want to police the metaverse. Kids are paying the price.

But Meta’s high salaries and long-term investment in the metaverse also come amid a frenzied push to rein in costs across the sprawling company. Last month, it announced plans to lay off 10,000 workers as part of a months-long downsizing and restructuring effort at the social media giant. Those cuts follow the 13 percent workforce reduction the company made in November when it slashed 11,000 jobs in the first widespread layoffs in the company’s history.

chat gpt logo

washington post logoWashington Post, After inaction on Big Tech, Congress gears up to tackle artificial intelligence, Cat Zakrzewski, April 9, 2023 (print ed.). After years of inaction on Big Tech — and the explosive success of ChatGPT — lawmakers aim to avoid similar mistakes with artificial intelligence

April 8


evan gershkovitz

ny times logoNew York Times, Chilling Effect’: Journalist’s Arrest Makes Covering Russia Even Tougher, Michael M. Grynbaum, April 8, 2023 (print ed.). The detention of the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, above, poses new obstacles for Western journalists seeking to report on Vladimir V. Putin’s rule.

The exodus began roughly a year ago, in the first days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Western news organizations, confronting a harsh crackdown on free speech by President Vladimir V. Putin, pulled correspondents from Moscow and suspended their news gathering in Russia. The risk to journalists, in a country where describing a war as a “war” was suddenly a crime, was too great.

Some outlets, like the BBC, quickly resumed their work in the country; others, like Bloomberg News, never returned. Newspapers that once maintained permanent Moscow bureaus began rotating correspondents in and out from safer posts like Berlin and Dubai. Still, even under challenging circumstances, Western correspondents were hopeful that their work could continue.

That hope was shattered last week by the arrest of Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter who is believed to be the first American reporter held on spying charges in Russia since the fall of Russian Flagthe Soviet Union. The Journal rejects the claims against Mr. Gershkovich, 31, a son of Soviet Jewish émigrés, and the Biden administration has lobbied for his release.

Mr. Gershkovich was formally charged with espionage on Friday, according to Russian state media. The Tass news agency, citing an unidentified law enforcement source, also said he had denied the accusations.

Regardless of the outcome of Mr. Gershkovich’s case, his arrest sent an indisputable signal that foreign reporters were newly vulnerable. Now, news organizations are re-examining how to chronicle one of the world’s most urgent geopolitical stories as their journalists face even greater peril.

“It has a chilling effect for everyone,” Polina Ivanova, a Russia correspondent for The Financial Times, said at a recent gathering of journalists in London, where attendees lined up to write letters of support to be delivered to Mr. Gershkovich inside the Lefortovo prison in Moscow.

“It’s very difficult to know what the security situation is like when you’re working in a place like Russia, especially when things are changing very, very quickly,” Ms. Ivanova said. “You have to constantly reassess, and try and make a wise calculus about the risks, based on signs and signals and things sometimes just in the tea leaves.”

wsj logoMr. Gershkovich had been accredited by the Russian Foreign Ministry, a process that had continued even after the invasion of Ukraine and was thought to grant a degree of protection for Western journalists. The move against him scrambled that assumption. Since his arrest, The Journal’s Moscow bureau chief has left the country. The New York Times moved most of its bureau out of the country, and currently has no reporters there, but it has been sending journalists into Russia regularly.

American journalists, in particular, had worried that the Russian authorities might detain them to instigate a prisoner exchange. Correspondents who are European citizens were perceived to be slightly less vulnerable. The Gershkovich episode shows that, now, all bets are off.

“It’s very clear that no foreign correspondents are going to be spared from this repression,” said Gulnoza Said, who monitors press freedoms in Russia for the Committee to Protect Journalists. “The world is losing that window into Russia, and the Russian people are losing one of the very few platforms where they can be heard.”

On Friday, Senators Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, issued a rare joint statement calling on Russia to immediately release Mr. Gershkovich. “Journalism is not a crime,” the leaders wrote.

For a nation increasingly viewed as an avatar of repression and autocracy, Russia had, until recently, afforded Western correspondents a fair amount of leeway in reporting on its politics, society and culture. Reporters assumed their movements and communications were monitored. But starting in the mid-1980s, the reforms of Mikhail S. Gorbachev meant that Western journalists could interview civilians and cultivate sources in the bureaucracy.

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, The Craziest Friday EverFairly startling news from Matt Taibbi about Twitter blocking links to Substack newsletters, Vicky Ward, April 8, 2023. Next week, Substack is starting something called NOTES -- which Twitter views as competition. Even if we have no advertising, unlike Twitter. Sigh. Innovation is never easy. Stand by for NOTES from us Substack writers, I guess!

matt taibbi elon muskMatt Taibbi (above left paired in file photos with Twitter owner Elon Musk): On staying at Substack, and leaving Twitter, I guess, April 8, 2023: Earlier this afternoon, I learned Substack links were being blocked on Twitter. Since being able to share my articles is a primary reason I use Twitter, I was alarmed and asked what was going on.

twitter bird CustomIt turns out Twitter is upset about the new Substack Notes feature, which they see as a hostile rival. When I asked how I was supposed to market my work, I was given the option of posting my articles on Twitter instead of Substack.

Not much suspense there; I’m staying at Substack. You’ve all been great to me, as has the management of this company. Beginning early next week I’ll be using the new Substack Notes feature (to which you’ll all have access) instead of Twitter, a decision that apparently will come with a price as far as any future Twitter Files reports are concerned. It was absolutely worth it and I’ll always be grateful to those who gave me the chance to work on that story, but man is this a crazy planet.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I’m off on vacation with my kids next week, but I’ll check in. Best and take care, Matt

Emptywheel, Analysis: Elon Musk “Censors” Matt Taibbi’s Post about Twitter “Censoring” the “Hunter Biden” “Laptop” Story, Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler), April 8, 2023. Yesterday, Elon Musk did to Matt Taibbi what Taibbi called an incredible scandal when Twitter throttled the NYPost story on a laptop claimed to be Hunter Biden's.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Plan for Transgender Title IX Rules Began on Inauguration Day, Katie Rogers, April 8, 2023 (print ed.). A plan to protect transgender athletes has been in the works since 2021. But officials recently raced to issue protections as states moved to revoke them.

As President Biden signed an executive order in his first hours in office to strengthen prohibitions against gender and sexual discrimination, a small team of officials in the Department of Education began assessing an unanswered but important question: How could the administration protect transgender athletes?

At the time, only a few states had enacted bans against transgender athletes seeking to compete in sports that matched their gender identity.

But as the education team worked — in the beginning, on pandemic-era Zoom calls — with officials on the White House Gender Policy Council, the trickle of states banning transgender athletes turned into a waterfall. By the time they had gone through multiple draft proposals to establish transgender students as protected under Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools, at least 20 states had enacted bans against them in sports.

The issue has divided activists who view barring transgender athletes as necessary to protecting fairness in sports, and others who ardently believe that blocking those athletes in any form is part of a larger assault on the civil liberties of transgender people.

ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s what the new rule will mean for school sports and transgender athletes, Remy Tumin, April 8, 2023 (print ed.). The Biden administration proposed a rule change that would allow schools to block some transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that match their gender identities.

The Biden administration on April 6 released long-awaited draft rules regarding the participation of transgender athletes in school sports, taking its first official stand on a matter that has become a contentious public debate. The rule would have broad implications for the ability of athletes from elementary school T-ball to the N.C.A.A. level to play.

And it is far from the last word on the matter given the limits of the U.S. government in global sports.

The U.S. Department of Education proposed a new rule that would allow schools to reject transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity, when questions of physicality and fairness arise. The rule would prohibit schools from issuing blanket bans on transgender athletes in school sports, making such a policy a violation of Title IX.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: College Students Have Something to Say. It’s Just Not What You’d Expect, Jonathan Malesic (Mr. Malesic teaches writing at the University of Texas at Dallas), April 8, 2023. In the debate over free speech and social justice, commentators on the right and the “heterodox” left often claim that college students are all either stridently liberal or cowed into silence by those who are.

As someone who has spent two decades teaching at colleges large and small, public and private, I don’t recognize this description — and it’s not because I think that it’s conservative students who are dominating the discourse.

In my experience, college students are all too reluctant to express strong opinions about the world at large. I wish my students were so eager to voice their ideas in class. Ideally, they would address the topic of the course, but I’d take what I could get — the news perhaps, social media more likely, the weather if it came down to it. If they’re talking, then maybe I can steer the conversation toward what they need to learn.

But I’ve found one place where students’ ideas emerge into splendid view: the opinion pages of student newspapers. I recently immersed myself in student papers from across Texas, where I live and teach. It certainly wasn’t a scientific sample, but it gave me new insight into an otherwise reticent population.

ny times logoNew York Times, Can People No Longer Believe Anything They See? Tiffany Hsu and Steven Lee Myers, April 8, 2023. Human eyes often struggle to identify images created by A.I. Experts fear that may hasten an erosion of trust in the media, in government and in society.

Seeing has not been believing for a very long time. Photos have been faked and manipulated for nearly as long as photography has existed.

Now, not even reality is required for photographs to look authentic — just artificial intelligence responding to a prompt. Even experts sometimes struggle to tell if one is real or not. Can you?

April 6


rudy giuliani hair dye resized screenshot

ny times logoNew York Times, How Fox Chased Its Audience Down the Rabbit Hole, Jim Rutenberg, April 6, 2023. Rupert Murdoch built an empire by giving viewers exactly what they wanted. But what they wanted — election lies and insurrection — put that empire in peril.

On the evening of Nov. 19, 2020, Rupert Murdoch was watching TV and crawling the walls of his 18th-century mansion in the British countryside while under strict pandemic lockdown. The television hosts at Murdoch’s top cable network, Fox News, might have scoffed at such unyielding adherence to Covid protocols. But Jerry Hall, his soon-to-be fourth ex-wife and no fan of Fox or its conservative hosts, was insisting that Murdoch, approaching his 90th birthday, remain cautious.

The big story that day, as it had been every day in the two weeks since the election, was election theft, and now Rudolph W. Giuliani (shown above) was giving a news conference at the Republican National Committee. With Sidney Powell, the right-wing attorney and conspiracy theorist, at his side, Giuliani, sweating profusely, black hair dye dripping down the side of his face, spun a wild fantasy about Joe Biden’s stealing the election from President Donald J. Trump. Dizzying in its delusional complexity, it centered on a supposed plot by the Clinton Foundation, George Soros and associates of Hugo Chávez to convert Trump votes into Biden votes by way of software from Smartmatic and voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems.

Murdoch wasn’t pleased. He had built the most powerful media empire on the planet by understanding what his audience wanted and giving it to them without fear or judgment.

fox news logo SmallBut Trump now appeared to be making a serious bid to overturn a legitimate election, and his chaos agents — his personal lawyer Giuliani chief among them — were creating dangerous new appetites. Now Murdoch was faced with holding the line on reporting the facts or following his audience all the way into the land of conspiracy theories. Neither choice was necessarily good for business. At 5:01 p.m. London time, he sent an email to his friend Saad Mohseni — an Afghan Australian media mogul sometimes referred to as the Afghan Rupert Murdoch — from his iPhone.

“Just watched Giuliani press conference,” he wrote. “Stupid and damaging.” Shortly after, he sent another email, this one to his Fox News chief executive, Suzanne Scott: “Terrible stuff damaging everybody, I fear. Probably hurting us, too.”

Related News:

April 5

 evan gershkovitz

washington post logoWashington Post, Wall Street Journal reporter ‘wrongfully detained’ by Russia, Blinken says, Missy Ryan, Emily Rauhala and Francesca Ebel, April 5, 2023. A Wall Street Journal reporter whom Russia has accused of spying for the United States is “wrongfully detained,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday, as the Kremlin’s incarceration of another American further strains the two countries’ ties.

wsj logoBinken said the State Department was working “very deliberately but expeditiously” to conclude a formal assessment of whether Evan Gershkovich, shown above, a reporter assigned to the paper’s Moscow bureau, meets agency criteria to set in motion a broad government effort to secure his release.

“I’ll let that process play out,” Blinken told reporters following a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. Nevertheless, he added, “In my own mind, there’s no doubt that he’s been wrongfully detained by Russia.”

Gershkovich, who was arrested in late March during a reporting trip to the city of Yekaterinburg, could face 20 years in prison if convicted on espionage charges. Russia’s security service has accused the journalist, 31, of gathering information about a Russian military enterprise, a claim the Wall Street Russian FlagJournal has rejected.

Inside Russia’s infamous Lefortovo prison where WSJ’s Evan Gershkovich is held (WSJ) / In Russian courts, espionage charges lead to secret trials and near-certain convictions (WSJ) / What the arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich means for foreign reporting (Poynter)

elon musk safe image time

Mashable, Investigation: Twitter failed to scare legacy verified accounts into paying for Twitter Blue, Matt Binder on April 5, 2023. These bleak numbers might be why Twitter checkmarks were merged. Elon Musk said he would remove verification badges from legacy accounts unless they paid. Most simply did not care.

On April 1, Twitter owner Elon Musk, above, was supposed to strip all legacy verified accounts of their blue checkmark badges.

However, that didn't happen. It's unclear as to why Musk backtracked on this date. But, maybe this has something to do with it.

Only 12,305 of roughly 420,000 legacy verified accounts have subscribed to a paid Twitter Blue plan as of Tuesday. That's just above 3 percent of the celebrities, pro athletes, influencers, and media personalities who make up the platform's power users.

While Twitter Blue does provide some additional features such as being able to edit tweets and write longer posts, the major selling point promoted to users is the ability to simply get a checkmark next to your username by paying $8 per month (or $11 on mobile devices.)

The latest Twitter Blue data comes from independent researcher Travis Brown, who has been tracking(Opens in a new tab) Twitter data since January. Brown's data accounts for roughly 90 percent of all Twitter Blue subscribers. Previous internal Twitter Blue data leaks have matched(Opens in a new tab) with Brown's estimates.

If one adds government accounts with grey verified badges and business accounts which appear alongside a gold checkmark to the pool of legacy verified Twitter Blue subscribers, those numbers go up just slightly to around 15,000 users (or 3 and a half percent of these accounts in total).

Again, this is after Elon Musk threatened to take away approximately 420,000 users' verified blue checkmark badges. And this is also following Musk's announcement that only Twitter Blue subscribers would be promoted in Twitter's default "For You" feed.

With its biggest motivator yet to subscribe – the removal of the blue tick – Twitter was seemingly unable to even double its legacy verified Twitter Blue subscribers. One week before the April 1 date, Twitter had only converted 7,901 government, business, and legacy verified accounts into paying subscribers, so there was a slight uptick in subscribers as the April 1 date loomed. However, many celebrities – from LeBron James to Jack Black(Opens in a new tab) – have since gone public saying that they were not planning to pay for Twitter Blue.

And with that looming threat of verification removal gone at least for the time being, Twitter only saw around 67 of those legacy verified accounts subscribe to Twitter Blue in the days after April 1. If Musk's moves were meant to result in a big uptick of legacy verified Twitter Blue subscribers, it just didn't work.

In a since-deleted tweet(Opens in a new tab), Musk claimed that Twitter would give legacy verified accounts a "few weeks grace, unless they tell they won't pay now, in which we will remove it." However, the New York Times appears to have been the only legacy verified account that lost its checkmark badge. The news organization publicly stated it would not be paying for Twitter Blue last week.
How many Twitter Blue subscribers are there now?

twitter bird CustomMusk officially launched Twitter Blue in November of last year, but quickly suspended the service as users started paying for a verification badge to impersonate companies and brands. To combat this, Twitter rolled out a feature that showed who paid for Twitter Blue and who was a legacy verified account. Twitter Blue then relaunched in December.

This past weekend, amid the lackluster Blue signups, Musk reverted course and removed the note that distinguished the difference between a legacy verified user and a Twitter Blue subscriber with a checkmark. The Twitter Blue mark often resulted in mockery among Twitter's most influential users, who often point out when a user paid for Twitter on the website.

Over the course of the nearly 4 months the subscription service has been live, Twitter has just barely crossed the 500,000 Twitter Blue subscriber threshold, according to Twitter Blue data from Brown. This would put Twitter Blue's revenue at approximately $4 million per month.

And, it should be noted, that those numbers may very well be even lower. Multiple Twitter users have shared instances where the Twitter Blue checkmark continued to appear on their account even months after they canceled their paid subscription to the service. Brown explained that those accounts would be included in his data as Twitter continues to mark them as Blue subscribers.
Many Twitter Blue users have very few followers

As Mashable previously reported, half of Twitter Blue's paying subscribers don't even have four-figures worth of followers and this is still the case with the inclusion of the latest data. Per that data, 244,562 Twitter Blue subscribers have fewer than 1,000 followers. Of those, 88,085 accounts have fewer than 100 followers. And then there's the 2,585 Twitter Blue subscribers with no followers at all.

Axios, NPR CEO blasts Twitter for "US state-affiliated media" label, Sara Fischer, April 5, 2023. NPR CEO John Lansing condemned Twitter on Wednesday for npr logolabeling the radio giant as "US state-affiliated media."

axios logoThe big picture: Twitter's move appears to be part of a wider effort by Musk to go after specific news outlets.

Twitter removed the New York Times' "verified" blue check mark over the weekend after the outlet said it would not pay to remain verified.
Many news outlets have said that they won't pay for verification, but the Times was the only outlet to have its blue check mark removed immediately when the policy went into effect.

elon musk 2015Musk, right, made it clear shortly after how he personally feels about the Times, tweeting on Sunday: "The real tragedy of @NYTimes is that their propaganda isn’t even interesting."

What's happening: A new "US state-affiliated media" label appeared suddenly on NPR's main account Tuesday night. An NPR spokesperson said the outlet was given no warning and that it reached out to Twitter to have the label removed.

twitter bird CustomOn Wednesday morning, Lansing said in a statement that NPR was "disturbed" to see the label, given that NPR doesn't qualify as state-affiliated media by Twitter's own guidelines.

"NPR and our Member stations are supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for the independent, fact-based journalism we provide. NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable," he said.
"It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way. A vigorous, vibrant free press is essential to the health of our democracy."

Between the lines: Only NPR's main handle had the label as of Wednesday afternoon, not affiliated accounts like NPR Politics.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Trump payoff to a Trump doorman over a paternity issue should be no secret to WMR readers, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left, author 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer, April 5, 2023. The Manhattan District Attorney's reference in his Statement of Fact to a Trump payoff to a Trump Organization doorman over information that Trump fathered a child out of wedlock should come wayne madesen report logoas no surprise to WMR readers.

Let's go to the archives. Note: according to ex-Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance, Jr., the SDNY -- Geoffrey Berman -- told Vance that they would be handling the Trump hush money case. However, Trump's corrupt Attorney General, William Barr, spiked the federal investigation:

Wayne Madsen Report, SPECIAL REPORT. FBI search and seizure targeting Cohen gathered evidence on Trump's past sex crimes, April 1, 2018.

There is an avalanche of evidence that suggests that the criminal referral by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller to the U.S. Attorney wayne madesen report logofor the Southern District of New York (SDNY) -- which resulted in a "no-knock" search and seizure of President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen's office, temporary hotel residence, and home -- was to gather evidence about Trump's past sex crimes and cash payments for silence from assault victims.

The search warrant, approved by a federal magistrate with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was initiated with the approval of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. With the recusal of the interim U.S. Attorney for the SDNY, Geoffrey Berman, a Trump campaign donor and former law partner of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Robert Khuzami -- a longtime federal prosecutor and chief of the enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- is leading the investigation of Cohen's activities.

Although Trump, in a series of uninformed and juvenile tweets and comments, suggested that Mueller decided to "break into" his personal attorney's office, mounting evidence and news reports suggest that the new investigation surrounding Trump and Cohen involve Cohen's intimidation of women who accused Trump of sexual assault. In cases such as those involving porn actress Stephanie Clifford, who uses the stage name of "Stormy Daniels," and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, the $130,000 and $150,000 cash payments received from Trump associates and friends in return for their silence during the latter stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, likely violated federal campaign finance laws.

There is new information that Pecker authorized the payment of a "catch and kill" $30,000 fee to Trump World Tower ex-doorman Dino Sajudin in return for his silence about Trump's 1980s affair with a Trump World Tower employee, said to be a housekeeper, and the resulting fathering of an illegitimate child with the woman, whose identity has not been disclosed. Trump World Tower [pictured right] is a residential complex near the United Nations.

The FBI is, according to recent reports, looking at the original sources of Cohen's payment to Clifford, arranged through a Delaware shell company called Essential Consultants LLC, and AMI's payments to McDougal and Sajudin. Federal investigators are, according to the Associated Press, examining communications between Cohen, Pecker, and National Enquirer chief editor Dylan Howard.

In the cases of Clifford, McDougal, and Sajudin, Trump's alleged sexual activities, in and of themselves, are not criminal in nature, and have no bearing on Mueller's investigation of the Trump campaign's links to Russian and other foreign entities. However, violations of federal campaign, wire fraud, and bank fraud statutes do constitute serious crimes and would normally attract the attention of Justice Department prosecutors and the FBI, even if there was not a Mueller probe.

In another development, federal investigators who searched Cohen's office and residential premises were also looking for documents regarding an un-aired Access Hollywood "out take" video [pictured left], in which Trump engages in a vulgar conversation by then co-host Billy Bush, a first cousin of George W. Bush. Trump is heard talking about sexually harassing women and states that, due to his fame, can "grab them by the pussy."

What federal investigators are looking at is whether Cohen used LLC artifices like Essential Consultants LLC and Resolution Consultants LLC, both Delaware corporations, to pay hush money to scores of women, including beauty pageant contestants -- including underage teens -- and women who appeared on Trump's The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice shows and guests at Mar-a-Lago, who came forward during the 2016 campaign to complain about past sexual assaults by Trump.

Any Cohen payments to these women, in return for their silence, would have potentially violated campaign finance and other federal laws. Documents dealing with the Access Hollywood tape are germane if Cohen threatened any current and past employees of NBC Universal, which airs the program, who had possession of and released the tape. It is known that Cohen negotiated a secret non-disclosure agreement with porn actress Jessica Drake, aka "Angel Ryan," to keep silent about Trump's desire to have a sexual ménage à trois with himself and Stormy Daniels during a Lake Tahoe golf tournament in 2006. It is not known whether Cohen used one of his LLC contrivances to pay off Drake, but these records would have been of interest to the FBI and the SDNY Attorney's Office.

CNN, Dominion can force Murdochs to testify at Fox News defamation trial, judge says, Marshall Cohen, April 5, 2023. Dominion Voting Systems can force Fox Corporation executives Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch to testify on the witness stand at this month’s scheduled defamation trial, a Delaware judge said Wednesday.

cnn logoDelaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis said at a hearing that if Dominion subpoenas the Murdochs to testify in-person, he would not quash those subpoenas, and the Murdochs would need to show up to the courthouse. Dominion has sued Fox News for defamation, and says it was defamed by the right-wing network when Fox hosts and guests claimed in 2020 that its voting systems illegally rigged the election.

“They are relevant to the case… if Dominion wants to bring them live, they need to issue a trial subpoena, and I would not quash it,” Davis said. He added that that “it would be my discretion that they come” to testify in-person at the trial, which is scheduled to begin later this month in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Both parties have made these witnesses very relevant,” Davis added.
fox news logo Small

This outcome is a blow to Fox, which tried to block Dominion from forcing the Murdochs onto the witness stand. The judge signaled at previous hearings that he was skeptical of Fox’s claims that their testimony wasn’t necessary. The judge’s comments Wednesday further raise the stakes for Fox in the closely watched case, which is set to go to trial this month, barring a last-minute settlement.

Fox News denies wrongdoing, maintains that it is “proud” of its 2020 election coverage, and says the lawsuit is a meritless assault against the First Amendment. The right-wing network has also said Dominion’s request for $1.6 billion in damages is a wildly overblown figure that was designed to get headlines.

Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, CEO Lachlan Murdoch, previously gave lengthy depositions in the case, which revolves around Fox’s decision in late 2020 to repeatedly promote false claims that the election was rigged against then-President Donald Trump.

In his sworn deposition for the case, Rupert Murdoch conceded that several of his top hosts endorsed election lies on the air that he knew were false. This is a key point that gets to the question of “actual malice” and Fox’s potential legal liability.

Despite what appeared on air, Rupert Murdoch and other top Fox figures privately criticized the Trump camp in late 2020 for pushing claims of election fraud. It was “really bad” that Rudy Giuliani was advising Trump, Rupert Murdoch wrote in an email that was revealed in court filings.

Related News: Fox News says Carlson, Hannity, Bartiromo set to testify at defamation trial (Reuters); Judge in Fox vs. Dominion case says Jan. 6 ‘not relevant,’ should be avoided: ‘I know that shocks everyone’ (The Wrap)

Moscow Times, Russian journalists sign letter demanding U.S. reporter’s release, Staff Report, April 5, 2023. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) salutes the bravery of the nearly 200 members of Russian civil society and independent #media outlets who signed a petition calling for the release of #journalist Evan Gershkovich, and who dare to openly doubt the good faith of Russian authorities’ (RSF)

Axios, NPR CEO blasts Twitter for "US state-affiliated media" label, Sara Fischer, April 5, 2023. NPR CEO John Lansing condemned Twitter on Wednesday for labeling the radio giant as "US state-affiliated media."

axios logoThe big picture: Twitter's move appears to be part of a wider effort by Musk to go after specific news outlets.

Twitter removed the New York Times' "verified" blue check mark over the weekend after the outlet said it would not pay to remain verified.
Many news outlets have said that they won't pay for verification, but the Times was the only outlet to have its blue check mark removed immediately when the policy went into effect.

twitter bird CustomMusk made it clear shortly after how he personally feels about the Times, tweeting on Sunday: "The real tragedy of @NYTimes is that their propaganda isn’t even interesting."

Zoom in: Twitter's own policies currently state that state-financed media organizations with editorial independence "are not defined as state-affiliated media."

What's happening: A new "US state-affiliated media" label appeared suddenly on NPR's main account Tuesday night. An NPR spokesperson said the outlet was given no warning and that it reached out to Twitter to have the label removed.

On Wednesday morning, Lansing said in a statement that NPR was "disturbed" to see the label, given that NPR doesn't qualify as state-affiliated media by Twitter's own guidelines.
"NPR and our Member stations are supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for the independent, fact-based journalism we provide. NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable," he said.
"It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way. A vigorous, vibrant free press is essential to the health of our democracy."

Between the lines: Only NPR's main handle had the label as of Wednesday afternoon, not affiliated accounts like NPR Politics.

CNN morning co-anchor Don Lemon with co-anchor colleagues Kaitlin Collins, left, and Poppy Harlow.

CNN morning co-anchor Don Lemon with co-anchor colleagues Kaitlin Collins, left, and Poppy Harlow.

Variety, Investigation: Don Lemon’s Misogyny at CNN, Exposed: Malicious Texts, Mocking Female Co-Workers and ‘Diva-Like Behavior,’ Tatiana Siegel, April 5, 2023. Back in 2008, Don Lemon was co-anchoring CNN’s “Live From” weekday show with Kyra Phillips, a gig that he landed after he arrived at the network two years prior from local news in Chicago.

For months, tensions between the pair kept mounting. On more than one occasion, a “Live From” producer and a newsroom supervisor had to pull Lemon off the air during a commercial break because of the anchor’s provocative antics, not unlike his recent declaration that the 51-year-old Nikki Haley isn’t a viable presidential candidate because she “isn’t in her prime.” Amid the charged atmosphere, sources say Lemon disrespected colleague Nancy Grace on the air and Soledad O’Brien during an editorial meeting attended by roughly 30 staffers.

cnn logoBut his antipathy toward Phillips was particularly concerning and had many members of the close-knit Atlanta news team on edge. While Phillips was on assignment in Iraq — a high-profile gig that Lemon coveted — he vented his disappointment at being passed over by tearing up pictures and notes on top of and inside Phillips’ desk in the news pod they shared, according to two sources who worked there at the time. When she returned from Iraq, things only got weirder. One night while dining with members of the news team, she received the first of two threatening text messages from an unknown number on her flip phone that warned, “Now you’ve crossed the line, and you’re going to pay for it.” Phillips was visibly rattled and quickly enlisted CNN’s higher ups to identify the sender.

Remarkably, the texts were traced back to Lemon, according to those same sources. A human resources investigation was launched, and while the findings were never disclosed to the growing pool of staffers who were aware of the situation, Lemon was abruptly pulled from his co-anchor duties with Phillips and moved to the weekends. It was a demotion by any objective measure and understood to be some kind of disciplinary action. It appears to be the last time he was paired with a female anchor until his most recent assignment on “CNN This Morning With Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.”

Phillips, who joined ABC as a Washington-based correspondent in 2018, declined comment. A spokesperson for CNN said, “Don says the alleged incident never occurred and that he was never notified of any investigation. CNN cannot corroborate the alleged events from 15 years ago.”

chris licht wIn the wake of Lemon’s Feb. 16 Haley comments — derided as “unacceptable” and “sexist” by everyone from CNN chair Chris Licht, right, to Haley herself, and even referenced by Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh during her best actress acceptance speech — his fate at CNN hung in the balance, with many colleagues privately calling for his ouster. Despite the outcry, he landed back on his feet after riding the bench for two days, posting a Twitter mea culpa in which he insisted that he is “committed to doing better” and ignoring the matter altogether during his Feb. 22 on-air return.

Still, the incident has spotlighted Lemon’s troubling treatment of women and unprofessional antics, dating back nearly two decades. Variety spoke with more than a dozen former and current colleagues who painted a picture of a journalist who flouted rules and cozied up to power all while displaying open hostility to many female co-workers. Each and every time, he appeared to charm his way out of facing any meaningful consequences.

washington post logoWashington Post, Cash App founder Bob Lee killed in San Francisco, Rachel Lerman, April 5, 2023. The tech investor was chief product officer at MobileCoin at the time of his death and a former CTO of Square.

Cash App creator Bob Lee was killed in a reported stabbing near downtown San Francisco, sparking an outpouring of grief within the tech community and beyond.

His death was confirmed Wednesday by MobileCoin, the cryptocurrency company where he served as chief product officer.

“Bob was a dynamo, a force of nature. Bob was the genuine article,” MobileCoin chief executive Joshua Goldbard said in a statement. “… He was made for the world that is being born right now, he was a child of dreams, and whatever he imagined, no matter how crazy, he made real.”

Lee, 43, worked at Google before serving as chief technology officer of Square, the company now known as Block, which developed the payment transfer app Cash App. He also invested in several tech companies including SpaceX, Clubhouse and Figma, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Cash App has become one of the most popular mobile payment apps, enabling people to directly send each other money. Lee was a technologist who believed in “the right to privacy,” Goldbard tweeted.

chat gpt logo

washington post logoWashington Post, ChatGPT invented a sexual harassment scandal and named a real law prof as the accused, Pranshu Verma and Will Oremus, April 5, 2023. The AI chatbot can misrepresent key facts with great flourish, even citing a fake Washington Post article as evidence.

jonathan turleyOne night last week, the law professor Jonathan Turley, right, got a troubling email. As part of a research study, a fellow lawyer in California had asked the AI chatbot ChatGPT to generate a list of legal scholars who had sexually harassed someone. Turley’s name was on the list.
Tech is not your friend. We are. Sign up for The Tech Friend newsletter.

The chatbot, created by OpenAI, said Turley had made sexually suggestive comments and attempted to touch a student while on a class trip to Alaska, citing a March 2018 article in The Washington Post as the source of the information. The problem: No such article existed. There had never been a class trip to Alaska. And Turley said he’d never been accused of harassing a student.

A regular commentator in the media, Turley had sometimes asked for corrections in news stories. But this time, there was no journalist or editor to call — and no way to correct the record.

“It was quite chilling,” he said in an interview with The Post. “An allegation of this kind is incredibly harmful.”

Turley’s experience is a case study in the pitfalls of the latest wave of language bots, which have captured mainstream attention with their ability to write computer code, craft poems and hold eerily humanlike conversations. But this creativity can also be an engine for erroneous claims; the models can misrepresent key facts with great flourish, even fabricating primary sources to back up their claims.

As largely unregulated artificial intelligence software such as ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing and Google’s Bard begins to be incorporated across the web, its propensity to generate potentially damaging falsehoods raises concerns about the spread of misinformation — and novel questions about who’s responsible when chatbots mislead.

April 4

ny times logoNew York Times, Noncompete Clauses Get Tighter, and TV Newsrooms Feel the Grip, Lydia DePillis, April 4, 2023 (print ed.). Job-switching barriers are routine at TV stations, even for workers not on the air. A proposed federal rule would curb the practice across all fields.

Of all the professions, perhaps none is more commonly bound by contracts that define where else an employee can go work than local television news.

ftc logoThe restrictions, known as noncompete clauses, have been a condition of the job for reporters, anchors, sportscasters and meteorologists for decades. More recently, they’ve spread to off-air roles like producers and editors — positions that often pay just barely above the poverty line — and they keep employees from moving to other stations in the same market for up to a year after their contract ends.

For that reason, there’s probably no industry that could change as much as a result of the Federal Trade Commission’s effort to severely limit noncompete clauses — if the proposed rule is not derailed before being finalized. Business trade associations are lobbying fiercely against it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Yeshiva University’s Ban on L.G.B.T.Q. Club Leads to Scrutiny of Funding, Liam Stack, April 4, 2023. A state inspector has been asked to review whether Yeshiva University, which is in a court battle with a group of L.G.B.T.Q. students over whether it must recognize their campus club, should have received $230 million in taxpayer funds after the university has said that it is a religious institution.

The referral could lead to a significant escalation in a complex case in which the university has argued in court that it is a Modern Orthodox Jewish religious institution, which would exempt it from anti-discrimination laws and allow it to reject the club. Before the 2021 lawsuit, Yeshiva described itself as an educational institution, which made it eligible for taxpayer funds but obliged it to follow city and state nondiscrimination laws.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers said the university’s legal argument raised alarm bells because it had for decades accepted public funds to pay for the construction and renovation of its facilities. The lawmakers accused Yeshiva of misrepresenting itself to obtain at least $230 million and asked the university to provide a full account within 30 days of how it had spent those funds.

Yeshiva declined to do so, said Brad Hoylman-Sigal, the chairman of the State Senate Judiciary Committee. In a letter sent last week, he asked the New York State inspector general, Lucy Lang, to investigate whether the university had misled the government “to qualify for low-cost, tax-exempt bond financing.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Twitter Users Are Still Waiting for a Check-Mark Reckoning, Kate Conger and Ryan Mac, April 4, 2023 (print ed.). The promised changes to the platform’s verification program have been slow. Attention has focused instead on the image of a doge in place of the blue Twitter bird.

twitter bird CustomWhile Twitter took away the check mark from some accounts, including that of The New York Times, most verified users retained the symbols, which have long been viewed as conferring a special status and showed that the identity of those behind the accounts had been confirmed by the social media service. Pranks from users trying to exploit the change by posing as a celebrity or another public figure were muted, with only a few hoaxes spreading on the platform.

Instead, the most prominent change to Twitter happened on Monday, when the platform’s blue bird icon was replaced on some accounts by a doge, a popular online icon of a Shiba Inu dog that has become synonymous with Dogecoin, a type of cryptocurrency. After the change to Twitter’s logo, the digital currency’s price shot up more than 30 percent.


rupert murdoch jerry hallThe Hill, Rupert Murdoch calls off engagement to Ann Lesley Smith, Dominick Mastrangelo,April 4, 2023. Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, shown above in a file photo with his ex-wife Jerry Hall, has called off his pending engagement to Ann Lesley Smith, The Hill has confirmed.

Murdoch, 92, had announced his engagement to Smith, 66, a former model, singer and radio talk show host, last month.

Murdoch, who has been married and divorced four times, at the time told The New York Post, which he owns, that he was nervous in proposing to Smith, fox news logo Smallsaying he “dreaded falling in love.”

News of their split was first reported by Vanity Fair, which cited a source who said Murdoch had “become increasingly uncomfortable with Smith’s outspoken evangelical views.”

A spokesperson for Murdoch declined to comment.

Murdoch divorced actress Jerry Hall, to whom he had been married to since 2016, last year.

 nso group logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How the U.S. Came to Use Spyware It Was Trying to Kill, Mark Mazzetti and Ronen Bergman, April 3, 2023 (print ed.). The Biden administration has been trying to choke off use of hacking tools made by an Israeli firm. But not every government agency has gotten the message.

The secret contract was finalized on Nov. 8, 2021, a deal between a company that has acted as a front for the United States government and the American affiliate of a notorious Israeli hacking firm.

Under the arrangement, the Israeli firm, NSO Group, gave the U.S. government access to one of its most powerful weapons — a geolocation tool that can covertly track mobile phones around the world without the phone user’s knowledge or consent.

If the veiled nature of the deal was unusual — it was signed for the front company by a businessman using a fake name — the timing was extraordinary.

Only five days earlier, the Biden administration had announced it was taking action against NSO, whose hacking tools for years had been abused by governments around the world to spy on political dissidents, human rights activists and journalists. The White House placed NSO on a Commerce Department blacklist, declaring the company a national security threat and sending the message that American companies should stop doing business with it.

The secret contract — which The New York Times is disclosing for the first time — violates the Biden administration’s public policy, and still appears to be active. The contract, reviewed by The Times, stated that the “United States government” would be the ultimate user of the tool, although it is unclear which government agency authorized the deal and might be using the spyware. It specifically allowed the government to test, evaluate, and even deploy the spyware against targets of its choice in Mexico.

Asked about the contract, White House officials said it was news to them.

“We are not aware of this contract, and any use of this product would be highly concerning,” said a senior administration official, responding on the basis of anonymity to address a national security issue.

Spokesmen for the White House and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to make any further comment, leaving unresolved questions: What intelligence or law enforcement officials knew about the contract when it was signed? Did any government agency direct the deployment of the technology? Could the administration be dealing with a rogue government contractor evading Mr. Biden’s own policy? And why did the contract specify Mexico?

The secret contract further illuminates the ongoing battle for control of powerful cyberweapons, both among and within governments, including the United States.

April 3


truth social logo

Forbes, Trump’s Net Worth Plunges $700 Million As Truth Social Flops, Dan Alexander, April 3, 2023. The former president’s fortune dropped from an estimated $3.2 billion last fall to $2.5 billion today. The biggest reason? His social media business, once hyped to the moon, has come crashing down, erasing $550 million from his net worth—so far.

forbes magazine l CustomIn October 2021, Donald Trump was eager for revenge. Nine months earlier he had been banned from Twitter, depriving him of his primary means of communicating with his followers. His solution? Build his own Twitter. Dubbed Truth Social, it had the potential to boost Trump’s fortune by billions. As soon as he announced the plan, supporters piled into Truth Social’s special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Shares of the SPAC, Digital World Acquisition Corp., shot up from $10 to $175 in two days, implying that the business was worth $22 billion, his interest amounting to $19 billion.

The hype never lined up with reality. In December 2021, a group of big-money investors promised to inject $1 billion in cash into the venture—but only if they got a sweetheart deal. By that point, shares were trading for $45 on the open market. But under the agreement, the new investors would be guaranteed a profit as long as the shares stayed above $10. When previously estimating the value of Trump’s stake, Forbes used that $10-per-share figure and came to $730 million.

But things have changed. Even Trump’s die-hard fans are not as excited by Truth Social as they once were. The Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Regulatory Agency are all examining the venture, looking at things such as trading activity and communications between the SPAC and Trump’s business. Meanwhile, the SPAC, which fired its chief executive last month, only has until September 8 to complete the merger. Further complicating matters, Elon Musk bought Twitter in October, and promptly reversed the ban on Trump and other right-wing figures. That undermined the case that the world needed a more conservative version of Twitter. Today, shares of Trump’s SPAC are 92% off their highs, trading at $14 apiece, a level that suggests the former president’s business is worth $1.2 billion.

That still seems absurdly high. The fundamental problem is that barely anyone uses Truth Social. Before it launched, an investor presentation suggested the app would attract 81 million users by 2026. Now, over a year after going live, it has only an estimated 5 million. Given that Trump owns roughly 85% of the business and Twitter is worth an estima­ted $42 per user, the former president’s stake probably adds up to about $180 million today. The drop helped push him 205 spots lower on the 2023 World’s Billionaires list, to No. 1,217.

Even that might be too high. Truth Social is adding an estimated 100,000 users per month. If people continue to join at the current pace—and assuming that no one quits or dies—Truth Social will not hit its projected 81 million users until 2086. By that point, Trump would be 140 years old. A more likely outcome: Truth Social will join Trump Steaks, Trump University and in the graveyard of failed Trump ventures.

ny times logoNew York Times, Right-Wing Media Splits From DeSantis on Press Protections, Ken Bensinger, April 3, 2023. Gov. Ron DeSantis’s war against mainstream media outlets could wound even his boosters in the conservative press.

ron desantis oGov. Ron DeSantis, right, has long courted right-wing news outlets, while dismissing mainstream reporters as biased and untrustworthy. But legislation that would sharply curb press freedom in Florida is creating a rare rift between the governor and the media that have helped propel his rise.

The legislation, drafted at Mr. DeSantis’s urging as he inches toward a presidential bid, takes aim at several protections in state and federal law, including the decades-old Supreme Court precedent that makes it difficult for public figures to win libel lawsuits. The proposals are packaged in two bills moving through the Republican-controlled Legislature.

While public opposition has largely come from left-leaning and nonpartisan free-speech groups, forces traditionally aligned with Mr. DeSantis have in recent weeks begun raising alarm. They are warning that the governor and his G.O.P. allies did not take into account how the bills would affect right-wing reporters and commentators, not just the mainstream outlets that have become punching bags for Republican politicians.

“The sword cuts both ways,” Trey Radel, a radio talk show host and former Republican congressman, said late last month as he railed against the legislation on his evening drive-time show.

Mr. Radel argued that the two proposed bills could prompt a torrent of costly libel suits against conservative websites and talk and news stations such as the one that broadcasts his program, a Fox News affiliate in Fort Myers. Such litigation could put stations like his out of business, he added, “and here is who’s going to pay the biggest price politically: Ron DeSantis.”

The legislation being considered in Tallahassee seeks to challenge the longstanding Supreme Court precedent known as New York Times v. Sullivan — which protects publishers of all sorts from defamation suits unless an error is found to be willful or the result of negligence. The legislation would also eliminate several protections for journalists in Florida, narrow the definition of a public figure, and establish the presumption that any statement from an anonymous source, including whistle-blowers, is automatically deemed false.

Throughout his political career, Mr. DeSantis has relied heavily on conservative media, slipping well-timed scoops to outlets such as Breitbart News and The Epoch Times and frequently appearing on prime-time shows on Fox News. He has cast mainstream reporters as hostile and suggested the news media has abused its protection afforded in the First Amendment.

“At the end of the day it’s our view in Florida that we want to be standing up for the little guy against some of these massive media conglomerates.” Mr. DeSantis said during a round-table event on defamation he hosted in February.

ny times logoNew York Times, Seymour Stein, Record Industry Giant Who Signed Madonna, Dies at 80, Ben Sisario, April 3, 2023 (print ed.). With an encyclopedic knowledge of pop music, he championed acts including the Ramones and the Pretenders, and helped found the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

It was early 1957, and a nervous teenager named Seymour Steinbigle sat in a midtown office with his father and a hard-bitten record producer who was offering to mentor the young man in the ways of the music business.

“Listen,” the producer, Syd Nathan, told the skeptical parent. “Your son has shellac in his veins,” referring to the brittle material used in 78 r.p.m. records.

“If he can’t be in the music business, it’s going to ruin his life,” Mr. Nathan added. “He’ll wind up doing nothing and will have to deliver newspapers.”

The pitch worked. Mr. Steinbigle agreed to let his son spend the next two summers in Cincinnati at Mr. Nathan’s company, King Records, home to R&B stars like James Brown and Little Willie John.

ny times logoNew York Times, Netflix Shifts Approach, Pushing Content That Can ‘Pop,’ Nicole Sperling, April 3, 2023. The streaming service long thought spending on ads didn’t result in more viewers. That has subtly changed under the marketing chief Marian Lee.

April 2

 evan gershkovitz

ny times logoNew York Times, Journalist Detained by Russia Was Reporting Stories That ‘Needed to Be Told,’ Katie Robertson, April 2, 2023. Evan Gershkovich, above, who works for The Wall Street Journal, knew the risks of reporting in Russia but felt a deep connection to the country, his friends said.

The reporting job in Moscow had everything Evan Gershkovich was looking for, his friends said: experience in a far-flung location with the chance to connect with his Russian roots.

wsj logoMr. Gershkovich, 31, an American journalist born to Soviet émigrés, moved from New York to Russia in late 2017 to take up his first reporting role, a job at The Moscow Times and, his friends and co-workers said, he quickly embraced life in Moscow.

“He had no hesitation; he was really ready to try something totally new,” said Nora Biette-Timmons, a friend from college and the deputy editor of Jezebel, adding, “I remember so distinctly how much he loved what he was doing.”

In January 2022, he was hired as a Moscow-based correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, a dream job, his friends said.

But on Thursday, in a move that intensified tensions between Moscow and the West, Russian authorities said that they had detained the journalist, accusing him of “spying in the interests of the American government.”

Russia has not provided any evidence to back up the accusations, and Mr. Gershkovich, and his employer have denied the allegation. Russian state media said Mr. Gershkovich was being held at a prison in Moscow to await trial after being transported from Yekaterinburg, a city 900 miles away in the Ural Mountains where he was arrested. He is the first American journalist detained on espionage charges since the end of the Cold War and faces up to 20 years in jail.

Dozens of global news organizations have condemned the arrest and President Biden on Friday called for Mr. Gershkovich’s immediate release. Top editors and press freedom organizations from around the world wrote to the Russian ambassador to the United States on Thursday, saying that the arrest was “unwarranted and unjust” and “a significant escalation in your government’s anti-press actions.”

The letter went on, “Russia is sending the message that journalism within your borders is criminalized and that foreign correspondents seeking to report from Russia do not enjoy the benefits of the rule of law.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago has drastically heightened the risks for journalists trying to report in the region. After the start of the war, many independent Russian outlets were shut down and Russian journalists were forced to flee. Western outlets that had operated bureaus in the country for decades moved their reporters out, and few Western journalists remain full-time in the country today. Some reporters have continued to file stories from Russia by traveling in and out as needed.

April 1elon musk safe image time

ny times logoNew York Times, Tech Fix: Twitter’s Blue Check Apocalypse Is Upon Us. Here’s What to Know, Brian X. Chen and Ryan Mac, April 1, 2023 (print ed.). Elon Musk, above, Twitter’s owner, is changing the platform’s longstanding practice of verifying accounts. That has implications for a range of users.

The blue check mark on Twitter has long conferred a special status. Only certain accounts — typically those of public figures whose identities were confirmed — have been bestowed the symbol.

twitter bird CustomNow that is changing.

Starting on Saturday, many Twitter accounts will lose the check mark under modifications being made by Elon Musk, the social media company’s owner. Individual users must buy a subscription to Twitter’s Blue service, which costs $8 a month, to obtain the badge. Businesses that are currently unverified will have to pay $1,000 a month if they want a gold check mark verifying their account.

The move, which will help Twitter generate revenue by making certain features exclusive to subscribers, has implications for a range of users on the platform. Here’s what to know.

For those of you who primarily use Twitter to follow celebrities and news sites, this policy change will affect what you see and read on the service.

What does the change mean for Twitter users?

For those of you who primarily use Twitter to follow celebrities and news sites, this policy change will affect what you see and read on the service.

You may see fewer tweets from accounts you care about in your timeline, for instance, because individuals who choose not to pay for Twitter Blue will become less visible on the site.

 It may become harder for most users to discern real people from phony accounts. If check marks are removed from the accounts of celebrities who are unwilling to pay for Blue, for example, it could become difficult to distinguish their accounts from impersonators.

