“Kinda wild now to think that Theranos was once valued at $9 billion.” Brian Fung points to the news that Theranos chief executive Elizabeth Holmes has been charged with massive fraud. Carolyn Johnson covers the story for The Washington Post. “What a fall from grace! She fooled so many people,” notes Lois Romano. John Carreyrou has the details of the settlement in The Wall Street Journal, SEC Charges Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes With Fraud. He points out, “For those who say Holmes got away with a slap on the wrist, do not forget: ‘Theranos is still facing a criminal investigation led by the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco.’”
To see how things all started to fall apart at Theranos, revisit Carreyrou’s 2015 investigative piece in The Wall Street Journal, Hot Startup Theranos Has Struggled With Its Blood-Test Technology, in which “Theranos' bold claims about its 'full range' of finger-prick blood tests wither under @johncarreyrou's reporting,” as Jenny Strasburg tweeted at the time. Shai Oster called it “a lesson in how to write,” and Evelyn Rusli said it was “A reminder why business journalism is so important.”
For more on Holmes and how Carreyrou exposed the blood-test technology scandal, read Nick Bilton’s October 2016 piece in Vanity Fair, How Elizabeth Holmes’s House of Cards Came Tumbling Down. Nikita Richardson tweeted she was “Feeling thankful for recalcitrant journalists today.”
This just happened, and as Gabriel Gatehouse notes, “It’s all happening at once…” AP’s Matthew Lee and Josh Lederman are reporting, US impose sanctions on 13 Russians indicted by Mueller. Alex Sanz explains: “.@USTreasury announced the sanctions amid withering criticism of @realDonaldTrump and his administration for failing to use the congressionally mandated authority to punish Russia for the election interference.” Ellen Nakashima covers the story for The Washington Post, Trump administration sanctions Russian spies, trolls over U.S. election interference, cyber attacks.
Also making headlines yesterday, Energized high schoolers, who rallied across the US in school walkouts. Emily Shapiro covered the story for ABC News, with photos of students protesting around the country, while Meg Wagner, Amanda Wills and Brian Reis provided live coverage for CNN, in Student walkouts sweep the US. One particularly powerful moment, as CNN tweeted: “Students at a Los Angeles school held a die-in spelling #ENOUGH with their bodies as a gong sounded 17 times, one for each student killed in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.” “I have faith in the future of this country,” says Erin Strout.
Lord have mercy
As for the present, Michael Rothfeld and Joe Palazzolo of The Wall Street Journal break the story that Top Trump Company Lawyer Worked to Silence Stormy Daniels. As Jeff Nesbit sees it, “The @WSJ connected the dots. Trump biz attorney filed the paperwork in CA to silence Stormy Daniels.” Scott Austin highlights, “What a lede: Documents marked ‘HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL PROCEEDING’ for the first time tie President Donald Trump’s flagship holding company to the continuing effort to silence a former adult-film actress who says she had an affair with Mr. Trump.” Yep, “More cover up from Trump-land. Lord have mercy,” tweets Cody Lyon.
In the category “lawsuit karma’s a bitch,” as Marc Caputo puts it, BuzzFeed maneuver could free Stormy Daniels to speak on Trump, writes POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein. Mark Berman breaks it down for us: “Step 1. Buzzfeed publishes dossier. Step 2. Michael Cohen sues Buzzfeed for that. Step 3. Michael Cohen admits paying off Stormy Daniels, who alleged Trump affair/signed NDA. Step 4. Buzzfeed could use Cohen’s suit to bypass Stormy’s NDA and allow her to talk.” Bob Cesca’s take: “The Trump inner circle, and especially Michael Cohen (Says who?!), are perhaps literally the dumbest crooks in the world.”
Beware the Ides of March
This is sounding more than a bit Shakespearean, and Contessa Brewer warns, “As it was in Caesar's time, a move to grab or consolidate power can be dangerous. Beware the Ides of March.” In an NBC News exclusive, Carol Lee and Courtney Kube report that, according to U.S. officials, the Saudi crown prince has hidden his mother from his father, the king. In other words, as As'ad AbuKhalil tweets, “The reformer has arrested his own mother.” Aya Batrawy reveals, “I also heard this in 2015 about #Saudi Crown Prince hiding his mother from his father: The king has told people around him that he misses her and apparently does not know her true location or status.” “I know I'm an MBS short, but this has escalated into Nero territory rather quickly,” observes Joseph Cotterill.
Stop scrolling past these stories
“Seven years after the war began, the horrific images and videos being posted online from Syria show no sign of stopping. But is anyone still paying attention?” asks Lisa Tozzi. BuzzFeed’s Rose Buchanan explains, Here's Why You Probably Won't Read This Article About Syria. Tweets Natasha Bach, “The man behind #IAmStillAlive (who is referenced in this piece) was killed yesterday. Start caring. Stop scrolling past these stories. We can't keep standing idly by.”
Meanwhile, “Under cover of secrecy, the military is expanding its war in West Africa. Hardly anyone knows what's going on.” Ray Locker links to U.S. Kept Silent About Its Role in Another Firefight in Niger, by Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons-Neff of The New York Times. “Good grief. Another AFRICOM cover-up,” tweets Craig Whitlock.
Sweet Jesus, really?
“Good morning! The president just admitted that he attended a negotiation with the leader of our closest ally, was completely ignorant of the matter being negotiated, then just made some shit up to cover his ignorance. He then boasted about it all.” Radley Balko is referring to the report by Desikan Thirunarayanapuram of The Washington Post, In fundraising speech, Trump says he made up facts in meeting with Justin Trudeau. “Sweet Jesus, really?” says Dan Beucke.
OK, now see if you can follow this one: “So if I'm reading this correctly, McCabe could be fired for leaking derogatory info about CLINTON to the press then possibly lying to the IG about it, because Trump hates McCabe despite the role he may have played in helping Trump get elected.” Adam Serwer links to Andrew McCabe, a Symbol of Trump’s F.B.I. Ire, Faces Possible Firing, by Katie Benner, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman of The New York Times. Ryan J. Reilly confirms, “NYT nails down a story that a number of reporters have been working on.” The analysis from Jeff Nesbit: “This is insane.” And Thom Dunn wonders, “How petty do you have to be to fire a dedicated public servant 2 days before they retire, just to spite their benefits? Actually wait that sounds like exactly the kind of thing that Donald Trump would do.”
As tax day approaches, you may be wondering just what your tax dollars are paying for. For a “Good look at the ethics and spending scandals in Trump’s Cabinet,” as Philip Rucker puts it, read Trump Cabinet members accused of living large at taxpayer expense, by Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis of The Washington Post. DW Gibson finds it to be the “Cleanest swamp I ever saw.”
On that note, “A tough one to report... here is my piece on Pence’s Chief of Staff, Nick Ayers: Dark Money King, Pence Puppeteer and White House Wunderkind.” Vicky Ward links to her new piece for HuffPost Highline, Mike Pence's Man In The Swamp.
Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin of The New York Times write that Conor Lamb’s Win in Pennsylvania