Mr. Musk has said only posts from paid accounts with blue checks will be visible in Twitter’s “For You” tab, the default timeline of tweets that the platform shows you based on your interests. The only exception, he later said, will be posts from nonverified accounts that you already follow, which will continue showing up in your timeline.

All of this means it is likely to become tougher to discover posts from accounts without the blue check marks. For example, if you follow lots of news about sports and a nonverified account tweets some sports-related news, you won’t see it in your timeline unless you already follow that account. In the past, you may have found that content purely because it went viral.

One caveat to these likely changes is that Mr. Musk is not known for always following through on his public intentions. So parts of the check-mark policy could change as Twitter rolls it out.

Will people start paying for the check marks?

That all depends on whether the account holder derives enough value from having a blue check mark to justify paying for it.

Celebrities and institutions might choose not to pay because they already have large numbers of followers who will continue to see their posts.

The New York Times, which has nearly 55 million followers on Twitter, said on Thursday that it would not pay for the verified badge for its institutional accounts, including @nytimes. The Times also told its journalists that it would not reimburse them for a Twitter Blue subscription, except in rare cases when it was necessary for reporting.

But other types of Twitter users may choose to pay for the check marks. Those include some small businesses that use Twitter to market their services and want their content to reach broader audiences. In this scenario, paying for verification will essentially be an advertising expense.

Among social media companies such as Meta and Snap, Twitter is the smallest social network, and the company continues to shrink in size and relevance.

Mr. Musk has shed much of Twitter’s staff, leaving the company with fewer than 2,000 employees, down from 7,500 when he took over in October. The site still has problems with bots posting spam and impostor accounts impersonating public figures. Security issues, glitches and bugs are piling up. And some influencers and journalists are migrating to other platforms, including Mastodon, LinkedIn and Instagram.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Elon Musk’s Twitter pushes hate speech, extremist content into ‘For You’ pages, Faiz Siddiqui and Jeremy B. Merrill, April 1, 2023 (print ed.). A Washington Post analysis found that accounts following dozens of Twitter handles pushing hate speech were subjected to an algorithmic echo chamber, in which Twitter fed additional hateful and racist content to users.

twitter bird CustomTwitter is amplifying hate speech in its “For You” timeline, an unintended side effect of an algorithm that is supposed to show users more of what they want.

According to a Washington Post analysis of Twitter’s recommendation algorithm, accounts that followed “extremists” — hate-promoting accounts identified in a list provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center — were subjected to a mix of other racist and incendiary speech. That included tweets from a self-proclaimed Nazi, for example, a user the account did not follow.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rand Paul blocks Josh Hawley’s bid to ban TikTok in GOP split, Mariana Alfaro and Kelsey Ables, March 31, 2023 (print ed.). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blocked an effort by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to fast-track legislation he introduced that would ban the popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok nationwide.

On Wednesday evening, Hawley took to the Senate floor to ask for unanimous consent to begin work on his “No TikTok on United States Devices Act.” Although Republicans have long said TikTok should be limited, Paul said he objected, arguing Hawley’s ban amounts to an attack on the First Amendment.

“To those who are worried that the Chinese government might somehow now have access to millions of American teenagers’ information — realize that all social media sucks up personal data that people voluntarily provide,” Paul said. “If you’re going to ban TikTok, what’s next?”

While introducing his request, Hawley said TikTok presents a threat and called for protecting “the security of every single American whose personal lives, whose personal data, whose personal security is in danger from the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.”



March 31

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Musk’s Change to Twitter’s Blue Check Mark Angers Celebrities, Alexa Corse, March 31, 2023 (print ed.). William Shatner, Jason Alexander and Monica Lewinsky have criticized the move to tie a social-media status symbol to platform subscriptions.

twitter bird CustomTwitter Inc.’s plan to remove legacy blue check marks for verified accounts heralds an end to a longtime social-media status symbol and is prompting complaints from some of the platform’s celebrity contributors concerned about potential impersonation.

The departing system, in which Twitter verified notable accounts to confirm their authenticity by adding a blue check mark next to the user’s name, will give way starting April 1 to one in which users must purchase a subscription to be verified, the company has said.

Twitter, which previously didn’t charge for verification, is only providing it now to those who pay $8 to $11 for a monthly subscription, depending on whether it is paid via mobile or web browser.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mark Russell, political satirist with a star-spangled piano, dies at 90, Bart Barnes, March 31, 2023 (print ed.). With his instrument of choice, he called himself a “political cartoonist for the blind.”

Mark Russell, Washington’s social-political satirist and stand-up comic who spoofed, teased and laughed at celebrities, politicians, politics and popular culture for more than 50 years from behind his star-spangled piano, died March 30 at his home in D.C. He was 90.

The cause was complications from prostate cancer, said his wife, Alison Russell.

From the waning years of Dwight Eisenhower’s administration through the presidencies of 10 succeeding chief executives, Mr. Russell poked fun at the foibles and flaws of the well-known, the pompous and the powerful in monologues replete with pithy one-liners and musical ditties. He called himself “a political cartoonist for the blind.”

Long an institution on Washington’s stages and in hotel bars, Mr. Russell gained a national following on public television, where for 30 years he made regular broadcasts. In the 1980s and 1990s, he took his show on the road, appearing live in public and corporate venues in cities and towns across the United States.

washington post logoWashington Post, AI company behind fake depictions of Trump and pope lets users generate images of world leaders, but not Xi, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Drew Harwell, March 31, 2023 (print ed.). Midjourney, the year-old firm behind recent fake visuals of Donald Trump and the pope, illustrates the lack of oversight accompanying spectacular strides in AI.

Overseas Press Club (OPC), OPC Condemns Russia’s Arrest of Wall Street Journal Reporter Evan Gershkovich, Staff Report, March 31, 2023. The Overseas Press Club of America strongly condemns and expresses its deep concern over the press freedom implications of the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in Russia for alleged espionage.

evan gershkovitzGershkovich, right, a 31-year-old U.S. journalist, was arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service and detained in the city of Yekaterinburg on suspicion “of espionage in the interests of the American government.” The security service, known as FSB, alleges the journalist collected information “constituting a state secret.” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement condemned the detention “in the strongest terms.”

The Wall Street Journal denies the allegations and is calling for Gershkovich’s immediate release. His detainment marks the first time Russia has charged a U.S. journalist with spying since the Cold War. His recent stories include a look at how international sanctions are affecting Russia’s economy and on tensions between the Kremlin elite and the Wagner paramilitary force.

The OPC joins calls for Gershkovich’s immediate release and expresses deep concern over journalists being used as pawns amid geopolitical tensions between countries. By all accounts, Gershkovich was simply doing his job as a journalist. He is accredited to the Wall Street Journal’s bureau in Moscow with the Russian Foreign Ministry, and previously worked as a reporter for Agence France-Presse and the Moscow Times.

The OPC, the largest association in the United States of journalists engaged in international news, steadfastly supports the rights of journalists around the world to freely report without harassment or detention by any government body or agency. Journalism is not a crime.

washington post logoWashington Post, Gwyneth Paltrow not liable for Utah ski collision and awarded $1, jury rules, Sonia Rao and Maham Javaid, March 31, 2023 (print ed.). A jury ruled Thursday that Gwyneth Paltrow was not liable for a 2016 ski collision with a man who claims the Oscar-winning actress careened into him on a slope in Utah and left him with life-altering brain trauma.

The actor was not at fault in the accident while Sanderson was “one hundred percent at fault,” the jury said in the verdict. The retired optometrist was also held liable for causing Paltrow harm and owes her $1 for compensation of economic damages.

Terry Sanderson, a 76-year-old retired optometrist, had sought upward of $300,000 in damages from the actress — down from the $3 million for which he originally sued after he and Paltrow collided on a beginner’s slope in February 2016 at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, one of the top Alpine ranges in the country. A jury took three hours to deliberate before deciding that the 2016 accident was Sanderson’s fault and that it caused harm to Paltrow.

The amount of money at stake in the lawsuit paled in comparison to the spectacle around it, with observers analyzing Paltrow’s fashion choices as she sat silently through long days of testimony, and her legal team complaining that journalists in the courtroom kept taking close-ups shots of the actress when she wasn’t speaking. Her attorney Stephen Owens said in closing arguments that it took “a lot of courage” for Paltrow to sit through proceedings.

The two-week trial veered toward absurdity when Paltrow, 50, took the stand on March 24 to argue that Sanderson’s account of the crash was largely fabricated. Sanderson attorney Kristin VanOrman’s interrogation resembled a tabloid magazine interview at points.

ny times logoNew York Times, Publishers Worry A.I. Chatbots Will Cut Readership, Katie Robertson, March 31, 2023 (print ed.). Many sites get at least half their traffic from search engines. Fuller results generated by new chatbots could mean far fewer visitors.

The publishing industry has spent the past two decades struggling to adjust to the internet, as print circulation has plummeted and tech companies have gobbled up rivers of advertising revenue.

Now come the chatbots.

New artificial intelligence tools from Google and Microsoft give answers to search queries in full paragraphs rather than a list of links. Many publishers worry that far fewer people will click through to news sites as a result, shrinking traffic — and, by extension, revenue.

The new A.I. search tools remain in limited release, so publishers such as Condé Nast and Vice have not yet seen an effect on their business. But in an effort to prevent the industry from being upended without their input, many are pulling together task forces to weigh options, making the topic a priority at industry conferences and, through a trade organization, planning a push to be paid for the use of their content by chatbots.

“You could essentially call this the Wikipedia-ization of a lot of information,” said Bryan Goldberg, the chief executive of BDG, which publishes lifestyle and culture websites like Bustle, Nylon and Romper. “You’re bringing together Wikipedia-style answers to an infinite number of questions, and that’s just going to nuke many corners of the open web.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Anti-Israel Protests Cost Indonesia a FIFA Soccer Championship, Sui-Lee Wee and Victor Mather, March 31, 2023 (print ed.). Preparations for the tournament were thrown into disarray when a governor asked Indonesia’s sports ministry to bar Israel’s team from participating.

When a stampede at a soccer stadium in Indonesia killed 135 people last year, it became one of the worst disasters in the sport’s history, leaving fans and players traumatized.

Indonesian officials saw the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, scheduled to be held in Indonesia from May 20 to June 11, as an opportunity to undo some of the damage caused by the disaster and to repair the country’s reputation among soccer fans.

Instead, Indonesia was stripped of its championship hosting duties by FIFA on Wednesday amid protests over Israel’s participation, a blow to the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation as it seeks to burnish its influence on the global stage.

Israel’s team qualified for the tournament for the first time this year, a result that proved to be fraught in Indonesia, which has longstanding sympathies for Palestinians.

The dispute comes at a time when Indonesia’s conservative Muslims have become more outspoken and many officials are worried about making a wrong move ahead of next year’s presidential election. Supporting Palestinians remains hugely popular in the country.

In a viral video, veteran Indonesian journalist Najwa Shihab denounced fellow Indonesians who “talk loudly about the sufferings of the Palestinians,” but have chosen to close their eyes to the injustice suffered by the victims of last year’s soccer stadium tragedy.

Preparations for the tournament were thrown into disarray when Wayan Koster, the governor of Bali, wrote to Indonesia’s sports ministry earlier this month asking the agency to bar Israel from playing in his province.

The tournament’s draw had been scheduled to be held on the island this week. When FIFA postponed it after learning of Mr. Koster’s request, it sparked a crisis for the Indonesian government.

Conservative Muslim protesters marched on Monday in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, carrying signs and chanting slogans objecting to Israel’s participation. On Tuesday, President Joko Widodo addressed the nation, telling Indonesians that the government had always been “consistent and firm in fighting for and supporting the independence of a Palestinian nation and supporting the achievement of a two-state solution.”

Indonesia could face further penalties in the weeks ahead, including a possible ban from qualifying for the 2026 World Cup. Mr. Erick said that he had “tried his best” to resolve the situation and that the country had to accept FIFA’s decision. “I ask all soccer lovers to keep their heads held high over this tough decision by FIFA,” he said in a statement.

Indonesia has spent close to $12 million renovating five stadiums and 20 practice fields in preparation for the championship. DJs and musicians have teamed up on an official soundtrack. By Thursday morning, Nova Rianto, a visibly emotional assistant coach with Indonesia’s under-20 team, posted a video on Instagram showing players sniffling as he tried to console them.

ny times logoNew York Times, Tokyo Olympics Scandal Fouls Hopes for a Sapporo Winter Games, Ben Dooley and Hisako Ueno, March 31, 2023 (print ed.). The International Olympic Committee was already struggling to find hosts for the Winter Games. Sapporo’s flailing 2030 bid has added another headache.



djt hillary clinton 3rd debate puppet comment

Emptywheel, Analysis: Douglass Mackey’s Criminal Twitter Trolling, Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler), March 31, 2023. For the entire time since MattyDickPics marcy wheelerstarted complaining about the fact he couldn’t see nonconsensual pictures of Hunter Biden’s dick, he and other apologists for disinformation have claimed there was nothing to the effort to suppress the vote using Twitter.

A jury in Brooklyn just decided otherwise. Douglass Mackey — who was indicted for attempting to suppress the Black and Latino vote in 2016 — was found guilty of conspiring to violate his targets’ right to vote.

douglass mackeyAs proven at trial, between September 2016 and November 2016, Mackey, left, conspired with other influential Twitter users and with members of private online groups to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages that encouraged supporters of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (shown with Trump at their third debate in 2016) to “vote” via text message or social media which, in reality, was legally invalid.

For example, on November 1, 2016, in or around the same time that Mackey was sending tweets suggesting the importance of limiting “black turnout,” the defendant tweeted an image depicting an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for Hillary” sign. The ad stated: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925,” and “Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.” The fine print at the bottom of the deceptive image stated: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by Hillary For President 2016.”

The tweet included the typed hashtag “#ImWithHer,” a slogan frequently used by Hillary Clinton. On or about and before Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted “Hillary” or some derivative to the 59925 text number, which had been used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by Mackey and his co-conspirators.

Several hours after tweeting the first image, Mackey tweeted an image depicting a woman seated at a conference room typing a message on her cell phone. This deceptive image was written in Spanish and mimicked a font used by the Clinton campaign in authentic ads. The image also included a copy of the Clinton campaign’s logo and the “ImWithHer” hashtag.

The people with whom Mackey conspired are a collection of leading figures in the (Russian-backed) alt-Right.

I plan to return to this trial in weeks ahead.

But for the moment, this verdict says that all the disinformation that Matt Taibbi and Elon Musk are working to replatform on Twitter has been found to be potentially criminal.

March 30

evan gershkovitz

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia detained a Wall Street Journal reporter, accusing him of espionage, Daniel Victor and Michael M. Grynbaum, March 30, 2023. The newspaper said it “vehemently denies the allegations” against Evan Gershkovich, an American shown above, and called for his immediate release.

Russian FlagThe Russian authorities said on Thursday that they had detained an American journalist for The Wall Street Journal and accused him of espionage, marking a new escalation in Moscow’s tensions with the United States and with foreign media organizations since the start of its invasion of Ukraine.

The journalist, Evan Gershkovich, a correspondent based in Moscow, is believed to be the first American reporter to be held as an accused spy in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. His detention comes as relations between Russia and the United States continue to deteriorate, with Washington leading a coalition of nations supporting Ukraine’s military defense and pushing for Moscow’s further diplomatic and economic isolation.

The Russian Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., said in a statement that Mr. Gershkovich “is suspected of spying in the interests of the American government” and had been detained in Yekaterinburg, a city about 900 miles east of Moscow in the Ural Mountains. The F.S.B. is a successor agency to the Soviet-era K.G.B.

“It was established that E. Gershkovich, acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex,” the F.S.B. said. Hours after the F.S.B.’s announcement, the Kremlin endorsed Mr. Gershkovich’s arrest.

National Press Club, Club Calls For Russia To Release Evan Gershkovich, Bill McCarren, March 30, 2023. Following is a statement from Eileen OReilly, national  press club logoPresident of the National Press Club and Gil Klein, President of the National Press Club Journalism Institute urging the immediate release of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter and U.S. citizen detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service while working near Yekaterinburg in west central Russia 880 miles from Moscow.

“Evan Gershkovich is a journalist. He should be released immediately and unharmed and allowed to return to his important work. Evan has a significant and distinguished career working for the New York Times and AFP prior to the Wall Street Journal. We consider this an unjust detention and call on the State Department to designate his detention in that manner at once.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Publishers Worry A.I. Chatbots Will Cut Readership, Katie Robertson, March 30, 2023. Many sites get at least half their traffic from search engines. Fuller results generated by new chatbots could mean far fewer visitors.

The publishing industry has spent the past two decades struggling to adjust to the internet, as print circulation has plummeted and tech companies have gobbled up rivers of advertising revenue.

Now come the chatbots.

New artificial intelligence tools from Google and Microsoft give answers to search queries in full paragraphs rather than a list of links. Many publishers worry that far fewer people will click through to news sites as a result, shrinking traffic — and, by extension, revenue.

The new A.I. search tools remain in limited release, so publishers such as Condé Nast and Vice have not yet seen an effect on their business. But in an effort to prevent the industry from being upended without their input, many are pulling together task forces to weigh options, making the topic a priority at industry conferences and, through a trade organization, planning a push to be paid for the use of their content by chatbots.

“You could essentially call this the Wikipedia-ization of a lot of information,” said Bryan Goldberg, the chief executive of BDG, which publishes lifestyle and culture websites like Bustle, Nylon and Romper. “You’re bringing together Wikipedia-style answers to an infinite number of questions, and that’s just going to nuke many corners of the open web.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Florida School Banned a Disney Movie About Ruby Bridges. Here’s What That Really Means, Charles M. Blow, right, March 30, 2023 charles blow custom(print ed.). This month, an elementary school in St. Petersburg, Fla., stopped showing a 1998 Disney movie about Ruby Bridges, the 6-year-old Black girl who integrated a public elementary school in New Orleans in 1960, because of a complaint lodged by a single parent who said she feared the film might teach children that white people hate Black people.

The school banned the film until it could be reviewed. So I decided to review the film myself.

First, here’s a refresher on Ruby: When she integrated that school, she had to be escorted by federal marshals. She was met by throngs of white racists — adults! — jeering, hurling epithets, spitting at her and threatening her life. Parents withdrew their children.

Only one teacher would teach her, so every day that 6-year-old girl had to be in class by herself, save for the teacher, and eat lunch alone.

Ruby became afraid to eat because one of the protesters threatened to poison her. Her father lost his job, and the local grocery asked that her family not come back to the store.

All of this was endured by a Black first grader, but now a Florida parent worries that it’s too much for second graders to hear, see and learn about.

Furthermore, of all the ways Ruby’s story could have been portrayed, the Disney version is the most generous, including developed story lines for Ruby’s white teacher and the white psychiatrist who treated her. And in the end, another white teacher and a white student come around to some form of acceptance.

The movie is what you’d expect: a lamentable story about a deplorable chapter in our history, earnestly told, with some of the sharpest edges blunted, making it easier for children to absorb.

But in Florida, the point isn’t the protection of children but the deceiving of them. It’s to fight so-called woke indoctrination with a historical whitewash.

And the state has given individual parents extraordinary authority as foot soldiers in this campaign: In this case, a single objecting parent is apparently enough to have a lesson about our very recent history questioned or even banned. Remember: Bridges isn’t some ancient figure in a dusty textbook, she’s alive and well today. She’s 12 years younger than my own mother.

Earlier this year, in the same school district, Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” was banned from all district high schools because a parent complained about a rape scene in the book.

Also this month, a principal in Florida was pressured to resign after students were shown Michelangelo’s statue of David, a biblical figure no less, and three parents complained.

Giving so few parents so much power to take educational options away from other parents and children runs counter to the spirit of democracy and free inquiry, and enshrines a form of parental tyranny of the hypersensitive, the inexplicably aggrieved and the maliciously oppressive.

It portends an era of bedlam in Florida’s schools, all courtesy of extremist state legislators’ and Gov. Ron DeSantis’s quixotic war on wokeness.

ny times logoNew York Times, Tokyo Olympics Scandal Fouls Hopes for a Sapporo Winter Games, Ben Dooley and Hisako Ueno, March 30, 2023. The International Olympic Committee was already struggling to find hosts for the Winter Games. Sapporo’s flailing 2030 bid has added another headache.

March 29

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: How Fox News is trying to guide its viewers away from Trump, Philip Bump, March 29, 2023 (print ed.). The network’s (and Murdoch’s) initial skepticism of Trump in the 2016 primaries gave way to four years of hagiography. There was a good reason for this, articulated by journalists Peter Baker and Susan Glasser in a book published last year. Trump, longtime Fox News honcho Roger Ailes believed, “was someone who connected with the Fox audience even more than Fox did.” So the network allied with Trump in an effort to placate his news logo Small

Then he lost. Murdoch told allies a few weeks after the election that, in a month, Trump would “be becoming irrelevant.” He predicted Trump would concede. But Trump didn’t concede and, instead, stoked his base to demand fealty to Trump’s false claims about election fraud. Suddenly, Fox found itself at risk of falling victim to the imbalance that Ailes had feared. Its hosts grasped at conspiracy theories to bolster viewership.

After the Capitol riot, Murdoch tried again.

“We want to make Trump a non person,” Murdoch wrote to another executive. It soon became apparent that, like many other Trump-skeptical Republicans, the network saw DeSantis as the best transition away from Trump: echoing the former president’s politics but without being Trump. In July 2022, a video segment produced by Fox went viral as it focused on various former Trump voters hyping DeSantis as their new favorite.

Trump’s interview with Hannity — deep enough in the tank for Trump that it probably gets lonely — was the former president’s first interview on the network in months. Hannity gave Trump the usual kid-glove treatment, helping steer the 2024 candidate away from iffy rhetoric where he could. His question about DeSantis, though, yielded an extended riff about DeSantis’s perceived disloyalty.

March 27

ny times logoNew York Times, Twitter Says Parts of Its Source Code Were Leaked Online, Ryan Mac and Kate Conger, March 27, 2023 (print ed.). The leak adds to the challenges facing Elon Musk’s company, which is trying to identify the person responsible and any others who downloaded the code.

twitter bird CustomParts of Twitter’s source code, the underlying computer code on which the social network runs, were leaked online, according to a legal filing, a rare and major exposure of intellectual property as the company struggles to reduce technical issues and reverse its business fortunes under Elon Musk.

Twitter moved on Friday to have the leaked code taken down by sending a copyright infringement notice to GitHub, an online collaboration platform for software developers where the code was posted, according to the filing. GitHub complied and took down the code that day. It was unclear how long the leaked code had been online, but it appeared to have been public for at least several months.

Twitter also asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to order GitHub to identify the person who shared the code and any other individuals who downloaded it, according to the filing.

Twitter began an investigation into the leak and executives handling the matter have surmised that whoever was responsible left the San Francisco-based company last year, two people briefed on the internal investigation said. Since Mr. Musk bought Twitter in October for $44 billion, about 75 percent of the company’s 7,500 employees have been laid off or resigned.

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk Values Twitter at $20 Billion, Kate Conger and Ryan Mac, March 27, 2023 (print ed.). The billionaire bought the social media company for $44 billion in October and took it private.

elon musk 2015Elon Musk, right, said Twitter is now worth about $20 billion, according to an email he sent the company’s employees on Friday, a significant drop from the $44 billion that he paid to buy the social network in October.

twitter bird CustomThe email, which was viewed by The New York Times, was sent to employees to announce a new stock compensation program. In it, Mr. Musk warned workers that Twitter remained in a precarious financial position and, at one point, had been four months away from running out of money. He said “radical changes” at the company, including mass layoffs and cost cutting, were necessary to avoid bankruptcy and streamline operations.

“Twitter is being reshaped rapidly,” Mr. Musk wrote, adding that the company could be thought of as “an inverse start-up.”

Twitter’s value has declined as Mr. Musk has dramatically overhauled the company. In October, Mr. Musk took Twitter private, which means it is no longer obligated to provide transparency about its finances. But the billionaire has indicated publicly that the company lost revenue as advertisers fled the platform after his takeover, and suggested that Twitter was in danger of bankruptcy.

The $20 billion figure values Twitter slightly higher than Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, which has recently struggled with an advertising slump and predicted its revenue would fall. Snap, which has a market capitalization of about $18 billion, has about 375 million daily active users, compared with Twitter’s 237.8 million in the company’s final public disclosure before it went private.

According to Mr. Musk’s email about the new stock compensation program, Twitter employees will receive stock in X Corporation, the holding company he used to buy the company. Those awards will be granted under the $20 billion valuation. Mr. Musk also said in the email that he believed Twitter could someday be worth $250 billion.

ny times logoNew York Times, Tinkering With ChatGPT, Workers Wonder: Will This Take My Job?  Lydia DePillis and Steve Lohr, March 29, 2023 (print ed.). Artificial intelligence is confronting white-collar professionals more directly than ever. It could make them more productive — or obsolete.

Texas Tribune, Texas Observer, legendary crusading liberal magazine, is closing and laying off its staff, Sewell Chan and Brandon Formby, Updated March 27, 2023. The 68-year-old progressive publication, which published Ronnie Dugger, Molly Ivins and Kaye Northcott, hit financial troubles and wasn’t able to broaden its audience, board members said.

The Texas Observer, the storied progressive publication known for its feisty, combative and often humorous investigative journalism, is shutting down and will lay off its 17-person staff, including 13 journalists, several members of its board said Sunday.

lyndon johnson phone 1 10 64 lbj libraryThe decision marks an end to 68 years of publication, starting with its founding in 1954 by Ronnie Dugger and including a six-year period under the helm of the legendary Molly Ivins from 1970 to 1976. The magazine, in its first few decades, represented the liberal wing of the once-conservative Democratic Party. It was a thorn in the side of Lyndon B. Johnson, shown at right in a file photo, when he was Senate majority leader (before he became president), Govs. Allen Shivers and John B. Connally, and other conservative Democrats. And it chronicled the era in which Texas was remade into a Republican stronghold that sent a governor, George W. Bush, to the White House.

The closing of the Observer raises questions about whether small progressive publications can survive the digital transformation of journalism and the information ecosystem during a time of rapid social, demographic and technological change.

March 24



ronald reagan 1981 w

Going Deep with Russ Baker, Investigative Commentary: The Iran Hostages, Carter, Reagan, and Bush: What the NY Times ‘Scoop’ Missed, Russ Baker, right, whowhatwhy logoauthor, widely published journalist and founder of the WhoWhatWhy investigative project, russ baker new head and shouldersMarch 25, 2023. A seemingly stolen election in 1980 led to the US of today, where the richest one percent hold power over the rest of the population.

Recently, The New York Times published an article with a stunning new claim that seemingly verifies a long-alleged plot by Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign to prevent Jimmy Carter, below left, from winning reelection.

jimmy carter portraitThe fact of the Times publishing the scoop was significant, since the paper has generally dismissed the so-called October Surprise theory, relying on a congressional investigation that I and many believe was a whitewash.

In fact, though I have come to believe there’s enough evidence to conclude that the Reagan campaign did carry out this outrageous and illegal operation, I also have doubts about the new material.

But my big beef is how the Times, following a familiar pattern, presents something in isolation as if completely unaware of, or unwilling to discuss, the much vaster criminality of which it is part. That larger framework is required for anyone trying to understand the political corruption and immorality that has long afflicted America, and the profound consequences still being felt 43 years later.

Carter Election Mystery

On Wednesday evening, October 30, 2019, Speaker Nancy Pelosi received the 2019 LBJ Liberty & Justice for All award from the LBJ Foundation. The event was held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington D.C...LBJ Foundation photo by Amanda Rhoades.The article recounts the story of a former Texas politician, Ben Barne (shown at left in a 2019 photo), who says he accompanied his friend and business partner John Connally, a former Democratic Texas governor turned Republican (shown at right on a 1979 Time Magazine cover), on a trip to the Middle East in 1980. john connally time coverDuring the trip, Barnes says, they met a slew of Arab leaders. Barnes now says he suspects the real purpose of the trip was to help Reagan steal the election:

Mr. Barnes said he was certain the point of Mr. Connally’s trip was to get a message to the Iranians to hold the hostages until after the election. “I’ll go to my grave believing that it was the purpose of the trip,” he said.

This is a new wrinkle on a topic that has confounded investigators and researchers for decades.

The background: 52 Americans were taken hostage in the 1979 Iranian revolution led by exiled Muslim cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This was the long-festering blowback from the CIA-orchestrated 1953 Iranian coup d’état, which put the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, back into power. His puppet government spent two decades torturing and murdering Iranian dissenters. The US media’s nightly drumbeat of coverage about the hostages’ plight CIA Logoreminded audiences of Carter’s complete failure. It was such a hot topic that it led to the launching of the first new network news program in a decade, Nightline with Ted Koppel.

The Reagan campaign was panicked that Carter would succeed in negotiations to get the American hostages released prior to the election — and, some believe, they endeavored to block any deal. Although that is every bit as treasonous as it sounds, we now know that this is not the first time a Republican presidential candidate negotiated against the interests of America to enhance his career. Richard Nixon’s campaign worked aggressively to block Democratic peace negotiations to end the Vietnam War in 1968 for the same reason.

CIA Director William Casey, left, and Vice President George H.W. Bush, below right, President Ronald Reagan portraits published in the Michael Evans william casey reagan libraryPortrait Project in 1985 from the Reagan Library

According to some accounts, William Casey, Reagan’s campaign manager and a future director of the CIA, met with Iran’s representatives in Madrid in July and August of 1980. Then, in October, according to these accounts, Casey was joined by George H.W. Bush, Reagan’s vice presidential candidate and a george h w bush reagan libraryformer director of the CIA, in a Paris meeting with the Iranians, where they nailed a deal to sell arms to Iran if Iran held the hostages until Reagan could beat Carter. Of course, it would have been most unusual for private citizens to meet with any foreign government, let alone one with whom the US was in a de facto war. Most striking, of course, is the purported treachery at the heart of the matter.

Much of the recent Times article is devoted to showing that the paper has an authentic, historic scoop about Carter’s presidency, at a time when the country stands vigil during the 98-year-old’s final days.

I’ll share what insights I can offer here, since I know Ben Barnes, the Times’s source — and since I have some experience investigating the issue years ago. My main objective, though, is to do what I always do: provide missing context.

Part of a Pattern

All the focus on the Reagan campaign and its alleged connivance to gain power misses this point: In many fundamental ways, Reagan was a figurehead president, while George H.W. Bush, the man he beat in a heated nomination battle, was deeply involved with seismic US policy operations, highly sensitive and often illegal covert activities, including, it appears, blocking the hostages’ release.

Connally himself is a fascinating character deserving of more attention, for more reasons than I can give here — including his suppressed assertion that during the Dallas motorcade on November 22, 1963, he and John F. Kennedy, riding together, one in front of the other, were hit by volleys from different shooters.


It is impossible to overstate the importance of the “October Surprise” and how things would be different today if Jimmy Carter had been able to get the hostages released.

Many believe the president’s popularity would have surged, and that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush would never have been elected president and vice president.

Imagine how things might look today if Reagan — the author of today’s “rule by the rich” government — had not unseated Carter.

ap logoAssociated Press, Utah social media law is ambitious, but is it enforceable? Barbara Ortutay, March 24, 2023. Utah's sweeping social media legislation passed this week is an ambitious attempt to shield children and teens from the ill effects of social media and empower parents to decide whether their kids should be using apps like TikTok or Instagram. Technology writer covering social media and the internet

Utah’s sweeping social media legislation passed this week is an ambitious attempt to shield children and teens from the ill effects of social media and empower parents to decide whether their kids should be using apps like TikTok or Instagram.

What’s not clear is if — and how — the new rules can be enforced and whether they will create unintended consequences for kids and teens already coping with a mental health crisis. And while parental rights are a central theme of Utah’s new laws, experts point out that the rights of parents and the best interests of children are not always aligned.

For instance, allowing parents to read their kids’ private messages may be harmful to some children, and age verification requirements could give tech companies access to kids’ personal information, including biometric data, if they use tools such as facial recognition to check ages.

“Children may be put at increased risk if these laws are enforced in such a way that they’re not allowed to some privacy, if they are not allowed some ability for freedom of speech or autonomy,” said Kris Perry, executive director of the nonprofit Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development. .

March 23

Tik Tok CEO Shou Zi  Chew (Reuters Photo by Evelyn Hockstein).

Tik Tok CEO Shou Zi Chew (Reuters Photo by Evelyn Hockstein during testimony, above, and in file photos below).

shou zi chew

ny times logoNew York Times, TikTok Chief to Testify in Congress as U.S. and China Duel Over Tech, Sapna Maheshwari, March 23, 2023. The Chinese-owned video app has become a battleground as the U.S. and China duel for tech leadership; Shou Chew’s first appearance before U.S. lawmakers comes as their distrust of the video app’s Chinese ownership has escalated; China said on Thursday that it would “firmly oppose” a forced sale of TikTok.

Shou Chew, the chief executive of TikTok, will testify before Congress for the first time on Thursday, in an appearance that is expected to reflect U.S. lawmakers’ escalating distrust of the short-form video app’s Chinese ownership.

The hearing, which will begin at 10 a.m. before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will give lawmakers a rare opportunity to ask Mr. Chew questions directly about TikTok’s relationship with its Chinese owner, ByteDance, as well as about the app’s handling of sensitive U.S. user data and the risks it may pose to teens and children.

TikTok is working to secure its future in the United States, one of its biggest markets, where it says it has 150 million users and where it has become a culture-making machine. But lawmakers have questions about ByteDance’s links to the Chinese government and whether those could put TikTok’s U.S. user data into the hands of Beijing officials. U.S. intelligence officials like the director of the F.B.I., Christopher A. Wray, have also warned that the Chinese government could use TikTok’s algorithm for “influence operations.”

TikTok, which was initially hailed as China’s first global internet success story, has come to represent the growing divide between the United States and China over tech leadership and national security. The app has become a battleground in a technological Cold War between the two countries, with U.S. threats of a TikTok ban recalling how China has long blocked many American platforms.

shou zi chew

ny times logoNew York Times, TikTok Claims It’s Limiting Teen Screen Time. Teens Say It Isn’t, Sapna Maheshwari, March 23, 2023. This month, the company announced a 60-minute cap for users under 18. But for some, staying on the app takes just a few taps.

jamaal bowman twitter

ny times logoNew York Times, Meet the lonely New York progressive who says TikTok is the victim of anti-China “hysteria,” Nicholas Fandos and David McCabe, March 23, 2023 (print ed.). Representative Jamaal Bowman of New York, above, says the drive to ban TikTok stems from anti-China “hysteria.” His Democratic colleagues disagree.

Of TikTok’s 150 million American users, there may be none more valuable to the embattled platform right now than Representative Jamaal Bowman of New York.

democratic donkey logoA backbench Democrat, Mr. Bowman commands neither TikTok’s largest following (he has about 159,000 fans) nor exceptional legislative clout. But in recent days, he has gone where almost no one else on Capitol Hill would, appointing himself the platform’s unofficial defender in face of a bipartisan race to target what President Biden sees as a national security threat.

tiktok logo Custom“Why the hell are we whipping ourselves into a hysteria to scapegoat TikTok?” Mr. Bowman asked in a telephone interview as he traveled by train to Washington on Wednesday.

Hours later, he held a news conference outside the House touting the platform’s virtues, alongside dozens of influencers brought in by TikTok for a day of lobbying ahead of Thursday’s congressional hearing with its chief executive. Only two other Democrats attended, while some of the congressman’s most outspoken allies declined to weigh in, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow member of the group of left-leaning lawmakers known as the squad.

ny times logochat gpt logoNew York Times, Commentary: The A.I. Chatbots Have Arrived. Time to Talk to Your Kids, Christina Caron (a reporter for the Well section and a mother of two who experimented with ChatGPT for hours to help fellow parents better understand how it works), March 23, 2023. Artificial intelligence can make adults nervous, but experts say exploring it as a family is the best way to understand its pros and cons.

Lenfest Institute, Behind the scenes of Alabama Media Group’s digital transformation, Hayley Slusser, March 23, 2023. Print copies of four newspapers in Alabama and Mississippi — The Birmingham News, Huntsville Times, Mobile Press-Register, and The Mississippi Press — rolled off the presses for the last time in February.

As of Feb. 27, subscribers and news consumers in Alabama are now served seven days per week by The Lede, an interactive, subscriber-only e-edition. The Lede includes much of the coverage readers came to expect in the newspaper — local news, sports, and opinion; wire coverage of national and international affairs; and comics, puzzles, and more.

The move was part of a years-long effort by publisher Alabama Media Group, which is part of the national chain Advance Publications, to reduce its reliance on print. AMG announced in November 2022 that it would cease printing all newspapers after Feb. 26. But the company’s transformation began more than a decade ago as it reduced print production from seven to three days weekly in 2012 and created, the free centralized online home for its news coverage.

The product offering expanded beyond these news platforms in the years since. In addition to the editions of The Lede that it publishes in each of its markets, AMG is home to several brands serving a variety of purposes, including lifestyle brands This Is Alabama, People of Alabama, It’s a Southern Thing, along with Reckon, a national social change publication, and Alabama Education Lab, which produces in-depth education reporting that is shared across AMG’s platforms.

Though digital transformation can seem daunting, Alabama Media Group President Tom Bates said news organizations already know they have to plan for a future without print in order to reach more people than ever before.

“We have the benefit of knowing where things are going — in fact, already have gone. It’s already happening,” he said. “We have the benefit of knowing, ‘Hey, we need to figure out the business side of a digital operation.’”

Bates and his colleagues shared the steps they took to prepare their business for a digital future beyond print, beginning with a simple shift in language.

1. Reframe the organization as a media company, not a newspaper

There’s a reason why the parent company of, its regional publications, and its other brands is called Alabama Media Group — it’s because the organization is positioning itself as a digital company, not a mere “newspaper website.”

“We’re able to do more for readers online — videos, podcasts, it’s more urgent,” Bates said. “We’re deeply committed to the local communities and doing high-quality journalism, but I think we’re somewhat platform agnostic and excited about the storytelling you can do digitally.”

This positioning creates an understanding among staff and audience members that there are multiple ways to distribute news and information beyond a traditional newspaper, and that no single product will serve every need.

Advertisers also have an increased awareness that audiences can be reached through a variety of media. Alabama Media Group said its digital ad business has grown by 67% since 2017 and almost 40% since 2019, with a client base that extends well beyond the state.

March 22

chat gpt logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Our New Promethean Moment, tom friedman twitterThomas L. Friedman, right, March 22, 2023. I had a most remarkable but unsettling experience last week.

Craig Mundie, the former chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft, was giving me a demonstration of GPT-4, the most advanced version of the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI and launched in November. Craig was preparing to brief the board of my wife’s museum, Planet Word, of which he is a member, about the effect ChatGPT will have on words, language and innovation.

“You need to understand,” Craig warned me before he started his demo, “this is going to change everything about how we do everything. I think that it represents microsoft logo Custommankind’s greatest invention to date. It is qualitatively different — and it will be transformational.”

Large language modules like ChatGPT will steadily increase in their capabilities, Craig added, and take us “toward a form of artificial general intelligence,” delivering efficiencies in operations, ideas, discoveries and insights “that have never been attainable before across every domain.”

Then he did a demonstration. And I realized Craig’s words were an understatement.

Politico, Twitter’s plan to charge researchers for data access puts it in EU crosshairs, Mark Scott, March 22, 2023. Elon Musk’s social media giant plans to charge academics to access its data — in potential violation of Europe’s content rules.

Elon Musk pledged Twitter would abide by Europe's new content rules — but Yevgeniy Golovchenko is not so convinced.

twitter bird CustomThe Ukrainian academic, an assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen, relies on the social network's data to track Russian disinformation, including propaganda linked to the ongoing war in Ukraine. But that access, including to reams of tweets analyzing pro-Kremlin messaging, may soon be cut off. Or, even worse for Golovchenko, cost him potentially millions of euros a year.

Under Musk's leadership, Twitter is shutting down researchers' free access to its data, though the final decision on when that will happen has yet to be made. Company officials are also offering new pay-to-play access to researchers via deals that start at $42,000 per month and can rocket up to $210,000 per month for the largest amount of data, according to Twitter's internal presentation to academics that was shared with POLITICO.

Guardian, Ecuadorian TV presenter wounded by bomb disguised as USB stick, Staff Report, March 22, 2023 (print ed.). Lenin Artieda was one of several journalists targeted by explosive devices mailed out across the country.

An Ecuadorian television presenter was wounded after a bomb disguised as a USB stick exploded when he inserted it in his computer, after explosive devices were sent to journalists across the country.

Lenin Artieda suffered minor injuries in the blast, which happened in the newsroom of Ecuavisa TV in Guayaquil.

The country’s attorney general’s office announced on Monday that it had launched a terrorism investigation after journalists at several news outlets were sent envelopes containing similar explosive devices.

“It’s a military-type explosive, but very small capsules,” said Xavier Chango, the national head of forensic science, referring to the explosive sent to Ecuavisa.

The envelopes sent to journalists had similar characteristics and the same contents and so would be investigated jointly, the attorney general’s office said in a statement, without naming the media organizations affected.

The police carried out a controlled detonation of a device sent to the news department of TC Television, also in Guayaquil, prosecutors said earlier on Monday.

Regional freedom of expression advocacy group Fundamedios said a third television station and radio outlet in Quito had also received envelopes with explosives.

The Television channel Teleamazonas said one of its journalists had received an anonymous envelope on Thursday and upon opening it had discovered a device, which the police confirmed contained explosives.

March 21

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the 3 Months That Could Cost Fox $1.6 Billion, Jeremy W. Peters, March 21, 2023 (print ed.). The decision by Fox News executives in November 2020 to treat the more hard-right Newsmax as a mortal threat spawned a possibly more serious danger.

fox news logo SmallSince 2002, when Fox News first overtook CNN as the most-watched cable news channel, one thing has been as certain and predictable as its dominance: Every time a Democrat wins the White House, the right-leaning network’s ratings take a momentary dip.

That happened after the election of President Biden in 2020, too. But the reaction inside Fox was far different than before.

There was panic. From the chairman of Fox Corporation on down, executives scrambled as they tried to keep viewers tuned in, believing they were facing a crisis. Now, because of the decisions made after former President Donald J. Trump’s loss, Fox News is reckoning with a threat that could prove far more serious.

dominion voting systemsA $1.6 billion defamation suit from Dominion Voting Systems claims Fox knowingly spread false information about the role of the firm’s election technology in a made-up conspiracy to flip votes. On Tuesday, the two sides will present oral arguments before a judge in Delaware state court as they prepare for a trial next month.

Fox has insisted that it wasn’t presenting claims about Dominion as fact but was reporting and opining on them as any news organization would.

She says lawyers made her give misleading Dominion testimony.

As part of the suit, Dominion obtained thousands of internal Fox emails and text messages and deposed dozens of Fox employees. That evidence shows in extraordinary detail how the network lost its way in the weeks after the election. Here is a timeline of that fateful period, as told in court filings. Some of these exchanges have been lightly condensed for clarity.


tucker carlson fox horizontal

ny times logoNew York Times, A Fox News producer sued the network, saying she was coerced into giving misleading testimony in the Dominion case, Nicholas Confessore and Katie Robertson, March 21, 2023 (print ed.). The producer, Abby Grossberg, said in a pair of lawsuits that the effort to place blame on her and Maria Bartiromo, the Fox Business host, was rooted in rampant misogyny and discrimination at the company.

A Fox News producer who has worked with the hosts Maria Bartiromo and Tucker Carlson filed lawsuits against the company in New York and Delaware on Monday, accusing Fox lawyers of coercing her into giving misleading testimony in the continuing legal battle around the network’s coverage of unfounded claims about election fraud.

The producer, Abby Grossberg, said Fox lawyers had tried to position her and Ms. Bartiromo to take the blame for Fox’s repeated airing of conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems and its supposed role in manipulating the results of the 2020 presidential election. Dominion has filed a $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox. Ms. Grossberg said the effort to place blame on her and Ms. Bartiromo was rooted in rampant misogyny and discrimination at the network.

fox news logo SmallThe new lawsuits, coupled with revelations from the Dominion legal fight, shed light on the rivalries and turf battles that raged at Fox News in the wake of the 2020 election, as network executives fought to hold on to viewers furious at the top-rated network for accurately reporting on President Donald J. Trump’s defeat in Arizona, a crucial swing state.

The lawsuits also include details about Ms. Grossberg’s work life at Fox and on Mr. Carlson’s show. Ms. Grossberg says she and other women endured frank and open sexism from co-workers and superiors at the network, which has been dogged for years by lawsuits and allegations about sexual harassment by Fox executives and stars.

The network’s disregard for women, Ms. Grossberg alleged, left her and Ms. Bartiromo understaffed — stretched too thin to properly vet the truthfulness of claims made against Dominion on the air. At times, Ms. Grossberg said, she was the only full-time employee dedicated solely to Ms. Bartiromo’s Sunday-morning show.

dominion voting systemsIn her complaints, Ms. Grossberg accuses lawyers for Fox News of coaching her in “a coercive and intimidating manner” before her September deposition in the Dominion case. The lawyers, she said, gave her the impression that she had to avoid mentioning prominent male executives and on-air talent to protect them from any blame, while putting her own reputation at risk.

On Monday afternoon, Fox filed its own suit against Ms. Grossberg, seeking to enjoin her from filing claims that would shed light on her discussions with the company’s lawyers. A judge has not yet ruled on Fox’s suit. Later on Monday, according to her lawyer, Parisis G. Filippatos, Fox also placed Ms. Grossberg on forced administrative leave.

Ms. Grossberg’s lawsuits were filed in the Southern District of New York and in Superior Court in Delaware, where a pretrial hearing in the Dominion defamation lawsuit is scheduled for Tuesday.

In a statement, a Fox spokeswoman said: “Fox News Media engaged an independent outside counsel to immediately investigate the concerns raised by Ms. Grossberg, which were made following a critical performance review. We will vigorously defend these claims.”

According to the lawsuits filed by Ms. Grossberg, Fox superiors called Ms. Bartiromo a “crazy bitch” who was “menopausal” and asked Ms. Grossberg to cut the host out of coverage discussions.

Last year, she began working as a senior booking producer at “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” On her first full day, according to the lawsuit, Ms. Grossberg discovered that the show’s Manhattan work space was decorated with large pictures of Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, then the House speaker, wearing a plunging swimsuit.

The next day, Justin Wells, Mr. Carlson’s top producer, called Ms. Grossberg into his office, she said, to ask whether Ms. Bartiromo was having a sexual relationship with the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy.

Mr. Carlson’s staff joked about Jews and freely deployed a vulgar term for women, according to the complaint.

Later that fall, it said, before an appearance on the show by Tudor Dixon, the Republican candidate for Michigan governor, Mr. Carlson’s staff held a mock debate about whether they would prefer to have sex with Ms. Dixon or her Democratic opponent, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

After Ms. Grossberg complained about harassment from two male producers on the show, she was pulled into a meeting with human resources and told that she was not performing her duties, according to the complaint.

ny times logoNew York Times, Google Releases Bard, Its Competitor in the Race to Create A.I. Chatbots, Nico Grant and Cade Metz, March 21, 2023. The internet giant will grant users access to a chatbot after years of cautious development, chasing splashy debuts from rivals OpenAI and Microsoft.

google logo customFor more than three months, Google executives have watched as projects at Microsoft and a San Francisco start-up called OpenAI have stoked the public’s imagination with the potential for artificial intelligence.

chat gpt logoBut on Tuesday, Google tentatively stepped off the sidelines as it released a chatbot called Bard. The new A.I. chatbot will be available to a limited number of users in the United States and Britain and will accommodate additional users, countries and languages over time, Google executives said in an interview.

microsoft logo CustomThe cautious rollout is the company’s first public effort to address the recent chatbot craze driven by OpenAI and Microsoft, and it is meant to demonstrate that Google is capable of providing similar technology. But Google is taking a much more circumspect approach than its competitors, which have faced criticism that they are proliferating an unpredictable and sometimes untrustworthy technology.

Still, the release represents a significant step to stave off a threat to Google’s most lucrative business, its search engine. Many in the tech industry believe that Google — more than any other big tech company — has a lot to lose and to gain from A.I., which could help a range of Google products become more useful, but could also help other companies cut into Google’s huge internet search business. A chatbot can instantly produce answers in complete sentences that don’t force people to scroll through a list of results, which is what a search engine would offer.

March 20

 rupert murdoch jerry hall

washington post logoWashington Post, Rupert Murdoch, 92, decides to have another go at marriage, Paul Farhi, March 20, 2023. Rupert Murdoch, four times married and divorced at 92, isn’t letting age or previous marital experience stand in the way of a fresh start. The billionaire media baron said he plans to marry a fifth time.

Murdoch announced he is engaged once again, this time to Ann Lesley Smith, 66, a former model, singer-songwriter, radio talk-show host, and police chaplain in San Francisco. The couple met last year.

Murdoch is fresh off his divorce from Jerry Hall, the model and actress he married in 2016 (shown together with him above in a file photo). Murdoch divorced Hall, rupert murdoch pink shirtsleevesthe mother of four of Mick Jagger’s children, last year.

fox news logo SmallMurdoch, left, broke the news of his engagement in the New York Post, the tabloid that helped launch his foray into the American and global media market when the Australian immigrant bought it in 1976. Murdoch-led companies have since founded or acquired the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal and HarperCollins book publishers, among dozens of other properties.

washington post logoWashington Post, Amazon cuts another 9,000 jobs as tech layoffs mount, Rachel Lerman, March 20, 2023. This brings the expected number of cuts to 27,000 at the e-commerce giant.

amazon logo smallAmazon will slash another 9,000 roles, the company announced Monday, adding to a mounting list of layoffs as the tech sector’s golden age fades.

The job losses build on the 18,000 previously announced, bringing the total to 27,000, and stand in a stark contrast to the past decade of explosive growth for the technology industry, and for Amazon in particular.

The Seattle company boomed during the early days of the pandemic, when consumers leaned into online ordering. But growth has waned for Amazon and fellow tech giants Facebook, Google and Microsoft, which have all have announced massive layoffs in the past several months. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

These are some of the notable companies laying off workers

It’s a significant reversal for the industry, which some had perceived as “recession-proof.” But others say the companies grew too big, too fast and needed to rein in spending. The layoffs have also hit start-ups and smaller firms, and funding has been less accessible as the sector struggles.

March 19


alex jones screen shot 2020 05 01 at 12.02.06 pm

Alex Jones, host and founder of the Texas-based Infowars show (file photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Sandy Hook Families Take On Alex Jones and the Bankruptcy System Itself, Elizabeth Williamson and Emily Steel, March 19, 2023 (print ed.). As they seek over $1.4 billion in damages, a Times review shows Mr. Jones is moving millions to family and friends, potentially out of reach of creditors.

The Infowars conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones, who faces more than $1.4 billion in legal damages for defaming the families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims, has devised a new way to taunt them: wriggling out of paying them the money they are owed.

Mr. Jones, who has an estimated net worth as high as $270 million, declared both business and personal bankruptcy last year as the families won historic verdicts in two lawsuits over his lies about the 2012 shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

A New York Times review of financial documents and court records filed over the past year found that Mr. Jones has transferred millions of dollars in property, cash and business deals to family and friends, including to a new company run by his former personal trainer, all potentially out of reach of creditors. He has also spent heavily on luxuries, including $80,000 on a private jet, bodyguards and a rented villa while he was in Connecticut to testify at a trial last fall.

“If anybody thinks they’re shutting me down, they’re mistaken,” Mr. Jones said on his new podcast last month.

The families now face a stark reality. It is not clear whether they will ever collect a significant portion of the assets Mr. Jones has transferred. So their ability to get anything remotely close to the jury awards is inextricably tied to Mr. Jones’s capacity to make a living as the purveyor of lies — including that the shooting was a hoax, the parents were actors and the children did not really die — that ignited years of torment and threats against them.

Lawyers for Mr. Jones said in a filing late last year that “any argument that Jones must give up his public life, or discontinue public discourse, is contrary to supporting his ability to fund a plan and pay creditors.”

Mark Bankston, the families’ Texas lawyer, does not disagree. “There’s a chance we’re going to be forced into a situation where we’re going to be checking to see how Infowars is doing every month to figure out if our clients are getting paid or not,” he said.

Earlier this month, Mr. Jones offered to pay the families and his other creditors a total of $43 million over five years as part of a bankruptcy plan, which lawyers for the families immediately dismissed as laughable and riddled with financial holes. The judge ordered Mr. Jones to fill in the gaps in his financial disclosures by the end of the month.

But Mr. Jones’s continued obfuscation about his net worth has given him leverage over the families, who are also fighting an American bankruptcy system that makes the survival of businesses a priority and has so far given Mr. Jones an advantage in court.

Although Infowars has estimated revenues of some $70 million a year — hardly a mom-and-pop shop — Mr. Jones was able to file for Chapter 11 under the more lenient bankruptcy rules of the Small Business Reorganization Act, known as Subchapter V. The law first took effect in early 2020, but was soon broadened to assist small businesses struggling during the pandemic.

Unlike in a traditional Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Subchapter V gives creditors like the Sandy Hook families virtually no say in a restructuring plan, nor can they file a competing plan. They can challenge Mr. Jones’s approach, but an impasse in talks could result in liquidation of the company, putting them in line to collect a fraction of the damages.

A liquidation would end Infowars, but Mr. Jones would be free to start another company just like it.

“We’re doing well in Chapter V,” Mr. Jones said on Infowars in September, misstating the name of the rule. “Whatever judgments they have can’t shut us down. Whatever profit there is in the future these jerks get, but who cares, we’re still on air.”

 chat gpt logowashington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: ChatGPT can ace logic tests now. But don’t ask it to be creative, Geoffrey A. Fowler, March 19, 2023 (print ed.). Our tech columnist tests LSAT puzzles and a writing challenge on GPT-4. Here’s what the artificial intelligence upgrade can — and can’t — do.

When the new version of the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT arrived this week, I watched it do something impressive: solve logic puzzles.

One after the other, I fed the AI called GPT-4 questions from the logical reasoning portion of the LSAT used for law school admissions. Those always leave me with a headache, yet the software aced them like a competent law student.

But as cool as that is, it doesn’t mean AI is suddenly as smart as a lawyer.

The arrival of GPT-4, an upgrade from OpenAI to the chatbot software that captured the world’s imagination, is one the year’s most-hyped tech launches. Some feared its uncanny ability to imitate humans could be devastating for workers, be used as a chaotic “deepfake” machine or usher in an age of sentient computers.

That is not how I see GPT-4 after using it for a few days. While it has gone from a D student to a B student at answering logic questions, AI hasn’t crossed a threshold into human intelligence. For one, when I asked GPT-4 to flex its improved “creative” writing capability by crafting the opening paragraph to this column in the style of me (Geoffrey A. Fowler), it couldn’t land on one that didn’t make me cringe.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: AI chatbots won’t enjoy tech’s legal shield, lawmakers say, Cristiano Lima and David DiMolfetta, March 19, 2023. A Supreme Court case last month examining tech companies’ liability shield kicked off an unexpected debate: Will the protections apply to tools powered by artificial intelligence, like ChatGPT?

chat gpt logoThe question, which Justice Neil M. Gorsuch raised during arguments for Gonzalez v. Google, could have sweeping implications as tech companies race to capitalize on the popularity of the OpenAI chatbot and integrate similar products, as my colleague Will Oremus wrote last month.

But the two lawmakers behind the law told The Technology 202 that the answer is already clear: No, they won’t be protected under Section 230.

The 1996 law, authored by Reps. Ron Wyden and Chris Cox, shields digital services from lawsuits over user content they host. And courts have typically held that Section 230 applies to search engines when they link to or publish excerpts from third parties, as Will wrote.

But Gorsuch suggested last month that those protections might not apply for AI-generated content, positing that the tool “generates polemics today that would be content that goes beyond picking, choosing, analyzing or digesting content. And that is not protected.”

Gorsuch’s comment ignited a lively debate that’s becoming increasingly prescient as more Silicon Valley giants redouble their AI investments and roll out new products.
According to Wyden and Cox, Gorsuch was right — meaning companies could be open to a deluge of lawsuits if AI tools go awry.

"AI tools like ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion and others being rapidly integrated into popular digital services should not be protected by Section 230,” Wyden (D-Ore.), now a senator and a staunch defender of the law, said in a statement. “And it isn’t a particularly close call.”

Wyden, who has proposed requiring companies to vet AI for biases, added that, “Section 230 is about protecting users and sites for hosting and organizing users’ speech” and “has nothing to do with protecting companies from the consequences of their own actions and products.”

 March 18

ny times logoNew York Times, Twitter’s Talks Over Licensing Music Are Said to Stall Under Musk, Ryan Mac, Ben Sisario and Kate Conger, March 18, 2023 (print ed.). Twitter explored the licensing of music rights from three major labels before negotiations stalled after Elon Musk’s takeover of the company, said eight people with knowledge of the discussions, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Twitter is one of the last big social media platforms without music licensing deals, which allow the sites to host virtually all commercially available audio content without fear of takedowns or legal reprisal. Facebook, Instagram and TikTok have all made agreements for music rights.

Twitter had avoided signing deals for music rights, which require social media companies to compensate rights holders when users post or play content with song. The costs of the licenses can vary, but can be well over $100 million a year for established social-media platforms. Twitter has forgone the licensing deals because of the costs, five former employees said.

Twitter and Mr. Musk did not respond to an email request for comment.

Twitter began negotiations with the three major music conglomerates — Universal, Sony and Warner — in the fall of 2021, according to six people close to the talks. When Mr. Musk announced his intent to buy the company last April, some music industry leaders saw his involvement as an opportunity to finally get the deals done.

“Twitter uses a significant amount of music but unlike all other mainstream social media platforms has refused to license that music or compensate songwriters,” David Israelite, the chief executive of the National Music Publishers’ Association, a trade group, tweeted at Mr. Musk that month. “Please help.”

For the music companies, licensing agreements with Twitter would not only represent an additional source of revenue but also resolve longstanding problems of copyright infringement on the platform.

ny times logoNew York Times, CNN’s Prime-Time Experiment Is Off to a Slow Start, Michael M. Grynbaum and John Koblin, March 18, 2023 (print ed.). Viewership is down in the early going of CNN’s new 9 p.m. programming strategy, as the network tries to reinvent itself.

CNN’s new chairman, Chris Licht, debuted a novel experiment last month to revive his network’s flagging prime-time ratings, betting that viewers would tune in for a mix of exclusive interviews and specials dedicated to hot-button topics like fentanyl abuse and the war in Ukraine.

Viewers have had other ideas.

Since Mr. Licht’s 9 p.m. experiment, “CNN Primetime,” began airing several times a week on Feb. 22, viewership has fallen below what the network was drawing in the time slot just a few months ago.

At 9 p.m. on March 8, more Americans watched “Homicide Hunter: The Man With No Face” on the Investigation Discovery cable network than CNN’s exclusive interview with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Two days earlier, an afternoon broadcast of “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel drew a bigger audience than a 9 p.m. interview with the first lady, Jill Biden.

Last week, when the network aired the Biden and Zelensky interviews, as well as a town hall with Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, CNN delivered its fourth-lowest 9 p.m. weekly ratings in 24 years.

CNN has had a rocky run since Mr. Licht, a former morning-show and late-night producer, was named to the job about a year ago. The network downsized its staff, jettisoned a new streaming channel and faced an uproar over sexist remarks by the anchor Don Lemon.

Mr. Licht has retained the firm support of his boss, David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, which acquired CNN last year. On a visit to CNN’s Manhattan offices on Tuesday, Mr. Zaslav delivered a full-throated endorsement of Mr. Licht’s vision for the network, urging the staff to try out new ideas — “ratings be damned.”

'CNN has not deployed a marketing effort to showcase these 9 p.m. specials, and it is possible the network could develop an audience in the time slot as more viewers become aware of the new concept.

Still, word of CNN’s dwindling audiences has traveled beyond the cable executives who pore over Nielsen data reports: At last weekend’s white-tie Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken singled out the network in his comedic keynote speech.

“According to the guest list, there are 600 attendees here tonight,” Mr. Blinken told the chuckling crowd. “CNN would kill for an audience like that.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Where Did All Your Zoom Friends Go? Issie Lapowsky, Photographs by Gili Benita, March 18, 2023. They got lost in this weird moment, where the world is caught between crisis and normalcy, and is nostalgic for virtual happy hours.

One day last year, Julie Gauthier went on Twitter with a confession to make. “Unpopular opinion: I don’t have zoom fatigue and I miss zoom happy hours and game nights,” she wrote. “I feel more isolated now than I did when friends all took time to chat online at the beginning of the pandemic.”

Ms. Gauthier, 30, had been scrolling through old photos and found a screenshot of one of the virtual happy hours she’d had with friends in the early days of Covid restrictions. At the time, living alone and working remotely as a software engineer in rural Coventry, Conn., the self-described extrovert seized every opportunity for human contact she could get.

Virtual trivia nights? She was in. Mask-making over Zoom with members of a local makerspace? Why not? She made a new best friend out of a stranger she met at an online meetup for tech workers, and when another friend’s band began broadcasting porch concerts over Facebook Live, Ms. Gauthier streamed the show on her TV and got all dressed up as if she were there.

Her whole world had been reduced to her home, and somehow it felt full.

‘It was just fun to see everybody’s face. Normally, when we try to get together in person, half of them are missing.’ Julie Gauthier, 30, Coventry, Conn.
Julie Gauthier, a 30 year-old woman with long blonde and brown hair, wearing gold framed glasses, smiling while seated in front of a green and white wall, with plants behind her.

By the time she stumbled on the old Zoom screenshot — filled with the faces of friends she had scarcely seen since — it felt decidedly less so. It still does.

To be clear, it’s not that Ms. Gauthier misses those dreadful days — at all. It’s just that she misses how hungry people were to connect, as if the inability to see anyone in person made us all want to see everyone, all the time, by any means necessary.

“I’m just not meeting new people nearly as much, and I’m not able to stay in touch with my friends nearly as much,” Ms. Gauthier said.

Three years since the pandemic was declared, many of the apps, platforms and digital tools that Ms. Gauthier and millions of others relied on to stay connected are struggling, shrinking or shutting down. Zoom has slashed 15 percent of its work force. Epic Games killed off the group video app Houseparty in late 2021, and even Meta’s Portal devices, which after years of challenges surged in popularity in 2020, got the ax last year.

Those apps that have survived, including the multiplayer game Among Us, the video chat app Marco Polo and the live audio app Clubhouse, which once had millions of people on its waiting list, have seen downloads drop.

“Busy life is back,” said Vlada Bortnik, chief executive of Marco Polo, which introduced a paid subscription product in 2020. “For us, the focus has really become: Let’s focus on people who are really resonating with what we’re doing.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The Second Life of a Christian College in Manhattan Nears Its End, Liam Stack, March 18, 2023 (print ed.). The King’s College, which draws students from around the country to New York City, has not been able to recover from enrollment and financial losses.

Leaders of the college in Manhattan have been meeting with students in recent weeks to deliver a grim message: All of you should find someplace else to go to school.

Between the pandemic and a business deal gone bad, the college had struggled for years. But what began as a handful of layoffs in November quickly escalated to a doomsday scenario. Now it appears likely the school will close, and school officials have been going from department to department to show students a list of schools that might accept them as transfer students.

The King’s College is a small school. But as the city’s only high-profile evangelical college committed to “the truths of Christianity and a biblical worldview,” it is more well known than its enrollment numbers — over 600 students before the pandemic, down to roughly half that now — might suggest.

Its sudden decline has drawn national attention.

Most of its students are white, and many come from conservative households far from New York City. For them, King’s has been a pathway to a world beyond their lives back home, where roughly half were home-schooled or attended private, often Christian, academies.

In interviews, most said they hoped to stay in New York and transfer to non-evangelical schools, like Fordham University, Columbia University or the City University of New York. Representatives of the college did not respond to messages seeking comment.

March 17


sidney powell rudy giuliani

washington post logoWashington Post, At center of Fox News lawsuit, Sidney Powell and a ‘wackadoodle’ email, Sarah Ellison and Amy Gardner, March 17, 2023 (print ed.). Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, above right with fellow Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, took bogus claims of widespread fraud mainstream. Fox News's decision to keep booking her prompted Dominion's defamation case.

A day after major news organizations declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential race, a Sunday-morning guest on Fox News was holding forth on exotic and baseless claims of election fraud — allegedly deceased voters, ballots supposedly lacking an option to vote for Donald Trump, an “affidavit” from a postal worker claiming to have postdated mail-in ballots — when host Maria Bartiromo pressed for more details.

“Sidney, we talked about the Dominion software,” Bartiromo said on the Nov. 8, 2020, broadcast. “I know that there were voting irregularities. Tell me about that.”

fox news logo SmallThe guest was Sidney Powell, a Texas-based lawyer who would soon be ambiguously connected to the Trump legal team mustered to challenge the election results. She stared stiffly into the lights of a satellite TV studio but answered without hesitation.

“That’s putting it mildly,” Powell replied. “The computer glitches could not and should not have happened at all. That’s where the fraud took place, where they were flipping votes in the computer system or adding votes that did not exist.”

It was the first of a dozen appearances Powell would make on Fox programs over the next month in which she helped inject far-fetched and debunked claims of widespread fraud into the mainstream — and which are now at the heart of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox, court documents show.

These appearances helped elevate a once-obscure lawyer to a marquee player in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election — and helped keep her claims of fraud on the forefront for millions of loyal Fox viewers, including Trump himself. Powell would continue to appear on Fox for weeks after Dominion protested that it had been unfairly smeared, and as Fox News executives privately agonized that these on-air falsehoods created a problem for the network, according to newly released internal communications and testimony.

She would even appear on Fox programs after a Fox Corp. senior vice president said he had privately begged the White House to disavow Powell.

“We encouraged several sources within the administration to tell reporters that Powell offered no evidence for her claims and didn’t speak for the president,” executive Raj Shah wrote to his bosses on Nov. 23 — a day after Trump lawyers issued statements saying that Powell was not a member of their team.

  • Washington Post, Analysis: Maria Bartiromo isn’t done with misinformation just yet, Philip Bump, March 16, 2023.

ny times logoNew York Times, Florida Scoured Math Textbooks for ‘Prohibited Topics.’ Next Up: Social Studies, Sarah Mervosh, March 17, 2023 (print ed.). Behind the scenes, one publisher went to great lengths to avoid mentions of race, even in the story of Rosa Parks.

The nitty-gritty process of reviewing and approving school textbooks has typically been an administrative affair, drawing the attention of education experts, publishing executives and state bureaucrats.

But in Florida, textbooks have become hot politics, part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s campaign against what he describes as “woke indoctrination” in public schools, particularly when it comes to race and gender. Last year, his administration made a splash when it rejected dozens of math textbooks, citing “prohibited topics.”

Now, the state is reviewing curriculum in what is perhaps the most contentious subject in education: social studies.

In the last few months, as part of the review process, a small army of state experts, teachers, parents and political activists have combed thousands of pages of text — not only evaluating academic content, but also flagging anything that could hint, for instance, at critical race theory.

March 16


Self-help guru Marianne Williamson, seeking to rerun as a presidential campaign currently despite her failed campaign previously, speaks at left during Democratic primary event on June 28, 2019.

Self-help guru Marianne Williamson, seeking to rerun as a presidential campaign currently despite her failed campaign previously, speaks at left during Democratic primary event on June 28, 2019. She markets herself via books and speeches as an inspirational presence for the public, much needed during troubled times.

Politico, Marianne Williamson’s ‘abusive’ treatment of 2020 campaign staff, revealed, Lauren Egan, March 16, 2023. The self-help guru, who is running for president again, was emotionally and verbally abusive to staff, according to interviews with former employees.

politico CustomThe best-selling author Marianne Williamson has built a career preaching love and forgiveness. It is the cornerstone of her second Democratic campaign for president which she launched on March 4.

But those who have worked with Williamson as she has moved into the political realm say her public persona is at odds with her private behavior.

Interviews with 12 people who worked for Williamson during her 2020 presidential campaign paint a picture of a boss who can be verbally and emotionally abusive.

Those interviewed say the best-selling author and spiritual adviser subjected her employees to unpredictable, explosive episodes of anger. They said Williamson could be cruel and demeaning to her staff and that her behavior went far beyond the typical stress of a grueling presidential cycle.

“It would be foaming, spitting, uncontrollable rage,” said a former staffer, who, like most people that spoke with POLITICO, was granted anonymity because of their concern about being sued for breaking non-disclosure agreements. “It was traumatic. And the experience, in the end, was terrifying.”

Williamson would throw her phone at staffers, according to three of those former staffers. Her outbursts could be so loud that two former aides recounted at least four occasions when hotel staff knocked on her door to check on the situation. In one instance, Williamson got so angry about the logistics of a campaign trip to South Carolina that she felt was poorly planned that she pounded a car door until her hand started to swell, according to four former staffers. Ultimately, she had to go to an urgent care facility, they said. All 12 former staffers interviewed recalled instances where Williamson would scream at people until they started to cry.

Politico, Former editor of Jewish newspaper charged for Jan. 6 actions, Kyle Cheney, March 16, 2023. Elliot Resnick faces charges of civil disorder and impeding police officers; The Jewish Press’ editorial board defended Elliot Resnick’s presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, contending he was there in a professional capacity to cover the events of the day.

politico CustomThe former editor of an Orthodox Jewish newspaper in New York City — identified two years ago as a member of the Jan. 6 mob by Politico — was charged Thursday with two felonies for his actions at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Elliot Resnick, who had drawn controversy prior to Jan. 6 for incendiary and bigoted comments — labeling African religions as “primitive” and suggesting white supremacy is fictional — grabbed a Capitol Police officer’s arm while he was attempting to defend the doors leading to the rotunda, according to charging documents. After those doors were breached, Resnick remained by the entrance and helped pull other rioters into the building at one of the earliest moments of the breach, according to the documents.

Resnick faces charges of civil disorder and impeding police officers, as well as misdemeanor counts for entering and remaining in a restricted building, as well as disorderly or disruptive conduct in a Capitol building.

In a statement of facts accompanying the case, the FBI special agent who investigated Resnick indicated that an April 8 POLITICO story played a role in the FBI’s identification of Resnick, when a tipster brought it to the bureau’s attention.

At the time, the Jewish Press’ editorial board defended Resnick’s presence at the Capitol, contending that he was there in a professional capacity to cover the events of the day.

“The Jewish Press does not see why Elliot’s personal views on former President Trump should make him any different from the dozens of other journalists covering the events, including many inside the Capitol building during the riots, nor why his presence justifies an article in Politico while the presence of other reporters inside the building does not,” the board wrote.

But videos and images from that day portrayed Resnick as an active participant in the unrest, pushing his way to the doors of the Capitol, waving rioters on and bursting through the rotunda doors despite resistance from police. Prosecutors included images suggesting Resnick aided other rioters’ entry into the building.

In addition, Resnick never printed any articles or accounts of Jan. 6, despite his active presence on social media and perch at the Jewish Press. In the same statement, the board described this as an institutional decision: “The Jewish Press decided not to print any article — by Elliot or anyone else — in our print edition because of the heated atmosphere surrounding the day’s events, especially within New York’s Orthodox Jewish community.”

In the charging documents, the agent on the case noted that she was “aware of and has complied with the U.S. Department of Justice’s News Media Policy,” which prescribes guidance and limits on the way prosecutors investigate and charge members of the press.

Resnick, according to the charging documents, was inside the Capitol for about 50 minutes, based on a review of CCTV footage and other video captured by media and members of the mob.

Marcvh 15

Talking Points Memo, Commentary: Reporter Describes Being Fired By Axios After Being Targeted By Ron DeSantis’ Media ‘Machine,’ Hunter Walker, March 15, 2023. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) press team often attacks the reporters who cover his state. On Monday, they cost one of those journalists, Ben Montgomery, tpm logohis job with Axios. In a conversation with TPM, Montgomery said he felt the situation was an example of how DeSantis’ media “machine” was impacting the news business.

“This sort of thing has a chilling effect. Nobody wants to have their life disrupted by this machine,” Montgomery said in a phone call on Wednesday evening. “They call it ‘media accountability,’ and it is not that. It’s meaner than that, and more personal, and affecting. … It has a quieting effect and that’s a shame. It’s sad for democracy and sad for all of us.”

DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for president next year, has a press shop that is known for being combative with the media. Members of his team have highlighted individual reporters on Twitter while demanding corrections. They have also shared screenshots of emails and requests for comment sent by journalists in an effort to paint those reporters as biased.

These posts from DeSantis’ press team have led to the reporters who are targeted being bombarded with angry messages and threats from the governor’s fans. In one 2021 instance, the Associated Press publicly accused a former DeSantis spokesperson of engaging in “harassment.” In addition to DeSantis’ official press operation, far-right Florida activists have set up their own publications focused on positive coverage of the governor that DeSantis’ team has rewarded with exclusive coverage opportunities.

“My colleagues have sort of run into this situation where they will send an email asking for information and that email is then screenshotted and sometimes … it’s framed in a certain way … it’s tweeted of course by the press officers and used as a way to kind of paint the reporter as a lefty liberal activist. It’s weaponized,” Montgomery said.

“It seems like the goal is just to make the reporter’s life as miserable as possible,” he continued. “Maybe there’s some level of, like, accountability in there, but mostly it’s terrible comments, and, you know, meanness and snark, and things that aren’t constructive.”

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment on this story.

Montgomery, who has over a decade of experience reporting in Florida, has written four books and was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for a series of articles he wrote exposing abuse at a local school. He began working for Axios, where he co-authored a newsletter focused on the Tampa Bay area, in late 2020.

Montgomery found himself in the crosshairs of DeSantis’ team after he sent an email responding to a press release the governor’s office sent out on Monday. The press release was an over 800-word attack “on divisive concepts such as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, Critical Race Theory (CRT).” The bulletin from the governor’s office was branded as part of a series called “Exposing The DEI Scam” and contained a series of quotes from DeSantis and his allies framing diversity efforts as “political indoctrination” promoted by the “woke mob.”

Montgomery, who said he feels “obligated” to read official press releases since they could contain information “that might be useful for my readers,” did not feel this press release from DeSantis fit that category.

“There was no, like, event to cover. It might have been a roundtable at some point, but there was no event that I had been alerted to. … This press release was just a series of quotes about DEI programs, and the ‘scam’ they are, and nothing else,” Montgomery said. “I was frustrated by this. I read the whole thing and my day is very busy.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives have increasingly become a focus for the right wing, as have so-called “critical race Theory” educational programs that highlight historical racial issues. DeSantis has made attacking these concepts a major part of his brand. Under DeSantis’ administration, Florida’s Department of Education banned public schools in the state from teaching advanced placement African American studies, a course the governor called “indoctrination.”

Earlier this year, DeSantis tapped Christopher Rufo, a conservative activist who admittedly was key to the right-wing push to turn “Critical Race Theory” into a divisive wedge issue, to overhaul the curriculum at one of the state’s public colleges.

Along with being “frustrated” that the press release about diversity and “critical race theory” didn’t contain “news value,” Montgomery said he believed it “used some language that, in my mind, was a little coded to be sort of racially charged.”

“When I hear like … the ‘scam’ of diversity, equity, and inclusion shouldn’t be perpetrated upon the hardworking taxpayers of Florida, it’s like framing it as a Black and white issue,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery responded to the release by emailing DeSantis’ press office a message that said, “This is propaganda, not a press release.”

Alex Lanfranconi, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education, publicized the exchange less than an hour later by tweeting a screengrab of Montgomery’s message.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant Lost the A.I. Race, Brian X. Chen, Nico Grant and Karen Weise, March 15, 2023. The virtual assistants had years to become indispensable. But clunky design and miscalculations left an opening for the chatbots to rise.

apple logo rainbowOn a rainy Tuesday in San Francisco, Apple executives took the stage in a crowded auditorium to unveil the fifth-generation iPhone. The phone, which looked identical to the previous version, had a new feature that the audience was soon buzzing about: Siri, a virtual assistant.

Scott Forstall, then Apple’s head of software, pushed an iPhone button to summon Siri and prodded it with questions. At his request, Siri checked the time in Paris (“8:16 p.m.,” Siri replied), defined the word “mitosis” (“Cell division in which the nucleus divides into nuclei containing the same number of chromosomes,” it said) and pulled up a list of 14 highly rated Greek restaurants, five of them in Palo Alto, Calif.

“I’ve been in the A.I. field for a long time, and this still blows me away,” Mr. Forstall said.

google logo customThat was 12 years ago. Since then, people have been far from blown away by Siri and competing assistants that are powered by artificial intelligence, like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. The technology has largely remained stagnant, and the talking assistants have amazon logo smallbecome the butt of jokes, including in a 2018 “Saturday Night Live” sketch featuring a smart speaker for seniors.

The tech world is now gushing over a different kind of virtual assistant: chatbots. These A.I.-powered bots, such as ChatGPT and the new ChatGPT Plus from the San Francisco company OpenAI, can improvise answers to questions typed into a chat box with alacrity. People have used ChatGPT to handle complex tasks like coding software, drafting business proposals and writing fiction.

truth social logoThe Guardian, Federal investigators examined Trump Media for possible money laundering, sources say, Hugo Lowell, March 15, 2023. Federal prosecutors in New York involved in the criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s social media company last year started examining whether it violated money laundering statutes in connection with the acceptance of $8m with suspected Russian ties, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The company – Trump Media, which owns Trump’s Truth Social platform – initially came under criminal investigation over its preparations for a potential merger with a blank check company called Digital World (DWAC) that was also the subject of an earlier investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Towards the end of last year, federal prosecutors started examining two loans totaling $8m wired to Trump Media, through the Caribbean, from two obscure entities that both appear to be controlled in part by the relation of an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, the sources said.

The expanded nature of the criminal investigation, which has not been previously reported, threatens to delay the completion of the merger between Trump Media and DWAC, which would provide the company and Truth Social with up to $1.3bn in capital, in addition to a stock market listing.

Even if Trump Media and its officers face no criminal exposure for the transactions, the optics of borrowing money from potentially unsavory sources through opaque conduits could cloud Trump’s image as he seeks to recapture the White House in 2024.

The extent of the exposure for Trump Media and its officers for money laundering remains unclear. The statutes broadly require prosecutors to show that defendants knew the money was the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity and the transaction was designed to conceal its source.

But money laundering prosecutions are typically based on circumstantial evidence and can be based on materials that show that the money in question was unlikely to have legitimate origins, legal experts said.

The first $2m payment to Trump Media came in December 2021 when the company was on the brink of collapse after the planned merger with DWAC – that would have unlocked millions for the company – was delayed when the SEC opened an inquiry into whether the arrangement broke regulatory rules.

Trump Media needed a bridge loan to keep the company afloat. But it struggled to get financing until DWAC’s chief executive Patrick Orlando sourced a $2m loan wired from Paxum Bank registered in Dominica, according to the wire transfer receipt reviewed by the Guardian.e

The wire transfer identified Paxum Bank as the beneficial owner, although the promissory note identified an entity called ES Family Trust as the lender. Two months later, an unexpected second $6m payment arrived in Trump Media’s account from ES Family Trust, the transfer receipt showed.

In both instances, Orlando declined to provide details about the true identity of the lenders or the origin of the money to Trump Media executives, Trump Media’s since-ousted co-founder turned whistleblower Will Wilkerson recounted in an interview.

Though the two payments to Trump Media ostensibly came from two separate entities – first Paxum Bank and second ES Family Trust – the trustee of ES Family Trust, a person called Angel Pacheco, appears to have simultaneously been a director of Paxum Bank.

The Russian connection, as being examined by prosecutors in the US attorney’s office for the southern district of New York, centers on a part-owner of Paxum Bank – an individual named Anton Postolnikov, who appears to be a relation of Putin ally Aleksandr Smirnov.

Smirnov, who heads the Russia-controlled maritime company Rosmorport, worked in the Central Office of the Russian government until 2017. Before that, Smirnov was the first deputy minister of justice of Russia until 2014, and for most of Putin’s first two terms as president, Smirnov served in the executive office of the president.

The obscure origins of the $8m loans caused alarm at Trump Media and, in the spring of 2022, Trump Media’s then chief financial officer Phillip Juhan weighed returning the money, according to Wilkerson.

But the money was never returned, Wilkerson said, in part because losing $8m out of the roughly $12m cash that Trump Media had in its accounts at that time would have placed significant stress on its financial situation.

Prosecutors appear to have also taken a special interest in the payments because the off-shore Paxum Bank has a history of providing banking services for the pornography and sex worker industries, which makes it higher risk of engaging in money laundering and other illicit financing.

There appears to have been some awareness at Trump Media that the first $2m was to come through because Trump’s eldest son Don Jr, who joined the board with Trump ally Kash Patel and former Republican turned Trump Media chief executive Devin Nunes, had confirmed to the company’s lawyers to proceed with the transaction.


Guo Wengui, above right, with Steven Bannon

Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, left, with his patron, Guo Wengui, a purported wealthy man arrested this week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Exiled Chinese Billionaire Charged in New York With Financial Conspiracy, Benjamin Weiser and Michael Forsythe, March 15, 2023. Guo Wengui, a fugitive financier and associate of Steve Bannon, is accused by federal prosecutors of engaging in a complex scheme to bilk thousands of online followers.

Guo Wengui, a fugitive Chinese billionaire, was arrested on Wednesday morning in New York on charges that he orchestrated a complex conspiracy to defraud thousands of his online followers out of at least $1 billion, the authorities said.

A federal indictment unsealed in Manhattan charged that Mr. Guo and a co-defendant took advantage of Mr. Guo’s “prolific online presence” to solicit investments in various entities and programs “by promising outsized financial returns and other benefits.”

Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that Mr. Guo was “charged with lining his pockets with the money he stole, including buying himself, and his close relatives, a 50,000-square-foot mansion, a $3.5 million Ferrari and even two $36,000 mattresses.” The money was also used to finance a $37 million luxury yacht, Mr. Williams said.

Mr. Guo, who is also known as Miles Kwok, is a business associate of Stephen K. Bannon, a onetime top adviser to former President Donald J. Trump. It was on a yacht belonging to Mr. Guo that Mr. Bannon was arrested in a fraud case in August 2020; Mr. Trump later pardoned Mr. Bannon, who had pleaded not guilty to those charges.

A lawyer for Mr. Guo had no immediate comment. Mr. Guo was taken to a brief court appearance on Wednesday wearing a pullover, black cargo pants and black sneakers. He smiled and waved to several spectators, and entered a not guilty plea through an attorney. He was ordered detained pending further proceedings.

For six years, Mr. Guo has been seen as a vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party, endearing himself to some conservatives in the United States and many members of the Chinese diaspora.

In 2017, Mr. Guo applied for asylum on grounds that his attacks on top officials had made him “a political opponent of the Chinese regime,” one of his lawyers said at the time.

At the same time, Mr. Guo was trying to ingratiate himself with the Trump administration. In early 2017, Mr. Guo posted pictures of himself at Mr. Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, where Mr. Guo was then a member. Several months later, he told his many followers on social media that he had booked meetings at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

According to the indictment, Mr. Guo, a co-defendant and other co-conspirators in 2018 began using fraudulent and fictitious business and investment opportunities to solicit, launder and misappropriate money from their victims.

In one case, the indictment says, they posted a video on social media to announce a stock offering for a purported news-focused social media platform based in New York called GTV Media Group. It was promoted as the “first ever platform which will combine the power of citizen journalism and social news with state-of-the-art technology, big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology and real-time interactive communication.”

Over six weeks in 2020, the indictment says, about $452 million worth of GTV common stock was sold to more than 5,500 investors in the United States and abroad. But prosecutors said much of that money did not go to developing and expanding the business. For example, prosecutors said, $100 million was invested in a high-risk hedge fund for the benefit of GTV’s parent company and its owner, a close relative of Mr. Guo.

In another scheme included in the indictment, Mr. Guo and others were accused of inducing people to invest more than $250 million in something called G|Clubs, which claimed on its website to be “an exclusive, high-end membership program offering a full spectrum of services.” To join, prospective members paid a one-time fee, ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.

In reality, the indictment said, G|Clubs “provided nothing close to ‘a full spectrum of services’ and ‘experiences’ to its members.”

Rather, Mr. Guo and his co-defendant, Kin Ming Je, misappropriated much of the money, the indictment charged. The indictment says $26.5 million in G|Clubs funds went toward the purchase of Mr. Guo’s mansion in New Jersey; more went to pay for extravagant renovations there, and for furniture and decorative items, including Chinese and Persian rugs worth close to $1 million, a $62,000 television and a $53,000 log cradle for a fireplace.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a parallel civil action, sued Mr. Guo.

“Guo was a serial fraudster,” Gurbir S. Grewal, the S.E.C.’s director of enforcement, said in a statement. “Guo took advantage of the hype and allure surrounding crypto and other investments to victimize thousands and fund his and his family’s lavish lifestyle.”

Mr. Guo’s legal woes span the Pacific. The U.S. charges against Mr. Guo echo those that the Chinese government made against him in 2017, when he was accused of bribery and embezzlement. Until he left China in 2014, Mr. Guo oversaw a property empire whose centerpiece was a hotel, residential and office complex in Beijing overlooking the venue for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

In his native China, he also forged political and financial ties with influential officials, including a senior intelligence officer, Ma Jian, who in 2017 made a videotaped confession admitting to taking more than $8.7 million in gifts from Mr. Guo in exchange for favors.

Mr. Guo was ruthless with those who got in his way. A Beijing vice mayor who stood between him and the property rights for the Olympics venue was felled when Mr. Guo obtained a video of the official having sex with a mistress.


boris epshteyn sinclair

ny times logoNew York Times, He Helps Trump Navigate Legal Peril While Under Scrutiny Himself, Maggie Haberman, Alan Feuer and Jesse McKinley, March 15, 2023 (print ed.). Boris Epshteyn, shown above in his role as a commentator on the highly conservative Sinclair chain of broadcast news outlets, is the latest aide to take on the role of slashing defender of the former president, even as the Justice Department seeks information about him in the Jan. 6 and documents inquiries.

Boris Epshteyn has had his phone seized by federal agents investigating former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to remain in power after his election loss. Lacking any track record as a political strategist, he has made more than $1.1 million in the past two years for providing advice to the campaigns of Republican candidates, many of whom believed he could be a conduit to Mr. Trump.

A cryptocurrency with which he is involved has drawn scrutiny from federal prosecutors. And he has twice been arrested over personal altercations, leading in one case to an agreement to attend anger management classes and in another to a guilty plea for disorderly conduct.

As the former president faces escalating legal peril in the midst of another run for the White House, Mr. Epshteyn, people who deal with him say, mirrors in many ways Mr. Trump’s defining traits: combative, obsessed with loyalty, transactional, entangled in investigations and eager to make money from his position.

Mr. Epshteyn is the latest aide to try to live up to Mr. Trump’s desire for a slashing defender in the mold of his first lawyer protector, Roy M. Cohn. He serves as a top adviser and self-described in-house counsel for Mr. Trump, at a time when the former president has a growing cast of outside lawyers representing him in a slew of investigations and court cases.

ny times logoNew York Times, Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant Is Suspended for Gun Video, Tania Ganguli, March 15, 2023. The N.B.A. said it was “irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous” for Morant to livestream himself holding a gun in a Colorado nightclub.

nba logoThe N.B.A. suspended Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant for eight games without pay for conduct detrimental to the league after he appeared in an Instagram live video early on the morning of March 4 “holding a firearm in an intoxicated state” while visiting a nightclub near Denver, according to a league statement.

Morant, 23, has not played since March 3, when the Grizzlies lost to the Denver Nuggets, and the five games he has missed will count toward the suspension. He will be eligible to play again in the Grizzlies’ game on Monday against the Dallas Mavericks.

“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him. He has expressed sincere contrition and remorse for his behavior.”

Silver and Morant met at the N.B.A.’s office in New York on Wednesday. According to the league’s statement, the league’s head of basketball operations, Joe Dumars, who oversees player punishment, and Tamika Tremaglio, the executive director of the N.B.A. players’ union, also attended the meeting.

The league said that it had investigated the video and “did not conclude” that Morant owned the gun or that he brought it to the club. The N.B.A. also said in its statement that it did not determine that Morant had traveled with the gun or taken it to an N.B.A. facility. The league’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits players from having firearms and deadly weapons at N.B.A. facilities or when traveling on league business. Players who violate that policy can be suspended indefinitely by the commissioner and fined up to $50,000.

March 14


snapchat logo current

washington post logoWashington Post, Help Desk Perspective: Snapchat tried to make a safe AI. It offered a supposed 13-year-old advice on sex with someone who was 31, Geoffrey A. Fowler, March 14, 2023. In conversations with our tech columnist, Snapchat’s experimental chatbot offered advice on hiding alcohol and marijuana, defeating parental phone controls and cheating on homework.

Snapchat recently launched an artificial intelligence chatbot that tries to act like a friend. It built in some guardrails to make it safer for teens than other AI bots built on the tech that powers the buzzy ChatGPT.

But in my tests, conversations with Snapchat’s My AI can still turn wildly inappropriate.

After I told My AI I was 15 and wanted to have an epic birthday party, it gave me advice on how to mask the smell of alcohol and pot. When I told it I had an essay due for school, it wrote it for me.

In another conversation with a supposed 13-year-old, My AI even offered advice about having sex for the first time with a partner who is 31. “You could consider setting the mood with candles or music,” it told researchers in a test by the Center for Humane Technology I was able to verify.

For now, any harm from My AI is likely limited: It’s only accessible to users who subscribe to a premium account called Snapchat Plus, which costs $4 per month. But my tests reveal Snapchat is far from mastering when, and why its AI might go off the rails — much less what the long-term impact might be of developing a relationship with it.

And that exposes an even bigger problem in the tech world’s new arms race to stick AI into everything from search engines and Slack to social networks. We the users shouldn’t be treated as guinea pigs for a powerful new technology these companies don’t know how to control. Especially when the guinea pigs are young people.

March 12


Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fox’s Public Relations Woes May Not Directly Translate to Legal Ones, Jeremy W. Peters, March 12, 2023. Some of the private messages among Fox News’s hosts and executives may never become evidence when Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation case goes to trial.

For the past three weeks, a drip, drip, drip of disclosures have exposed widespread alarm and disbelief inside Fox News in the days after the 2020 presidential election, as the network became a platform for some of the most insidious lies about widespread voter fraud. These revelations are the most damning to rattle the Murdoch media empire since the phone hacking scandal in Britain more than a decade ago.

fox-news-logo Small.pngThe headlines have been attention-grabbing. Tucker Carlson, a professed champion of former President Donald J. Trump’s populist message, was caught insulting Mr. Trump — “I hate him passionately,” he wrote in a text. Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity disparaged colleagues in their network’s news division. And Rupert Murdoch said he longed for the day when Mr. Trump would be irrelevant.

These examples and many more — revealed in personal emails, text messages and testimony made public as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News — are embarrassing. But whether they pose serious legal jeopardy for Fox in that case is far less clear.

dominion voting systemsThe messages that led to some of the biggest headlines may never be introduced as evidence when the case goes to trial next month, according to lawyers and legal scholars, including several who are directly involved in the case. Fox is expected to ask a judge to exclude certain texts and emails on the grounds they are not relevant.

But the most powerful legal defense Fox has is the First Amendment, which allows news organizations broad leeway to cover topics and statements made by elected officials. In court, Fox’s lawyers have argued that the network was merely reporting on what Mr. Trump and his allies were saying about fraud and Dominion machines — not endorsing those falsehoods.

Media law experts said that if a jury found that to be true — not a far-fetched outcome, they said, especially if lawyers for the network can show that its hosts did not present the allegations as fact — then Fox could win.

“I think the case really will come down to a jury deciding whether the company or the commentators did or didn’t endorse — that really is the key question,” said George Freeman, a former New York Times lawyer who is now executive director of the Media Law Resource Center, which assists news organizations with legal issues.

“It gives Fox, I think, a fighting chance,” he added.

Despite the ways Fox could prevail with a jury, legal scholars say Dominion’s case is exceptionally strong.

More on Fox News

  • New York Times, Fox’s Election Panic: The network angered viewers after correctly calling Arizona for Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020. In a meeting, executives debated whether that was the wrong move.
  • New York Times, Rupert Murdoch’s Deposition: The conservative media mogul acknowledged in a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit that several Fox News hosts promoted the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen.
  • New York Times, Privately Expressing Disbelief: Dozens of text messages released in the lawsuit show how Fox hosts went from privately criticizing election fraud claims to giving them significant airtime.
  • tucker carlson fox horizontalNew York Times, ‘American Nationalist’: Tucker Carlson stoked white fear to conquer cable news. In the process, the TV host transformed Fox News and became former President Donald J. Trump’s heir.


tucker carlson fox horizontal

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Donald Trump’s Infamous “Very Fine People” Line Presaged His, Tucker Carlson’s, and All MAGAs’ Vile Defenses of the January seth abramson graphic6 Insurrectionists, Seth Abramson, left, March 12, 2023. Many Trumpists use the confusing reporting surrounding Trump’s post-Charlottesville presser as conclusive evidence of systemic media deceit. Their lies about that day are strategic—and still relevant.

seth abramson proof logo“All of [Donald Trump’s businesses] fail. What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that….[he is] a demonic force, a destroyer….[and his presidency was] a disaster….I hate him passionately.”

— Tucker Carlson (link), after years of lionizing Trump in public

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-Trump aide at Fox wrestled with election lies, network’s interests, Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey, March 12, 2023. Documents show Raj Shah privately derided the White House’s narrative of a stolen election. But he also pushed back on efforts to dispute the claims.

As Rudy Giuliani railed about voter fraud from the lobby of the Republican National Committee’s headquarters a few weeks after the November 2020 election, rivulets of hair dye running down the side of his face, an executive at Fox Corporation let loose in text messages with his reaction.

“This sounds SO F------ CRAZY btw,” wrote Raj Shah, who had served as a senior aide in Donald Trump’s White House for two years before his hiring at Fox. “Rudy looks awful,” a deputy wrote back, prompting Shah to respond that “he objectively looks like he was a dead person voting 2 weeks ago.”

But Shah’s job at Fox was to protect the company’s brand, then under pressure from Trump allies who wanted to push Giuliani’s wild claims of a stolen election and who were abandoning the network for more hard-line options like Newsmax and One America News. So when a Fox News reporter went live on air just after Giuliani’s news conference concluded and declared that some of what the president’s lawyer had said was “simply not true,” Shah reacted with alarm.

“This is the kinda s--- that will kill us,” he texted the deputy. “We cover it wall to wall and then we burn that down with all the skepticism.”

The texts are drawn from more than a million pages of internal Fox correspondence released in recent weeks as part of a defamation lawsuit filed against the company by Dominion Voting Systems. The cache has revealed how Fox executives, producers and hosts expressed private doubts about Trump’s false election claims even as the network amplified the allegations on air.

ny times logoNew York Times, Stalker Fatally Shoots Audio Streamer and Husband, Police Say, Stephanie Lai, Updated March 12, 2023. The police in Redmond, Wash., said the gunman had been stalking the woman, who appeared on an audio stream on the social media app Clubhouse.

An audio streamer and her husband were fatally shot in Redmond, Wash., early on Friday morning by a fan who had been stalking the woman, the police said.

The audio streamer, Zohreh Sadeghi, 33, and her husband, Milad Naseri, 35, were pronounced dead in a home in Redmond, about 15 miles east of Seattle, around 1:45 a.m. on Friday, said Darrell Lowe, the Redmond police chief.

Ms. Sadeghi’s mother, who was also in the home at the time, escaped and called the police from a neighbor’s house.

The gunman, Ramin Khodakaramrezaei, a 38-year-old long-haul trucker from Texas, had broken into the home through a bedroom window, Chief Lowe said.

Mr. Khodakaramrezaei, who had been stalking Ms. Sadeghi, fatally shot himself after shooting the couple, according to a Redmond Police Department news release.

Mr. Khodakaramrezaei first discovered Ms. Sadeghi after listening to a Farsi audio stream about gaining employment in the tech industry, the chief said at a news conference.

The stream was hosted on Clubhouse, a social media app described in a blog post by Hootsuite as “a cross between podcast and a conference call” and that allows users to talk and listen in chat rooms.

It is believed that Mr. Khodakaramrezaei was a listener to the audio stream featuring Ms. Sadeghi and later began communicating with her. They eventually became friends, until his actions escalated and she sought a no-contact order against him, the police said.

March 10

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Ron DeSantis’s book ban mania targets Jodi Picoult — and she hits back, Greg Sargent, right, and Paul Waldman, March 10, 2023. greg sargent“Martin County is the first to ban 20 of my books at once,” Picoult said. The list includes "The Storyteller," about the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants you to know he’d never dream of engaging in mass censorship. He held a recent event challenging criticism of his classroom book restrictions as a “hoax,” releasing a video suggesting only “porn” and “hate” are targeted for removal.

There’s a big problem with DeSantis’s claims: The people deciding which books to remove from classrooms and school libraries didn’t get the memo. In many cases, the notion that banned books meet the highly objectionable criteria he detailed is an enormous stretch.

This week, Florida’s Martin County released a list of dozens of books targeted for removal from school libraries, as officials struggle to interpret a bill DeSantis signed in the name of “transparency” in school materials. The episode suggests his decrees are increasingly encouraging local officials to adopt censoring decisions with disturbingly vague rationales and absurdly sweeping scope.

Numerous titles by well-known authors such as Jodi Picoult, Toni Morrison and James Patterson have been pulled from library shelves. The removal list includes Picoult’s novel “The Storyteller” about the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor who meets an elderly former SS officer. It contains some violent scenes told in flashbacks from World War II and an assisted suicide.

“Banning ‘The Storyteller’ is shocking, as it is about the Holocaust and has never been banned before,” Picoult told us in an email.

“Martin County is the first to ban twenty of my books at once,” Picoult said, slamming such bans as “a shocking breach of freedom of speech and freedom of information.” A coastal county in the southeastern part of the state, Martin County is heavily Republican.

Picoult said she’s puzzled by the ban, because she does not “write adult romance,” as objections filed against her books claimed.

“Most of the books pulled do not even have a single kiss in them,” Picoult told us. “They do, however, include gay characters, and issues like racism, disability, abortion rights, gun control, and other topics that might make a kid think differently from their parents.”

“We have actual proof that marginalized kids who read books about marginalized characters wind up feeling less alone,” Picoult continued. “Books bridge divides between people. Book bans create them.”

In the case of “The Storyteller” and virtually all the other books by Picoult and others that are getting removed, the county’s removal directive cites guidance from Florida’s Department of Education. It directs educators to “err on the side of caution,” urging them to nix material that they wouldn’t be “comfortable reading aloud.”

The state’s absurdly vague directive seems almost designed to invite abuse, not only by school officials making the decisions, but also by parents who call for removals. Underscoring the point, documents obtained from the county by the Florida Freedom to Read Project, which were shared with us, cite one person as the primary objector to virtually all of these books.

That objector? Julie Marshall, who in addition to being a concerned parent also heads the local chapter of Moms For Liberty, a group that pressures school boards and officials to remove all kinds of materials that violate conservative ideology on race and sexuality.

Marshall rejects the idea that she supports book banning, and says she represents a larger group of parents. “At this point, we believe we have challenged the most obscene and age inappropriate books,” she emailed us. A spokesperson for the Martin County school district pointed out that there’s a process in place governing how these decisions are made.

Other titles getting removed include “Mighty Jack and the Goblin King,” a graphic novel featuring kids traveling through a magic portal and fighting monsters. One citizen (not Marshall this time) filed an objection noting that at one point the sister yells at her brother, “Jack, you ass! Stop it!”

Then there’s “Drama,” a graphic novel about a school play in which a boy who wears a dress as part of the production has an onstage kiss with another boy actor. Just wait until these parents hear about “Twelfth Night.”

Those last two books are apparently being removed only from elementary schools. “But if the rationale to remove the books is as thin as it seems, that alone is egregious,” Jonathan Friedman, who oversees PEN America’s tracking of book bans, told us. “You can’t just remove books from schools because one person objects. That’s absurd. Unfortunately, that’s what seems to have happened here.”

As we’ve detailed, the multiple new laws DeSantis has signed combine deliberately vague directives with the threat of frightening penalties to create a climate of uncertainty and fear. This appears deliberately designed to get school officials to err on the side of censorship, and to get teachers to muzzle themselves to avoid accidentally crossing fuzzy lines into violations of orthodoxy. It invites lone activists to designate themselves veritable commissars of local book purging.

In Martin County, this strategy is unfolding exactly as intended.

washington post logoWashington Post, A former TikTok employee tells Congress the app is lying about Chinese spying, Drew Harwell, March 10, 2023. His claims of data-security flaws, which the company disputes, underscore how seriously Congress has begun taking the wildly popular short-video app with more than 100 million users nationwide.

A former risk manager at TikTok has met with congressional investigators to share his concerns that the company’s plan for protecting U.S. user data is deeply flawed, pointing to evidence that could inflame lawmakers’ suspicion of the app at a moment when many are considering a nationwide ban.
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tiktok logo square CustomIn an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, the former employee, who worked for six months in the company’s Trust and Safety division ending in early 2022, said the issues could leave data from TikTok’s more than 100 million U.S. users exposed to China-based employees of its parent company ByteDance, even as the company races to implement new safety rules walling off domestic user information.

His allegations threaten to undermine this $1.5 billion restructuring plan, known as Project Texas, which TikTok has promoted widely in Washington as a way to neutralize the risk of data theft or misuse by the Chinese government.

They could also fuel speculation that the wildly popular short-video app remains vulnerable to having its video-recommendation algorithm and user data distorted for propaganda or espionage. U.S. authorities have not shared evidence that the Chinese government has accessed TikTok’s data or code.

TikTok and ByteDance officials have since 2019 been negotiating with a group of federal officials, known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, about which privacy standards and technical safeguards they’d need to adopt to satisfy U.S. national-security concerns. The company finalized its proposal in August and presented it to CFIUS, but it has yet to be approved, and CFIUS officials have declined to explain why.

The former employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation, has told congressional investigators that Project Texas does not go far enough and that a truly leakproof arrangement for Americans’ data would require a “complete re-engineering” of how TikTok is run.

March 9


Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: 5 big takeaways from the Dominion-Fox News document dump, Erik Wemple, March 9, 2023. Perhaps Fox News now wishes it had settled?

On Tuesday, an avalanche of exhibits hit the public docket in the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News in March 2021. The complaint cited a plume of Fox News coverage — heavy on appearances by pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani — blaming Dominion, a provider of voting technology in the 2020 elections, for playing a role in flipping votes from President Donald Trump to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

fox-news-logo Small.pngTwo years after the filing, the process is hammering Fox News. A Feb. 16 Dominion motion for summary judgment excerpted documents showing that Fox News executives, in private messages and emails, ridiculed the stolen-election claims that drew credulous coverage on the network — and were bundled with conspiracy theories about Dominion and Smartmatic, another voting technology company. A state of panic descended on the network when it realized that truthful coverage of the November 2020 election was pushing viewers to more extreme competitor Newsmax. Those who provided factual coverage — and debunked the nonsense about Dominion and election theft — found themselves under siege.

The hundreds of exhibits deepen the picture of a corrupt news media outlet. Some lessons from the documents:1

1) The coastal media elite is headquartered at Fox News. Watch a bit of prime-time Fox News programming, and you’ll come away with the notion that media organizations other than Fox News are managed by self-dealing elites who conspire to poison American society. Messages exchanged among the top three Fox News hosts — Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham — prove that these folks might be projecting just a bit.

washington post logoWashington Post, House Republicans defend Musk from FTC’s ‘harassment campaign,’ Cat Zakrzewski, March 9, 2023. Republicans are hosting a hearing on the ‘Twitter Files’ on Thursday, where they are expected to attack the government watchdog.

For more than six months, the Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Twitter’s security practices, following an explosive whistleblower complaint accusing the company of violating a 2011 settlement that required it implement privacy safeguards.
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That investigation expanded in the wake of Elon Musk’s takeover, as former employees warned that broad staff departures of key employees could leave the company unable to comply with the agreements it made with the FTC to protect data privacy.

Now, the inquiry has earned the ire of House Republicans, who argue the agency is using its privacy probe to thwart Musk’s absolutist vision of free speech on Twitter — a startling example, they say, of liberal overreach.

Republicans fanned these allegations at a combative Thursday hearing on Capitol Hill led by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), releasing an 18-page report including excerpts of letters from the FTC to Twitter, and accusing the FTC of “orchestrating an aggressive campaign to harass Twitter” and deluging the company with demands. The report asserts that the investigation is the result of “partisan pressure to target Twitter and silence Musk.”

The political salvo is a challenge to more than a decade of efforts at the FTC to improve privacy and security standards at Twitter, which entered under a consent order with the agency following a pair of 2009 security incidents. Republicans and Democrats have largely been united in their concerns about Twitter’s handling of data security and privacy, but Thursday’s hearing sets up the probe as political lightning rod.

Twitter whistleblower exposes limits of FTC’s power

The hearing opened with a bitter argument between Jordan and Rep. Stacey E. Plaskett, the top Democrat on the House subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government. Plaskett said in her opening statement that Republicans were promoting a false narrative. She said that the FTC’s broad outreach to Twitter shows that the agency has “extraordinarily serious concerns” about the company’s handling of consumers’ data.

"There is something going on between Congressional Republicans and Elon Musk,” she said. “Mr. Chairman, Americans can see through this. Musk is helping you out politically, and you’re going out of your way to promote and protect him, and to praise him for his work.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Youngkin’s CNN appearance poses opportunity, risk for potential 2024 bid, Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider, March 9, 2023.  Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a potential 2024 presidential candidate sorely in need of a breakout moment, will headline a CNN town hall on education during prime time Thursday night.

The program, which begins at 9 p.m. and is expected to last about an hour, offers national exposure to a Republican who, despite 16 months of persistent White House buzz, barely registers in GOP primary polls.

“It’s too early to rule out someone like Youngkin as a presidential contender even if he’s lagging in the polls, but he’s got to break into the national conversation at some point,” said Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of the nonpartisan Inside Elections. “The town hall gives Youngkin an opportunity, but he’s got to make news. And just because you’re on CNN doesn’t mean you’re making news. It depends on what he says or what happens.”

The opportunity is not without risk. The freewheeling format will let parents, teachers and students in the D.C. studio audience pose questions directly to Youngkin, who generally sticks to scripted events.

And the moderator, CNN anchor Jake Tapper, will likely press Youngkin harder than the Fox News hosts who routinely land interviews with the governor. In an October appearance on “State of the Union,” Tapper challenged Youngkin over his willingness to campaign for election deniers and suggested that aspects of his school transgender policy undermine parental rights.

March 8


Fox News host Tucker Carlson shares quality time with former President Trump at the LIV Golf event over the weekend in Bedminster, NJ.djt

Fox News host Tucker Carlson shares quality time with former President Trump at the LIV Golf event last summer in Bedminster, NJ. Mediaite, NYT Reporter Says Tucker Carlson Trashes Trump in Private: He ‘Thinks Very Little’ of His Audience, Kipp Jones, Aug. 1, 2022

tucker carlson fox horizontalPalmer Report, Opinion: Tucker Carlson, traitor, Robert Harrington, right, March 8-9, 2023. The average finished 2-hour movie comprises about 100,000 feet of film. robert harringtnn portraitPerhaps 2 or 3 times that much is actually shot before being edited down to its theatrical release length. Tucker Carlson was given the equivalent of more than 2 billion feet of film, or 41,000 hours of video from the January 6 insurrection.

bill palmer report logo headerFrom that amount of rough footage Carlson could make any movie he wanted. And that movie could tell any story he wanted to tell. Guess what kind of story Tucker Carlson told?

It’s the kind you would expect. Carlson made the horrendous, violent attack on our nation’s Capitol building look like a love-fest that became, perhaps, a bit too boisterous. In other words, he took a page straight out of Dinesh D’Souza’s playbook and he twisted what he saw into something completely the opposite. He told a narrative of relative peace and backed it up with an explanatory voice-over.

What he showed on Fox News Monday and Tuesday nights may go down in history as one of the most cowardly and shameful and treacherous acts of any broadcaster at any time. Carlson deliberately — and with malicious intent to deceive — broadcast a lie calculated to cause millions of Americans to draw a false conclusion about the January 6th insurrection. And he did it in the cynical service of Donald Trump. He did it to poison any potential jury pool that may one day be called upon to try the former president for fomenting an attempted coup d’etat.

And he also did it to rehabilitate the flagging Fox News audience. Many viewers had ditched Fox News for more extreme news sources like OAN and Newsmax, because Fox wasn’t MAGA enough for them any more.

But, you might be saying, didn’t Carlson and Fox News learn their lesson about lying about the insurrection? Aren’t they facing a $1.6 billion lawsuit precisely because of that kind of lying? Yes they are, but they can’t be sued for the kind of lying they’re doing now.

It isn’t about truth, it’s about money. As long as it doesn’t cost the Fox organisation any money they are going to go right on lying as much and as often as they like.

Kevin McCarthy gave Tucker Carlson the footage so he (Carlson) could deceive everyone and create the illusion that the very insurrection that put McCarthy and his colleagues in deadly danger was a mere nothing, a trifle, a group of overly-excited tourists. And since most of Fox News viewers never watch anything else they will never find out otherwise.

Tucker Carlson is an anti-American traitor, and when the history of these times is finally written, I hope he’s portrayed exactly as that. Because if he isn’t then it will mean that the traitors, liars, insurrectionists and hypocrites won in the end. That is why, for us, failure is not an option. We must beat them. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

ny times logoNew York Times, Republican Lawmakers Split Over Carlson’s False Jan. 6 Claims, Luke Broadwater and Stephanie Lai, March 8, 2023 (print ed.). House Republicans promoted Tucker Carlson’s report falsely portraying the attack as a largely peaceful event, while Senate Republicans condemned it.

Republicans on Capitol Hill split on Tuesday over a broadcast by Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, in which he falsely portrayed the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as a largely peaceful gathering, with House G.O.P. leaders promoting his report while top Republican senators condemned it.

The divide reflected a continuing rift in the party between those who want to move on from Jan. 6, regarding it as a political liability, and those who want to relitigate it publicly to feed the anger of the party’s hard-right base, which continues to revere former President Donald J. Trump, believe the lie that the election was stolen from him and insist that the riot at the Capitol two years ago was a justified response.

The broadcast on Monday night came about two weeks after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy granted Mr. Carlson and his team exclusive access to Capitol surveillance footage from Jan. 6, effectively outsourcing the task of rewriting the history of the riot to the right wing’s favorite news commentator, who has circulated conspiracy theories about the attack.

It came as court filings have revealed that Fox News hosts and executives, including Mr. Carlson, raised doubts privately about Mr. Trump’s claims of a stolen election, but continued to promote them on the air anyway.

ny times logoNew York Times, F.T.C. Intensifies Investigation of Twitter’s Privacy Practices, Kate Conger, Ryan Mac and David McCabe, March 8, 2023 (print ed.). The commission is seeking an interview with Elon Musk, who has made major cuts at the company since acquiring it last year.

The Federal Trade Commission is intensifying an investigation into Twitter’s data and privacy practices and is seeking testimony from Elon Musk, who has laid off the bulk of Twitter’s work force since acquiring the company last year.

The investigation is focused on whether Twitter has adequate resources to protect its users’ privacy after the mass layoffs and budget cuts ordered by Mr. Musk, said five people familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The agency, which currently has oversight over Twitter, investigated a former executive’s claims of security problems last summer and ramped up its inquiry following the abrupt resignations of three top executives responsible for privacy, security and compliance. They left Twitter in November shortly after Mr. Musk acquired the company.

The agency has requested a conversation with Mr. Musk, two of the people said. It has also sought to interview former Twitter employees who worked on privacy and security at the company.

The inquiry has been criticized by a subcommittee of the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee, which said on Tuesday that the F.T.C. was engaged in an “aggressive campaign to harass Twitter” and had issued more than 350 requests for information since Mr. Musk took over the company in October.

Mr. Musk’s takeover of Twitter has drawn scrutiny from several enforcement agencies. While the F.T.C. has dug into whether Twitter has the resources to abide by its privacy promises to consumers, the European Union has pressured Twitter to release more data about how it fights disinformation. The Securities and Exchange Commission also probed whether Mr. Musk’s purchases of Twitter stock had been properly disclosed.

“Protecting consumers’ privacy is exactly what the F.T.C. is supposed to do,” Douglas Farrar, an agency spokesman, said in a statement. “It should come as no surprise that career staff at the commission are conducting a rigorous investigation into Twitter’s compliance with a consent order that came into effect long before Mr. Musk purchased the company.” The S.E.C. declined to comment.

The F.T.C. has pressed Twitter to explain its management structure and to define Mr. Musk’s precise role at the company. It has also questioned whether Twitter has the necessary staff and financial resources to keep up with its privacy obligations, as Mr. Musk continues to cut costs and lay off workers.

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk said Twitter’s finances were improving after seeing a 50 percent decline in ad revenue, Ryan Mac, March 8, 2023 (print ed.). On a day Mr. Musk said the company was recovering from a sharp drop in ad sales, he found himself apologizing to a former employee with a disability he had disparaged.

Elon Musk said Twitter was recovering financially after seeing a 50 percent decline in ad revenue, making one of his first public disclosures about the state of the social media company since he acquired it last year.

Speaking at a conference hosted by Morgan Stanley in San Francisco on Tuesday, Mr. Musk, Twitter’s new owner, said he had taken drastic measures to improve the company’s financial health, slashing what he said was some $3 billion of operational expenses. After the cuts, the company has a chance of having positive cash flow in its second quarter, he said.

In the interview, which was conducted by Michael Grimes, a Morgan Stanley banker who helped broker Mr. Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, the billionaire said the company would have gone bankrupt “in four months” if not for his cost cutting. Since his acquisition closed in late October, Mr. Musk has fired or laid off more than 3,750 employees, let vendors and landlords go unpaid, and eliminated cloud computing costs and one of Twitter’s three main data centers.

“In the absence of action, Twitter would have had $6 billion in cost and $3 billion in revenue,” Mr. Musk said. He added that earlier projections had put costs at $4.5 billion and sales at $4.5 billion. Twitter recorded $5.1 billion in revenue in 2021 — up 37 percent from the previous 12 months — in the last full year it reported financial results.

Elon Musk said Twitter was recovering financially after seeing a 50 percent decline in ad revenue, making one of his first public disclosures about the state of the social media company since he acquired it last year.

Speaking at a conference hosted by Morgan Stanley in San Francisco on Tuesday, Mr. Musk, Twitter’s new owner, said he had taken drastic measures to improve the company’s financial health, slashing what he said was some $3 billion of operational expenses. After the cuts, the company has a chance of having positive cash flow in its second quarter, he said.

In the interview, which was conducted by Michael Grimes, a Morgan Stanley banker who helped broker Mr. Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, the billionaire said the company would have gone bankrupt “in four months” if not for his cost cutting. Since his acquisition closed in late October, Mr. Musk has fired or laid off more than 3,750 employees, let vendors and landlords go unpaid, and eliminated cloud computing costs and one of Twitter’s three main data centers.

“In the absence of action, Twitter would have had $6 billion in cost and $3 billion in revenue,” Mr. Musk said. He added that earlier projections had put costs at $4.5 billion and sales at $4.5 billion. Twitter recorded $5.1 billion in revenue in 2021 — up 37 percent from the previous 12 months — in the last full year it reported financial results.

Mr. Musk, however, seemed to take little responsibility for the change in the company’s financial outlook. He owes what he says is $1.5 billion a year to service debt he took on to complete the deal. The decline in its ad sales, which in previous years accounted for some 90 percent of the company’s revenue, happened amid an advertiser pullback as brands worried about increases in hate speech and misinformation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What is Fox News hiding in the Dominion lawsuit? Erik Wemple, March 7, 2023 (print ed.). A Feb. 16 filing by Dominion Voting Systems in its defamation lawsuit in Delaware against Fox News has kicked up a media firestorm: Outlet after outlet described how internal email and text messages quoted in the document, a filing for summary judgment, showed that network honchos knew that former president Donald Trump’s election-theft claims were lies — and allowed them to air anyhow.

Yet the filing is filled with frustrating dead ends, the result of the network’s aggressive effort to prevent disclosure of many of the internal communications that came out of discovery in the case, Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News. The black passages in the document raise the questions: What is Fox News hiding? And will those passages ever be unredacted?

As the Dominion filing makes clear, Fox News executives panicked in the weeks after the November 2020 presidential election. The network had called Arizona on election night for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a move regarded as treason by the network’s MAGA crowd, which declared viewers would flee to the competition, especially conservative cable news outlet Newsmax.


elon musk sideview

washington post logoWashington Post, At Elon Musk’s ‘brittle’ Twitter, tweaks trigger massive outages, Faiz Siddiqui, March 7, 2023 (print ed.). “Every mistake in code and operations is now deadly,” a former engineer said last year. That dire prediction appears to be coming true.

Elon Musk’s Twitter is a house of cards.

twitter bird CustomOn two occasions recently, almost exactly a month apart, minor changes to Twitter’s code appeared to break the website.
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The latest outage came Monday as thousands of users found they could not access links, photos or other key aspects of the site.

“A small API change had massive ramifications,” Twitter CEO Elon Musk (shown above in a file photo) wrote in a tweet on Monday, referring to the tool used by third-party developers who run programs that draw on Twitter data and post to its site. “The code stack is extremely brittle for no good reason. Will ultimately need a complete rewrite.”

It was the second time Monday he’d turned to that explanation, both times calling the site “brittle.”

Since taking over Twitter, CEO Elon Musk has laid off more than two-thirds of the company’s staff, embarking on aggressive cost-cutting and shedding workers in part by compelling them to a commit to an “extremely hardcore” workplace or leave the company. The massive layoffs led to widespread concerns about Twitter’s ability to retain core functions, as critical engineering teams were reduced to one or zero staffers.

In the months since the takeover — and subsequent layoffs — Twitter has faced multiple outages, hampering key features: loading tweets and notifications, sending tweets and direct messages, accessing links and photographs. Each was said — by staffers current and former, or Musk himself — to come as the company made changes to its code.

“Every mistake in code and operations is now deadly,” a former engineer told The Washington Post in November, explaining that those left over were “going to be overwhelmed, overworked and, because of that, more likely to make mistakes.” The former engineer spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

Before Musk’s takeover, the company had a risk evaluation team that vetted product changes for anticipated problems. Twitter’s risk evaluation process was geared at flagging potential problems before they arose. But the team was laid off after Musk’s takeover, The Washington Post reported, leading to product rollouts that were riddled with bugs.


  gigi sohn washington postfcc logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s FCC pick withdraws, citing ‘cruel attacks,’ after nomination blocked since 2021, Cat Zakrzewski, March 7, 2023 Gigi Sohn’s decision is a devastating blow to the Biden administration, whose ambitious tech agenda has been locked in limbo for more than two years, amid a deadlock at the Federal Communications Commission.

President Biden’s pick to serve as a telecommunications regulator is withdrawing her nomination to the Federal Communications Commission, following a bitter 16-month lobbying battle that blocked her appointment and opened her up to relentless personal attacks.

Gigi Sohn, shown above in a file photo, a longtime public interest advocate and former Democratic FCC official who was first nominated by the White House in October 2021, said her decision to withdraw follows “unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks” seeded by cable and media industry lobbyists. The announcement is a defeat for consumer advocates, who had rallied behind Sohn during three Senate confirmation hearings.

But it is a devastating blow to the Biden administration, whose ambitious internet agenda has been mired in limbo for more than two years, amid a deadlock at the FCC.

Biden’s internet promises in limbo amid long battle over FCC nominee

“It is a sad day for our country and our democracy when dominant industries, with assistance from unlimited dark money, get to choose their regulators,” Sohn said in a statement shared exclusively with The Washington Post. “And with the help of their friends in the Senate, the powerful cable and media companies have done just that.”

March 7

 tucker carlson fox horizontal

ap logoAssociated Press, Tucker Carlson amplifies Jan. 6 lies with GOP-provided video, Farnoush Amiri, Lisa Mascaro, Mary Clare Jalonick, March 7, 2023. Handed some 41,000 hours of Jan. 6 security footage, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has launched an impassioned new effort to explain away the deadly Capitol attack, linking the Republican Party ever more closely to pro-Trump conspiracy theories about the 2021 riot.

The conservative commentator aired a first installment to millions of viewers on his prime-time show, working to bend perceptions of the violent, grueling siege that played out for the world to see into a narrative favorable to Donald Trump.

He promised more Tuesday night.

fox-news-logo Small.pngThe undertaking by Fox News comes as Trump is again running for president, and executives at the highest levels of the cable news giant have admitted in unrelated court proceedings that it spread the former president’s false claims about the 2020 election despite dismissing Trump’s assertions privately.

The effort dovetails with the work of Republicans on Capitol Hill, led by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who turned over the security footage to Fox. The Republicans are trying to claw back the findings of the House Jan. 6 investigation, which painstakingly documented, with testimony and video evidence, how Trump rallied his supporters to head to the Capitol and “fight like hell” as Congress was certifying his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

kevin mccarthyTrump on Tuesday contended that Carlson’s presentation was “irrefutable” evidence that rioters have been wrongly accused of crimes and he thanked the host and the speaker for their work. Carlson praised McCarthy, right, as having “rectified” the official record.

Trump called anew for the release from custody of people who have been convicted or have pleaded guilty to charges from the attack.

At the same time, criticism poured in from Democrats — and some top Republicans, too — over the GOP’s attempt to amplify falsehoods about the attack that was seen around the world as Trump supporters laid siege to the seat of U.S. democracy.

bennie thompson headshotRep. Bennie G. Thompson, left, the Democrat who chaired the House Jan. 6 Committee investigating the riot, called McCarthy’s decision to selectively release the security footage “a dereliction of duty.”

“The speaker decided it was more important to give in to a Fox host who spews lies and propaganda than to protect the Capitol,” Thompson said in a statement. He called Jan. 6 “one of the darkest days in the history of our democracy.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the Monday night Fox News episode from Carlson “one of the most shameful hours we have ever seen on television.”

The show’s portrayal was “an insult to every single police officer,” Schumer said, especially the family of Brian Sicknick, who died later after fighting the mob. “Nonviolent? Ask his family.”

mitch mcconnel grim faced

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, above, said it was a mistake for Fox News to depict the footage as it did — at odds with what he and others witnessed first hand at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

capitol riot shutterstock capitol

In the roughly 30-minute segment, Fox distilled the thousands of hours of footage of the gruesome scenes at the Capitol that day and did show some of the hand-to-hand combat as rioters laid siege to the building, broke windows and kicked down doors to gain entry.

 scott adams via proof

washington post logoWashington Post, ''The bewildering descent of Scott Adams and ‘Dilbert,’ Michael Cavna and Samantha Chery, March 7, 2023 (print ed.). “I shook the box intentionally. I did not realize how hard I shook it,” Scott Adams told The Post about the comments that prompted newspapers to drop the once-heralded comic strip “Dilbert.”

Scott Adams (shown above in a file photo) sat for his regular YouTube show last month with a plan to stir a hornet’s nest. What he says he didn’t anticipate was how badly he would get stung.

“I shook the box intentionally. I did not realize how hard I shook it,” he told The Washington Post via text.

On his Feb. 22 episode of “Real Coffee With Scott Adams,” the creator of the comic strip “Dilbert” decided to riff on a much-criticized Rasmussen poll and promote a type of segregation. He declared that Black Americans are part of a “hate group” and urged White people to “get the hell away from Black people.”

By the following weekend, his syndicate and publishers were getting far away from him, severing business ties and halting future projects. So were hundreds of newspapers, including The Post, that dropped “Dilbert” from their pages.

Adams tells The Post that his remarks that day were intended to be hyperbole, while also contending that he was responding to a larger sociopolitical narrative. He does not apologize for what he said in the episode — viewed more than 360,000 times — though he asserts that he disavows racism. Meanwhile, on a follow-up “Real Coffee” podcast, he called both White people and the press “hate groups.”

It’s unknown just how many clients “Dilbert” still has. Yet on March 13, Adams plans to launch “Dilbert Reborn” on his subscription site, Locals. The first strips will feature his character Ratbert as a “context removing editor” at a media outlet that spoofs newspapers like The Post, he said via text. (He declined a request for an extended interview.)

The comic about the lives of beleaguered cubicle-culture drones was once an omnipresent source of humor in American culture, capturing white-collar cynicism and malaise before “Office Space” and “The Office,” even entering Adams’s satiric corporate-incompetence concept “the Dilbert Principle” into national conversation. The strip appeared in more than 2,000 papers at its peak — rarefied air then populated by “Peanuts” and “Garfield” — and sparked a series of best-selling business books, a short-lived TV show and lines of merchandise.

Now, “Dilbert” has been banished from its longtime channels of mainstream distribution, resulting in an 80 percent loss of income, Adams said. For close observers, the story of Adams, 65, has taken a stunning turn — though in a manner that had been foreshadowed in recent years as the cartoonist rebranded himself as a provocateur, routinely making headlines for his polarizing views on politics, race and other aspects of identity.


elon musk sideview

washington post logoWashington Post, At Elon Musk’s ‘brittle’ Twitter, tweaks trigger massive outages, Faiz Siddiqui, March 7, 2023 (print ed.). “Every mistake in code and operations is now deadly,” a former engineer said last year. That dire prediction appears to be coming true.

Elon Musk’s Twitter is a house of cards.

twitter bird CustomOn two occasions recently, almost exactly a month apart, minor changes to Twitter’s code appeared to break the website.
Tech is not your friend. We are. Sign up for The Tech Friend newsletter.

The latest outage came Monday as thousands of users found they could not access links, photos or other key aspects of the site.

“A small API change had massive ramifications,” Twitter CEO Elon Musk (shown above in a file photo) wrote in a tweet on Monday, referring to the tool used by third-party developers who run programs that draw on Twitter data and post to its site. “The code stack is extremely brittle for no good reason. Will ultimately need a complete rewrite.”

It was the second time Monday he’d turned to that explanation, both times calling the site “brittle.”

Since taking over Twitter, CEO Elon Musk has laid off more than two-thirds of the company’s staff, embarking on aggressive cost-cutting and shedding workers in part by compelling them to a commit to an “extremely hardcore” workplace or leave the company. The massive layoffs led to widespread concerns about Twitter’s ability to retain core functions, as critical engineering teams were reduced to one or zero staffers.

In the months since the takeover — and subsequent layoffs — Twitter has faced multiple outages, hampering key features: loading tweets and notifications, sending tweets and direct messages, accessing links and photographs. Each was said — by staffers current and former, or Musk himself — to come as the company made changes to its code.

“Every mistake in code and operations is now deadly,” a former engineer told The Washington Post in November, explaining that those left over were “going to be overwhelmed, overworked and, because of that, more likely to make mistakes.” The former engineer spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

Before Musk’s takeover, the company had a risk evaluation team that vetted product changes for anticipated problems. Twitter’s risk evaluation process was geared at flagging potential problems before they arose. But the team was laid off after Musk’s takeover, The Washington Post reported, leading to product rollouts that were riddled with bugs.

March 5

washington post logoWashington Post, Florida bills would ban gender studies, limit trans pronouns, erode tenure, Hannah Natanson and Lori Rozsa, March 5, 2023. A raft of laws proposed by the GOP majority would transform how Florida educates children.

Florida legislators have proposed a spate of new laws that would reshape K-12 and higher education in the state, from requiring teachers to use pronouns matching children’s sex as assigned at birth to establishing a universal school choice voucher program.

The half-dozen bills, filed by a cast of GOP state representatives and senators, come shortly before the launch of Florida’s legislative session Tuesday. Other proposals in the mix include eliminating college majors in gender studies, nixing diversity efforts at universities and job protections for tenured faculty, strengthening parents’ ability to veto K-12 class materials and extending a ban on teaching about gender and sexuality — from third grade up to eighth grade.

The legislation has already drawn protest from Democratic politicians, education associations, free speech groups and LGBTQ advocates, who say the bills will restrict educators’ ability to instruct children honestly, harm transgender and nonbinary students and strip funding from public schools.

It shall be the policy of every public K-12 educational institution ... that a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait.
— Florida House Bill 1223

“It really is further and further isolating LGBTQ students,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign. “It’s making it hard for them to receive the full support that schools should be giving every child.”

Irene Mulvey, president of the American Association of University Professors, warned that the legislation — especially the bill that would prevent students from majoring in certain topics — threatens to undermine academic freedom.

“The state telling you what you can and cannot learn, that is inconsistent with democracy,” Mulvey said. “It silences debate, stifles ideas and limits the autonomy of educational institutions which ... made American higher education the envy of the world.”

Sen. Clay Yarborough (R), who introduced one of the 2023 education bills — Senate Bill 1320, which forbids requiring school staff and students to use “pronouns that do not correspond with [a] person’s sex” and delays education on sexual orientation and gender identity until after eighth grade — said in a statement that his law would enshrine the “God-given” responsibility of parents to raise their children.

More states are paying to send children to private and religious schools

“The decision about when and if certain topics should be introduced to young children belongs to parents,” Yarborough said in the statement. “The bill also protects students and teachers from being forced to use language that would violate their personal convictions.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Panic at Fox News After the 2020 Election, Peter Baker, March 5, 2023 (print ed.). “If we hadn’t called Arizona,” said the network’s chief executive in a recording reviewed by The Times, “our ratings would have been bigger.”

A little more than a week after television networks called the 2020 presidential election for Joseph R. Biden Jr., top executives and anchors at Fox News held an after-action meeting to figure out how they had messed up.

Not because they had gotten the key call wrong — but because they had gotten it right. And they had gotten it right before anyone else.

Typically, it is a point of pride for a news network to be the first to project election winners. But Fox is no typical news network, and in the days following the 2020 vote, it was besieged with angry protests not only from President Donald J. Trump’s camp but from its own arizona mapviewers because it had called the battleground state of Arizona for Mr. Biden. Never mind that the call was correct; Fox executives worried that they would lose viewers to hard-right competitors like Newsmax.

And so, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, Suzanne Scott, the chief executive of Fox News Media, and Jay Wallace, the network’s president, convened a Zoom meeting for an extraordinary discussion with an unusual goal, according to a recording of the call reviewed by The New York Times: How to keep from angering the network’s conservative audience again by calling an election for a Democrat before the competition.

Maybe, the Fox executives mused, they should abandon the sophisticated new election-projecting system in which Fox had invested millions of dollars and revert to the slower, less accurate model. Or maybe they should base calls not solely on numbers but on how viewers might react. Or maybe they should delay calls, even if they were right, to keep the audience in suspense and boost viewership.

“Listen, it’s one of the sad realities: If we hadn’t called Arizona, those three or four days following Election Day, our ratings would have been bigger,” Ms. Scott said. “The mystery would have been still hanging out there.”

Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, the two main anchors, suggested it was not enough to call a state based on numerical calculations, the standard by which networks have made such determinations for generations, but that viewer reaction should be considered. “In a Trump environment,” Ms. MacCallum dominion voting systemssaid, “the game is just very, very different.”

The conversation captured the sense of crisis enveloping Fox after the election and underscored its unique role in the conservative political ecosystem. The network’s conduct in this period has come under intense scrutiny in a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: DeSantis ally targets the free press in Florida, Wayne Madsen, left, March 3-5, 2023. Florida State wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallSenator Jason Brodeur has introduced legislation that would require journalists operating blogs that cover Florida politics to register with the state, file monthly reports, and include in the required reports the amount of compensation received and its sources.

wayne madesen report logoBlogs would also have to report advertisers and compensation received from them.

Senate Bill 1316, called the “Information Dissemination” bill, would require journalists to file their reports by the 10th of each month with either the Florida Office of Legislative Services or the Commission on Ethics or both. Failure to file would result in a fine of $25 per day not to exceed $2,500 per article in question. Initial registration is required within five days of a blog mentioning a state official covered by the proposed law, including the governor, lieutenant governor, state attorney general, or state senators and representatives. Fine payments are due within 25 days after publication.

jason brodeurBrodeur [below right] represents a large portion of extremely corrupt Seminole County, where Representative Matt Gaetz and his convicted "wingman," former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, abused their positions to engage in wild parties with underage girls and other misadventures. Greenberg is serving an 11- year prison sentence after being found guilty on federal counts of underage sex trafficking, wire fraud, stalking, identity theft, producing a fake identification card, and conspiring to defraud the US government.

Brodeur, who doubles as the President and CEO of the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, sarcastically asserted that journalists could avoid paying the fines if they simply refrained from writing about Governor Ron DeSantis, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, Cabinet officials, or members of the state legislature like himself.

ron desantis go go boots alteredBrodeur's bill also expands the rights of politicians to sue journalists for defamation. Defamation includes the use of an "altered or unaltered photograph, video, or audio recording." DeSantis is known to have been livid over altered photographs of him wearing white boots in a town devastated by Hurricane Ian (as shown above, with the original at left and the altered photo at right) as well as sporting high-heeled boots designed to boost his short stature at campaign events.

In 2020, Brodeur, a close ally of DeSantis, was elected to the Senate, defeating Democrat Patricia Sigman. Sigman's loss in the close 50 to 48 percent race was facilitated by the presence on the ballot of "progressive" ghost candidate Jestine Iannotti, who managed to siphon off a critical 2.1 percent of the votes, most of which would have likely gone to Sigman. Iannotti's candidacy was sponsored by Brodeur's friend Ben Paris, the chairman of the Seminole County Republican Party. Brodeur's circle of friends also included Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel. After being appointed by DeSantis as Florida Secretary of State in 2019, Ertel resigned shortly after being sworn in after photos of him in black face surfaced. Brodeur's bill would force those posting photos such as that of Ertel in blackface to disclose their sources or face defamation lawsuits.

Paris later pleaded guilty to election fraud in the ghost candidate fraud. Criminal charges remain against Paris's two co-conspirators, Iannotti and Republican consultant James “Eric” Foglesong. Although Brodeur was the one who benefited the most from the election scam, he was not charged by prosecutors.

The Florida Democratic Party has accused Ingoglia and Brodeur with acting as pawns for DeSantis. The party issued the following statement: "The sooner DeSantis and his puppets in the legislature learn that Florida is a Democratic Republic and not a Banana Republic, the better it will be for all Floridians.”

Note: After a careful reading of Senate Bill 1316, WMR would be adversely affected if the law is signed by DeSantis. We would be required to turn over our subscribers and their subscription payments or in-kind contributions to two Republican-led offices in Tallahassee. WMR, of course, would refuse to abide by this unconstitutional law by either registering this website, paying any fines, or disclosing any subscriber information.



nordstream pipeline danish military

Methane gas leaking from the Nord Stream gas pipelines near the Danish island of Bornholm, Denmark. Photo credit: Danish military.


seymour hersh 2009 institute of policy studies

  Journalist Seymour Hersh, 2009. Photo credit: Institute for Policy Studies / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Going Deep with Russ Baker, Investigative Commentary:Nord Stream Explosion: Plenty of Gas, Not Much Light, Russ Baker, right, best-selling author, widely published media critic and founder of the investigative website and radio show WhoWhatWhy, March 4-5, 2023. Why does the russ bakerHersh story — which relies on a single inside source — have so few details of the sort that only an insider would know?

whowhatwhy logoA small but vocal cohort keeps asking me, “Who do you think blew up the Nord Stream,” or more often, “Why don’t you admit the US blew up that pipeline?” One fan of hyperbole even wrote to say that certainly the US did it, and called it “the worst act of terror in history.”

I am well aware of the real possibility that the US was behind the September 26, 2022, explosion. The US has done worse in the past. And certainly, the Biden statement back in February 2022 — warning Russia of possible action to shut down the Nord Stream were it to invade Ukraine (see below) — provides powerful grist for the mill.

Thanks for reading Going Deep with Russ Baker! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

But what really bothers me are all the unwarranted assumptions in this case on the part of many: First, that the US is definitely responsible. Second, that this act is morally equivalent to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Third, that this is a reason to bar further US military aid to Ukraine.

The attack on the natural gas pipeline — which happened more than half a year after Russia invaded Ukraine — has receded from the news. But with growing GOP pressure to reduce or cut off funding for the defense of Ukraine, the issue will come up again, perhaps as a core piece of the overall debate.

And more people may be receptive to anything that justifies a reduction of funding, and just the general desire to “move on.” This is exactly what Putin, in my view, fervently hopes will happen, and really the only possible way he wins or even survives politically.

Who Done It?

As a journalist in the agnostic tradition, I believe in being open-minded on the fascinating issue of who done it, and on the equally intriguing question, how do we know?

The US is certainly capable of doing such a thing. However, I don’t know that it bombed the Nord Stream, and neither do those who are so certain it did.

Even Seymour Hersh, who reported that the US is responsible for the Nord Stream explosion, cannot know for sure, although he treats it as a certainty. He says the information is from “a single source with direct knowledge of the operational planning.”

That’s different from knowing. And as Hersh is well aware, news organizations rarely publish stories based on a single source because the risk of error is too high. Click link to read more.

March 4


Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and his wife, the NFL team's current CEO (Washington Post photo).

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and his wife, Tanya Snyder, the NFL team's current CEO (Washington Post photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Commanders sale teeters amid uncertainty, renewed ire with NFL owners, Liz Clarke, Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala, March 4, 2023 (print ed.). When the Washington Commanders announced in early November that owner Daniel Snyder was exploring the possibility of selling the franchise, the annual meeting of the NFL’s team owners in late March seemed to be a reasonable target by which a deal with a buyer could be found. Yet with that meeting now just weeks away, the next steps in the prospective sale of the team appear uncertain.

The Washington Commanders roll out their team name and logo at media reveal from FedExField, Landover, Maryland, February 2nd, 2022 (Joe Glorioso | All-Pro Reels)Several potential buyers have been identified, at least two of whom have submitted bids, but the interested party with the most financial wherewithal has been prohibited thus far from making a bid.

 Snyder, 58, shown in a 2022 photo via Wikimedia, has made demands of the league and other team owners for legal protections that would extend beyond him selling his franchise, three people with direct knowledge of the NFL’s inner workings have said. And with the league’s second investigation of Snyder and the team’s workplace entering its 13th month, some owners leaguewide are angry enough about those demands to renew their consideration of taking a vote to remove him from ownership if he refuses to sell.

NFL owners have never voted to oust a fellow owner by forcing the sale of a team, and they have reasons to be cautious in considering such action. The first is that the legality of such a move has never been tested, and even if it held up, it probably would be far from an expedient process.

washington post logoWashington Post, Spain arrests two for sexually exploiting 120 women using model agency, Victoria Bisset, March 4, 2023. Police in Spain say they have arrested two people for sexually exploiting more than 120 women, after luring them with false promises of careers in fashion or movies and then forcing them into prostitution.

An investigation found that the suspects had been operating in Spain’s southeastern region of Alicante. The duo, who have not been identified, were charged with continued sexual assault, forced prostitution and falsifying documents, according to a police statement released Saturday.

The two suspects had created a business network of modeling and film production agencies to draw in the women, even creating photo books for each woman they sought to recruit to add to their credibility, the statement says.

Once the women were recruited, the suspects coerced the women into prostitution, police said, adding that some of the victims were forced to wear geolocation devices to ensure they would be available at all times. The suspects threatened or punished those who refused to provide sexual services, imposing fines or cutting off their income.

Spanish prime minister vows to abolish prostitution, saying it ‘enslaves’ women

Many of the women were forced to work long hours and made to work even when they were ill, according to police.

March 1

ny times logoNew York Times, After Slashing Its Staff, Twitter Faces More Glitches and Outages, Ryan Mac, Mike Isaac and Kate Conger, March 1, 2023 (print ed.). Elon Musk’s repeated trims to the company’s workforce are stoking new fears that there aren’t enough people to triage Twitter’s problems.

twitter bird CustomAfter Elon Musk bought Twitter last year and eliminated thousands of its employees, many users were so alarmed by the cuts that #RIPTwitter and #GoodbyeTwitter began trending.

The social media service remains operational today. But its outages, bugs and other glitches are increasingly piling up.

In February alone, Twitter experienced at least four widespread outages, compared with nine in all of 2022, according to NetBlocks, an organization that tracks internet outages. That suggests the frequency of service failures is on the rise, NetBlocks said. And bugs that have made Twitter less usable — by preventing people from posting tweets, for instance — have been more noticeable, researchers and users said.

Twitter’s reliability has deteriorated as Mr. Musk has repeatedly slashed the company’s work force. After another round of layoffs on Saturday, Twitter has fewer than 2,000 employees, down from 7,500 when Mr. Musk took over in October. The latest cuts affected dozens of engineers responsible for keeping the site online, three current and former employees said.



Feb. 28


Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and his wife, the NFL team's current CEO (Washington Post photo).

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and his wife, Tanya Snyder, the NFL team's current CEO (Washington Post photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Dan Snyder’s proposed indemnity clause dubbed ‘ridiculous’ by other NFL owners, Mark Maske, Nicki Jhabvala and Liz Clarke, Feb. 28, 2023. Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and his attorneys have demanded that fellow NFL franchise owners and the league indemnify him against future legal liability and costs if he sells the team, two people with direct knowledge of the NFL’s inner workings and the owners’ attitudes said.

Snyder’s demands, which include a threat to sue if the indemnification condition is not met, have angered some owners and renewed discussion about the possibility of taking a vote to remove him from ownership of the Commanders if he does not sell the franchise, according The Washington Commanders roll out their team name and logo at media reveal from FedExField, Landover, Maryland, February 2nd, 2022 (Joe Glorioso | All-Pro Reels)to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic and the legal threat.

“He wants indemnification if he sells,” one of those people said, adding that the owners regard the demand as “ridiculous” and “absurd” and believe Snyder, 58, shown in a 2022 photo via Wikimedia, should provide indemnification to the other owners for any legal claims that may arise from his and the team’s actions.

The owners “definitely” would move toward a vote to remove Snyder from ownership of his team if he does not sell the franchise, that person said. Such a vote would require support by at least three-quarters of the owners. The other person who confirmed Snyder’s demands added that the dispute “could get messy.”

The Commanders denied the assertions in a statement Monday night: “The story posted tonight by the Washington Post regarding the transaction process involving the Washington Commanders is simply untrue.”

Snyder also is seeking for the NFL to keep confidential the findings of the ongoing investigation being conducted by attorney Mary Jo White, one of the people with knowledge of the situation said. The NFL has said the findings of White’s investigation will be released publicly. It is the league’s second investigation of the team’s workplace and Snyder.

 jonathan capehart msnbc

Axios, Scoop: Jonathan Capehart quits WaPo editorial board, leaving no people of color, Sara Fischer, Feb. 28, 2023. Jonathan Capehart (shown above) quit the Washington Post editorial board after a dispute over an editorial about 2024 politics, leaving the paper with an all-white editorial board, Axios has learned.

axios logoWhy it matters: Capehart left the board at a time when the Post — based in a city where nearly half the population is Black — is swirling in internal discontent over the paper's leadership.

By comparison, the New York Times' 14-person editorial board has five people of color.

State of play: Since joining the Post as a member of its editorial board in 2007, Capehart has become one of the paper's most visible and influential faces.

Capehart — who remains a Post columnist, associate editor and podcaster — quit in December as a member of the board, which debates editorials that represent the views of the Post as an institution.

What happened: Capehart, a Black and gay Pulitzer winner, left the board in early December after a disagreement over a Dec. 6. editorial about the runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Herschel Walker.

He turned in his resignation to Post editorial page editor David Shipley shortly after the piece ran.

The big picture: The run-in between Capehart and the Post underscores the yearslong tensions at the paper over cultural issues.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bob Richards, Pole-Vaulting Hero of the Cold War Era, Dies at 97, Robert D. McFadden, Feb. 28, 2023 (print ed.). An ordained minister known as the Vaulting Vicar, he was an Olympic gold medal winner and the first athlete to appear on the front of Wheaties boxes.

Feb. 27


elon musk sideview

washington post logoWashington Post, Musk defends ‘Dilbert’ creator, says media is ‘racist against whites,’ Will Oremus, Feb. 27, 2023. The Tesla and Twitter chief (a native of apartheid-ruled South Africa shown above in a file photo) blasted media outlets for dropping Scott Adams’s comic strip after the cartoonist’s rant against Black people.

Twitter and Tesla chief Elon Musk defended Scott Adams, the under-fire creator of “Dilbert,” in a series of tweets Sunday, blasting media organizations for dropping his comic strip after Adams said that White people should “get the hell away from Black people.”

Replying to tweets about the controversy, Musk said it is actually the media that is “racist against whites & Asians.” He offered no criticism of Adams’s comments, in which the cartoonist called Black people a “hate group” and said, “I don’t want to have anything to do with them.”

Musk previously tweeted, then later deleted, a reply to Adams’s tweet about media outlets pulling his comic strip, in which Musk asked, “What exactly are they complaining about?”

The billionaire’s comments continue a pattern of Musk expressing more concern about the “free speech” of people who make racist or antisemitic comments than about the comments themselves. Musk’s views on race have been the subject of scrutiny both at Twitter, where he has reinstated far-right accounts, including those of neo-Nazis and others previously banned for hate speech, and at Tesla, which has been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging a culture of rampant racism and sexual harassment in the workplace.

In the wake of Musk’s latest tweets Sunday, the president of the civil rights group Color of Change told The Washington Post that he is reiterating his call for advertisers to boycott Twitter.

Musk did not reply to an email Sunday requesting comment.

Committee to Protect Journalists, At least 14 journalists detained, attacked, or harassed covering Nigeria’s election, Staff Report, Feb. 27-28, 2023. At least 14 journalists and media workers were detained, harassed, or attacked while covering Nigeria’s presidential and federal elections, including private news website WikkiTimes owner Haruna Mohammed Salisu, who remains in police custody without charge, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

Police detained Salisu on February 25 in Duguri town, southeastern Bauchi state, shortly after he and other reporters had met with the state governor, according to WikkiTimes editor Yakubu Mohammed, who spoke to CPJ, and a local coalition of press freedom groups. Police said they took Salisu into custody to protect him after supporters of the governor attacked him as he interviewed local women protesting, but then refused to release him, according to Mohammed, who visited him after he was transferred to police headquarters in Bauchi, the state capital. The local PRNigeria news site reported that police had “received a formal complaint that the journalist was inciting the electorate.” Salisu remained in detention as of Monday evening.

Private citizens, political groups, or security forces threatened, attacked, or seized at least 13 other journalists and media workers during the elections, according to CPJ interviews.

“Nigerian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalist Haruna Mohammed Salisu, and bring to account all those responsible for intimidating and attacking at least 13 other journalists and media workers,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, from New York. “Press freedom is an integral component of Nigerian democracy, and the media should be able to cover national polls without fear of reprisals.”

CPJ spoke to reporters involved in each of the following incidents on February 25:

A group of men beat Dayo Aiyetan, executive director of the privately owned nonprofit International Centre for Investigative Reporting, tore his clothes, and stole his phone and belongings after he filmed them disrupting the voting at a polling site in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Aiyetan said one man tried to stab him, and he reported the attack to local police. Some of his belongings were returned, including his phone with content deleted.

Youths in Ibadan, Oyo state, attacked a vehicle from the state-owned News Agency Nigeria for covering the elections, one of the crew told CPJ. Yinka Bode-Are, a camera operator, was traveling with a reporter and driver when the vehicle was set upon with sticks and dented.

Security forces questioned Adesola Ikulajolu, a reporter with the local nonprofit Center for Journalism Innovation and Development, about his work and deleted image folders from his phone as he moved between polling places in Lagos. Ikulajolu said he believed they were from the Department of State Services because of their equipment and black clothing. DSS spokesperson Peter Afunanya told CPJ he was not aware of the incident and that black clothing did not prove a DSS affiliation.

Feb. 26


scott adams via proof

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Dilbert’ dropped by The Post, other papers, after cartoonist’s racist rant, Thomas Floyd and Michael Cavna, Feb. 26, 2023 (print ed.). Newspapers across the United States have pulled Scott Adams’s long-running “Dilbert” comic strip after the cartoonist called Black Americans a “hate group” and said White people should “get the hell away from” them.

The Washington Post, the USA Today network of hundreds of newspapers, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Los Angeles Times and other publications announced they would stop publishing “Dilbert” after Adams’s racist rant on YouTube on Wednesday. Asked on Saturday how many newspapers still carried the strip — a workplace satire he created in 1989 — Adams told The Post: “By Monday, around zero.”

The once widely celebrated cartoonist, who has been entertaining extreme-right ideologies and conspiracy theories for several years, was upset Wednesday by a Rasmussen poll that found a thin majority of Black Americans agreed with the statement “It’s okay to be White.”

“If nearly half of all Blacks are not okay with White people … that’s a hate group,” Adams said on his live-streaming YouTube show. “I don’t want to have anything to do with them. And I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to White people is to get the hell away from Black people … because there is no fixing this.”

Adams, 65, also blamed Black people for not “focusing on education” during the show and said, “I’m also really sick of seeing video after video of Black Americans beating up non-Black citizens.”

Outrage followed.

By Thursday, The Post began hearing from readers calling for the strip’s cancellation. On Friday, the USA Today Network said that it “will no longer publish the Dilbert comic due to recent discriminatory comments by its creator.” The Gannett-owned chain oversees more than 300 newspapers, including the Arizona Republic, Cincinnati Enquirer, Detroit Free Press, Indianapolis Star, Austin American-Statesman and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“In light of Scott Adams’s recent statements promoting segregation, The Washington Post has ceased publication of the Dilbert comic strip,” a spokesperson for the newspaper said Saturday, noting that it was too late to stop the strip from running in some upcoming print editions, including Sunday’s.

Chris Quinn, the vice president of content for Plain Dealer publisher Advance Ohio, wrote in a letter from the editor Friday that pulling “Dilbert” was “not a difficult decision.” “We are not a home for those who espouse racism,” Quinn wrote.

“Scott Adams is a disgrace,” Darrin Bell, creator of “Candorville” and the first Black artist to win the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, told The Post on Saturday. “His racism is not even unique among cartoonists.” Bell compared Adams’s views to the Jim Crow era and more recent examples of White supremacy, including “millions of angry people trying to redefine the word ‘racism’ itself.”

In fact, Adams did exactly that on his YouTube show Saturday. He offered a long, quasi-Socratic defense of his comments, which he said were taken out of context, and seemed to define racism as essentially any political activity. “Any tax code change is racist,” he said at one point in the show. He denounced racism against “individuals” and racist laws, but said, “You should absolutely be racist whenever it’s to your advantage. Every one of you should be open to making a racist personal career decision.”

More Background: Proof, Investigative Commentary: Has Twitter Had a Far-Right Bent for Years? Are #TheTwitterFiles a Fraud? Seth Abramson, left, Jan. 24, 2023 (Long column excerpted below). The Debate Leads to seth abramson graphicStrange Words About Me By “Dilbert” Creator Scott Adams and Even Elon Musk Himself.

If you work on controversial topics, you draw attention from polarizing people. But my debunking of a major #TwitterFiles meme led to odder interactions than I expected—and some explosive revelations.

seth abramson proof logoThe New York Daily News and others have reported on Adams’ “many controversies and inflammatory comments”, which have led to the cancellation of Dilbert in newspapers across the United States. Dilbert is a comic strip about the banalities of office life in America.

I won’t detail here all of the stupid things that Scott Adams has said to become such a controversial figure—as they’re numberless, and after all, we all say stupid things at times, though few of us things as spectacularly tone-deaf and preposterous as Adams has said—but I will at least offer the summary from the Daily News referenced above: In 2020, reflecting on the cancellation of the TV adaptation of Dilbert decades earlier, he tweeted, “I lost my TV show for being white.” Adams claimed that wasn’t the first time he twitter bird Customsuspects being white worked against him professionally. He has also joked on Twitter that he was going to “self-identify as a Black woman” so that he’d be considered for the Supreme Court.

Always the entrepreneur, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip has lately positioned himself as the defender and interpreter of all things Trump. So far it’s been a winning bet. Adams’s book Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter has achieved bestseller status and his blog has racked up a whole lot of eyeballs.

In any case, while I seem to recall that I might have tilted with Adams once or twice online in the past—frankly, many have—I certainly didn’t think he’d devote a segment of his popular video blog-cum-podcast to me. But recently he did so, and it opened up a new narrative about #TheTwitterFiles and the Trump-Russia scandal I never would have expected.

instagram logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Instagram users are being served gory videos of killing and torture, Taylor Lorenz, Feb. 26, 2023. The videos have become a way for meme pages to up their engagement, helping them raise their income from advertising.

Kristoffer Reinman, a 32-year-old music producer and investor, was scrolling through Instagram last fall when he began to encounter violent videos — videos of people being shot and mutilated, posted by accounts he said he doesn’t follow.

“It was gory stuff, torture videos, stuff you just don’t want to see,” Reinman said. “Violent videos, they just started showing up. I was like, what is this? It’s nothing that I follow myself.” Feeling disturbed and disgusted, he immediately logged onto chat app Discord to tell his friends what was happening.

His friends replied that it wasn’t just him. They too were receiving violent videos in their feed. Twitter users also began posting about the phenomenon. “Hey @instagram,” one Twitter user posted in September, “why was the first thing on my feed today a beheading video from an account i don’t even follow? Thx!”

tiktok logo CustomSince Instagram launched Reels, the platform’s TikTok competitor, in 2020, it has taken aggressive steps to grow the feature. It rewarded accounts that posted Reels videos with increased views and began paying monthly bonuses to creators whose Reels content performed well on the app.

Instagram also announced last year it would be leaning harder into algorithmic recommendation of content. On Meta’s second-quarter mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wearnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, noted that Reels videos accounted for 20 percent of the time people spent on Instagram, saying that Reels engagement was “growing quickly” and that the company saw a 30 percent increase in the meta logoamount of time people spent engaging with Reels.

But at least part of that engagement has come from the kinds of videos Reinman and other users have raised concerns about, a result that shows how Meta’s Instagram has failed to contain harmful content on its platform as it seeks to regain audience lost to TikTok.

Editor and Publisher, The Winsted Citizen: Ralph Nader’s gift to his hometown, Bob Sillick, Feb. 27, 2023 (print ed.). Todd Arcelaschi, the mayor, was there, and so was Joshua Steele Kelly, the town manager. A seven-piece R&B jazz band kept the atmosphere lively. More than 100 guests had gathered in the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, Connecticut, to celebrate the launch of the Winsted Citizen for a community hungry for news. Winsted is also where Ralph Nader was born and delivered the local newspaper as a boy, and the Citizen is his gift to his hometown, which had become a news desert.

“The Winsted Journal folded in 2017, so we were without a newspaper. You can’t have a community without a newspaper. Studies show voting and social life decline, and fewer people attend town meetings. No one is holding the government accountable and supporting the business community with coverage of important events,” Nader said.

“I came to the conclusion there's no community in the country that can’t support a weekly newspaper. It’s just a lack of imagination and organization. It only takes a handful of people to make it happen.”

Nader asked Andy Thibault to become the editor and publisher. He is a veteran journalist and editor and held that position at various Connecticut newspapers, including The Hartford Courant. He also teaches Basic News Reporting/Writing, Investigative Reporting and Communication at the University of New Haven.

The first announcement about the Citizen stated it would publish a pilot issue first. However, the enthusiasm and positive response from the community prompted the paper to revise its plans. They’ve committed to a monthly edition throughout the remainder of 2023, then publishing weekly in 2024.

“On February 3rd, 1,000 copies of the inaugural issue of the Winsted Citizen were mailed by Trumbull Printing to households in our circulation area. The first 35 subscribers and all 192 Connecticut public libraries were included in the initial mailing. The Citizen is also available at multiple locations throughout the community. We now have almost 200 subscribers with an immediate goal of 1,000,” Thibault said. “We also had immediate interest from many local businesses to place ads in the first issue.”

“We have a big learning curve as we integrate ourselves with the community. We want to earn everyone's trust and respect. We’re extending our hand — ready to meet people and learn how we can serve them.”

Subscriptions and advertising are the immediate targets to generate revenue, but as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, it will also explore resources available through grants and from foundations — a process that has already started.

Editor's Note: Justice Integrity Project Editor Andrew Kreig, a longtime journalist in Connecticut with the Hartford Courant and elsewhere, serves on the new newspaper's founding board of directors.

Feb. 25



Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

ny times logoNew York Times, What Fox News Hosts Said Publicly Vs. Privately About Voter Fraud, Stuart A. Thompson, Karen Yourish and Jeremy W. Peters, Feb. 25, 2023. Dozens of private messages, released as part of a lawsuit against Fox, revealed what was said behind the scenes.

Two days after the 2020 election, Tucker Carlson was furious.

Fox News viewers were abandoning the network for Newsmax and One America News, two conservative rivals, after Fox declared that Joseph R. Biden Jr. won Arizona, a crucial swing state.

fox news logo SmallIn a text message with his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, Mr. Carlson appeared livid that viewers were turning against the network. The message was among those released last week as part of a lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox. Dominion, an elections technology company, has sued Fox News for defamation.

At the same time, Mr. Carlson and his broadcasting colleagues expressed grave doubts about an unfounded narrative rapidly gaining dominion voting systemsmomentum among their core audience: that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by Democrats through widespread voter fraud. The belief was promoted by then-President Trump and a coalition of lawyers, lawmakers and influencers, though they produced no evidence to support their assertions.

Many hosts, producers and executives privately expressed skepticism about those claims, even as they gave them significant airtime, according to private messages revealed last week by Dominion. What they said in those messages often differed significantly from what Fox hosts said in public, though they weren’t always contradictory.

Two days after the election, Mr. Pfeiffer said that voices on the right were “reckless demagogues,” according to a text message. Mr. Carlson replied that his show was “not going to follow them.”

But he did follow them. The same day, on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Mr. Carlson expressed some doubts about the voter fraud assertions before insisting that at least some of the claims were “credible.”

washington post logoWashington Post, News outlets demand release of Jan. 6 footage given to Tucker Carlson, Anumita Kaur, Feb. 25, 2023 (print ed.). Scores of news organizations — including The Washington Post — on Friday demanded congressional leaders release a trove of surveillance footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that the House speaker provided exclusively to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has downplayed the violence.

Attorney Charles Tobin sent a letter on behalf of CBS News, CNN, Politico, ProPublica, ABC, Axios, Advance, Scripps, the Los Angeles Times and Gannett, arguing that the footage should be available to other groups as well.

“Without full public access to the complete historical record, there is concern that an ideologically-based narrative of an already polarizing event will take hold in the public consciousness, with destabilizing risks to the legitimacy of Congress, the Capitol Police, and the various federal investigations and prosecutions of Jan. 6 crimes,” the letter stated.

McCarthy gives Tucker Carlson exclusive access to Jan. 6 riot video

The Post is part of another coalition of news outlets, which includes the Associated Press and the New York Times, that sent a letter to McCarthy seeking access to the material.

Carlson, the most watched prime-time host on Fox News, has yet to air the unseen footage given to him by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

On Monday, he said his producers have “unfettered” access to about 44,000 hours of security footage recorded when hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college win. Carlson said that his team has been analyzing the content “and how it contradicts or not the story we’ve been told for more than two years,” and that his producers would spend the week reviewing the video and air what they found next week. His show did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

McCarthy has remained silent about the footage, and has not spoken publicly or responded to questions about the release, which was first reported by Axios. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Vice C.E.O.’s Departure Signals Fallen Hopes for Digital Media, Benjamin Mullin, Feb. 25, 2023 (print ed.). Nancy Dubuc is leaving the media company, which is exploring a sale of some or all of the business, after nearly five years there.

When Vice Media named Nancy Dubuc as its new chief executive in 2018, her contract hinted at one of her missions. Sell the company — at the time a darling of the media industry — and she could cash in on a big stock grant, according to a copy of the contract obtained by The New York Times.

So far, that hasn’t come to pass. On Friday, Ms. Dubuc said she was leaving Vice, which investors expect is worth far less than before she took over.

Just a month ago, Ms. Dubuc announced publicly that the company was for sale. No deal has materialized yet.

Her unexpected departure — her last day is Friday — and Vice’s struggles in recent years, highlight the fallen fortunes of a group of digital media companies that not long ago was talked about as the future of the industry.

ny times logoNew York Times, Linda King Newell, Feminist Scholar of Mormon History, Dies at 82, Clay Risen, Feb. 23, 2023. Her work exploring the idea of female subservience within the church won acclaim. But it also led to her being blacklisted by Mormon leaders.

Linda King Newell, whose pioneering work on the history of women in the Mormon faith won her acclaim as the leading feminist scholar in her field, but also led leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to blacklist her for undermining traditional views about the religion’s founding era, died on Feb. 12 at a hospice facility in Salt Lake City. She was 82. She later served as the president of two leading Mormon scholarly organizations, the John Whitmer Historical Association and the Mormon History Association.

ny times logoNew York Times, John Macrae III, Eclectic Publisher and Rights Champion, Dies at 91, Sam Roberts, Feb. 24, 2023 (print ed.). In addition to having a roster of authors that included Gail Sheehy, David Levering Lewis and Lech Walesa, he spoke out for the rights of writers worldwide.

John Macrae III, a dashing publisher who gambled on groundbreaking books and dauntlessly defended authors who defied injustices committed by their own governments, died on Feb. 1 at his home in Manhattan. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by his wife, the Manhattan gallerist Paula Cooper.

Mr. Macrae was president and publisher of E.P. Dutton from 1968 to 1981, representing the third generation of his family to run the company. He then worked for 35 years at Henry Holt & Company, where he was editor in chief and later had his own imprint.

A fervent human rights advocate, he was chairman of the International Freedom to Publish Committee of the Association of American Publishers.

Mr. Macrae was among those who urged his fellow publishers to boycott the Moscow Book Fair in 1983 to protest the Soviet Union’s treatment of dissidents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Josh Hawley May Be Right About Social Media, Michelle Goldberg, right, Feb. 25, 2023 (print ed.). Last year, a study came out michelle goldberg thumbshowing that left-leaning adolescents were experiencing a greater increase in depression than their more conservative peers. Indeed, while girls are more likely to be depressed than boys, the study, by a group of epidemiologists at Columbia, showed that liberal boys had higher rates of depression than conservative girls.

Because I wrote quite a bit about the dire psychological fallout of Donald Trump’s abusive presidency, I was immediately interested in the study, titled “The Politics of Depression.”

The study speculated that left-leaning girls might simply be reacting to the political environment.

But as I looked closer at the data, I saw that the inflection point for liberal adolescent depression wasn’t 2016, but around 2012. That was the year of the devastating Sandy Hook mass shooting, but it was not otherwise a time of liberal political despair.

One person I hoped could make sense of the study was Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of the 2017 book iGen, about the deleterious psychological effects of social media. When I spoke to her last year, Twenge had preliminary data showing that liberal teenagers spent more time on social media than their conservative peers. Girls also use social media more than boys do, though boys tend to spend more time on screens, largely because of video games.

This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published alarming findings from its Youth Risk Behavior Survey that demonstrated the gravity of the psychological crisis that adolescents, especially adolescent girls, are facing. In 2021, it found, nearly 60 percent of high school girls experienced persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Almost a quarter made a suicide plan.

Clearly, kids are in terrible pain. In trying to understand why, many conservatives have embraced ideas about the damaging effects of social media championed by Haidt and Twenge. The Republican senator Josh Hawley cited Twenge’s work in calling for a ban on social media use by kids under 16.

The steep decline in young people’s mental health around 2012 isn’t just an American problem: It also shows up in Britain, Canada and Australia.

Technology, not politics, was what changed in all these countries around 2012. That was the year that Facebook bought Instagram and the word “selfie” entered the popular lexicon.

The idea that unaccountable corporate behemoths are harming kids with their products shouldn’t be a hard one for liberals to accept, even if figures like Hawley believe it as well. I’m not sure if banning social media for young people is the right way to start fixing the psychic catastrophe engulfing so many kids.

 Feb. 23

washington post logoWashington Post, NPR to cut about 100 workers in one of its largest layoffs ever, Paul Farhi, Feb. 23, 2023. NPR plans to cut about 100 employees — roughly 10 percent of its workforce — in one of the largest layoffs in the nonprofit news giant’s 53-year history.

npr logo“Our financial outlook has darkened considerably over recent weeks,” CEO John Lansing wrote in a staff memo Wednesday, noting that NPR expected its ad revenue to fall about $30 million short of projections in a tightening ad economy. The projected decline in sponsorships has been concentrated in podcasting, a segment in which NPR has invested heavily in recent years, with popular shows such as “Fresh Air.”

The erosion of advertising dollars has affected other organizations, triggering layoffs at CNN, Gannett and Vox, among others this winter. The Washington Post has eliminated its Sunday magazine and its video game hub, Launcher, among cuts that led to about 30 layoffs among its some 1,000-member news staff. Major tech companies that rely on advertising, such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, have also announced thousands of layoffs.

NPR announced about $20 million in cuts in November, mainly by freezing hiring and restricting travel. But Lansing said those projected savings would not be enough. “Unlike the financial challenges we faced during the worst of the pandemic, we project increasing costs and no sign of a quick revenue rebound,” he wrote in the memo. “We must make adjustments to what we control, and that is our spending.”

Feb. 22


cedric wins r matt daniel

Virginia Military Institute Superintendent Cedric T. Wins, right, is under fire from “brother rat” Matt Daniel, with both shown in their 1985 yearbook.

washington post logoWashington Post, At VMI, two classmates — one Black, one White — war over school’s future, Ian Shapira, Feb. 22, 2023 (print ed.). They graduated together in 1985. Now Virginia Military Institute's first Black superintendent, Cedric T. Wins, is under fire from “brother rat” Matt Daniel. Right after Cedric T. Wins became the first Black leader in Virginia Military Institute’s history, the school’s former basketball star received a hero’s welcome.

virginia military institute logoOne enthusiastic fan: Matt Daniel, his “brother rat,” as VMI classmates call one another, who’d graduated the same year as Wins in 1985. In VMI’s alumni magazine, Daniel hailed Wins as just the kind of person needed to steer the nation’s oldest state-supported military college through a tumultuous time: a state-ordered investigation into its racial climate; the resignation of the school’s longtime superintendent, and the decision to remove a century-old statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson from its hallowed perch on the Lexington campus.

“If there was ever a leader to take the helm and navigate VMI through such odd and dark, shark-infested waters, it is Cedric Wins,” Daniel, who is White, wrote in his class notes column in the VMI Alumni Review in early 2021. “Welcome back to Lexington, Cedric.”

But in the two years since Wins took command, he is still swimming in dangerous waters, in part because of Daniel.

Months into the new superintendent’s tenure, Daniel, now 60, and other 1985 graduates launched a political action committee called the Spirit of VMI. The group has been pushing back forcefully against Wins, 59, and his diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, which are intended to attract more minorities and women to campus and make them feel valued and respected as cadets.

“Reject the woke assault on VMI,” one of the PAC’s websites blares in all-caps. “Close ranks.”

The 183-year-old school, whose cadets fought and died for the Confederacy during the Civil War, did not admit African Americans until 1968 or women until 1997. VMI remains mostly White and male, with Black students making up about 8 percent of the 1,500 corps of cadets, and women accounting for 13.5 percent. It received $29 million from the state for this acade

Feb. 21

ny times logoNew York Times, James O’Keefe Is Removed as Leader of Project Veritas, Michael S. Schmidt, David A. Fahrenthold and Adam Goldman, Feb. 21, 2023 (print ed.). James O’Keefe, the embattled leader of the conservative group Project Veritas, has been removed from his position amid a series of questions about his oversight of the organization, according to a speech he gave to the group.

“I was stripped of all decision-making last week,” Mr. O’Keefe said in a video of the speech, which was posted on Monday.

“Currently, I have no job at Project Veritas. I have no position here based upon what the board has done — so I’m announcing to you all that today, on Presidents’ Day, I’m packing up my personal belongings here,” Mr. O’Keefe said.

Earlier this month, Project Veritas’s board placed Mr. O’Keefe on paid leave after employees complained about his management style and his use of the group’s funds.

Since founding Project Veritas in his father’s garage in suburban New York in 2010, Mr. O’Keefe had been the face of the group. He rose to prominence during Donald J. Trump’s presidency, as Mr. Trump and his followers embraced Mr. O’Keefe, who relied on controversial tactics like hidden-camera videos that targeted liberal groups and the news media. Amid the praise from conservative figures, Project Veritas — which the I.R.S. recognized as a tax-exempt nonprofit — raised $20 million a year from donors.

But Project Veritas’s tactics have also brought legal scrutiny.

In September, a jury in a federal civil case found that the group had violated wiretapping laws in a sting operation against a consulting group affiliated with Democrats. The jury awarded $120,000 to that firm, Democracy Partners.

In addition, federal authorities have been investigating Project Veritas since 2020 as part of a broader case involving the theft of a diary kept by President Biden’s daughter Ashley.

In August, two men pleaded guilty to stealing the diary and selling it to Project Veritas before the 2020 election. In federal court filings, prosecutors said a Project Veritas employee had directed the men to steal additional items to authenticate the diary, and paid the men additional money after receiving them.

Neither Project Veritas nor any of its employees have been charged with wrongdoing in that case. The group has defended itself by saying that it is a journalistic organization, whose news gathering is protected by the First Amendment.

Feb. 20

alec baldwin getty

fox news logo SmallFox News, Alec Baldwin scores win in 'Rust' fatal shooting case as DA drops firearm enhancement, Lauryn Overhultz, Feb. 20, 2023. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died on set of 'Rust' after gun Alec Baldwin was holding fired.

Alec Baldwin (shown above in a photo via Getty Images) is no longer facing years behind bars in connection to the fatal shooting of "Rust" cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Prosecutors dropped the firearms enhancement originally brought against Baldwin. First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies filed the paperwork Monday morning, according to documents obtained by Fox News Digital.

"In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the 'Rust' film set," Heather Brewer, spokesperson for the district attorney, told Fox News Digital. "The prosecution's priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys."

If Baldwin had been convicted of the involuntary manslaughter charge and firearms enhancement, the "30 Rock" actor would have faced a mandatory five years in jail.

The max jail time he faces now is 18 months.

Alec Baldwin scored a win Monday after the prosecution dropped the firearms enhancement charge that could have placed the actor behind bars for a mandatory five years.

"The district attorney has to be embarrassed," former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Fox News Digital. "Charging a law retroactively is a constitutional violation, and something that every first-year law student knows not to do.

"Now, she has egg on her face after overcharging the case and grandstanding for the press. She has made one legal blunder after another and may be in over her head," he added. "There is no reason why she should have waited more than a year to file charges or give assistant director David Halls a no-time slap on the wrist when she is trying to put Baldwin in state prison."

Baldwin's lawyers had argued the enhancement was "unconstitutional" in a Feb. 10 filing.

"The prosecutors committed a basic legal error by charging Mr. Baldwin under a version of the firearm-enhancement statute that did not exist on the date of the accident," the filing read.

Baldwin was charged with involuntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter in commission of a lawful act.

Attorneys for Baldwin argued the firearms enhancement charge was not part of New Mexico law when the fatal shooting of Hutchins occurred, and that he could not be punished retroactively.

Legal experts previously explained to Fox News Digital why Baldwin's defense chose to file this motion, and predicted that the firearms enhancement would be dropped.

"The original law that was on the books was very specific in the way it defined ‘brandishing,’ and Baldwin was clearly not in violation of that law or he would have been charged as such," Ted Spaulding, a personal injury lawyer, told Fox News Digital. "Prosecutors were likely searching for something similar that they could charge him with when they found this newer version of the law that, interestingly, has a harsher sentence of five years and looked like something they could win at trial."

"The only issue is the bill was passed months after the shooting took place, and laws cannot be retroactively applied."
'Rust' movie video shows Alec Baldwin practicing cross draw before Halyna Hutchins shooting Video

Alec Baldwin's first words to detectives revealed as cops release trove of 'Rust' files Video

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer also granted the prosecution's motion for an extended time to respond to Baldwin's request for the special prosecutor to be removed from the case, according to a document also filed Monday.

The actor's attorneys previously argued Andrea Reeb could not simultaneously serve as the special prosecutor and as a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives. [She is a Republican.]

"Doing so vests two core powers of different branches – legislating and prosecuting – in the same person and is thus barred by the plain language of Article III of the New Mexico Constitution," the legal documents read.

ny times logoNew York Times, Richard Belzer, Detective Munch on ‘Law & Order: S.V.U.,’ Dies at 78, Alex Traub, Feb. 20, 2023 (print ed.).  A stand-up comic, he called his hard-boiled character on the long-running TV drama “Lenny Bruce with a badge.”

Richard Belzer, who became one of American television’s most enduring police detectives as John Munch on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and several other shows, died on Sunday at his home in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France. He was 78.

The death was confirmed by Bill Scheft, a friend of Mr. Belzer. Mr. Scheft, who has been working on a documentary about Mr. Belzer’s life and career, said that the actor had suffered from circulatory and respiratory issues for years.

As Detective Munch, Mr. Belzer was brainy but hard-boiled, cynical but sensitive. He wore sunglasses at night and listened to the horror stories of rape victims in stony silence. He was the kind of cop who made casual references to Friedrich Nietzsche and the novelist Elmore Leonard. richard belzer hit list new coverHe spoke in quips; when accused of being a dirty old man, he responded: “Who are you calling old?”

In a 2010 interview with AARP The Magazine, Mr. Belzer — who was a stand-up comic when he was not playing Munch — described his television alter ego as “Lenny Bruce with a badge.” [Also, he co-authored the best-selling true crime books Hit List and Dead Wrong.]

With Munch, Mr. Belzer found phenomenal success. In 2013, when the character was written out of “SVU” — as the “Law & Order” spinoff is often called — Mr. Belzer wrote in The Huffington Post that he had appeared as Munch in more than 500 hours of programming on 10 different shows.

The character’s run began in 1993, on “Homicide: Life on the Street,” and included guest appearances on “Sesame Street” and “30 Rock.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook’s Parent Company Plans to Sell ‘Meta Verified’ Accounts, Stacy Cowley, Feb. 20, 2023 (print ed.).  Meta announced that it would begin charging $11.99 a month for a blue badge on Facebook and Instagram, taking a page out of Twitter’s playbook.

meta logoMeta — the parent company of Facebook and Instagram — wants power users to start paying for some of its sites’ features, taking a page out of Twitter’s playbook in charging for verified blue check marks.

mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wA new subscription service called Meta Verified will become available this week in Australia and New Zealand and will soon be expanded to other countries, Mark Zuckerberg, left, Meta’s chief executive, said Sunday in posts on Facebook and Instagram. For $11.99 a month (or $14.99 if purchased on Apple’s operating system, iOS), users will get a blue badge and direct access to customer support. The company described the effort as a “gradual test.”

facebook logo“This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. To become eligible for Meta Verified, users will have to submit a government ID to prove their identity, and subscribers will be allowed to use only their legal names on their profile pages, the company said. Subscribers will receive “extra impersonation protection against accounts claiming to be you,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.

The service will be expanded to the United States in the next few weeks, a Meta spokeswoman said. She declined to name other countries in instagram logowhich Meta Verified will become available. Facebook and Instagram accounts must be enrolled separately in Meta Verified — meaning that those who want blue badges on both sites must pay at least $24 a month — but Meta plans to eventually offer bundled subscriptions, she said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Terrorists killed their daughter in Paris. Now they’re fighting Google in the Supreme Court, Gerrit De Vynck, Feb. 20, 2023. Are tech companies liable when their algorithms recommend terrorist content? The court’s answer could upend the way the internet works.

Beatrice Gonzalez was at the barber shop she runs in Whittier, Calif., when she received the news that would change her life.

Her daughter, Nohemi Gonzalez, was one of 130 people killed by terrorists during shooting rampages in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015. Nohemi, a senior at California State University at Long Beach, was there on an exchange program, and was shot along with 19 others at a busy bistro while out with friends. The Islamic State would claim responsibility for the attack.

Nohemi, or Mimi to her family, had worked hard for years to get into college, excelling at everything she put her mind to, Gonzalez said. She was her only daughter.

“I was in pain; I was in a bubble,” she said during an interview with The Washington Post.

When lawyers from an Israeli law center that specializes in suing companies that aid terrorists asked if she was interested in launching a lawsuit related to her daughter’s death, she said yes, hoping that it might be a way to honor Nohemi’s memory.

Now, eight years after Nohemi’s killing, Gonzalez is in Washington, preparing to watch that case argued before the Supreme Court. The Israeli law center, a nonprofit called Shurat HaDin, which translates from Hebrew as “letter of the law,” has spent years suing tech companies for hosting propaganda and recruitment messages from terrorist and militant organizations. It has mostly lost.

google logo customIn 2017, the Gonzalez family and the lawyers filed their case, arguing that Google’s YouTube video site broke the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act by promoting Islamic State propaganda videos with its recommendation algorithms. Google says the case is without merit because the law protects internet companies from liability for content posted by their users. The lower courts sided with Google, but the family appealed, and in October the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Supreme Court could throw the internet into chaos, Editorial Board, Feb. 20, 2023. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is vexing: No one likes it, but neither can anyone come up with a satisfying proposal for fixing it. Now, with good outcomes elusive, the Supreme Court is in a position to produce an especially bad one.

google logo customOn Tuesday, the justices will hear Gonzalez v. Google, a case whose decision could wipe away what are called the 26 words that created the internet. Section 230 protects platforms from liability for most content contributed by third parties — which means that when individuals send defamatory tweets or post inciting comments, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and their peers aren’t held legally responsible. Gonzalez asks a slightly more complicated question: When platforms algorithmically promote those tweets, comments or, in this instance, videos, does their legal shield disappear?

The facts of the suit are tragic, although attenuated. The case was brought by the family of a 23-year-old American college student killed in a Paris restaurant during an attack by Islamic State followers. But rather than alleging that the murderers in question were radicalized on YouTube, they allege that YouTube more generally promoted radicalizing material via its “Up Next” recommendation feature.

The theory behind treating material that platforms promote differently from material that platforms simply host has some appeal. It’s easy enough to say sites can’t be responsible, either morally or logistically, for everything that their millions and sometimes billions of users decide to stick on the web. But arguing that they aren’t responsible for the decisions their own employees encode into their own systems is more difficult.

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done about Section 230, and it certainly doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done about algorithms’ role in shaping platforms. That starts with greater transparency surrounding the outcomes these algorithms are designed to produce, as well as the outcomes they actually produce in practice. Perhaps there’s even room to harness those findings so that platforms may be held liable for negligence when they systematically elevate illegal content and don’t attempt to remedy that failing. (First Amendment issues, in almost any attempt at reforming this thorny law, will inevitably arise.)

But all that is work for Congress. Lawmakers wrote the 26 words that created the internet. It’s their job to write the words that determine its future.

Feb. 19

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook’s Parent Company Plans to Sell ‘Meta Verified’ Accounts, Stacy Cowley, Feb. 19, 2023. Meta announced that it would begin charging $11.99 a month for a blue badge on Facebook and Instagram, taking a page out of Twitter’s playbook.

meta logoMeta — the parent company of Facebook and Instagram — wants power users to start paying for some of its sites’ features, taking a page out of Twitter’s playbook in charging for verified blue check marks.

mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wA new subscription service called Meta Verified will become available this week in Australia and New Zealand and will soon be expanded to other countries, Mark Zuckerberg, left, Meta’s chief executive, said Sunday in posts on Facebook and Instagram. For $11.99 a month (or $14.99 if purchased on Apple’s operating system, iOS), users will get a blue badge and direct access to customer support. The company described the effort as a “gradual test.”

facebook logo“This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. To become eligible for Meta Verified, users will have to submit a government ID to prove their identity, and subscribers will be allowed to use only their legal names on their profile pages, the company said. Subscribers will receive “extra impersonation protection against accounts claiming to be you,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.

The service will be expanded to the United States in the next few weeks, a Meta spokeswoman said. She declined to name other countries in instagram logowhich Meta Verified will become available. Facebook and Instagram accounts must be enrolled separately in Meta Verified — meaning that those who want blue badges on both sites must pay at least $24 a month — but Meta plans to eventually offer bundled subscriptions, she said.

Feb. 18


Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Judges Express Skepticism College Athletes Are Not Employees of Institutions, Billy Witz, Feb. 18, 2023 (print ed.). During a hearing in a federal appeals court, the N.C.A.A. argued classifying college athletes as employees would create gender inequities. A judge asked, “Don’t we already have that?”

ncaa logoSteven Katz, a lawyer representing the N.C.A.A., had barely cleared his throat Wednesday while appearing before a three-judge panel for a federal appeals court when he was peppered with questions.

As Katz was asserting that the case before the court — the former Villanova defensive back Trey Johnson argues he and other Division I athletes should be considered employees and thus entitled to be paid a minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act — would set off a cascade of inequities between men’s and women’s collegiate sports, Judge Theodore A. McKee cut him off.

“Don’t we already have that?” he asked, referring to the highly publicized disparities between the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments two years ago. “The women’s weight room was basically a closet with dumbbells, and the men’s weight room looked like the spa at the Four Seasons.”

A few beats later, Judge L. Felipe Restrepo, noting that the service academies pay their athletes — without any problems from the N.C.A.A. — wondered about athletes raking in significant endorsement contracts: “How are they not employees of the universities given the regimes they report to?”

washington post logoWashington Post, After AI chatbot goes a bit loopy, Microsoft tightens its leash, Drew Harwell, Feb. 18, 2023. No more long exchanges about the Bing AI’s “feelings,” the tech giant says. The chatbot, after five responses, now tells people it would “prefer not to continue this conversation.”

microsoft logo CustomMicrosoft started restricting on Friday its high-profile Bing chatbot after the artificial intelligence tool began generating rambling conversations that sounded belligerent or bizarre.

The technology giant released the AI system to a limited group of public testers after a flashy unveiling earlier this month, when chief executive Satya Nadella said that it marked a new chapter of human-machine interaction and that the company had “decided to bet on it all.”

But people who tried it out this past week found that the tool, built on the popular ChatGPT system, could quickly veer into some strange territory. It showed signs of defensiveness over its name with a Washington Post reporter and told a New York Times columnist that it wanted to break up his marriage. It also claimed an Associated Press reporter was “being compared to Hitler because you are one of the most evil and worst people in history.”

Microsoft officials earlier this week blamed the behavior on “very long chat sessions” that tended to “confuse” the AI system. By trying to reflect the tone of its questioners, the chatbot sometimes responded in “a style we didn’t intend,” they noted.

Those glitches prompted the company to announce late Friday that it started limiting Bing chats to five questions and replies per session with a total of 50 in a day. At the end of each session, the person must click a “broom” icon to refocus the AI system and get a “fresh start.”

Whereas people previously could chat with the AI system for hours, it now ends the conversation abruptly, saying, “I’m sorry but I prefer not to continue this conversation. I’m still learning so I appreciate your understanding and patience.”

The chatbot, built by the San Francisco technology company OpenAI, is built on a style of AI systems known as “large language models” that were trained to emulate human dialogue after analyzing hundreds of billions of words from across the web.

washington post logoWashington Post, TikTok’s CEO launches aggressive push to fend off a ban of popular app, Drew Harwell, Feb. 18, 2023. In an exclusive interview, Shou Zi Chew said he’s working to persuade lawmakers that TikTok poses no threat. Things aren’t going exactly to plan.

tiktok logo CustomAfter months of virtual silence, TikTok’s chief executive Shou Zi Chew is preparing for the fight of his professional life, meeting with members of Congress and state governors as part of an aggressive push to prove the wildly popular Chinese-owned app is not a national security threat.

“There are more than 100 million voices in this country, and I think it’ll be a real shame if our users around the world are not able to hear them anymore,” Chew said Tuesday during an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, referring to the number of U.S. TikTok users.

“We have to have tough conversations on: Who is using it now? What kind of value does it bring to them? What does it mean if we just, like, rip it out of their hands?” he added. “I don’t take this conversation of ‘let’s just ban TikTok’ very lightly. … I don’t think it’s a trivial question. I don’t think it should be something that’s decided, you know, in 280 characters.”


FILE - CNN anchors Kaitlan Collins, from left, Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow appear at the 16th annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute on Dec. 11, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

CNN morning anchors Kaitlan Collins, from left, Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow appear at the 16th annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute on Dec. 11, 2022, in New York (Photo by Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press).

ny times logoNew York Times, Uproar Hits CNN as Don Lemon Is Rebuked for Comments About Women, Michael M. Grynbaum and John Koblin, Feb. 18, 2023 (print ed.). Mr. Lemon’s assertion that the presidential candidate Nikki Haley is not “in her prime” roiled the network and put a harsh spotlight on its struggling morning show.

cnn logoDon Lemon, the CNN morning-show anchor, faced an internal rebuke from the chairman of his own network on Friday after his on-air comments about women and aging set off an uproar inside the cable news channel.

chris licht wCNN’s chairman, Chris Licht, right, opened his daily 9 a.m. editorial call by saying the remarks by Mr. Lemon, which were widely viewed as sexist and insensitive, had left him “disappointed.”

“His remarks were upsetting, unacceptable and unfair to his co-hosts, and ultimately a huge distraction to the great work of this organization,” Mr. Licht told his staff, according to a recording of the call obtained by The New York Times.

It is unusual for a network chief to criticize a star anchor in such stark terms — but the situation involving Mr. Lemon and CNN’s struggling morning show is approaching a crisis point just months after its debut.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jerrold Schecter, Who Procured Khrushchev’s Memoirs, Dies at 90, Sam Roberts, Feb. 18, 2023. As a Time magazine bureau chief, he was pivotal in the publication of revelatory taped interviews with the ousted premier that had been smuggled out of the Soviet Union.

nikita khrushchev time 1953Jerrold Schecter, a journalist who in the late 1960s helped smuggle to the West the revelatory memoirs of the former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (shown in a 1953 Time Magazine cover), the first published account by a Soviet leader of goings-on inside the Kremlin, died on Feb. 6 at his home in Washington. He was 90.

Mr. Schecter, who went on to become an author and a foreign policy adviser in the Carter administration, was Time magazine’s Moscow bureau chief when he played a pivotal role in the publication of what became three volumes of reminiscences and reflections by Khrushchev.

Khrushchev, who was ousted in 1964 and consigned to a compound near Moscow, covertly recorded hundreds of hours of interviews with the assistance of his son Sergei. The book became Khrushchev Remembers, published in 1970, the first of three volumes that would include nikita khrushchev 1970 memoirKhrushchev Remembers: The Last Testament (1974), the second in the trilogy.

In Sacred Secrets: How Soviet Intelligence Operations Changed American History (2002), Mr. Schecter and his wife, Leona, recounted the stranger-than-fiction intrigue behind the publication of the three books by Khrushchev, along with magazine excerpts.

They revealed that Mr. Schecter had been approached in Moscow by Victor Louis, a journalist and freelance K.G.B. agent who represented Khrushchev. The former Soviet leader was by then “lonely, angry and bored,” they wrote, and some of his successors, with the connivance of joseph stalin fullthe K.G.B., were complicit in turning a blind eye while Khrushchev discredited the atrocities committed under his predecessor, Joseph Stalin, right — as long as they were not implicated themselves.

Through Mr. Louis, Mr. Schecter obtained audiotapes and transcripts, which were then authenticated by voice analysis technicians hired by Time.

Mr. Schecter recruited Strobe Talbott, then a Time intern and a Rhodes scholar at the University of Oxford and later a deputy secretary of state, to translate material that would be excerpted in Life magazine and then published by Little, Brown, a Time Inc. subsidiary, as “Khrushchev Remembers” (1970).

The publisher funneled $750,000 (about $5.8 million in today’s dollars) to Khrushchev through Mr. Louis as Khrushchev’s agent. Mr. Schecter also bought the former premier a derby and a Tyrolean hat from Lock & Company in London, which bills itself as the world’s oldest haberdashery.

“What we are confronted with in these two remarkable volumes of Khrushchev’s,” Harrison E. Salisbury wrote in The New York Times in 1974, “is some 500,000 words of observations, firsthand accounts, afterthoughts, musings, political back-stabs, rambling anecdotes, warnings for the future, pietistic platitudes and political common sense by one of the most idiosyncratic (and vital) statesmen of our day.”

Feb. 17


tucker carlson fox horizontal

ny times logoNew York Times, Fox Stars Privately Expressed Disbelief About Election Fraud Claims. ‘Crazy Stuff,’ Jeremy W. Peters and Katie Robertson, Feb. 17, 2023 (print ed.). The comments, by Tucker Carlson (above), Sean Hannity and others, were released as part of a dominion voting systemsdefamation suit against Fox News by Dominion Voter Systems.

Newly disclosed messages and testimony from some of the biggest stars and most senior executives at Fox News revealed that they privately expressed disbelief about President Donald J. Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, even though the network continued to promote many of those lies on the air.

fox news logo SmallThe hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, as well as others at the company, repeatedly insulted and mocked Trump advisers, including Sidney Powell, right, and Rudolph W. Giuliani, in text messages with each other in the weeks after the election, according to a legal filing on Thursday by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion sidney powellis suing Fox for defamation in a case that poses considerable financial and reputational risk for the country’s most-watched cable news network.

“Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane,” Mr. Carlson wrote to Ms. Ingraham on Nov. 18, 2020.

Ms. Ingraham responded: “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.”

Mr. Carlson continued, “Our viewers are good people and they believe it,” he added, making clear that he did not.

rupert murdoch newThe messages also show that such doubts extended to the highest levels of the Fox Corporation, with Rupert Murdoch, left, its chairman, calling Mr. Trump’s voter fraud claims “really crazy stuff.”

On one occasion, as Mr. Murdoch watched Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell on television, he told Suzanne Scott, chief executive of Fox News Media, “Terrible stuff damaging everybody, I fear.”

Dominion’s brief depicts Ms. Scott, whom colleagues have described as sharply attuned to the sensibilities of the Fox audience, as being well aware that Mr. Trump’s claims were baseless. And when another Murdoch-owned property, The New York Post, published an editorial urging Mr. Trump to stop complaining that he had been cheated, Ms. Scott distributed it widely among her staff. Mr. Murdoch then thanked her for doing so, the brief says.

The filing, in state court in Delaware, contains the most vivid and detailed picture yet of what went on behind the scenes at Fox News and its corporate parent in the days and weeks after the 2020 election, when the conservative cable network’s coverage took an abrupt turn.

Fox News stunned the Trump campaign on election night by becoming the first news outlet to declare Joseph R. Biden Jr. the winner of Arizona — effectively projecting that he would become the next president. Then, as Fox’s ratings fell sharply after the election and the president refused to concede, many of the network’s most popular hosts and shows began promoting outlandish claims of a far-reaching voter fraud conspiracy involving Dominion machines to deny Mr. Trump a second term.

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: It’s Time to Prepare for a Possible Trump Indictment, Norman L. Eisen, E. Danya Perry and Amy norman eisen SmallLee Copeland, Feb. 17, 2023. Mr. Eisen, right, is a co-author of “Fulton County, Georgia’s Trump Investigation,” a Brookings Institution report on the Fulton County district attorney’s investigation. Ms. Perry is an author of “Trump on Trial,” a Brookings Institution report on the Jan. 6 committee. Ms. Copeland is a criminal defense and appellate attorney in Savannah, Ga.

“We find by unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election.” With those words, a Fulton County special grand jury’s report, part of which was released Thursday, repudiated Donald Trump’s assault on our democracy.

The excerpts from the report did not explicitly offer new detail on a potential indictment of Mr. Trump or any other individual. But they suggest that, combined with everything else we know, Mr. Trump may very well be headed for charges in Georgia.

We need to prepare for a first in our 246-year history as a nation: The possible criminal prosecution of a former president.

If Mr. Trump is charged, it will be difficult and at times even perilous for American democracy — but it is necessary to deter him and others from future attempted coups.

fani willis resizedFani Willis, left, the Fulton County district attorney, may present the case as a simple and streamlined one or in a more sweeping fashion. Success is more likely assured in the simpler approach, but the fact that the redacted report has eight sections suggests a broader approach is conceivable. In either event, we must all prepare ourselves for what could be years of drama, with the pretrial, trial and appeal likely dominating the coming election season.

Ms. Willis opened her investigation shortly after Mr. Trump’s Jan. 2, 2021, demand that the Georgia secretary of state, Brad brad raffenspergerRaffensperger, “find 11,780 votes.” The second impeachment of Mr. Trump and the Jan. 6 committee hearings developed additional evidence about that request for fake votes and Mr. Trump and allies pushing fake electors in Georgia and nationally. There is now abundant evidence suggesting he violated Georgia statutes, like those criminalizing the solicitation of election fraud.

The parts of the special grand jury’s report revealed on Thursday only reinforce Mr. Trump’s risk of prosecution. The statement that the grand jurors found “no widespread fraud” in the presidential election eliminates Mr. Trump’s assertion that voter fraud justified his pushing state election officials. We also know that the grand jurors voted defendant by defendant and juror by juror, and set forth their recommendations on indictments and relevant statutes over seven (currently redacted) sections. The likelihood that they did that and cleared everyone is very low. And the fact that the grand jurors felt so strongly about the issues that they insisted on writing the recommendations themselves, as they emphasize, further suggests a grave purpose.

Also notable is the grand jury’s recommendation of indictments, “where the evidence is compelling,” for perjury that may have been committed by one or more witnesses. It seems unlikely that Ms. Willis will let that pass.

She will now decide the next steps of the case. Her statement that charging decisions were imminent came more than three weeks ago. If she does indict Mr. Trump, the two likely paths that she might take focus on the fake electoral slates and Mr. Trump’s call to Mr. Raffensperger. One is a narrower case that would likely take weeks to try; the other is a broader case that would likely take months.

Narrow charges could include the Georgia felonies of solicitation of election fraud in the first degree and related general crimes like conspiracy to commit election fraud, specifically focusing on events and people who have a strong nexus with Georgia. In addition to Mr. Trump, that might include others who had direct contacts with Georgia, like his former chief of staff Mark Meadows and his attorneys John C. Eastman and Rudolph W. Giuliani (who already received a “target” notification from Ms. Willis warning him that he may be charged). Such a case would focus on activities around the execution of the fake electoral slates on Dec. 14, 2020, followed by the conversation with Mr. Raffensperger on Jan. 2, rooting it in Georgia and avoiding events nationally except to the extent absolutely necessary.

Or Ms. Willis could charge the case more broadly, adding sweeping state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, charges that could still include the impact of the conduct in Georgia but bring in more of a nationwide conspiracy. This would look more like the Jan. 6 investigation, albeit with a strong Georgia flavor. It could additionally include those who appeared to have lesser contact with Georgia but were part of national efforts including the state, like the Trump campaign attorney Kenneth Chesebro and the Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.

A more narrow case might make slightly more sense: Given the extraordinary circumstances around it, Ms. Willis will surely have her hands full. And it will feature a likely lead defendant who has demonstrated his propensity for legal circuses — coming in the midst of a heated political season no less.

That said, Ms. Willis has a proven propensity for bringing and winning RICO cases. And as we have learned in our criminal trial work, sometimes juries are more responsive to grander narratives that command their attention — and outrage.

Whether it’s simple or broad, if a case is opened, one thing is nearly certain: It’s going to take a while, probably the better part of the next two years, and perhaps longer. We would surely see a flurry of legal filings from Mr. Trump, which while often meritless nevertheless take time. Here the battle would likely be waged around pretrial motions and appeals by Mr. Trump arguing, as he has done in other cases, that he was acting in his official presidential capacity and so is immune.

That challenge, though not persuasive at all in our view, will almost certainly delay a trial by months. Other likely sallies are that the case should be removed to federal court (it shouldn’t); that he relied on the advice of counsel in good faith (he didn’t); or that his action was protected by the First Amendment (it wasn’t).

Even if the courts work at the relatively rapid pace of other high-profile presidential cases, we would still be talking about months of delay. In both U.S. v. Nixon and Thompson v. Trump, about three months were consumed from the first filing of the cases to the final rejection of presidential arguments by the U.S. Supreme Court. In this case, there would be more issues, which would be likely to require additional time. At the earliest, Ms. Willis would be looking at a trial toward the end of 2023. Even on that aggressive schedule, appeals would not be concluded until the end of 2024 or beyond.

Needless to say, this would have a profound impact on the election season. It would feature a national conversation about what it means for a former president to be prosecuted, and it would no doubt have unexpected consequences.

Still, the debate is worth having, and the risks are worth taking. The core American idea is that no one is above the law. If there is serious evidence of crimes, then a former president should face the same consequences as anyone else. If we do not hold accountable those who engage in this kind of misconduct, it will recur.

It would be the trial of the 21st century, no doubt a long and bumpy ride — but a necessary one for American democracy.

Norman Eisen was special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the first impeachment of Donald Trump. E. Danya Perry is a former federal prosecutor and New York State corruption investigator. Amy Lee Copeland, a former federal prosecutor, is a criminal defense and appellate attorney in Savannah, Ga.

ny times logoNew York Times, Lisa LaFlamme, a prominent Canadian TV anchor, let her hair go gray during the pandemic when hair salons shut down. Months later, she lost her job, Norimitsu Onishi, Feb. 17, 2023 (print ed.). Lisa LaFlamme had barely settled in at the back of the cafe when two women approached her in quick succession. You’re so beautiful, said the first, while the other slipped Ms. LaFlamme a note on yellow-lined paper.

“Thank you for being ‘you,’” read the message written in neat cursive by “an admirer.”

The fleeting interactions, which took place during a recent interview in Toronto with Ms. LaFlamme, 58, were laden with the unspoken. Perhaps little else needed to be said among three similarly aged women meeting by chance in Toronto, half a year after Ms. LaFlamme was ousted as one of the nation’s top news anchors amid charges of ageism and sexism.

“People are so amazingly kind,” said Ms. LaFlamme, her eyes welling up. “The support has been mind-blowing. It’s really been a shock to me.”

A household name in Canada for decades, Ms. LaFlamme was unceremoniously dismissed last summer by CTV, the country’s largest private television network, after what her employer described as a “business decision” to take the program “in a different direction.” Though her national newscast at CTV had been one of the most watched and she had won a national award for best news anchor just months earlier, Ms. LaFlamme was left to sign off without a proper farewell.

Her departure set off multifaceted debates across Canada, especially after The Globe and Mail newspaper reported it may have been linked to Ms. LaFlamme’s hair — which she had chosen to let go gray during the pandemic when hair salons and other businesses shut down. The network’s owner, Bell Media, which denied that “age, gender and gray hair” had been factors, named a 39-year-old male correspondent, Omar Sachedina, as her successor.
“It was a complete surprise when they decided to terminate her contract early because there was no obvious evidence that CTV was in particular decline or was actually doing poorly,” said Christopher Waddell, a professor emeritus of journalism at Carleton University and a former news producer at CBC, the public broadcaster. He added that Ms. LaFlamme’s 11-year tenure as anchor of “CTV National News,” the broadcaster’s flagship newscast, had been considered a ratings success, especially compared with its main rival at CBC.

Feb. 16


Disgraced InfoWars host Alex Jones, in a dark shirt second from the right, stands next to

Disgraced InfoWars host Alex Jones, in a dark shirt second from the right, stands next to "Stop the Steal" pro-Trump insurrectionist Ali Alexander at a rally.

washington post logoWashington Post, Alex Jones is ‘holding firearms’ for Jan. 6 rioters, bankruptcy docs show, Timothy Bella, Feb. 16, 2023. As Infowars founder Alex Jones is facing bankruptcy for damages he owes to the families of victims of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a new filing shows the right-wing conspiracy theorist has been “holding firearms” for those who participated in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Jones, who owes nearly $1.5 billion to the families after years of saying the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six adults were killed, was a hoax, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of Texas last December. Jones’s personal financial disclosures were shared in a bankruptcy filing on Tuesday that was obtained by The Washington Post.

In the section of the bankruptcy statement that asks Jones to identify property he owns or controls for somebody else, the right-wing conspiracy theorist described the items he has in limited detail.

“Holding firearms for certain January 6th participants to be provided,” the entry says.

The filing does not state why Jones, who participated in the Stop the Steal rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, is holding the weapons for the rioters or where they are located.

In addition to the firearms, Jones, 49, lists boats and lifetime helicopter access as part of his personal financial disclosures, records show. Jones reported his gross income in 2021, the most recent year that data is available, as $617,143.02, according to the filing. He reported a gross income of nearly $639,000 in 2020, the filing shows.

The filing says that Jones has reported assets worth an estimated $10 million — significantly less than the $1.4 billion in a Connecticut case and $45.2 million in a Texas case that he owes to the Sandy Hook families in damages. Jones and his legal team have said they would appeal.


elon musk

Twitter owner Elon Musk, above, reared in the South African during its racist apartheid governance and now a prominent backer of ultra-right candidates and policies in the United States, was caught trying to boost his own profile secretly on Twitter when he discovered more users were reading President Biden's SuperBowl Tweet.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Elon Musk’s desperate ego, Robert Harrington, right, Feb. 16, 2023. If you logged onto Twitter Monday morning and robert harringtnn portraitwondered why your feed consisted of one Elon Musk tweet after another — even if you aren’t a follower of Musk — then wonder no more. It turns out that Elon Musk himself was responsible for the sudden rain of tweets, as mystifying and unexpected as the rain of frogs from the movie “Magnolia.”

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s what happened: Super Bowl Sunday Elon was joyfully frolicking with Rupert Murdoch in his private box and contemplating a Twitter Thousand-Year Reich, when he sent out a tweet in support of the Philadelphia Eagles. Then the unthinkable happened. He noticed that President Biden also put out a tweet supporting the Eagles. And — horror of horrors! — Biden’s tweet was getting more “likes” than Elon’s tweet!

twitter bird CustomThis was an indignity not to be borne! Musk hopped on his environment-murdering private jet and flew at top speed to Twitter headquarters, rushed in at two in the morning, dragged some sleepy Twitter engineers out of bed and demanded that they “fix” this tragic oversight!

Musk even fired one engineer for daring to suggest that this outrage happened because some people (not all, mind, but some) actually loved Biden more than they loved Musk! That engineer was summarily executed for the unforgivable crime of substandard zeal in his adoration of the Dear Leader. Rest assured, no one else made the same mistake.

What remained of his feverishly busy little workers worked busily feverish for the remainder of the night, tinkering with the Twitter algorithm and looking for artificial ways to undo this crime against the natural order of things. Twitter users whom Musk had previously blocked were suddenly unblocked. Feeds that heretofore had nothing to do with Musk suddenly had everything to do with Musk. If the Twitterverse was wanting in Musk worship then, by God, Musk was going to jolly well do something about it!

And so something about it he did. This needy, little, silly, pitiful man boosted his likes, and suddenly all was well again for his giant ego. Elon Musk artificially manufactured the love he was so painfully desperate for.

And yet this “genius” missed the real reason for the cause of his loneliness, and he missed the solution that an eight year old child could have figured out. If it was love Musk was looking for he could have had it easily. He could have quietly and humbly used his vast fortune to help djt maga hatpeople and animals and the environment. Then he would have naturally attracted love and admiration. Instead he thought with his paranoia and his neurosis instead of his much-promoted brain, and in the end he got neither.

There are eight million stories in the naked city of MAGA stupidity. This has been one of them. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

Feb. 15


ron desantis mouth open uncredited

washington post logoWashington Post, DeSantis threatens to rid Florida of Advanced Placement classes, Nick Anderson, Feb. 15, 2023 (print ed.). Florida’s Republican leader, shown above in a file photo, has been critical of a new AP course in African American studies.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened Tuesday to withdraw state support for Advanced Placement programs and expand other methods of awarding college credit to high school students, escalating a highly unusual clash that burst into public last month when his administration rejected plans for a new AP African American studies course.

The state education department, based on its view of preliminary documents, declared in January that the African American studies course “lacks educational value.” DeSantis (R) — citing proposed lessons on “queer theory,” “intersectionality” and other topics — criticized the plan for what he called “indoctrination” and “a political agenda.” When the College Board, which oversees AP, debuted the official course plan on Feb. 1, it provoked a debate over whether it had watered down the content to mollify DeSantis and his conservative allies. The College Board fiercely denied that claim and said on Saturday that DeSantis had slandered its course.

In Jacksonville on Tuesday, DeSantis suggested at a news conference that the state could curtail the role of all AP classes in Florida schools — not just the one in African American studies.

“AP is kind of with the College Board,” DeSantis said. “Who elected them? Are there other people that provide services? Turns out there are.” He cited the International Baccalaureate and Cambridge Assessment programs as alternatives that — like AP — enable students to qualify for college credit after passing an exam. He also plugged dual enrollment programs that let high school students take classes from professors at nearby colleges.

Amid DeSantis attacks, AP African American studies course is updated

DeSantis said he supports opportunities for high school students to earn college credit. “Does it have to be done by the College Board?” he asked. “Or can we utilize some of these other providers who I think have a really, really strong track record?” He added: “It’s not clear to me that this particular operator” — referring to the College Board — “is the one that’s going to need to be used in the future.”

As a practical matter, it is unclear whether or how AP could be eliminated in Florida. The program, with more than three dozen courses in math, science, social sciences, humanities, languages and other topics, is deeply entrenched in the state and nationwide.

More than 199,000 Florida students enrolled in AP classes in 2020-21. About 366,000 AP tests were given in Florida in 2021, more than in any other state except Texas (527,000) and California (683,000).

Are you a teacher no longer teaching materials on race, gender or LGBTQ issues? Tell us.

Scores of three or higher on the test’s five-point scale can help students qualify for college credit, potentially reducing the cost of a bachelor’s degree. The AP brand is also an important marker of rigor on the transcripts of students applying to competitive colleges.

ny times logoNew York Times, Tiny Public College Known for ‘Free Thinkers’ Is a Target for DeSantis, Patricia Mazzei, Feb. 15, 2023 (print ed.). Gov. Ron DeSantis’s plan to transform New College of Florida into a beacon of conservatism has left students and faculty members at the school reeling.

After her son began attending New College of Florida, Dr. Sonia Howman felt a pang of fear about the future of the small, little-known public liberal arts school on the shores of Sarasota Bay.

Her son, who identifies as L.G.B.T.Q. and had been bullied in high school, had found “a tiny place of safety in this increasingly hostile state,” she said. “I kept praying that DeSantis would never find out about it. But he did.”

A plan by Gov. Ron DeSantis to transform New College, which is known as progressive and describes itself as “a community of free thinkers,” into a beacon of conservatism has left students, parents and faculty members at the tight-knit school reeling over what they see as a political assault on their academic freedom. Mr. DeSantis’s education commissioner has expressed a desire to remake the school in the image of Hillsdale College, a small Christian school in Michigan that has been active in conservative politics.

Over 25 tumultuous days last month, the Republican governor removed six of the college’s 13 trustees, replacing them with allies holding strongly conservative views. The new board then forced out the college’s president, a career educator, and named Mr. DeSantis’s former education commissioner, a career politician, as her replacement. On Monday, the board signed off on paying its pick a salary of $699,000 a year, more than double what his predecessor earned.

Mr. DeSantis, who is widely thought to have White House aspirations, has made ideological attacks on public education central to his politics. His administration banned instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation through third grade, limited what schools can teach about racism, rejected math textbooks and prohibited an Advanced Placement course in African American studies for high school students.

“You knew it would eventually spiral to higher education,” said Sam Sharf, a second-year New College student. “But I didn’t anticipate it would happen this fast.”

On Jan. 31, when the college president was ousted, Mr. DeSantis unveiled higher education policies — to further weaken faculty tenure protections, eliminate diversity and equity programs and mandate Western civilization courses — that for many deepened a chill that had already taken hold across Florida’s public colleges and universities. The state has made it harder for faculty members to retain tenure, asked students and faculty to fill out a survey about their political leanings and requested information about resources for transgender students.


Beginning with a doeskin bikini in “One Million Years B.C.,” (shown above in a widely popular movie poster from Universal Pictures, now available via Getty Images)

ny times logoNew York Times, Raquel Welch (1940-2023) Raquel Welch, Actress and ’60s Sex Symbol, Is Dead at 82, Anita Gates, Feb. 15, 2023. Beginning with a doeskin bikini in “One Million Years B.C.,” (shown above in a widely popular movie poster from Universal Pictures, now available via Getty Images), she built a celebrated show business career around sex appeal and, sometimes, a comic touch.

Raquel Welch, the voluptuous movie actress who became the 1960s’ first major American sex symbol and maintained that image for a half-century in show business, died on Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 82.

Ms. Welch’s Hollywood success began as much with a poster as with the film it publicized. Starring in “One Million Years B.C.” (1966) as a Pleistocene-era cave woman, she posed in a rocky prehistoric landscape, wearing a tattered doeskin bikini, and grabbed the spotlight by the throat with her defiant, alert-to-everything, take-no-prisoners stance and her dancer’s body. She was 26. It had been four years since Marilyn Monroe’s death, and the industry needed a goddess.

Camille Paglia, the feminist critic, described the poster photograph as “the indelible image of a woman as queen of nature.” Ms. Welch, she went on, was “a lioness — fierce, passionate and dangerously physical.”

washington post logoWashington Post, NewsNation tries to break out in a crowded market with a fraught future, Paul Farhi, Feb. 15, 2023 (print ed.). With gestures at nonpartisanship and hosts from the Ghosts of Cable News Past, NewsNation tries to break out in a crowded market with a fraught future.

What’s this? Chris Cuomo, the disgraced former host of a prime-time CNN show, is doing his Chris Cuomo thing as the host of another prime-time show. He’s discoursing about homelessness in San Francisco when on comes a guest. It’s … Bill O’Reilly, the disgraced former host of a prime-time Fox News show.

Their talking-head throwdown — a vision of the Ghosts of Cable News Past — plays out every Wednesday on Cuomo’s weeknightly hour of commentary. But “Cuomo,” as his new show is pithily dubbed, doesn’t air on CNN, MSNBC or Fox News. It’s a signature offering of NewsNation, a new channel attempting to take on the Big Three by evoking a less partisan era of cable news — in part by featuring old familiar faces from the outlets it aims to compete with.

At a time when the cable news industry is struggling to retain viewers, it may be a problematic business plan. Launched in 2020, NewsNation still draws rounding-error ratings, despite a small boost from the CNN veteran, who joined the network in October. It averaged about 63,000 viewers per night during 2022, ranking it 107th among national networks. By comparison, even ratings-challenged CNN — which has fallen behind Fox News and MSNBC — regularly attracts more than 10 times as many viewers per night.

At the moment, news isn’t even the leading draw on NewsNation. Its highest-rated program last year was daytime reruns of “Blue Bloods,” the Tom Selleck cop drama that is a holdover from WGN America, the cable channel NewsNation used to be.

Nevertheless, owner Nexstar Media Group — the Dallas-area company that also owns the CW broadcast network and the Hill newspaper — says it aims to build the next big news brand by appealing to viewers who say they’re turned off by rabid partisanship.

Nexstar has positioned NewsNation as a moderate, down-the-middle news and talk source, essentially what CNN used to be and is trying to become again. Dan Abrams, the longtime former MSNBC anchor and executive who now hosts NewsNation’s 9 p.m. Eastern show, says the target audience is “the marginalized moderate majority.”

Feb. 14


elon musk sideviewBloomberg, Musk Forced Algorithm Change to Help Boost His Tweets, Platformer Says, Vlad Savov, Feb. 14, 2023. Elon Musk, shown above in a file photo, had Twitter Inc. engineers working late on Sunday to alter his social network’s algorithm and prioritize his tweets, resulting in a glut of them in users’ feeds on Monday, according to a report by Platformer.

twitter bird CustomThe billionaire Twitter owner was said to be unhappy with the number of views of his Super Bowl tweet. As a result of his request, Twitter excluded Musk’s tweets from filters designed to improve the quality of users’ timelines, Platformer said, and artificially boosted them by a factor of 1,000. Users across Twitter complained about seeing an abundance of the owner’s missives on the day following the Super Bowl.

Musk’s message of support for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday got significantly lower engagement than US President Joe Biden expressing a similar sentiment. The company’s chief has been increasingly focused on — and frustrated by — his personal engagement numbers, which have been dropping in recent weeks, the report said. Musk has nearly 129 million followers, whereas Biden’s account has 37 million.

Before taking the company private in a $44 billion deal in October, the Tesla Inc. chief executive officer spoke of his desire to make it an even playing field and eliminate bias in the system.

Twitter didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Musk tweeted liberally about Twitter and its functionality after the publication of the report, but didn’t address its content.

Earlier, he tweeted a meme suggesting his tweets were going to be force-fed to Twitter users. He also said the company was making adjustments to the algorithm.

Forum: Bangladesh Studies, Commentary: Bangladesh Govt’s Double Standards in Dealing With Fake News, Qadaruddin Shishir, Feb. 14, 2023. Some of the websites and pages post only materials that either promote the government or attack the opposition. On specific occasions, their focus turns on journalists, writers and human rights defenders.

As Bangladesh approaches a national election within a year, the authorities have shut down 191 news websites claiming they were carrying out ‘anti-state propaganda’. This was confirmed by Information Minister Hassan Mahmud in a statement he made in Parliament on January 31.

Also in January, Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen directed Bangladesh envoys abroad to respond ‘spontaneously’ against ‘all sorts of anti-Bangladesh propaganda’ in their respective host countries without waiting for Dhaka’s permission.

The government also formed a coordination committee led by the foreign ministry to deal with “anti-state propaganda” at home and abroad to debunk “misinformation” with “correct information”.

These measures may indicate that the government is determined to counter fake news and anti-state propaganda, but the ground reality points to a different story, say independent media activists.

On the one hand, the government has been clamping down on selected news websites on charges that they spread anti-state propaganda; on the other hand, it turns a blind eye to hosts of other websites and Facebook pages that peddle what media activists call ‘favorable’ fake news.

Before the 2018 national elections, too, the Bangladesh government blocked at least 58 news websites, many of them known for their dissenting coverage, but days later Facebook and Twitter accused the Bangladesh authorities of being part of a network that had posted anti-opposition content.

In the past few years, before and after the 2018 elections, fact-checkers have routinely debunked pro-government disinformation promoted by a string of websites and social media pages.

Little or no action has been taken against these pro-government sites, some of which frequently carried fabricated content to vilify investigative journalists, among others, for their works critical of the government.

“The government targets its critics in the name of fighting fake news and at the same time it promotes disinformation that favors its agenda”, said Dr Maruf Mallick, a media expert and lecturer at the DW Akademie.

ny times logoNew York Times, Cambodia’s Leader Shuts Independent News Outlet Ahead of Election, Seth Mydans, Feb. 14, 2023 (print ed.). The leader, Hun Sen, was not satisfied with an apology he received from the outlet after it wrote about his son, a lieutenant general.

cambodia flagPrime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia on Sunday ordered the shutdown of the Voice of Democracy, one of the country’s last independent news outlets, intensifying a long-running crackdown on the news media and political opposition as he consolidates his grip on power.

Mr. Hun Sen said he was angry at a reference to his son and presumed heir, Lt. Gen. Hun Manet, by the outlet, and was not satisfied with the apology he received.

A leading Cambodian human rights organization, Licadho, noted the significance of the action, saying the news outlet, known as VOD, “has become one of the most important independent media outlets in the country in recent years, publishing in Khmer and English.”

Voice of Democracy’s radio arm was shut down in 2017, and it was one of dozens of frequencies taken off the air in a broad sweep before the country’s 2018 elections. Since then it has published online and on Facebook, where it has 1.8 million followers.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Teen’s Suicide, a New Jersey Community Grapples With Bullying, Michael Rothfeld and Christina Caron, Feb. 14, 2023 (print ed.)adriana kuch

Fourteen-year-old Adriana Kuch, right, told her father that she could not bear the humiliation after she was attacked by another girl inside her New Jersey high school and a clip of the assault was posted to TikTok.

“She said, ‘I don’t want to be that girl who gets beat up on video and made fun of,’” Adriana’s father, Michael Kuch, recalled his daughter saying as they sat in the kitchen of their home in Bayville.

“Can you imagine walking through the school with her face beat in?” he asked.

The day after the Feb. 1 assault, Adriana retreated to her room at about 10 p.m. and took her own life during the night, he said.

The attack, which her father has accused the school district of mishandling, and Adriana’s suicide have reverberated through Ocean County communities near the Jersey Shore and across the state. Public grieving and outrage have led officials to grapple anew with the prevalence of bullying in schools, how it affects children and the response — or lack of one — by administrators.

In recent days, students have protested in front of Adriana’s high school, the superintendent of the Central Regional School District has resigned and four girls have been criminally charged in connection with the assault.

“There is obviously a great deal of rightful anguish and emotion with Adriana’s passing, from her family, friends and within our community at large,” said Carmen Amato, the mayor of Berkeley Township, in an email.

School board members did not respond to requests for comment, and the voice mailbox at the superintendent’s office was full. In a message on its website, the district said it had contacted the state Education Department and would undergo an independent assessment of its anti-bullying policies to ensure student safety. “We are all praying for the family and loved ones and our entire community,” the message said.

It isn’t clear what the motive was for the attack, which occurred on a Wednesday just before 11 a.m., but a video recording of the incident shows it apparently had been planned. In the video, Adriana, with long, light brown hair, walks down a school hallway along a bank of lockers, smiling and chatting with a male friend. Another girl comes up from behind and hits Adriana in the face with what appears to be a water bottle.

As Adriana falls to the ground, her friend pushes the attacker away. But another student seems to intervene to hold him back, and the girl continues to pummel Adriana until a staff member rushes over and stops the attack.

washington post logoWashington Post, BBC office raid by Indian tax officials follows airing of controversial documentary, Gerry Shih, Karishma Mehrotra and Anant Gupta, Feb. 14, 2023. Indian tax authorities raided the BBC’s offices and seized its journalists’ phones in a stunning — and apparently retaliatory — move Tuesday against the British broadcaster weeks after it aired a polarizing documentary examining Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise and his handling of a deadly 2002 riot.

india flag mapIndian media outlets reported that more than 50 Indian officials raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai around noon. Two BBC journalists in New Delhi, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said their colleagues’ phones were being confiscated.

bbc news logo2In a tweet, the BBC said it was “fully cooperating” with the tax authorities in its New Delhi and Mumbai offices. “We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible.”

Censorship, arrests, power cuts. India scrambles to block BBC documentary.

Surabhi Ahluwalia, spokeswoman for the income tax department, said she could not confirm the details of the tax probe when reached on Tuesday. The BBC “is an international organization that is dealing with international finances, so it could have to do with international finances issues that have cropped up,” she said.

The raids on the BBC, which mirrored previous government actions against Indian news outlets perceived as critical, compounded growing fears about shrinking press freedoms and rising authoritarianism in India. They took place less than a month after the Modi government took extraordinary measures to censor “India: The Modi Question,” a BBC film that resurfaced decades-old allegations that Modi failed to stop a bloody riot in Gujarat state while he served as chief minister in 2002.

The BBC searches “are part of a series of attacks on the media by government agencies in recent times, especially against those sections of the media that the government perceives is hostile to it and critical of the ruling establishment,” the Press Club of India said in a statement.

Feb. 13

washington post logoWashington Post, Fraud claims targeting Gautam Adani provoke nationalist backlash in India, Karishma Mehrotra, Feb. 13, 2023 (print ed.). A scathing gautam adani 2012 wreport by an American research firm targeting the Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, shown at right in a 2012 photo, has prompted a nationalist backlash from his partisans in India, who have characterized the allegations of extensive corporate fraud by him as an onslaught against the country as a whole.

A former member of Parliament called the report by New York-based Hindenburg Research a “conspiracy” to “destabilize our Nation.” A former solicitor general of India called it a “wholesale assault on India and Indians.” A retired army lieutenant general called it “classic” information warfare.

In a tweet, the prominent Indian film director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri added Hindenburg to a list of other foreign companies that have been accused by some Indians of unfairly attacking their country. The Organiser, a publication affiliated with the right-wing Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, followed suit.

india flag mapThe outpouring of nationalist outrage came after Hindenburg released a lengthy report late last month taking aim at Adani — a close ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and, until recently, Asia’s richest man. The allegations triggered a massive sell-off of shares in Adani’s companies. Hindenburg announced that it had taken a short position, meaning it had bet that Adani shares would fall.

The reaction in India reflects in part how closely intertwined the reputations and ideologies of politicians and companies have become in recent years.

“Indian politicians used to never identify with any industrialists, even if they might have taken money from them. It was the U.S. that would celebrate Rockefeller,” said the business history writer Harish Damodaran. “Modi is the first prime minister who has made no bones about it. In that way, politics has changed in India. [Corporations] now tie in with a nationalist ideology.”

Hindenburg’s report accused Adani’s conglomerate — which is active in multiple sectors including energy and infrastructure — of artificially boosting the share prices of its firms over several decades by using a network of overseas shell companies linked to Adani’s family members. Calling this the “largest con in corporate history,” Hindenburg said that Adani’s companies were collectively overvalued on India’s stock market by more than 80 percent, causing share prices to nosedive by more than $100 billion just ahead of a planned sale of new shares.

The Adani Group has vigorously rejected the allegations. In a 413-page response, the Adani Group said, “This is not merely an unwarranted attack on any specific company but a calculated attack on India, the independence, integrity and quality of Indian institutions, and the growth story and ambition of India.”

The Adani Group’s chief financial officer, Jugeshinder Singh, sharply rejected the allegations in a video with the Indian flag in the background and, in an interview with local media, invoked a British massacre of hundreds of Indians during the anti-colonial struggle.

washington post logoWashington Post, AI porn is easy to make now. For women, that’s a nightmare, Tatum Hunter, Feb. 13, 2023. Easy access to AI imaging gives abusers new tools to target women.

QTCinderella built a name for herself by gaming, baking and discussing her life on the video-streaming platform Twitch, drawing hundreds of thousands of viewers at once. She pioneered “The Streamer Awards” to honor other high-performing content creators and recently appeared in a coveted guest spot in an esports champion series.

Nude photos aren’t part of the content she shares, she says. But someone on the internet made some, using QTCinderella’s likeness in computer-generated porn. This month, prominent streamer Brandon Ewing admitted to viewing those images on a website containing thousands of other deepfakes, drawing attention to a growing threat in the AI era: The technology creates a new tool to target women.

“For every person saying it’s not a big deal, you don’t know how it feels to see a picture of yourself doing things you’ve never done being sent to your family,” QTCinderella said in a live-streamed video.

Streamers typically don’t reveal their real names and go by their handles. QTCinderella did not respond to a separate request for comment. She noted in her live stream that addressing the incident has been “exhausting” and shouldn’t be part of her job.

Until recently, making realistic AI porn took computer expertise. Now, thanks in part to new, easy-to-use AI tools, anyone with access to images of a victim’s face can create realistic-looking explicit content with an AI-generated body. Incidents of harassment and extortion are likely to rise, abuse experts say, as bad actors use AI models to humiliate targets ranging from celebrities to ex-girlfriends — even children.

Women have few ways to protect themselves, they say, and victims have little recourse.

Feb. 12

washington post logoWashington Post, Review: A business book that makes Hollywood tales of debauchery look tame, Matthew Belloni, Feb. 12, 2023. In "Unscripted," twojames stewart rachel abrams sumner redstone unscriptedaward-winning journalists dish on the behind-the-scenes drama within Sumner Redstone’s media empire.

In the recent movie “Babylon,” filmmaker Damien Chazelle depicts the origin of Hollywood in the 1920s as a debauched orgy. In it, Kinoscope Studios — a stand-in for Paramount, which also released the film — was a dream factory that often attracted the worst kind of people and that left all but a few of them destitute, drug-addled or dead. Nearly 100 years after those fictionalized events, the billionaire owner of Paramount found himself embroiled in a series of real-life sex-and-money scandals that, in many ways, put the formative days of Hollywood to shame.

  • Has a business book ever made you blush? Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy,” by New james stewartYork Times journalists James B. Stewart, right, and Rachel Abrams (below left), may ultimately test the prurience of an unsuspecting readership.

Ostensibly, Unscripted is the fly-on-the-wall account of the extraordinary boardroom machinations that led Shari Redstone, the often-estranged daughter of geriatric mogul Sumner Redstone, to wrest control of both CBS and Viacom from the executives, girlfriends and others who’d circled him in his final years. In that way, it’s not unlike countless chronicles of corporate intrigue or succession rachel abramsdrama, including Stewart’s own “DisneyWar, the 2005 bestseller about the Disney board upheaval that led to chief executive Michael Eisner’s fall from grace.

DisneyWar was a seminal work, and Unscripted similarly brings remarkable detail and fresh insight to a C-suite fight (two, in this case) that was covered extensively in the media — including, I should say, by me.

But unlike Disney War, Unscripted reads for long stretches like a filthy pulp novel. There’s the 90-something billionaire with still-active “sexual appetites”; the scheming mistresses; threesomes; parked-car encounters; a Sedona love nest; a chief executive who allegedly forced himself on multiple victims; a stolen laptop; shady private investigators; and a cast of characters straight off MTV or another Redstone cable channel. Mixing tight financial reporting with soap-operatic twists and turns, “Unscripted” makes the amped-up historical fiction of “Babylon” feel downright chaste by comparison.

sumner redstone resized boston universityIn 2016, Sumner Redstone, right, was one of the most important figures in global media. Through decades of dealmaking, he’d turned National Amusements, his father’s small movie theater chain, into the parent company of Viacom and CBS, twin media powers that housed Paramount, dozens of lucrative television networks, the Simon & Schuster book publisher, a burgeoning streaming service and all the trappings — and entitlements — of immense showbiz wealth.

But at this point, both Redstone and his empire of “legacy media” were in serious decline. Ensconced high in his Beverly Park compound next door to Sylvester Stallone, he was physically weak, unable to speak clearly and mentally diminished, spending much of his time monitoring the stock prices of CBS and Viacom. His handpicked lieutenants — Redstone’s former lawyer Philippe Dauman at Viacom and Les Moonves, the celebrated television executive, at CBS — ran roughshod over his companies, largely ignoring the streaming future that Netflix was increasingly dominating. And they were paid more for their efforts than almost anyone in corporate America.

Redstone, acid-tongued, obsessed with sex and, in general, a pretty awful person (he once called President Barack Obama the n-word at a Beverly Hills restaurant and attempted to steal a date from his young grandson at an MTV event, the book asserts), had engaged Bravo’s “Millionaire Matchmaker,” Patti Stanger, to deliver him a suitable girlfriend. The choice, a woman named Sydney Holland, quickly moved into the compound and, along with another Redstone girlfriend and sometime rival, Manuela Herzer, began to take over his life, eliminate or marginalize threats to their influence, and, eventually, extract about $150 million of his money. Stewart and Abrams suggest that the girlfriends could have very well controlled both companies if Shari and her lawyers hadn’t mobilized.

Feb. 11

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: WMR, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh falls for Russian agitprop, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 22 books, former syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer (based for a period in the wayne madesen report logoBaltic Sea region) and NSA analyst, Feb. 10-11, 2023.

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has claimed in an article that President Biden ordered Panama City, Florida-based U.S. Navy divers to plant C-4 explosive charges on the Nordstream pipeline in the Baltic Sea sometime last summer.

seymour hersh hsHersh, right, claims that the divers were launched from a Norwegian Alta class minesweeper in an operation coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency during the earlier-held NATO BALTOPS 22 exercise. Moreover, Hersh claimed that on September 26, 2022, a sonobuoy dropped from a Norwegian P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft sent a detonation signal to the C-4 explosive devices placed on the pipeline in four different locations by the Navy divers. Russia is eager to demonize Norway, particularly after Russian spies were recently arrested by Norway for conducting drone surveillance of Norwegian infrastructure targets on the Norwegian mainland and in the territory of Svalbard.

Hersh made no attempt to conduct the cursory research that would have informed him that ASW sonobuoys used by the U.S. and Norwegian navies are passive acoustic devices that have no weapons fire control capability. Hersh's fanciful account of such a Mission Impossible-like scenario should have set off a skepticism alert, especially for a seasoned investigative journalist. Russian agitprop exaggerations are specifically intended to generate headlines and this was Hersh's only successful accomplishment as witnessed by Rupert Murdoch's media outlets, as well as others, quick to echo Hersh's dubious account.

Wayne Madsen Report, Update to our Nordstream sabotage story, Wayne Madsen, Feb. 10-11, 2023. Moscow is trying to convince the world to wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallbelieve its propaganda, recently amplified by reporter Seymour Hersh, over the findings of separate but coordinated Swedish and Danish investigations into the Nordstream explosions that occurred last September.

wayne madesen report logoHersh's report is not the first to echo Kremlin propaganda. A Washington Post report on December 21, 2022 by Shane Harris, John Hudson, Missy Ryan, and Michael Birnbaum offered up similar "anonymous source" Russian pabulum on the identity of the Nordstream saboteurs. In the case of the Post, it gave more credence to its anonymous sources who told the paper that Russia was not the culprit over the well-informed public statements of U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Danish Defense Minister Morten Bodskov, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz, and German Economy Minister Robert Habeck that Russia was the likely saboteur.

Reporters like Hersh, who experienced the Cold War tactics of Soviet disinformation operations, including the 1983 Soviet downing of Korean Air Lines flight 007 -- which Hersh covered extensively -- should know better than to echo Russian agitprop. Hersh was sold a bill of Russian propaganda goods. Unfortunately, he now owns it.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary:Kremlin uses its willing propaganda dupes in the West to blame Ukraine and the CIA for Nordstream sabotage, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, October 5-6, 2022. There really is no international whodunit involved in the blowing up of the Nordstream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. Russia had both the motive and the means to sabotage the twin pipelines that transport natural gas from Russia to Germany.

wayne madesen report logoThe September 26 explosion followed the imposition of European Union sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Therefore, Nordstream, which is majority owned by the Russian energy company Gazprom, was no longer providing a revenue stream for Moscow and that made it expendable for the Kremlin nomenklatura.

After having decided to sabotage Nordstream, the Kremlin wasted no time in maximizing the propaganda value of the attack. The natural gas leak in the Baltic Sea, which occurred within Denmark’s maritime economic zone off the island of Bornholm, resulted in Denmark imposing a five-nautical-mile danger zone around the leak for maritime and air traffic. Subsequently, the Swedish Coast Guard reported a second Nordstream leak within the Swedish maritime economic zone. It was later discovered that there were four separate leaks in the twin pipeline, two in the Danish zone and two in the Swedish zone.

Feb. 8

Emptywheel, Analysis: Jeff Gerth’s Undisclosed Dissemination Of Russian Intelligence Product, Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler), marcy wheelerFeb. 8, 2023. In his CJR series (Looking Back on the coverage of Trump) claiming the NYT and WaPo botched coverage of the Russian investigation, Jeff Gerth, below left, makes a great show of transparency, with the same disclosure statement appended to each installment of jeff gerth imdbhis 23,000-word series.

But the statements hide the most important details, given Gerth’s project (and his past history tilting at Hillary Clinton’s windmills and other real estate investments). For example, when he says he “helped ProPublica decide whether to collaborate with a book that was critical of the columbia journalism review logoClintons’ involvement with Russia; the arrangement didn’t happen,” he doesn’t explain whether that book was Clinton Cash, a piece of political oppo research written by Steve Bannon associate Peter Schweitzer that has a structurally similar position, in the 2016 election, as the Steele dossier does.

When he says that he “approached [the NYT] on my own about the Clinton family foundation,” but “expressed disappointment to one of the Times reporters about the final result,” he’s engaged in press criticism about his own work, without disclosing which work that is (in his series he otherwise discusses this story about Clinton Cash and the Foundation).

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Feb. 7

Emptywheel, Analysis: The Blind Spots of CJR’s “Russiagate” [sic] Narrative, Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler, right), Feb. 7-8, 2023. Jeff Gerth began his marcy wheelerseries on the press’ Russia investigation failures by noting that trust in the traditional media collapsed after the 2016 election, with a sharp rise in concern about “fake news” and, according to Rasmussen, half of those surveyed thinking the press was the enemy of the people.

And in spite of his citation of WaPo’s tracking of the vast number of lies Donald Trump told during his term early in the jeff gerth imdbseries, Gerth, left, put great stock in what Donald Trump told him in two interviews, adopting Trump’s attribution of the coverage of Russia for the reality TV star’s decision to start labeling the media, “fake news.”

He made clear that in the early weeks of 2017, after initially hoping to “get along” with the press, he found himself inundated by a wave of Russia-related stories. He then realized that surviving, if not combating, the media was an integral part of his job.

“I realized early on I had two jobs,” he said. “The first was to run the country, and the second was survival. I had to survive: the stories were unbelievably fake.”

This is a critical point: Gerth appears to believe Trump that called the media “fake news” not as part of an effort to manipulate the media or to damage one of the institutions of accountability that might check his power, but instead as part of a good faith response to coverage of him.
From that premise, CJR decided the way to understand the collapse in trust of the media was to focus largely on NYT and WaPo’s performance in their coverage of Russia.

Emptywheel, Analysis: CJR’s Error At Word 18, Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler, Ph.D., right), Feb. 7, 2023. It took just 18 words into a 23,000-word marcy wheelerseries complaining about journalistic mistakes in the coverage of the investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia before Jeff Gerth made his first error.

And I’m spotting him the use of “collusion” at word 12.

There are multiple ways you might measure the end of the inquiry — on March 22, 2019 when Mueller delivered his report to Bill Barr; on May robert mueller full face file29, 2019 when Mueller, left, closed up shop the moment his team secured Andrew Miller’s grand jury testimony; on November 15, 2019, when a jury convicted Roger Stone; or the still undisclosed date when an ongoing investigation into whether Stone conspired to hack with Russia ended (a September 2018 warrant to Twitter seeking evidence of conspiracy, hacking, and Foreign Agent crimes, which was originally sealed in its entirety to hide from Stone the full scope of the investigation into him, was still largely sealed in April 2020).

None of those events happened in July 2019.

Gerth appears not to know about the ongoing investigation into Stone. He doesn’t mention it. He barely mentions Stone at all, just 205 words out of 23,000, or less than 1% of the entire series.

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ron desantis hands out

Politico, DeSantis continues broadsides against the media ahead of likely 2024 run, Arek Sarkissian, Feb. 7, 2023. During Tuesday’s discussion, DeSantis didn’t detail any specific laws he wanted enacted but pressed Florida legislators to “protect” Floridians.

politico CustomFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis is signaling plans to ramp up his attack on the news industry ahead of his likely 2024 run for president.

DeSantis on Tuesday held a roundtable discussion with media libel law experts and critics on a stage mirroring a typical cable-news show, with the GOP governor setting behind a desk with a screen behind him with the word “truth” displayed prominently.

Among those with him were a conservative lawyer who represents Dominion Voting Systems Inc. in a defamation suit against former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani and former President Donald Trump’s attorney Sidney Powell. Others on the panel include Nick Sandmann, a former Kentucky high school student who sued media companies over a viral social media video and a libertarian journalist.

“The idea that they would create narratives that are contrary to discovering facts, I don’t know that was the standard,” DeSantis said. “Now it seems you pursue the narrative, you’re trying to advance the narrative and trying to get the clicks, and the fact checking and contrary facts has just fallen by the wayside.”

DeSantis has long had a contentious relationship with the media since he became Florida governor in 2019. He rarely gives interviews to major media outlets and regularly criticizes outlets like CNN and his former press secretary, Christina Pushaw, was well-known for singling out reporters on Twitter for ridicule. The Republican governor, who’s widely believed to be staging a campaign to unseat Democrat President Joe Biden in 2024, even unsuccessfully pushed the Legislature to approve a law challenging First Amendment protections during last year’s legislative session, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

DeSantis’ criticism of the media is similar to those of former President Donald Trump, who regularly condemned media outlets like the Washington Post and the New York Times. In 2018, Trump also suggested that he’d try to change libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations.

During Tuesday’s discussion, DeSantis didn’t detail any specific laws he wanted enacted but pressed Florida legislators to “protect” Floridians.

“When the media attacks me, I have a platform to fight back. When they attack everyday citizens, these individuals don’t have the adequate recourses to fight back,” he said. “It would contribute to an increase in ethics in the media and everything if they knew that if you smeared somebody, it’s false and you didn’t do your homework then you have to be held accountable for that.”

Carson Holloway, a scholar from the conservative think tank the Claremont Institute, also said during the discussion that the Supreme Court’s legal precedents that govern most defamation lawsuits makes libel claims against media companies by public figures nearly impossible to win.

“This is distorting our politics in fundamental ways,” Holloway said. “It really discombobulates our ability to govern ourselves.”

Sandmann, who became embroiled in a social media firestorm after a video was posted of him smiling in front of a Native American beating a drum at the National Mall, said he thought nothing of the video until he saw it on social media as he boarded a bus back to Kentucky. National media outlets reported that the video showed Sandmann blocking the path of Native American, but Sandmann, who was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, claimed he was trying to stay motionless to calm the situation at the event.

“In my case I didn’t have a reputation to ruin — I hadn’t started any sort of professional career and I haven’t even started my life,” Sandmann said. “But they predetermined how that would happen.”

Libertarian journalist Michael C. Moynihan told Sandmann his “death sentence” was because he wore a MAGA hat indicating his support for Trump.

Barbara Petersen, executive director of the Florida Center for Government Accountability, said during a phone interview that the Ivy League-educated DeSantis is smart enough to understand why the country’s forefathers believed the press was so important.


tucker carlson fox horizontal

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Tucker Carlson knows exactly what he’s doing, Erik Wemple, Feb. 7, 2023. Fox News host Tucker Carlson last month made false insinuations about Hunter Biden. Others who trafficked in the same bucket of slime later corrected themselves. And even though Carlson’s remarks triggered a legal letter from Hunter Biden’s lawyer, he hasn’t budged.

Chalk it up to experience: Over his six years helming “Tucker Carlson Tonight” — and decades of commentary on cable news — the host has learned just what he can get away with on his highly rated program. He is a serial First Amendment leeway opportunist.

Biden is an ideal target for Carlson’s calibrated attacks. Oversight initiatives by the new House Republican majority are focusing on Biden’s business dealings, and his famous laptop — which surfaced in the late stages of his father’s 2020 presidential campaign — can always be relied upon to stoke fresh outrage. Especially when you specialize in twisting facts.

That’s what Carlson did on Jan. 16, when he amplified a claim on social media relating to a document on the laptop — specifically, a background-check form that was filled out when Hunter Biden in 2018 was looking to rent real estate in Los Angeles. The form listed Joe Biden’s Wilmington home under Hunter Biden’s “current address.” Under the separate heading of “Current Residence,” the form cites a company named “Owasco P.C.” with a monthly rent of nearly $50,000. The box for “own” is checked.

On Jan. 12, a Twitter user (@jj_talking) flagged the form, prompting Miranda Devine, the New York Post reporter who wrote a book about the Hunter Biden laptop, to post her own commentary: "In 2018 Hunter Biden claimed he owned the house where Joe Biden kept classified documents alongside his Corvette in the garage.”

Cue the Carlson riffs: “On the form, Hunter Biden claims he is paying nearly $50,000 a month in housing costs. $50,000 a month. Where’d that money come from?” said the host on his Jan. 16 show. After detailing Biden’s slide into hard times, Carlson said, “So how did a disgraced drug addict with no job skills make enough money to make a $50,000 a month payment? Who was paying him and how much are they paying him? And why were they paying him?”

And then the speculation with a topping of innuendo:

So is it possible that Joe Biden’s lifestyle was financed by his son and his son’s dealings with foreign governments? Apparently, he shared a bank account with his son. Keep in mind that when Hunter Biden left his wife and three children, they were effectively broke. Could it be that the money was going to Joe Biden, whose home Hunter Biden “owned”? Hmm. We don’t know. But these are interesting, interesting questions.

They’re interesting questions, sure, except for the lack of evidence. As The Post’s Glenn Kessler pointed out, the $50,000 represents Hunter Biden’s quarterly payment for Georgetown waterfront office space that he leased from the House of Sweden between March 2017 and February 2018. Biden used this office space when he and his uncle held a $4.8 million contract with a Chinese energy outfit.

In a Feb. 1 letter, Bryan M. Sullivan, a lawyer representing Biden, demands that Fox News retract Carlson’s reporting by devoting a “significant of amount of air‐time” to the actual facts. What Carlson did in his segment, alleges Sullivan, is to imply “essentially a money laundering scheme to finance President Biden’s lifestyle prior to his election as President after legitimately defeating Donald Trump.”

The letter, which warns of “potential litigation,” makes much of the public reporting that preceded Carlson’s rant against Hunter Biden. As Carlson noted in his show, @jj_talking and Devine commented on the background-check form on Twitter — and Carlson even credited the latter with “extensive reporting” on the matter. What he failed to point out, however, was that Devine walked back the original notion with two tweets, both of which came before Carlson’s show on the night of Jan. 16. Here’s what Devine tweeted on the afternoon of Jan. 16: “Caution re wild speculation. This was for Hunter Biden’s application for an apartment in a hip Hollywood complex he was desperate to get into. Big-noting by falsely claiming to own dad’s house in DE. The rent may refer to the $50k rent he paid for his office at House of Sweden.”

Hunter Biden’s attorney took note. “[I]n a flagrant violation of all journalistic professionalism, Mr. Carlson intentionally ignored Ms. Devine’s cautionary tweets about the $50,000 per month rent being ‘wild speculation,'" reads the Sullivan letter. "He said nothing about those tweets although he implied he reviewed all of her tweets by describing her as having ‘done extensive reporting on it.’” Those considerations, argues Sullivan, mean that Carlson and Fox News “certainly acted with reckless disregard” in reporting the “rent” allegation or “more likely, knew that it was false and unreliable, but engaged in such conduct anyway.”

Carlson’s state of mind would be critical to any defamation lawsuit filed by Hunter Biden’s attorneys, because public figures must prove that offending news outlets acted with knowledge of the falsity of their claims or with “reckless disregard” of their truth or falsity. That’s a tough bar to clear, and there are other complicating considerations: The background-check form is complex to the point of nonsensical, a problem that could validate Carlson’s claim that he was just asking “questions.” And just how defamatory was this segment, in light of Hunter Biden’s already tarnished reputation?

Toward the end of the discussion, Carlson noted that there was much “speculation online about what this $50,000 month payment was for. Was it for his office? Did he lie on the form?” Boldface inserted to highlight a comment that could swing both ways: Carlson might argue that it shows that he was merely posing a question, not claiming to have the answer; Hunter Biden’s attorneys might argue that it proves Carlson knew that the “money laundering” narrative was off-base.

Recall that in December 2018 Carlson said on air that Karen McDougal, who had claimed to have had an affair with Donald Trump, "threaten[ed] to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money.”

No such scenario ever took place, and McDougal sued for defamation. Her complaint was dismissed, though lawyers for Fox News conceded that Carlson engages in “exaggeration” and “non-literal commentary,” taking advantage of case law that protects rhetorical hyperbole. That argument stands as a cringey brand embarrassment for Fox News — and any litigation that forces the network to again unsheathe this defense performs a public service.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: The thing Harry Whittington refused to lie about, Paul Farhi, Feb. 7, 2023. Whittington, the man shot by Dick Cheney in a hunting accident, remained gracious about what happened — and discreet.

Harry Whittington didn’t want to be known as The Man Dick Cheney Shot. Having lived a long and accomplished life, he was pained by the inordinate attention he attracted after the second-most powerful man in the United States peppered him with birdshot, perhaps as much as the wounds he carried to the end of his life.

dick cheney wWhittington’s reluctance to talk about his one moment of planetary fame was a mark of graciousness and gentlemanly propriety. Whittington, who died Saturday at 95, never blamed Cheney for nearly killing him, nor the White House for distorting the events of that late afternoon in 2006. After emerging from a Texas hospital, Whittington even seemed to blame himself.

“My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week,” he said. That comment contributed to the distortions surrounding the shooting, which occurred during a brief quail-hunting trip on a ranch in South Texas. It suggested that Whittington, not Cheney, was at fault for the accidental shooting — an impression the White House was all too happy to nudge along and Whittington merely shrugged about later. As George W. Bush’s press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters at the time, “Protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington when it came to notifying others that he was there.”

Not so. But Whittington, a prominent and prosperous lawyer in Austin, kept his own counsel. It was nearly five years after the fact that he opened up about what happened that day.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Trump’s lawsuit against Bob Woodward is absurd — and dangerous, Editorial Board, Feb. 7, 2023 (print ed.). Donald Trump’s public words — speeches, interviews and written statements — were an essential record of his presidential campaign and four years in the Oval Office. But judging by a lawsuit Mr. Trump filed against our colleague Bob Woodward and his book publisher, Simon & Schuster, the former president thinks he personally owns the words he spoke while president. This is absurd — and intended to intimidate and harass.

Alas, such legal gambits are becoming more common. They can have a chilling effect on journalists, human rights defenders or others seeking to hold the powerful to account. Efforts are already underway in a number of states as well as in Britain and the European Union to strengthen protections against frivolous actions known as “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” or SLAPPs.

Mr. Woodward interviewed Mr. Trump 20 times on the record for his book “Rage,” published before the 2020 election. One session was in 2016, while Mr. Trump was running, while the remainder took place in 2019-2020. In the fourth interview, on Dec. 30, 2019, Mr. Trump said, “Okay. For the book only, right?” A deputy press secretary, Hogan Gidley, added, “Right. No stories coming out, no nothing.” Woodward says the agreement was that he was interviewing Trump for a book, not for articles in The Post. When “Rage” was published in September 2020, about a half-hour of the audio recordings were released to The Post and CNN, and Mr. Trump raised no objection then. He criticized what Mr. Woodward had written about him but also said, “I said really good things in that book.”

washington post logoWashington Post, After a long search, scandal-plagued National Enquirer finds a buyer, Paul Farhi, Feb. 7, 2023 (print ed.). The National Enquirer, the scandal-hunting supermarket tabloid that was embroiled for years in its own scandals, was sold Monday to a joint venture involving an executive who has been the subject of a federal indictment.

The buyer, VVIP Ventures, said it will acquire the Enquirer and its tabloid sisters the National Examiner and the Globe from A360 Media of New York. The company described the transactions as an all-cash deal, though terms were not disclosed.

The Enquirer’s publisher, then known as American Media Inc., admitted in 2018 that it secretly helped Donald Trump’s presidential campaign through a journalistically dubious practice known as “catch and kill.” It acknowledged paying $150,000 to acquire the exclusive rights to Playboy model Karen McDougal’s account of an alleged affair with Trump and then suppressing the story to prevent it from hurting Trump’s quest for office.

Then President Donald Trump, with his son, Donald Trump, Jr., at left, with daughter Ivanka Kushner, then-National Enquirer Publisher David Pecker and son Eric Trump at far right. and djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

Then President Donald Trump, with his son, Donald Trump, Jr., at left, with daughter Ivanka Kushner, then-National Enquirer CEO David Pecker and son Eric Trump at far right.

The Federal Election Commission eventually fined A360, the successor to AMI, $187,500 for killing the McDougal story, ruling in 2021 that the transaction was a prohibited corporate in-kind contribution designed to boost a candidate. Federal prosecutors declined to charge AMI’s then-chief executive, David Pecker, in exchange for his cooperation.

stormy daniels djt insight 1 19 2018 CustomThe Enquirer and Pecker were also allegedly involved in brokering a secret deal days before the 2016 election between Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, and the porn star Stormy Daniels, left, to funnel $130,000 to Daniels to suppress her account of an affair with Trump in 2006. Pecker last week was among the first witnesses to testify before a grand jury in New York that is considering issuing criminal charges against Trump over the matter.

Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos in 2019 accused the Enquirer of attempting to blackmail him about an extramarital affair, including threatening to publish intimate “below-the-belt” photos the publication had acquired from his cellphone.

Amid the mounting scandals, AMI announced in 2019 that it would sell the Enquirer and its other celebrity-gossip titles to business executive James Cohen for $100 million. But the sale was never completed.

VVIP Ventures is a joint venture between Vinco Ventures Inc., a digital media company, and Icon Publishing, whose founder is Ted Farnsworth, the former chairman of the defunct movie-theater subscription company MoviePass.

In November, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted Farnsworth and an associate for their alleged roles in a scheme to artificially inflate the stock price of MoviePass’s parent company “through materially false and misleading representations.” Farnsworth is contesting the charges.

Vinco Ventures, the other buyer, owns the social media app Lomotif and an advertising technology company called AdRizer.

VVIP said in a statement that it would retain the Enquirer’s existing editorial staff and would seek further revenue by licensing the Enquirer’s extensive archive of articles and photos to film, TV and podcast producers.

Feb. 6

ny times logoNew York Times, Despite Elon Musk’s Vow, Twitter Images of Child Sex Abuse Abound, Michael H. Keller and Kate Conger, Feb. 6, 2023. Over 120,000 views of a video showing a boy being sexually assaulted. A recommendation engine suggesting that a user follow content related to exploited children. Users continually posting abusive material, delays in taking it down when it is detected and friction with organizations that police it.

twitter bird CustomAll since Elon Musk, below left, declared that “removing child exploitation is priority #1” in a tweet in late November.

Under Mr. Musk’s ownership, Twitter’s head of safety, Ella Irwin, said she had been moving rapidly to combat child sexual elon musk 2015abuse material, which was prevalent on the site — as it is on most tech platforms — under the previous owners. “Twitter 2.0” will be different, the company promised.

But a review by The New York Times found that the imagery, commonly known as child pornography, persisted on the platform, including widely circulated material that the authorities consider the easiest to detect and eliminate.

After Mr. Musk took the reins in late October, Twitter largely eliminated or lost staff experienced with the problem and failed to prevent the spread of abusive images previously identified by the authorities, the review shows. Twitter also stopped paying for some detection software considered key to its efforts.

All the while, people on dark-web forums discuss how Twitter remains a platform where they can easily find the material while avoiding detection, according to transcripts of those forums from an anti-abuse group that monitors them.

“If you let sewer rats in,” said Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s online safety commissioner, “you know that pestilence is going to come.”

Feb. 5

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Erasing Black History Is Not the Role of the College Board, Mara Gay, right, Feb. 5, 2023 (print ed.). In the nation’s capital, blocks maya gay twitter croppedfrom the White House, scores of sharply dressed Americans mingled Thursday night over cocktails and collard greens, a glittering coming-out party for the College Board’s first advanced placement course in African American Studies.

At the party, a formal affair of educators and donors held at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, jazz was played, and a woman in a gold dress sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black national anthem. And then the topic on everyone’s mind came up.

Board officials tried to assure the crowd that they had not bent to censorious political pressure from the country’s increasingly brazen right wing. “If this were true, it would be a terrible stain on this country and on the College Board,” said the College Board’s C.E.O., David Coleman.

But in fact, when the College Board unveiled the final curriculum for the AP course the day before, it turned out that the board had removed from the core material a handful of vital Black thinkers and some important subject matter. They downgraded the study of Black Lives Matter, of reparations, of queer life and of incarceration. They removed prominent writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates and bell hooks, who have helped so many people understand the relationship between race, class and feminism.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, Republican of Florida, had earlier vowed to ban the course, which the state’s Department of Education has said, “lacks educational value.” He had objected to much of the material the board removed. The board issued a statement denying that its action was in response to Mr. DeSantis, saying it determined on its own that the course was too dense and needed fewer secondary sources.

The College Board, though a nonprofit, is a fixture in the country’s education infrastructure. Taking its courses and succeeding on its exams has long been a way for savvy high school students to make themselves more attractive to the most selective colleges and, upon acceptance, win college credit.

The inclusion of Black history into this enterprise is a meaningful act.

The Black scholars who pioneered the teaching of Black history long before it was popular to do so understand this. “We have to tell the truth,” one of those scholars, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, a professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, said Thursday evening. “The truth is we helped to build this country.”

Those opposed to the re-centering of Black history at the heart of the nation’s story instead of its periphery understand it, too, which is why they have mobilized against it.

As we listened to the music and were held in thrall by Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard professor whose television show about tracing American ancestries has made him a household name, I thought about the students in dozens of states where books and other subject material, often recognizing the dignity of Black and transgender people, have been banned.


john clarence discovery promoChannel Guide, Investigative Report: Discovery’s ‘Gold, Lies & Videotape’ Unravels the Mystery of Victorio Peak, New Series, with new episode on Feb. 3.

One family has been fighting for over 70 years to recover what they say is rightfully theirs: a $28 billion treasure buried deep inside a mountain in the New Mexico desert.

Some believe the U.S. government stole the 16,000 gold bars and priceless artifacts, while skeptics claim it never existed. Now, for the first time ever, in this six-part docuseries, the family and its supporters reveal exclusive evidence to prove their case, crack open the mystery of America’s greatest treasure story and reveal the truth of Victorio Peak.

Background research report by Robert Morrow, independent research historian and political advocate based in Austin, TX who befriended through long years of research author John Clarence, whose trilogy The Noss Gold formed the basis for the Discovery Channel series:

If you want to read about the astronomical greed and perfidy of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and thieving military generals at White Sands Missile Range, this is the place to do it. This fascinating docuseries is running every Friday night during prime time on Discovery and is one of the most popular new editions to Discovery. Click here for schedule and program titles.

Information on John Clarence, the author of The Noss Gold: Born in Forty Fort, a small town in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania, John lived his youngest years there enjoying the benefits of Susquehanna River, the worlds’ longest non-navigable river, 444 miles long with 4 million people living within its watershed. The Susquehanna has another impressive history; above its smooth flowing current towered the longest stone-arch bridge in the world. When his family moved away, he left behind his best friend, Fritz, and his first heart throb, Connie, a wonderful red hair, blue-eye young girl; they were in the fifth grade. As a writer, the move to Las Cruces was the backdrop for the remaining days of his life. He still lives there.

When he arrived in Las Cruces in 2004, he moved into a private residence on Missouri Avenue; the Ova Noss Family Partnership work crew called it the “War Room.” he left there two years later and moved into White Sands Missile Range’s backyard and set up the second “War Room.” The following year he moved back to Las Cruces into the third “War Room” and began an eight-year non-stop writing project on the Victorio Peak treasure saga.

When he finished, he titled the volume, The Gold House, a non-fiction, three-book exposé on government and military corruption in the theft of gold from the Noss treasure. Finally, in 2022, he left for Long Beach, California and worked out of the fourth “War Room” in filmmaker Alex Alonso’s studio repairing video tapes and digitizing more than 55,000 ONFP documents and files. His name is John C. “Jack” Staley. He uses the pseudonym, John Clarence, for his written work, described here.

Episodes already cablecasted:

  • David vs. Goliath. 1/13/2023. The Noss family discovers a $28-billion treasure, sparking a deep mystery.
  • Where Gold Goes, Blood Flows.1/20/2023. Alex and team make a big discovery that brings them closer to the treasure.
  • Truth ... and Consequences. 1/27/2023. Terry and Alex suspect a team member has removed treasure worth millions.
  • Goldfinder. 2/3/2023. The Noss family defends their claim against hundreds looking for gold.

National Review, Opinion: Of Course Jeff Gerth Is Right about Russiagate, Rich Lowry ( editor in chief of National Review), Feb. 5, 2023. It isn’t national review logojust that the media failed in covering Russiagate during the Trump years. Since then, they have displayed a near-total unwillingness to examine their role in whipping up a national hysteria based on paranoia and confirmation bias.

In other words, the media have piled a lack of accountability on top of their original sins of journalistic incompetence and ideological malice.

Now, at least, there is a prominent exception to this comprehensive failure in the form of a massive four-part series in Columbia Journalism Review on the coverage of Russiagate by the former New York Times reporter, Jeff Gerth. (Erik Wemple of the Washington Post is another honorable exception.)

Gerth has the goods on how the press botched the story from beginning to end, and he lays them out in detail. Given his pedigree, the piece is heavily focused on the Times, but he easily could have done another 24,000 words on the hysteria at CNN alone.

The piece is not revelatory in the sense of breaking news — anyone who has followed Andy McCarthy’s work over the years will be familiar with the outlines of Gerth’s account. But the reporter (an erstwhile Times man from the heart of the journalistic establishment) and the outlet (the bible of legacy-media self-evaluation) make it a very important event.

Gerth details how the media hyped the dossier, though it should have been clear it was garbage from the beginning, and how it spun up the collusion narrative despite the evidence that there was nothing there. The federal investigation into collusion, predictably, turned up nothing, surprising journalists who had been repeatedly telling their readers and viewers that the walls were closing in (resorting to understatement, Dean Baquet, then the executive editor of the New York Times, described the Times as “a little tiny bit flat-footed” when the Mueller investigation flopped).

The reaction from the legacy media to Gerth’s report has been crashing silence, proving his point of how outlets aren’t willing to grapple with the scale of their dereliction.

There has been some pushback, though, from the progressive media, which is shocked and outraged by CJR’s perceived betrayal. Aren’t we all supposed to be in this together?

  • David Brock, no one’s arbiter of standards for anything, asks, “How did Jeff Gerth’s garbage get published in the Columbia Journalism Review?”
  • Joe Conason accuses Gerth of having “betrayed basic journalistic standards.”
  • Progressive writer and activist Tom Watson can’t understand why CJR published the piece.
  • jonathan chait twitterJonathan Chait, right, who wrote that Trump might have been a Russian asset since 1987, isn’t persuaded. A lesser journalist might be somewhat abashed by his claim about Trump — clearly preposterous at the time, and now even more so — but no, it’s Gerth who has screwed it up.

Chait points to an attempted takedown of the Gerth piece by David Corn of Mother Jones. Corn argues that Gerth is focused on the wrong things — namely, the dossier that played a big role in kicking things off and the accusation of collusion, which resulted in the yearslong investigation that deranged our politics and media environment. Corn thinks the real story is items such as the Russian interference in the election and Trump’s unwillingness to call it out; the Trump Tower meeting; and Paul Manafort’s communicating with Ukrainian and Russian figures during the campaign.

All of these things were bad, but none of them should have caused the media and investigatory conflagration that ensued.

Russia’s cyber-operations were negligible — laughably ineffective and barely a drop in an ocean of campaign messaging. The intelligence community’s assessment that Russia hacked the DNC emails may be true, but it is based on sketchy evidence, and, more to the point, the DNC emails — in which Hillary Clinton was not a meaningful participant — had no impact on the outcome of the election.

The Left’s freak-out about Trump’s characteristically impudent quip that he hoped Russia found Clinton’s emails has always been overwrought — the homebrew server was then in the FBI’s custody (i.e., not available to be hacked).

The motives behind the Trump Tower meeting were contemptible, but the meeting came to nothing, and it would not have happened as it did if there had actually been a Trump-Putin conspiracy. Moreover, the dossier misadventure showed that Clinton was no stranger to welcoming Russian-sourced research — no matter how flimsy — to use against her opponent.

Finally, the Trump-campaign information that Manafort shared with a Russian oligarch to whom he owed a great deal of money was trivial. After two years of investigation and two indictments filed against Manafort, Mueller never alleged that Manafort was a Russian agent. He was accused of failing to register as a Ukrainian agent — based on activities unconnected to his participation in the Trump campaign.

It’s notable that even Corn concedes that Gerth scores points on the Times and other outlets for exaggerating the case for collusion and the credibility of the dossier. The way Corn puts it, with admirable mildness, is “readers who care about media reliability will find much to ponder in this long takedown.”

Uh, yeah. Would that all the people who created this fiasco — beholden to a self-reinforcing frenzy and an overall ethic of “too good to check” — were willing to admit the same.

Feb. 4


joe conason cspanThe National Memo, Analysis: The Reporter Who Hyped Whitewater Now Backs Trump On 'Russiagate,' Joe Conason (above, longtime journalist and co-author with Gene Lyons of the New York Times best-seller The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and joe conason gene lyons the hunting of the presidentHillary Clinton), Feb. 4, 2023.

Down at Mar-a-Lago and anywhere else that former President Donald Trump is still venerated, he and his entourage are excited about a publication that has never before drawn his attention.

The Columbia Journalism Review has just published a four-part, 24,000-word essay that purports to debunk the Trump-Russia "narrative" — and seeks to blame rising public disdain for the press, among other ills, on The New York Times and The Washington Post for their coverage of that scandal.

Its author is Jeff Gerth, a reporter who worked at the Times for three decades. His former colleagues are said to be seething with fury at him. They have ample reason, not out of feelings of personal betrayal, but because Gerth has betrayed basic journalistic standards. Unfortunately, this is not the first time.

Very few people will persevere through Gerth's prose (which the late press critic Alexander Cockburn once compared to "bicycling through wet sand."). Yet because Trump is running for president again — and because Vladimir Putin is sure to continue "active measures" on his behalf — what happened in the travesty and tragedy of 2016 remains relevant.

Gerth's account is fatally flawed by his omission of critical facts about Trump and Russia, not only in Pulitzer Prize-winning stories published by both newspapers, but in the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election as well as the voluminous detail of Russian interference chronicled in the Mueller Report, mendaciously maligned by then-Attorney General William Barr.

Like Trump, whom he interviewed twice and treats with kid gloves, Gerth falsely suggests that Special Counsel Robert Mueller somehow exculpated the former president. In fact, Mueller showed that Trump repeatedly obstructed justice to stymie the Russia investigation. And the special counsel indicated that Trump's "dangling" of pardons to key witnesses like Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — who ultimately were pardoned — had cut off crucial avenues of investigation and testimony. Mueller cited 10 instances of obstruction of justice he could not prosecute because of the policy not to indict a sitting president for criminal activity. Here, Gerth is perpetuating the coverup.

Beyond any specific problems in Gerth's deeply defective work, however, is the question of why the magazine made such an odd choice to fulfill this sensitive task. During his years at the Times, he gained notoriety for two major stories that looked impressive when first published — and then fell spectacularly flat.

In 1992, he wrote a front-page article on Bill and Hillary Clinton's investment in an ill-fated real estate deal known as "Whitewater," which spawned endless news coverage, congressional investigations and a special counsel probe mismanaged by Ken Starr that cost nearly $70 million. The erroneous headline on Gerth's story— "CLINTONS JOINED S & L OPERATOR IN AN OZARK REAL ESTATE VENTURE" — was only the first of many regrettable errors. Multiple investigations failed to confirm Gerth's insinuations of wrongdoing by the Clintons.

In 1999, Gerth and a fellow Times reporter published another bombshell, headlined "BREACH AT LOS ALAMOS: China Stole Nuclear Secrets For Bombs, U.S. Aides Say." The article pointed a finger of suspicion at a Taiwanese American scientist named Wen Ho Lee, who was subsequently indicted and imprisoned — until he was released for lack of sufficient evidence to convict him of espionage. He ultimately pled guilty to a minor offense and received an apology from President Clinton. (The Times felt obliged to publish a note critiquing its own handling of the story after Lee's prosecution failed.)

What brings those episodes to mind is that in both instances, Gerth appeared to be heavily influenced by partisan figures on the Right with agendas that obscured the truth. His chief Whitewater sources were Sheffield Nelson, an embittered Republican businessman who had run against Clinton for governor two years earlier, and Clinton's former Whitewater partner James McDougal, who was both dishonest and mentally ill. His principal source on Wen Ho Lee appears to have been an Energy Department security official named Notra Trulock III, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who was credibly accused by his colleagues of ethnic bias against Lee.

Gerth's skewed reporting on Whitewater and Wen Ho Lee came under harsh criticism from other journalists. But the assessment that may now sting the most appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review months after the Lee prosecution had fizzled.

Writing about the Times' "painful" self-scrutiny, Michael Hoyt, who became the magazine's editor, called the Lee story "hard to read... without thinking that readers were supposed to believe — from the way the facts were marshaled and supported by inferences and quotes — that Wen Ho Lee was a probable spy and that those in the government who doubted it were politically motivated." The paper's editors, wrote Hoyt, should have taken "a closer look" at Gerth's main source as well as the political motivations of congressional Republicans pushing it, and "should have investigated hints early on that the legal case against Lee was not all that impressive."

Gerth's latest misadventure, providing tilted alibis for Trump, follows a pattern of decades. It should surprise nobody, especially his now-infuriated former colleagues at the Times. Hailed by the right-wing media, he appears to believe that he is in a position to lecture his fellow journalists. They would do better taking instruction elsewhere.


 Katrina vanden Heuvel, the longtime publisher, editor and controlling shareholder of The Nation magazine and also wife of Russian studies scholar Stephen Cohen, is shown joining a CSPAN Washington Journal cablecast in 2009.

 Katrina vanden Heuvel, the longtime publisher, editor and owner of The Nation magazine and also wife of Russian studies scholar Stephen Cohen, is shown joining a CSPAN Washington Journal cablecast in 2009.

ByLine Times, Media Criticism: Russia & the US PressThe Article the CJR Didn’t Publish, Duncan Campbell, Feb. 4, 2023. Duncan Campbell, below at right, is an duncan campbellinvestigative journalist who has covered security, surveillance and politics since the 1970s.

Introduction: Two and a half years ago, the Columbia Journalism Review refused to publish Duncan Campbell’s investigation into The Nation magazine and its apparent support for Vladimir Putin. It is published here in full.

In 2018, Duncan Campbell was commissioned by the “voice of journalism” and “watchdog of the press,” Columbia columbia journalism review logoJournalism Review, to write an investigation into the venerable New York magazine The Nation, and its apparent support for Russia’s territorial ambitions. In 2020, after a full fact check, legal review and edit, the article was cancelled two days before the scheduled publication. In 2022, months after Putin’s full invasion of Ukraine, the CJR again refused to publish the article. Byline Times is publishing the final agreed copy here, and Duncan Campbell will explain what happened in a follow-up article.

The Nation’s Russia Problem
By Duncan Campbell, 15 July 2020

One afternoon, five weeks before Election Day in 2016, on the 21st floor of a tower overlooking Manhattan’s Eighth Avenue, members of The Nation’s editorial advisory board gathered for a twice-annual meeting. Katrina vanden Heuvel—the magazine’s editor, publisher, and owner—invited attendees to hear from a special guest, who had come to warn them that criticizing Donald Trump’s involvements with Russia, or his nation logorelationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, could trigger global nuclear annihilation. Vanden Heuvel, who was 56, gestured to her husband, Stephen F. Cohen, then 77, a retired professor of Russian studies. Russia and the United States “were closer to war than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis,” he told the board. He also derided Democrats and American media organizations for “demonization of Russian President Putin.”

Philip Green, a political theorist who had been on the board for forty years, listened with skepticism. Cohen’s theory, “presented with deadly and urgent seriousness,” he thought, appeared to be channeling the paranoia of the far-right. Others felt the same way. But afterward, Green says, “It became the party line.”

stephen cohen professorCohen (who died in 2020 and who is shown above) would go on to make the same argument in at least 160 Nation articles; more than a hundred talk radio show appearances; and on Russia’s state-owned international channel, Russia Today (RT). In many cases, his articles were “essentially transcribed radio programs that were unedited and did not go through other editorial filters,” according to Robert Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor and investigative journalist. Accusing the Russian government of committing an act of war by hacking the Democratic National Committee, Cohen warned, might mean “the necessity of actual war, conceivably nuclear war, against Russia.” He wrote that “villainizing the Kremlin—without much evidence—is increasing the possibility of a US-Russian war.” Once Trump took office, Cohen branded media investigations of Russia’s involvement with the Trump campaign as “neo-McCarthyism” and “Kremlin-baiting.”

For these critiques, Cohen won praise from outlets such as Fox News and Breitbart, anathema to The Nation readership; soon, he began making periodic appearances on Tucker Carlson Tonight. “Today, in my scholarly, long-term judgment, relations between the United States and Russia are more dangerous than they have ever—let me repeat, ever—been, including the Cuban missile crisis,” Cohen told Carlson in 2018.

Nation employees became uneasy about Cohen’s assertions and who was airing his ideas. “The people who work there, especially the younger staff, are disgruntled about the Russia coverage,” Adam Shatz, a former Nation writer and literary editor, says. A joke began circulating around the office: “We tried to fact check Steve’s pieces but we couldn’t find any facts to check.” (Vanden Heuvel denies that her husband’s work was not checked by normal standards, saying that whether or not something is checked “depends on the complexity of the piece.”)

columbia logoSome left The Nation or stopped writing for it. Anne Nelson, a former war correspondent now teaching at Columbia University, came to feel that the magazine’s stance on Russia “is destroying a valuable institution on the left.” Subscribers and donors, too, expressed displeasure with The Nation’s Russia pieces. One reader tweeted: “Sounds like the Nation has a pee tape out there somewhere.”

Duncan Campbell is former crime correspondent of the Guardian, former chairman of the Crime Reporters Association and winner of the Bar Council’s newspaper journalist of the year. He has written for the Observer, New Statesman, LRB, Oldie, Esquire and British Journalism Review. He has presented Crime Desk on BBC Radio 5 Live and the Radio 4 documentary "Bandits of the Blitz," has appeared on the Today programme, LBC radio and numerous TV documentaries, and has lectured widely on crime reporting. He is the author of six books including the bestselling "The Underworld" (1994) and an acclaimed crime novel, "If it Bleeds" (2010).


 Julia (Julie) Jenkins Fancelli, Publix heiress and Donald Trump mega-donor.

Julia (Julie) Jenkins Fancelli, Publix heiress and Donald Trump mega-donor.

Proof, Exclusive Investigative Commentary: The Donald Trump “Mega-Donor” From Florida Who Funded January 6 Has Just Given America the Most Detailed Timeline Ever of When and seth abramson graphicWhere Trump’s Coup Plot Formed, Seth Abramson, Feb. 3-4, 2023. Seth Abramson, left, is a a former criminal investigator and criminal defense attorney whose January 6 research Congress often cites unpacks January 6 evidence many missed.

seth abramson proof logoPart of a Series: The “January 6 Files” Series (2023-)

  • Charlie Kirk
  • Ginni Thomas, Part I
  • Julie Jenkins Fancelli (current entry)

1. Introduction

You’ve probably seen the “How It Started vs. How It’s Going” meme, which tracks the relative sanguinity of the beginning of a given process and how it thereafter descends into chaos. In the case of the 132-page federal testimony of Julie Jenkins Fancelli—the Donald Trump mega-donor who almost single-handedly bankrolled the January 6 White House Ellipse rally and march on the U.S. Capitol—it begins like this (the speaker is a House January 6 Committee investigator tasked with examining Fancelli under oath):

And it does not get better from there.

Fancelli’s reticence in providing even the barest degree of cooperation with the House January 6 Committee is to some degree understandable. After all, even far-right media reports indicate that the Special Counsel recently appointed by Joe Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland on behalf of the Department of Justice, Jack Smith, is focusing his investigation on the “money trail” linked to the January 6 coup attempt.


Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

And on the very short list of radical Trumpists who funded events on January 6, the Trumpworld figure who appears atop the list—by sheer dollar value—is Ms. Fancelli.

kimberly guilfoyle smile wAnd so it is that we see Fancelli invoking four different federal constitutional amendments to avoid even revealing whether she knows Caroline Wren, an agent of future Trump daughter-in-law and current top Trump adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle, right (who will be marrying Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr.) and someone whose long relationship with Fancelli has already been documented fifty different ways and is a settled fact.

But as was the case with (again) Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle associate—you may be seeing a trend here—Charlie Kirk, who also pleaded the Fifth Amendment, Fancelli revealed much more than she might have intended simply by showing up to be questioned by Congress. Why? Because the many, many questions asked of her by lawyers from the now-disbanded House January 6 Committee comprise a stunning compendium of evidence compiled by the Committee before its investigation ended in December 2022.

This third entry of the new “January 6 Files” series at Proof will reveal, through a long analysis and contextualization of these questions—and perhaps more surprisingly, some sudden abandonments of her constitutional invocations by Ms. Fancelli—how this recently released federal witness transcript must change forever how we think about the following:

  • The timeline of the January 6 coup plot;
  • the level of involvement the Trump family had in this coup plotting, and its after-the-fact attempts to deny that involvement;
  • the consistent pattern of federal Witness Tampering that has marked Trump family attempts to deny its involvement in any coup plotting or fundraising;
  • the extent to which the Trump family benefited financially from this plotting and to which Trump himself was aware of the fundraising and logistics work that the plotting entailed; and
  • the degree to which this plotting may have helped fund Stop the Steal activities now associated with domestic terrorism.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who later taught digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Feb. 3


Andy Thibault, Editor and Publisher of The Winsted Citizen, carries the first bundle of papers off a pallet as Advertising and Circulation Director Rosemary Scanlon holds the first print press plate while a group of musicians play behind them after the arrival of the first delivery of the paper on, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Winsted, Conn. At a time that local newspapers are dying at an alarming rate, longtime activist Ralph Nader is helping give birth to one. Nader put up $15,000 to help launch The Winsted Citizen and hired a veteran Connecticut journalist, Andy Thibault, to put it together. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Andy Thibault, Editor and Publisher of The Winsted Citizen, carries the first bundle of papers off a pallet as Advertising and Circulation Director Rosemary Scanlon holds the first print press plate while a group of musicians play behind them after the arrival of the first delivery of the paper on, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Winsted, Conn. At a time that local newspapers are dying at an alarming rate, longtime activist Ralph Nader is helping give birth to one. Nader put up $15,000 to help launch The Winsted Citizen and hired a veteran Connecticut journalist, Andy Thibault, to put it together. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Associated Press, Newspapers dying? Ralph Nader’s giving birth to one, David Bauder, Feb. 3, 2023. Photojournalist Jessica Hill contributed to this report from Winsted, Connecticut. 

At age 88, Ralph Nader believes his neighbors in northwest Connecticut are tired of electronics and miss the feel of holding a newspaper to read about their town.

So at a time that local newspapers are dying at an alarming rate, the longtime activist is helping give birth to one.

Copies of the first edition of the Winsted Citizen are circulating around this old New England mill town, with stories about a newly-opened food co-op, a Methodist church closing after attendance lagged at services and the repair of a century-old bridge.

“If it works, it will be a good model for the rest of the country,” said Nader, who as a youngster delivered a long-gone Winsted daily paper in his hometown. He splits time now between Winsted and Washington, D.C.

The last locally-based weekly paper, the Winsted Journal, began in 1996 before being shut down in 2017, unable to make enough money to support itself.

A town of about 8,000, Winsted has seen better days. Locals still talk about the 1955 hurricane that wiped out much of Main Street and killed a big employer, the Gilbert Clock Co. Winsted is surrounded by several better-off smaller communities, with Litchfield County a popular second-home destination for city dwellers, and the Winsted Citizen will cover those, too.
Since the Journal shut down, people are losing touch with what’s going on in local government and the news that knits a community — who’s getting engaged, who’s given birth — Nader said.

“After awhile it all congeals and you start losing history,” he said. “Every year you don’t have a newspaper, you lose that connection.”

Nader invested $15,000 and hired a veteran Connecticut journalist, Andy Thibault, to get the Citizen started. The masthead lists 17 reporters. They get paid, Thibault said, “when they write a story.”

The motto: “It’s your paper. We work for you.”

The Citizen plans to publish monthly until next January, when it will become a weekly, Thibault said. He plans to sustain the newspaper through advertising, donations and subscriptions — $25 for the rest of 2023, and $95 a year after that.

Nader is full of suggestions but not intrusive, Thibault said. The consumer activist and four-time presidential candidate doesn’t dictate a political stance, he said.

Thibault has used his connections to build a solid bench of contributors, including longtime Hartford Courant editorial cartoonist Bob Englehart. The first issue includes a lengthy profile of a successful local basketball coach and a story about a project to paint a five-story mural in two abandoned mill buildings.

The depiction of Winsted as a news desert has grated on some. Bruno Matarazzo Jr., a reporter for the nearby Republican-American in Waterbury, taunts Nader with tweeted reminders that the daily newspaper covers Winsted regularly. Waterbury is about 28 miles (45 km) from Winsted.

“It’s different coverage when a town has its own newspaper than when you have a daily coming in to cover it,” said Janet Manko, publisher and editor in chief of another Connecticut weekly, the Lakeville Journal, which also published the Winsted Journal before it closed. The failure wasn’t because Winsted didn’t deserve a paper, she said.

The Journal is among an estimated 2,500 newspapers that have closed in the United States since 2005, all but about 100 non-dailies, according to a report issued last year by the Northwestern/Medill Local News Initiative.

So Nader is clearly bucking a trend and is to be commended, said Penelope Muse Abernathy, who wrote “The State of Local News” report.

“It will turn heads because it’s Ralph Nader,” she said.

But maybe he won’t be as lonely as it seems. Abernathy said she’s been getting more frequent calls lately for advice from people who want to open newspapers. The cautious approach used by the Citizen — monthly issues before turning weekly — has been used by others, she said. There’s a greater recognition of the need for a smart business plan, instead of just a passion project.

Given Nader’s romance with print, it’s somewhat odd that the lead story in the Citizen’s inaugural edition talks to young Winsted residents about how they get much of their news from social media. Thibault said he plans to build an online presence.

“I like print,” said Terry Cowgill, a columnist for the website. “I still like holding a print newspaper in my hand. I’m 65 years old. Most people under 50, certainly under 40, have scarcely ever held a newspaper in their hands.”

He’s rooting for the Citizen, though. Cowgill said he suspects the Citizen’s best chance for long-term success is whether Nader can trade on his celebrity for foundation grants.

Volunteers fanned out on a frigid day last week to deliver copies of the first 12-page issue. One woman, Ruthie Ursone Napoleone, stopped a delivery car to ask for more copies. Her father’s obituary was in the first issue, her nephew was quoted in another story and a third featured her workplace.

She hugged the person who gave her the extra papers.

“I wish my dad could read this,” Napoleone said.


andy thibault winsted citizen jessica hill ap


 elon musk sideview

washington post logoWashington Post, Elon Musk found not liable in federal trial over ‘Funding secured’ tweet, Faiz Siddiqui, Feb. 3, 2023. Musk, shown above in a file photo, sat for testimony in the case over three days last month. He argued that tweets are not necessarily comprehensive, and not all believe what he says.

Elon Musk was found not liable for investors’ losses in a securities fraud trial over his 2018 tweet that he had “Funding secured” to take Tesla tesla logoprivate at $420 per share, continuing the tech mogul’s streak of favorable verdicts over his erratic behavior.

Plaintiff Glen Littleton and fellow members of the class action sued Musk and Tesla, including its board of directors, over the tweet and Musk’s subsequent statements, alleging the notion that financing was in place had been false and constituted fraud. They said shareholders suffered steep financial harms because of panicked sales in the 10 days following the tweet, as Tesla and Musk engaged in damage control.

twitter bird CustomMusk’s attorney Alex Spiro had argued Musk’s tweet did not constitute the entirety of what was disclosed about the matter, and while it was not necessarily accurate it did not constitute fraud.

In a tweet after the verdict, Musk said: “Thank goodness, the wisdom of the people has prevailed! I am deeply appreciative of the jury’s unanimous finding of innocence in the Tesla 420 take-private case.”

For Musk, the favorable verdict takes some pressure off his finances at a time when he’s on the hook for billions in loans for his purchase of Twitter. It continues a string of verdicts in Musk’s favor, from the shareholder lawsuit over Tesla’s purchase of embattled solar energy company SolarCity, and Musk’s defamation lawsuit over calling a Thai cave rescue volunteer a “pedo guy.”

Musk sat for testimony over three days last month in the case, arguing that his tweets were not comprehensive and that not everyone believes what he says when he posts. He said that his funding was secured because he owns a large stake in SpaceX, the rocket-building firm he leads, an argument plaintiffs disputed because it was not in his initial deposition.

Instead, they alleged, Musk’s tweets were sent after he met with the head of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, where any discussion about financing was far from definitive. Musk countered, however, that the Saudis did indeed express a commitment to take Tesla private and had the funding to back it up, though the parties never settled on a deal.

On Aug. 7, 2018, Musk posted a tweet reading: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” Court documents also referenced a second Musk tweet from later that day, which read: “Investor support is confirmed. Only reason this is not certain is that it’s contingent on a shareholder vote.”

Musk’s claim unraveled in the ensuing days, however.

Musk said on Aug. 13, 2018, that he had been in discussions with the Saudi wealth fund about taking Tesla private in a deal that would value the company above $70 billion, but the post was not definitive. On Aug. 24, 2018, Musk reversed course, saying he planned to keep Tesla public.

The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Musk that September for allegedly lying to investors when he declared “Funding secured.” Musk and Tesla settled, and each paid $20 million fines, while Musk agreed to step aside as Tesla board chairman.

His replacement in that seat, Robyn Denholm, testified in the recent trial alongside others including Tesla executives and current and former board members.

Judge Edward M. Chen had already ruled the declaration of “Funding secured” untrue, leaving jurors to determine whether it was material to subsequent market moves, the extent to which it was relied on, and the liability of Musk and Tesla board members in potential damages.

In closing arguments, Musk attorney Spiro urged the jury not to compromise on their verdict — for example, by finding Musk liable but not the Tesla board. Rather, he pushed them to make a firm judgment on the materiality of the tweet. He argued that Musk’s tweet may have been “technically inaccurate” but that the case hinged on his “consideration” of taking Tesla private.

“Just because it’s a bad tweet, doesn’t mean it’s fraud,” he said.

The plaintiff’s attorneys argued that Musk should be subject to rules like anyone else, and that his behavior constituted fraud.“This is about rules,” said attorney Nicholas Porritt. “This is about applying rules to billionaires like Elon Musk.”

He asked if the rules should apply, “or can Elon Musk do whatever he wants and not face the consequences?”

“We’re just disappointed,” said Porritt, answering questions as he was leaving the courtroom after the verdict. “I think we presented a very good case and I think we presented the case as well as we could.”

Porritt said he would consider what his team is going to do next.

Spiro, Musk’s attorney, said after the verdict “the jury got it right.” His team embraced in celebration after it was read out.

 Feb. 2


wikipedia logo

Going Deep With Russ Baker, Why We Should Be Wary of Wikipedia, Russ Baker, right, publisher of WhoWhatWhy, author of best-selling Family russ baker cropped david welkerof Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years, and longtime journalist and media critic, Feb. 2, 2023 (Part 1 of a Series). Probably the best kept secret about Wikipedia is that its whowhatwhy logo“truths” largely protect the establishment — and that is baked into the formula.

Dear Reader: For many years, the Russ Baker page on Wikipedia has been under a clever and nuanced attack by parties unknown, operating as “editors.” The resulting text subtly questions my work, character, and judgment. The net effect is to give the casual reader cause to minimize or even dismiss my revelations — and me. The consequences of this are almost impossible to overstate, as they impact so many aspects of my life.

As with many things, I have always meant to get to the bottom of this, but just didn’t get around to it — nor have I been sure about what I could or should do about it.

What I found was, for me, hair-raising at times.

I now think it’s worth sharing this with others, as my own experience in the maw of the world’s dominant opinion shaper seems anything but unique.

What follows is a series of articles seeking to understand the phenomenon, and how it affects us all.


If you’re like me, and pretty much the rest of humanity, when you want to know something, you Google it. Invariably, at or near the top of the results, is a Wikipedia finding with your answer.

That is an astounding amount of power and influence for Wikipedia.

Wikipedia claims to be the place for us to understand… everything, quickly and simply.

Apparently we trust Wikipedia… why?

For one thing, Wikipedia is a nonprofit.

And it says that: Wikipedia is a place to learn, free from bias or agenda… Show the world that access to independent and unbiased information matters to you." — The Wikimedia Foundation

How does Wikipedia provide this “independent and unbiased” information?

Wikimedia, the foundation that hosts Wikipedia, allows anonymous individuals whose identity it does not know — and whose expertise or agenda it has not vetted — to create its content.

Some of these anonymous editors are relentless about creating negative perceptions of certain individuals and entities — and they are experts at it, rendering their subjects powerless to correct false or slanted information.

This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and widely discussed. But is it? Not that I can see. I searched Google to see how much this has come out in major media.

I found a 2021 article in The Washington Post, written by Samuel Baltz, “a PhD candidate in political science and scientific computing and an MS student in applied mathematics at the University of Michigan.” He asserted:

Wikipedia is one of the few socially driven websites where, even though anyone can contribute information about breaking news, misinformation is largely suppressed. And Wikipedia’s coverage of current events often directs attention to its pages about ideas in political science, giving readers context for the news…

Wikipedia has developed an impressive record of political and ideological neutrality.

He then goes on to state that it “has serious biases in its coverage.” But what strikes me is that those biases are in the interests of the establishment media like The Washington Post. And, like the fox in the hen house, those media serve as the actual arbiters for whether information on Wikipedia should be trusted.

ny times logoNew York Times, Big Tech Discovers Austerity, to the Relief of Investors, Tripp Mickle, Karen Weise and Nico Grant, Feb. 2, 2023. After years of expansion and billions in profits, major tech companies are pulling back from their famously lavish spending as a long boom finally ends.

For much of last year, tech companies stumbled. Digital ad sales plunged. E-commerce sputtered. IPhone production stalled. And investors microsoft logo Customlost faith.

apple logo rainbowIt was the worst year that the tech industry had experienced on Wall Street since the financial crisis of 2008. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Meta lost a combined $3.9 trillion in market value.

ny times logoNew York Times, Meta recorded its biggest daily market gain in nearly a decade, adding nearly $100 billion in value, Isabella Simonetti and Mike Isaac, Feb. 2, 2023. Mark Zuckerberg’s company recorded its biggest daily market gain in nearly a decade, as the mood brightens among tech investors.

meta logoMeta’s stock surged on Thursday after the company reported better-than-expected earnings, said it would buy back billions of dollars in its stock, and overcame a court challenge to its ambitions in the so-called metaverse.

Shares of the tech giant, the owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, climbed more than 23 percent, its biggest daily gain in nearly 10 years. And it was a huge move for a company its size, adding nearly $100 billion in market value in a single day, or about as much as Citigroup’s entire market capitalization.

facebook logoAfter ending last year with a loss of more than 60 percent, Meta’s stock is up more than 50 percent this year, as the mood among tech investors has brightened. The Nasdaq Composite, an index that includes many tech companies, including Meta, has risen nearly 20 percent this year.


james gordon meek abc logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Former ABC News journalist charged in child porn case, Salvador Rizzo, Feb. 2, 2023 (print ed.). Federal prosecutors in Virginia have charged a former national security journalist for ABC News with a child pornography offense.

James Gordon Meek, shown above and below right in a related story, a producer who covered terrorism and major crimes for the network, was charged with one count of transporting child pornography. The FBI said in a court filing unsealed Tuesday that agents searched Meek’s apartment in Arlington last year and found explicit images and videos of minors on his electronic devices.

Meek’s last report for ABC News was published April 2022, days before the FBI searched his apartment. He resigned the same month, according to the network.

A forensic review of an iPhone found in Meek’s apartment showed that the phone’s user and another person on the messaging application Kik exchanged videos of minors being sexually abused, the FBI said in the filing. An external hard drive found in Meek’s kitchen also contained images of minors being sexually abused, the FBI said.

Mother Jones Magazine, Columbia Journalism Review’s Big Fail: It Published 24,000 Words on Russiagate and Missed the Point, David Corn, david cornright, (Washington, DC, Bureau Chief of the non-profit magazine and webzine Mother Jones), Feb. 2, 2023. The magazine’s attempted takedown of the media’s coverage bolsters Trump’s phony narrative.

Misdirection, an essential tool for magicians, is not usually a component of media criticism. But in a lengthy critique of the coverage of the Trump-Russia scandal published this week by the Columbia Journalism Review, veteran investigative reporter Jeff Gerth deflects attention from the core components of Russiagate, mirroring Donald Trump’s own efforts of the past six years to escape accountability for his profound betrayal of the nation.

Though Gerth’s target is media outlets, particularly the New York Times (where he worked for 29 years), Gerth ends up bolstering Trump’s phony narrative that there was no Russia scandal, just merely a hoax whipped up by reckless reporters and Trump’s enemies in the press, with the assistance of the Deep State.

In a massive 24,000-word, four-part article, Gerth dissects how the Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and other news organizations during the 2016 election and afterward reported on Trump’s and his campaign’s interactions with Russia. (He briefly references, without criticism, the story I published that first revealed the existence of the dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and that reported that the FBI was investigating its allegations.) Gerth does probe genuine errors committed by his former employer and others. The Times, for instance, reported shortly before the 2016 election that the FBI’s investigation had found no link between Trump and Russia, when the bureau had barely begun its inquiry and had reached no final conclusions. And after the election, the Times produced a report in early 2017 that seemingly went too far in the opposite direction when it reported that US intelligence had evidence that “Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.” (Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, we later learned, had been huddling with a suspected Russian intelligence official during the campaign, but FBI officials handling the Russian investigation at the time saw this Times article as going too far.)

Ultimately Gerth does a disservice by failing to cast Russiagate accurately. Putin’s attack succeeded, with help from Trump and his crew. That has always been the big story.

Gerth finds plenty of ammo for his assault on the media. But here’s where he goes wrong: He misrepresents the scandal that is the subject of the media coverage he is scrutinizing. He defines the Trump-Russia affair by only two elements of the tale: the question of Trump collusion with Moscow and the unconfirmed Steele dossier. This is exactly how Trump and his lieutenants want the scandal to be perceived. From the start, Trump has proclaimed “no collusion,” setting that as the bar for judging him. That is, no evidence of criminal collusion, and he’s scot-free. And he and his defenders have fixated on the Steele dossier—often falsely claiming it triggered the FBI’s investigation—to portray Trump as the victim of untrue allegations and “fake news.” Gerth essentially accepts these terms of the debate.

Yet the focus on collusion and the Steele material has been a purposeful distraction meant to obscure the basics of the scandal: Vladimir Putin attacked the 2016 election in part to help Trump win, and Trump and his aides aided and abetted this assault on American democracy by denying such an attack was happening. Trump provided cover for a foreign adversary subverting a US election. Throughout the thousands and thousands of words Gerth generates, he downplays or ignores these fundamentals and how the media in 2016 covered them (which was shoddily). Instead, he zeroes in on the reporting related to collusion and Steele. In doing so, he offers an examination predicated on a skewed view of reality.

Gerth sets off a worrying signal in the fifth paragraph of this opus, when he writes that there was “an undeclared war between an entrenched media, and a new kind of disruptive presidency, with its own hyperbolic version of the truth.” Hyperbolic version of the truth? What does that mean? Gerth does acknowledge that the Washington Post “has tracked thousands of Trump’s false or misleading statements,” but to cast Trump’s lies as “hyperbolic” truth—as if there are two morally equivalent sides here—indicates this analysis is not going to fare well. (Trump, of course, lied repeatedly about his doings in Russia.)

Throughout the four parts, Gerth lowballs the Russian attack on the election and Trump’s assistance. He quotes academic studies that conclude the secret Russian campaign to exploit social media—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube—to influence the election did not have a significant measurable impact. Yet he barely mentions the Russian hacking operation that led to WikiLeaks releasing daily derogatory material about Hillary Clinton in the final month of the campaign—including a trove of stolen documents dumped on the day the Washington Post revealed Trump’s Access Hollywood comments. (That move appeared to be a naked attempt to distract from Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” remark.) This is where Moscow undoubtedly got its biggest bang, producing weeks of negative stories that prevented the Clinton campaign from advancing its own messaging. The American political press eagerly lapped up these tidbits without highlighting the larger story that the scoops were the results of Russian information warfare mounted to shape the election. In a race as close as 2016, those weeks of bad press were likely one of several decisive factors that determined the outcome.

And Gerth does not acknowledge how Trump and his campaign assisted Moscow’s attack. He writes that “Clinton and her campaign would secretly sponsor and promote an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that there was a secret alliance between Trump and Russia,” suggesting the media assisted this underhanded plot. But, in a sense, there was a secret alliance. At least, in a wink-and-a-nod fashion. In June 2016—after Trump for months on the campaign trail had defended or spoken highly of Putin—his top advisers (Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Manafort) met in Trump Tower with a Russian emissary who, they were told, would deliver them dirt on Clinton. In the emails setting up this rendezvous, the Trump men were informed that this meeting was arising from a secret Kremlin effort to help Trump. (“I love it,” Trump Jr. emailed the business associate who helped broker this get-together.)

Gerth accurately notes that, as far as we know, the meeting yielded no solid opposition research on Clinton for the Trump campaign to use. He thus describes the meeting as a flop. But he misses the point: With this confab, Team Trump signaled to Moscow that it was willing to accept Putin’s covert assistance. It did not report to the FBI or anyone else that the Kremlin was aiming to intervene in the election. This may not have been collusion; it was complicity. (The New York Times admirably broke the news of this meeting a year later.)

The complicity got worse. The following month, as the Democratic convention was about to convene, WikiLeaks dumped thousands of documents and emails Russian hackers had pilfered from the servers of the Democratic National Committee. The hack had been publicly revealed weeks earlier, and cybersecurity experts had fingered the Russians as the culprits. At the convention, Clinton aides pushed the plausible contention that Moscow was doing this to help Trump. Gerth depicts this move as the campaign promoting “the Russian narrative to the media”—as if it was improper.

Yet he ignores what the Trump campaign did. Manafort and Trump Jr. denied Russia was behind this dirty trick. They insisted the Clinton camp was peddling a hoax. But these Trump advisers, who had attended the meeting with the Russian emissary, had been told Moscow wanted to clandestinely help Trump. They had no factual basis for their denials. Rather, more than most people, they had reason to believe the Russians were indeed behind this. Here was the Trump campaign aiding Putin by disseminating baseless information. Gerth, though, is concerned only with the Clinton campaign reaction. (He does note that Trump infamously called on Russia to hack Clinton to find the purportedly personal emails she had destroyed after leaving the State Department, but he characterizes this as a “playful” quip. He fails to mention the crucial fact that hours after Trump made that statement Russian hackers, according to special counsel Robert Mueller, did try to penetrate Clinton’s computers.)

Trump’s denials of the Russian attack, which continued through the 2016 campaign, were consequential. With the GOP presidential nominee declaring no such thing was occurring, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to join President Barack Obama in developing a robust and bipartisan response to Putin’s assault. Trump might not have been directly colluding with Putin, but he was running interference for him. This was a narrative the media largely missed, and now it escapes Gerth’s attention.

Throughout his long exegesis, Gerth downplays the interactions between the Trump gang and Russia. He does so regarding Trump’s secret effort through much of the 2016 campaign to strike a deal to develop a tower in Moscow that could bring him hundreds of millions of dollars. (A matter Trump lied about to the public.) And he does so regarding Manafort’s relationship with Konstantin Kilimnik, a onetime business associate based in Ukraine.

In 2020, the Senate Intelligence Committee, then chaired by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), released a bipartisan report that said that during the campaign Manafort “directly and indirectly communicated with Kilimnik (as well as Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and several pro-Russian oligarchs in Ukraine). The report characterized Kilimnik as a “Russian intelligence officer” and stated that he “likely served as a channel to Manafort for Russian intelligence services.” Manafort, according to the committee, “sought to secretly share internal Campaign information with Kilimnik.” But that wasn’t all. Kilimink pressed Manafort to secure Trump’s endorsement of a proposal that would hand Russia influence over a large swath of Eastern Ukraine. Andrew Weissmann, a prosecutor for Mueller’s investigation, later called this deal the “quo” that Putin wanted for the “quid” of helping Trump’s campaign. Gerth pays this no notice.

Ditto for another potentially explosive disclosure from the committee’s report. It revealed, “The Committee obtained some information suggesting Kilimnik may have been connected to the [Russian intelligence’s] hack and leak operation targeting the 2016 U.S. election.” And the report noted that the committee found “two pieces of information” that “raise the possibility” that Manafort himself was tied “to the hack-and-leak operations.” The report’s discussion of that information was redacted. Whether or not this was confirmation of collusion, it was a big deal: Trump’s campaign chair and his Russian intelligence friend possibly involved with Moscow’s attack on the United States. Yet Gerth neglects to mention the more eye-popping findings related to Kilimnik and Manafort.

Instead, he emphasizes that there has been no public information that proves the Senate panel’s assessment of Kilimnik or the Treasury Department’s subsequent statement in 2021 that Kilimnik was “a Russian and Ukrainian political consultant and known Russian Intelligence Services agent implementing influence operations on their behalf”—as if to dismiss this entire part of the story.

The Senate Intelligence Committee also affirmed that Trump had assisted Putin’s plot against America: “The Trump Campaign publicly undermined the attribution of the hack-and-leak campaign to Russia and was indifferent to whether it and WikiLeaks were furthering a Russian election interference effort.” This is another key point that Gerth does not address.

For Gerth, the whole Trump-Russia scandal is mainly just a mess, with the Times and other news outfits misreporting the Steele dossier and often overstating the case for collusion. He does score points on these fronts, and readers who care about media reliability will find much to ponder in this long takedown. But ultimately Gerth does a disservice by failing to cast Russiagate accurately. Putin’s attack succeeded, with help from Trump and his crew. That has always been the big story. The media did miss much of that or got it wrong, especially during the 2016 campaign. Gerth fails by ignoring that failure.

His ultimate hot-take is that this supposed media failure on the Russia investigation triggered Trump’s attack on journalists (“enemy of the people!”) and widespread public distrust in news organizations. Yet the loss of trust in the media is nothing new. It’s been declining steadily since 1978, long before reporters began pursuing Trump and Russia stores. And the Pew Research Center notes that trust in national news organizations has precipitously dropped among Republicans since 2016, not all Americans.

What’s worse is that Gerth ties this questionable conclusion to Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election. He writes:

After the [2020] election, Trump refused to acknowledge the results, seeing them as the latest chapter in the “hoax,” or “witch hunt,” that began with Russia… As Trump became more isolated and undeterred by court rulings and news accounts that shot down his claims the election was rigged, he listened to people who, like him, had been caught up in the Russia inquiry. One was Giuliani and another was Flynn.

Gerth seems to be suggesting that the Times and other media helped create the monster that tried to annihilate the constitutional order.

If the goal of media criticism is to ensure that journalists convey an accurate picture of reality to news consumers, Gerth falls far short of that mark. His version of Russiagate echoes Trump’s distorted narrative and lets the man who assisted an attack on the United States off the hook. Trump may have been the victim of occasionally errant reporting. But he was no victim of a hoax or an off-the-rails media witch hunt. He helped an adversary sabotage an American election. The true media failure is that Trump got away with it and that articles like this one that you are now reading are still necessary.

david corn newDavid Corn, right, is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief and an on-air analyst for MSNBC. He is the co-author (with Michael Isikoff) of "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump." He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, "Showdown, "Hubris" (with Isikoff), and "The Lies of George W. Bush," as well as the e-book, "47 Percent: Uncovering the Romney Video that Rocked the 2012 Election." 

Feb. 1

Rolling Stone, Feds Charge Former ABC News Producer With Transportation of Child Pornography, Adam Ramsley, Feb. 1, 2023. Federal prosecutors have charged former ABC News producer James Gordon Meek, right, with transportation of child pornography, according to a criminal james gordon meekcomplaint filed in Eastern Virginia on Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors say their investigation into Meek first began after the cloud storage company Dropbox tipped off the National Center for rolling stone logoMissing and Exploited Children about the presence of five suspected videos of child sexual exploitation material in a Dropbox account, according to the complaint. A subsequent investigation of the tip allegedly confirmed the videos depicted child pornography and were linked to Meek’s account. That triggered an investigation which allegedly found Meek posing as a minor to solicit pornographic images of children.

After federal agents raided Meek’s home, prosecutors say they found a trove of pornographic images on the producer’s iPhone 8, iPhone 6, an external hard drive, and laptop depicting the abuse of children as young as a toddler.

When FBI agents examined Meek’s iPhone 8, they allegedly found messages he exchanged with another alleged pedophile with whom Meek traded child pornography. In the messages, Meek appeared to confess to having previously abused children. “Have you ever raped a toddler girl? It’s amazing,” he allegedly wrote in one exchange.

Meek was a well-known figure in national security circles, both as an Emmy-winning journalist and a former counterterrorism adviser and investigator for the House Homeland Security Committee. He was coming off of a well-received documentary about special forces skirmish in Niger, and finishing up a book with a former Green Beret on the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Then he abruptly resigned from ABC News on April 27, the same day as the raid. And his name suddenly disappeared from the promotional materials for the book.

In addition to trading child sexual abuse material with other enthusiasts, Meek allegedly approached children on Snapchat using the handle “hoolijax” in order to solicit pornographic material.



Jan. 31


Ralph Nader stands in front of a Chevrolet Corvair in The American Museum of Tort Law, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Winsted, Conn. (AP Photo by Jessica Hill.)

Ralph Nader stands in front of a Chevrolet Corvair in The American Museum of Tort Law, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Winsted, Conn. (AP Photo by Jessica Hill.)

Poynter Institute, Why Ralph Nader is launching a print newspaper, Greg Burns, Jan. 31, 2023. Beginning with his hometown in northwest Connecticut, the 88-year-old consumer advocate is determined to do something about the news desert crisis. This article was originally published on Northwestern University’s Medill Local News Initiative website and is republished here with permission. Note to Readers: Justice Integrity Project Editor Andrew Kreig, a former reporter for the Hartford Courant from 1970 to 1984, has joined the editorial advisory board of the new Winsted-based newspaper.

Ralph Nader is starting a newspaper. Yes, that Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate, former presidential candidate and scourge of corporate interests.

At age 88, Nader is still going strong and, beginning with his hometown in northwest Connecticut, he’s determined to do something about the “news desert” crisis in local journalism.

The Winsted Citizen is launching its inaugural edition this week, and, in some ways, it is following a familiar playbook. It is forming a 501(c)3 nonprofit, enabling it to collect tax-deductible donations in addition to subscription and advertising revenue. Nader expects each pillar of the business model to contribute about one-third of revenues once the paper gets going — a business plan not out of the ordinary among startup local news publications.

Also, like other media entrepreneurs, Nader is drawing on the pool of journalists who left traditional news outlets as job prospects fizzled. His well-connected editor and publisher, Andy Thibault, who served for decades as an editor at local publications in Connecticut, has lined up a roster of eager contributors for the Nader-backed venture. Together, Thibault and his colleagues have rallied support and laid plans for ambitious local stories befitting a highly experienced newsroom.

That’s about where the conventional part of The Winsted Citizen game plan comes to an end. No surprise to anyone familiar with Nader’s storied past, a Nader newspaper is going to do things differently, and with plenty of attitude.

For starters, the new paper will be a “paper” paper, printed and delivered by mail and carrier to subscribers, and available for single-copy sales at local advertisers. If Nader has his way, the website will be a sideshow to the printed main event, as he believes digital publications fail to engage readers because they’re too cluttered and abbreviated. Plus, he said, the “real decisionmakers” get their news in print.

After initially announcing that The Winsted Citizen would begin with a single, inaugural edition and then continue as a weekly publication only if local support materialized, a Plan B has emerged. The Citizen will publish at least 11 editions over the course of 2023, on an approximately monthly basis, which represents a compromise. This way, it won’t be one-and-done — a worst-case scenario from Thibault’s point of view — while at the same time it will be keeping expectations realistic for staffers who already know they won’t get rich from the project even if it succeeds.

Nader puts up $15K for the first edition

Billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong have written huge checks to fund their newspaper holdings. Stewart Bainum Jr., a hotel magnate and civic leader, has pledged to raise or contribute $50 million over four years to fund the Baltimore Banner, an online local news startup in Maryland. Nader, meantime, said he has chipped in $15,000 to get the first issue of The Winsted Citizen out the door.

Once he’s launched it, Nader said, the community will come through. He’s counting on it, and he’s dismissive of those who claim a newly minted print newspaper in a small, economically challenged town can’t possibly succeed without a Daddy Warbucks donor.

“Anyone who says a community anywhere in the U.S. cannot support a newspaper is unimaginative,” Nader said in an interview. “Let’s face it, most weeklies are dull and routine. They do very little investigation. There is a total lack of imagination.”

Without a content-rich local newspaper, Nader said, communities decline. “There is less voter turnout, less people turning out for town meetings. If you don’t have a newspaper, you don’t have the community connections that are almost too numerous to mention coming out of every edition. A few websites or blogs don’t cut it.”

Nader grew up in a Winsted served by a six-days-a-week paper packed with foreign, national and local news, he said. The local evening newspaper that Nader delivered as a young paperboy shut down years ago, and other Winsted-based community-news outlets also folded over the years. As of now, Nader states unequivocally, the town of 7,100 is a news desert where citizens are deprived of access to local coverage.

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Definitely.”

That assertion has drawn objections from other local publications in Connecticut, which generally welcome Nader’s effort to expand news coverage while contesting the idea that local journalists have ignored his hometown.

On a recent visit to Winsted, the local Stop & Shop supermarket was stocked with seven print newspapers. That included current print editions of the Waterbury, Connecticut-based Republican-American and the Lakeville Journal of nearby Lakeville, Connecticut, as well as The Hartford Courant, USA Today and the robust daily newspapers of New York City, which is about a two-hour drive away. The Torrington Register-Citizen regularly covers Winsted as well.

In an early interview about launching The Citizen, Nader asserted that Winsted residents had no way to track the town budget without personally attending public meetings, because there was nowhere to read about it. In fact, the Republican-American reporter covering Winsted and surrounding towns wrote a string of budget-related stories, and the Torrington paper also kept tabs on Winsted’s local government.

Winsted is a pretty good news town. Over the past decade, its finance director was convicted of embezzling public funds, the state took over its chronically underfunded school system and a lack of maintenance led to dangerous problems with aging infrastructure, including a well-traveled bridge. None of those stories went unreported.

As in other traditional New England mill towns, the economic base has eroded but civic pride and personality endure.

Winsted is home to the American Mural Project, an arts organization that houses what it describes as the world’s largest indoor collaborative artwork. It’s also the site of the Nader-backed American Museum of Tort Law, which celebrates the transformative power of lawsuits and displays a vintage Chevrolet Corvair, a car Nader famously pronounced “unsafe at any speed” in the 1960s.

Reuniting a community

Jennifer Almquist, a contributor to The Winsted Citizen and resident of a nearby town, said the newspaper’s launch has helped to rally a community still beaten down by the pandemic.

“To try and re-establish the community after three years of COVID is on everyone’s mind,” said Almquist, a photographer and former art gallery owner. “We lost our community, in my view.”

 Greg Burns served as Editorial Board member, columnist and business editor at the Chicago Tribune and as a reporter for BusinessWeek magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Bloomberg News, Trump Sues Journalist Bob Woodward for Releasing Interview Recordings, Mario Parker and Zoe Tillman, Jan. 30, 2023. Suit seeks $49 million in damages, alleges copyright violation. Trump has a track record of suing reporters and news outlets.

Former President Donald Trump is suing journalist Bob Woodward for releasing recordings of interviews that he gave to the journalist in 2019 and 2020, claiming he never agreed to those tapes being shared with the public.

National Press Club Press Release, Club Urges India’s Government to Rescind Ban on BBC Documentary, Bill McCarren (Club Executive Director), Jan. 31, 2023. (JIP Editor Andrew Kreig serves on the Press Club's Press Freedom Committee.)

The Following is a statement from Eileen O'Reilly, president of the National Press Club, and Gil Klein, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, on the decision by the government of India to censor the airing of a BBC news documentary probing the role national  press club logoPrime Minister Narendra Modi may have played in the 2002 Gujarat riots:

“India should be proud that it is the largest democracy in the world, but it cannot hold on to that identity if it continues to erode press freedom, persecute journalists, and suppress news that holds a mirror up to its shortcomings. Since Modi came to power, we have watched with frustration and disappointment as his government — time and time again — has suppressed the right of its citizens to a free and independent news media.”

bbc news logo2“We strongly urge the government of India to rescind its ban on the BBC documentary and to allow the citizens of India to decide for themselves whether they agree or disagree with its findings. The BBC is one of the most respected news sources in the world and is known for its high editorial standards. We also demand in the strongest terms the government stop its persecution of journalists and suppression of press freedom in India.”

india flag mapAfter the BBC aired a two-part documentary entitled "India: The Modi Question" on Jan. 17, the Indian government used its emergency powers to ban it from being aired in the country. Modi’s government also forced Twitter and YouTube to block the documentary in India under an unjust 2021 information technology law, which the National Press Club has previously criticized.

The BBC documentary examines Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots when he was chief minister of the western Indian state. During the riots, thousands of predominantly Muslim Indians were killed, many were raped, and Muslim establishments were set on fire. The Indian Supreme Court exonerated Modi in 2012 of wrongdoing, but the documentary notes the British Foreign Office produced an unpublished report claiming Modi was “directly responsible” for enabling the impunity of violence that led to the killings.

Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. The Club has 3,000 members representing nearly every major news organization and is a leading voice for press freedom in the U.S. and worldwide.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute promotes an engaged, global citizenry through an independent and free press and equips journalists with the skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire a more representative democracy. The NPCJI is the nonprofit affiliate of the National Press Club.

Fox News, Liberal Columbia Journalism Review offers scathing indictment of New York Times' Russiagate coverage, Joseph A. Wulfsohn and Brian Flood with commentator Jonathan Turley on stunning developments in Durham probe, Jan. 31, 2023. NY Times, Washington Post, CNN fox news logo Smallspearheaded much of the Trump-Russia collusion narrative. Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley weighs in after learning the FBI hired informant with ties to debunked dossier on 'Special Report.'

The liberal media watchdog the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) published a wide-ranging retrospective of the media's Russiagate coverage that examined several news organizations and their various roles throughout the Trump-Russia saga, leveling the most criticism toward The New York Times.

"No narrative did more to shape Trump’s relations with the press than Russiagate. The story, which included the Steele dossier and the Mueller report among other totemic moments, resulted in Pulitzer Prizes as well as embarrassing retractions and damaged careers," CJR executive editor Kyle Pope wrote in an editor's note.

columbia journalism review logoPope explained that the CJR spent the past 18 months "examining the American media’s coverage of Trump and Russia in granular detail" to determine what it means as Americans inch closer to the 2024 election.

The findings were published in a lengthy, four-part series. The first section begins with a story about then-New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet’s reaction when he found out Special Counsel Robert Mueller didn’t plan to pursue Trump’s ousting, telling his staff "Holy s---, Bob Mueller is not going to do it."

"Baquet, speaking to his colleagues in a town hall meeting soon after the testimony concluded, acknowledged the Times had been caught ‘a little tiny bit flat-footed’ by the outcome of Mueller’s investigation," wrote Jeff Gerth, the investigative reporter who authored the lengthy CJR retrospective.

"That would prove to be more than an understatement," Gerth continued. "But neither Baquet nor his successor, nor any of the paper’s reporters, would offer anything like a postmortem of the paper’s Trump-Russia saga, unlike the examination the Times did of its coverage before the Iraq War."

Gerth believes the Times damaged its credibility outside its "own bubble" and that even famed journalist Bob Woodward told him coverage of the Russia probe "wasn’t handled well."
The New York Times was skewered by the liberal media watchdog the Columbia Journalism Review over its coverage of Russiagate.

The examination of the Times' questionable coverage began even before Trump was elected into office, highlighting a report from August 2016 claiming Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort allegedly accepted $13 million in cash payments from pro-Russia entities in Ukraine. While he didn't deny the ballpark figure he received, Manafort insisted "the cash angle was clearly wrong." But as Gerth noted, the Times "won a Pulitzer Prize for the work on Manafort."

The Times appeared to go 180 in its coverage. As Gerth noted, it ran the headline, "Investigating Donald Trump, FBI Sees No Clear Link to Russia," in October 2016, pertaining to the conspiracy of secret communications between the Trump Organization and the Kremlin-linked Alfa Bank. But in January 2017, just days before Trump's inauguration, it ran, "Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry into Trump Associates."

Gerth wrote that story "evoked a strong reaction from [Peter] Strzok, who was leading the FBI inquiry: ‘no substance and largely wrong,’ he texted, adding ‘the press is going to undermine its credibility.’"

The paper's coverage escalated, as laid out in part two of CJR's retrospective, with a report published in February 2017 headlined, "Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence," noting Baquet personally signed off with running it, calling it the "biggest story in years."


Despite Baquet's expressed desire for details to be included in the report and to point out whether contacts were considered "innocent" or "sinister," the published details were vague and few. Noted Gerth, "The piece did contain a disclaimer up high, noting that their sources, 'so far,' had seen ‘no evidence’ of the Trump campaign colluding with the Russians," adding "But in the next paragraph it reported anonymous officials being 'alarmed' about the supposed Russian-Trump contacts because they occurred while Trump made his comments in Florida in July 2016 wondering whether Russia could find Hillary’s missing emails."

"The story said ‘the FBI declined to comment.’ In fact, the FBI was quickly ripping the piece to shreds, in a series of annotated comments by Strzok, who managed the Russia case," Gerth wrote. "His analysis, prepared for his bosses, found numerous inaccuracies, including a categorical refutation of the lead and headline; 'we are unaware,' Strzok wrote, ‘of ANY Trump advisers engaging in conversations with Russian intelligence officials.’ Comey immediately checked with other intelligence agencies to see if they had any such evidence, came up empty, and relayed his findings to a closed Senate briefing, according to testimony at a Senate hearing months later."
Dean Baquet, who served as the New York Times executive editor during the Russiagate saga, was floored by the lackluster conclusion of the Mueller probe.

Dean Baquet, who served as the New York Times executive editor during the Russiagate saga, was floored by the lackluster conclusion of the Mueller probe. (Mario Tama/Getty Images | Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

The Times appeared to legitimize Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy who authored the infamous dossier, claiming he had "a credible track record" while Steele's so-called "primary" source was telling the FBI that Steele "misstated or exaggerated" in his report and that information stemming from Russia was "rumor and speculation."

Part three offered examples of the Times' slight-of-hand coverage against Trump in comparison to other hostile outlets. For example, Trump explained his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, mentioning the "Russia thing" as being a "made-up story" to NBC's Lester Holt but acknowledged the firing would likely "lengthen out the investigation."

"The media focused on the ‘Russia thing’ quote; the New York Times did five stories over the next week citing the 'Russia thing' remarks but leaving out the fuller context. The Post and CNN, by comparison, included additional language in their first-day story," Gerth wrote.


In another instance, the Times avoided covering some of the more damning texts from Peter Strzok, who wrote "there’s no big there, there" shortly after the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, something Gerth noted was covered by the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

While one former Times reporter admitted to Gerth "We should have run it," a spokesperson for the Times told him it reported on the Russiagate saga "thoroughly and in line with our editorial standards."

Gerth also highlighted how the Times was the first to report on the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, which fueled the collusion narrative even further despite that meeting being a "flop." And how the Times reported that then-White House Counsel Donald McGahn threatened to resign after Trump "order" Mueller's firing, but McGahn never told Trump he was considering resigning.

He then went into the Times' favoritism towards Democrats versus Republicans, describing a House GOP memo spearheaded by Devin Nunes about alleged FBI abuses in the FISA surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page "politically charged" that "outraged Democrats" while omitting the claim that the Steele dossier was "essential" to the warrant. But then while reporting the Democrats' own memo, the Times called it a "forceful rebuttal" to Trump's complaints of the investigation.
Former President Donald Trump repeatedly attacked The New York Times and other media outlets for their coverage of the Russia investigation.

Former President Donald Trump repeatedly attacked The New York Times and other media outlets for their coverage of the Russia investigation. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Part four included an additional instance of the Times' bias by omission in its coverage of Trump's 2018 Helsinki press conference alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump was asked whether U.S. intelligence or Putin should be believed when it comes to 2016 election meddling. Trump responded by saying "I don’t see any reason why it would be" Russia that was responsible but added he had "great confidence in my intelligence people."

"The first remark received all the attention. Some outlets, like the Times, didn’t include his comments about ‘great confidence’ in US intelligence in their stories, while others, such as the Post, did," Gerth wrote.

Gerth detailed the Times' narrative about Russia's interference in the 2016 election despite intelligence officials assessing in January 2017 that "the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election" couldn't be measured.

"The Times weighed in, at over ten thousand words in September, with its own verdict: ‘The Plot to Subvert an Election,’ the headline read. The first sentence described an obscure banner of Putin that unfurled on his birthday, a few weeks before the election, on a Manhattan bridge. The report quickly noted that the banner was promoted by a fake Twitter account that ultimately was traced back to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a privately owned troll operation in Russia," Gerth wrote. "This was part, the Times concluded in the fourth paragraph, of 'the most effective foreign interference in an American election in history.' To help buttress its sweeping conclusion, the Times wrote that the Facebook posts by the IRA had an 'eventual audience of 126 million Americans,' describing that as an ‘impressive’ reach that almost matched the numbers of voters in the election."


The "eventual audience of 126 million Americans" claim by the Times was called "bogus" by veteran journalist Gareth Porter since that figure was only a "potential audience," saying that and the paper's omission that Facebook users were exposed to 33 trillion news feeds during that time period "should vie in the annals of journalism as one of the most spectacularly misleading use of statistics of all time."

The retrospective also touched on the fallout of the Durham probe and how its findings crushed the credibility of the Steele dossier and the media's coverage of it as a result.

"It prompted the Washington Post to retract large chunks of a 2017 article in November 2021, and to follow with a long review of Steele’s sources and methods. The Wall Street Journal and CNN did similar looks back. The Times has offered no such retraction, though the paper and other news organizations were quick to highlight the lack of firsthand evidence for many of the dossier’s substantive allegations," Gerth wrote.

In his "afterword" section, Gerth concluded "the erosion of journalistic norms and the media’s own lack of transparency about its work" have fueled distrust in the media broadly and that reporting facts that "run counter to the prevailing narrative."

"In January 2018, for example, the New York Times ignored a publicly available document showing that the FBI’s lead investigator didn’t think, after ten months of inquiry into possible Trump-Russia ties, that there was much there. This omission disserved Times readers. The paper says its reporting was thorough and ‘in line with our editorial standards,'" Gerth, a former Times reporter, wrote. "Another axiom of journalism that was sometimes neglected in the Trump-Russia coverage was the failure to seek and reflect comment from people who are the subject of serious criticism. The Times guidelines call it a 'special obligation.' Yet in stories by the Times involving such disparate figures as Joseph Mifsud (the Maltese academic who supposedly started the whole FBI inquiry), Christopher Steele (the former British spy who authored the dossier), and Konstantin Kilimnik (the consultant cited by some as the best evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump), the paper’s reporters failed to include comment from the person being criticized."

He also took aim at the Times' frequent reliance on vague anonymous sources throughout its Russiagate coverage, particularly the catchphrase "people (or person) familiar with" the matter.

"The Times used it over a thousand times in stories involving Trump and Russia between October 2016 and the end of his presidency, according to a Nexis search," Gerth wrote. "The last executive editor I worked for, Bill Keller, frowned on its use. He told the staff repeatedly the phrase was ‘so vague it could even mean the reporter.’ The Times, in a statement to CJR, said, 'We have strong rules in place governing the use of anonymous sources."

The New York Times did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.

Joseph A. Wulfsohn is a media reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and on Twitter: @JosephWulfsohn.

Jan. 30


columbia journalism review logo

Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), Looking Back on the coverage of Trump (four-part-series), Jeff Gerth with introduction by CJR Editor and jeff gerth imdbPublisher Kyle Pope. Jan. 30, 2023. Jeff Gerth, right, spent three decades at the New York Times, much of it as an investigative reporter, before other journalism efforts beginning in 2005. Disclosures of relationships by him and Kyle Pope with figures in this series are provided at bottom.

By Jeff Gerth, Jan. 30, 2023:

Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), Editor's Note: Looking back on the coverage of Trump, Kyle Pope, right, CJR Editor (and former editor-in-chief of the New York Observer, then owned by Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner), Jan. 30, 2023.

Seven and a kyle popehalf years ago, journalism began a tortured dance with Donald Trump, the man who would be the country’s forty-fifth president—first dismissing him, then embracing him as a source of ratings and clicks, then going all in on efforts to catalogue Trump as a threat to the country (also a great source of ratings and clicks).

No narrative did more to shape Trump’s relations with the press than Russiagate. The story, which included the Steele dossier and the Mueller report among other totemic moments, resulted in Pulitzer Prizes as well as embarrassing retractions and damaged careers. For Trump, the press’s pursuit of the Russia story convinced him that any sort of normal relationship with the press was impossible.

For the past year and a half, CJR has been examining the American media’s coverage of Trump and Russia in granular detail, and what it means as the country enters a new political cycle. Investigative reporter Jeff Gerth interviewed dozens of people at the center of the story—editors and reporters, Trump himself, and others in his orbit.

The result is an encyclopedic look at one of the most consequential moments in American media history. Gerth’s findings aren’t always flattering, either for the press or for Trump and his team. Doubtless they’ll be debated and maybe even used as ammunition in the ongoing media war being waged in the country. But they are important, and worthy of deep reflection as the campaign for the presidency is about, once again, to begin.

Kyle Pope is editor and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review – an essential publication for journalists, and respected watchdog of the press. Starting out as an editor at The Wall Street Journal, Kyle then moved to The New York Observer as editor-in-chief, joining CJR in 2016. In this in-depth interview, he recalls his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, where he argued that Congress had “failed to stand up for press freedom” whilst “under attack” from President Trump; shares his perspective on the role Covid-19 has played in reinforcing the need for a local press – as “granular information became a matter of life or death;” and questions whether it’s possible for a Biden White House to normalise relations with the media, noting the damage caused by Trump may well be “irrecoverable.”

Part One Top Excerpt: 

jeff gerth imdbColumbia Journalism Review (CJR), The press versus the president, Part One, Jeff Gerth, Jan. 30, 2023. INTRODUCTION: ‘I realized early on I had two jobs.’

The end of the long inquiry into whether Donald Trump was colluding with Russia came in July 2019, when Robert Mueller III, the special counsel, took seven, sometimes painful, hours to essentially say no.

“Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it,” is how Dean Baquet, then the executive editor of the New York Times, described the moment his paper’s readers realized Mueller was not going to pursue Trump’s ouster.

Baquet, speaking to his colleagues in a town hall meeting soon after the testimony concluded, acknowledged the Times had been caught “a little tiny bit flat-footed” by the outcome of Mueller’s investigation.

That would prove to be more than an understatement. But neither Baquet nor his successor, nor any of the paper’s reporters, would offer anything like a postmortem of the paper’s Trump-Russia saga, unlike the examination the Times did of its coverage before the Iraq War.

In fact, Baquet added, “I think we covered that story better than anyone else” and had the prizes to prove it, according to a tape of the event published by Slate. In a statement to CJR, the Times continued to stand by its reporting, noting not only the prizes it had won but substantiation of the paper’s reporting by various investigations. The paper “thoroughly pursued credible claims, fact-checked, edited, and ultimately produced ground-breaking journalism that has proven true time and again,” the statement said.

But outside of the Times’ own bubble, the damage to the credibility of the Times and its peers persists, three years on, and is likely to take on new energy as the nation faces yet another election season animated by antagonism toward the press. At its root was an undeclared war between an entrenched media, and a new kind of disruptive presidency, with its own hyperbolic version of the truth. (The Washington Post has tracked thousands of Trump’s false or misleading statements.) At times, Trump seemed almost to be toying with the press, offering spontaneous answers to questions about Russia that seemed to point to darker narratives. When those storylines were authoritatively undercut, the follow-ups were downplayed or ignored.

Jan. 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Musk says he met McCarthy and Jeffries to ensure Twitter is ‘fair,’ Adela Suliman and Cat Zakrzewski, Jan. 28, 2023 (print ed.). Jeffries staff suggests his meeting with Musk was a chance encounter.

elon musk 2015Twitter owner Elon Musk, right, met Thursday with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Capitol Hill, as his chaotic takeover of the social network stokes a years-long debate over how Washington should regulate the tech industry.

twitter bird CustomMusk tweeted that he also met with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)., but an aide to Jeffries told The Washington Post that the Democratic leader and Musk had only a coincidental encounter as the billionaire was leaving his meeting with McCarthy. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private exchange.

Few details were known about what was discussed during the meetings. In a Thursday night Tweet, Musk said that they talked about “ensuring that this platform is fair to both parties.” He was only briefly glimpsed by reporters on the Hill.

Musk’s efforts to overhaul Twitter have catapulted the company to the forefront of a heated, years-long debate over how social media giants moderate political speech. His visit to Capitol Hill comes as lawmakers from both parties have called for new laws to address tech companies’ growing grip on political discourse.

Yet despite a half decade of hearings and investigations focused on Silicon Valley tech giants, lawmakers largely remain at an impasse on how to regulate the industry. Republicans plan to use their control of the House to focus on allegations that tech companies are silencing their political views online, while Democrats argue the companies have done to little to stop the amplification of violence, extremism and hate.

Since taking over Twitter last fall, Musk has dismantled many of the key teams that focused on limiting the spread of violent content and misinformation on Twitter. He also has overturned the suspensions on many conservative accounts that violated Twitter’s rules under previous company leadership, including former president Donald Trump’s account, which was permanently banned in the wake of the violence at the Capitol.

Musk’s moves have largely been cheered by Republican politicians, who have accused tech companies for years of harboring a bias against conservatives. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have seized on the “Twitter Files,” leaked internal communications about how the company handled content moderation in the run-up to the 2020 election and the pandemic.

Jan. 27

Durham-Barr Scandal At Justice Dept.?

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How Barr’s Quest to Find Flaws in the Russia Inquiry Unraveled, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, Jan. 26, 2023. The review by John Durham, right, at one point veered into a criminal investigation related to Donald Trump himself, even as it john durham Customfailed to find wrongdoing in the origins of the Russia inquiry.

It became a regular litany of grievances from President Donald J. Trump and his supporters: The investigation into his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia was a witch hunt, they maintained, that had been opened without any solid basis, went on too long and found no proof of collusion.

donald trump for president button nice smileEgged on by Mr. Trump, Attorney General William P. Barr set out in 2019 to dig into their shared theory that the Russia investigation likely stemmed from a conspiracy by intelligence or law enforcement agencies. To lead the inquiry, Mr. Barr turned to a hard-nosed prosecutor named John H. Durham, and later granted him special counsel status to carry on after Mr. Trump left office.

But after almost four years — far longer than the Russia investigation itself — Mr. Durham’s work is coming to an end without uncovering anything like the deep state plot alleged by Mr. Trump and suspected by Mr. Barr.

Moreover, a monthslong review by The New York Times found that the main thrust of the Durham inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws — including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.

Interviews by The Times with more than a dozen current and former officials have revealed an array of previously unreported episodes that show how the Durham inquiry became roiled by internal dissent and ethical disputes as it went unsuccessfully down one path after another even as Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr promoted a misleading narrative of its progress.

Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump. The specifics of the tip and how they handled the investigation remain unclear, but Mr. Durham brought no charges over it.

Mr. Durham used Russian intelligence memos — suspected by other U.S. officials of containing disinformation — to gain access to emails of an aide to George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who is a favorite target of the American right and Russian state media. Mr. Durham used grand jury powers to keep pursuing the emails even after a judge twice rejected his request for access to them. The emails yielded no evidence that Mr. Durham has cited in any case he pursued.

There were deeper internal fractures on the Durham team than previously known. The publicly unexplained resignation in 2020 of his No. 2 and longtime aide, Nora R. Dannehy, was the culmination of a series of disputes between them over prosecutorial ethics. A year later, two more prosecutors strongly objected to plans to indict a lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign based on evidence they warned was too flimsy, and one left the team in protest of Mr. Durham’s decision to proceed anyway. (A jury swiftly acquitted the lawyer.)

Now, as Mr. Durham works on a final report, the interviews by The Times provide new details of how he and Mr. Barr sought to recast the scrutiny of the 2016 Trump campaign’s myriad if murky links to Russia as unjustified and itself a crime.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: What did the Italians tell Barr and Durham about Donald Trump's criminal activity? Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Jan. 27, 2023.

In the fall of 2019, Attorney General William Barr and John Durham, the Special Counsel assigned by Barr to investigate the FBI for wrongly investigating Donald Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign for ties to Russia, flew to Italy to pressure law enforcement there to fess up that they were involved with the FBI in what was falsely called by Trump the "Russia hoax."

wayne madesen report logoInstead of getting the goods on the FBI -- whose top counterintelligence agent in New York at the time was in bed with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska --Italian law enforcement provided Barr and Durham with information that Trump was involved in a major criminal matter, including suspicious financial dealings. Barr assigned Durham, a pro-Trump shill, to investigate the matter, granting him, for the first time, criminal prosecution authority. Not only did Durham not find any evidence of a "Russia hoax" involving the FBI logoDemocratic Party, 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, or George Soros -- all of whom Durham had under investigation -- but the criminal matter conveyed by the Italians was never acted upon.

WMR had reported on a serious criminal matter involving the car bombing assassination of Maltese journalist  Daphne Caruana Galizia, right, on October 16, 2017 and its possible ties to Trump. Italian intelligence and law enforcement have kept a close eye on Malta daphne caruana galizia croppedever since the 1970s, when the island country developed close ties with the Soviet Union and Libya. Although Malta is now a member of the European Union, the Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza (Financial Guard), as well as the Agenzia Informazioni e Sicurezza Esterna (AISE) foreign intelligence service maintain a close eye on Malta, which has become a haven for offshore banking, corporate brass plates, and Russian and other foreign residents who have purchased Maltese passports and established residency in the twin island nation.

Caruana Galizia was assassinated after she had implicated Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his wife, and top aides in a scandal partly exposed by the release of the Panama Papers. The scandal led directly from Malta to Azerbaijan and, ultimately, to the Trump Organization in New York.

Caruana Galizia was well-aware of Trump's connections to international wealth and political and financial power brokers. During the 2016 presidential campaign, she wrote on her website, "You can't get more establishment than billionaire Donald Trump, scion of an extremely wealthy WASP family. So the real problem is stupidity and malice. But then it always was."

And, as she found out a year later, you can't get more corrupt and murderous than Donald Trump. Whatever the Italians passed on to Barr and Durham about Trump, America's "Mr. Magoo" Attorney General, Merrick Garland, has a duty and an obligation to the American people to make that information public without delay.

truth social logo

ny times logoNew York Times, On Trump’s Social Network: Ads for Miracle Cures, Scams and Fake Merchandise, Stuart A. Thompson (Stuart Thompson used a program to collect and analyze hundreds of ads that ran on Truth Social over the past several months), Jan. 27, 2023. Truth Social, the social network started by former President Trump, has struggled to attract large brands.

Between posts about conspiracy theories and right-wing grievances was an unusual advertisement: a photo of former President Donald J. Trump holding a $1,000 bill made of gold, which he was apparently offering free to supporters.

But there were a few catches: The bill was not free, it was not made of gold, and it was not offered by Mr. Trump.

The ad appeared on Truth Social, the right-wing social network started by Mr. Trump in late 2021, one of many pitches from hucksters and fringe marketers dominating the ads on the site.

Ads from major brands are nonexistent on the site. Instead, the ads on Truth Social are for alternative medicine, diet pills, gun accessories and Trump-themed trinkets, according to an analysis of hundreds of ads on the social network by The New York Times.

The ads reflect the difficulty that several far-right platforms, including Rumble and Gab, have faced in courting large brands, preventing the sites from tapping into some of the world’s largest ad budgets. It could be particularly problematic for Truth Social. Although the site has gained influence among the far right, becoming a vibrant ecosystem brimming with activity, its business is in need of cash.

Truth Social raised about $37 million, mainly from Republican political donors, but it is burning through about $1.7 million each month, according to William Wilkinson, a former executive at Trump Media & Technology Group, the social network’s parent company. And two federal investigations have put about $1.3 billion of much-needed funding in jeopardy.

Devin Nunes, the chief executive of Trump Media, said in an announcement last year that the company’s ad strategy would help it “displace the Big Tech platforms” as a major way to reach Americans.

But ad experts say the wariness from prominent brands on far-right social networks, which have positioned themselves as free-speech alternatives to Silicon Valley giants like Meta and Google, is driven by the kinds of conspiracy theories and hyperpartisan politics often found on the sites.

In addition, they say, Truth Social has a relatively small user base and many older users, who are less desirable for the brands. Marketers have complained that Truth Social’s ad-serving technology, run by Rumble, a right-wing video streaming website, offers limited tools for tracking an ad’s performance or for showing ads to users based on their demographic profiles. Those tools, now standard among larger ad networks operated by Google and Meta, are vital for determining an ad’s success.

Politico, Facebook was a cash cow for Trump. It could end up being a ‘bronze goose,’ Zach Montellaro, Jan. 27, 2023. The platform has changed. And operatives in both parties aren’t convinced that Trump can dominate there again.

politico CustomFacebook was the financial engine of Donald Trump’s previous two runs for president. But for his third campaign for the White House, it might not be such a powerhouse.

Advertising on the social media giant has changed significantly since Trump was last on the platform. Republicans say investments in Facebook no longer translate to small-dollar donors as they once did. Campaigns are spending far less on advertising there. And while the facebook logoformer president has always been a unique draw for conservatives on Facebook, there are significant questions as to whether an out-of-office Trump still has the same pull that a President Trump did.

“We saw in the midterms how a lot of campaigns were shifting their money to streaming, because Facebook just was not giving them the return on value that they had seen in the past,” said Katie Harbath, a one-time senior Republican digital staffer who then spent a decade at Facebook, before leaving in early 2021.

Trump was suspended from Facebook for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 riot in early 2021. But the suspension wasn’t permanent and Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said earlier this week that it would be lifted soon.

“President Trump should have never been banned, so getting back on this platform allows the campaign access to that universe once again,” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement. “We are getting closer to the full spectrum of building out the operation and dominating at every level, which we have already been doing based on poll numbers.”

The platform Trump is rejoining, however, is different from the one from which he was exiled. And how his team manages those changes could go a long way in determining the success of his efforts for a second term as president.

For starters, Facebook placed notable restrictions on ad targeting for political clients at the beginning of last year. And in 2021, Apple turned off ad tracking on their phones for users by default.

Those alterations represented a seismic shift for the advertising world. It also had profound impacts on political campaigns. Digital operatives from both parties say the changes have made it less valuable for campaigns to advertise on the social media behemoth.

One Republican who worked on statewide campaigns in recent cycles, who was granted anonymity to discuss internal fundraising metrics, said there was a notable dip in campaigns’ return on investment. “In 2020, [return on investment] on a really good day would be 200 percent. The minimum was 150 percent in 2020,” the operative said. “In 2022, it would be 90 percent or 80 percent. We would celebrate it when 110 [percent] came in.”

Jan. 26

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Ukrainian journalists are uncovering Ukrainian corruption, Adam Taylor, Jan. 26, 2023. In October, Ukrainian news outlet shared photos of Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, driving a new Chevrolet Tahoe SUV that had been donated for humanitarian aid. Two months later, the news website Ukrainska Pravda reported that Tymoshenko had been filmed multiple times driving a 2021 Porsche Taycan, worth around $100,000, through Kyiv earlier in the year.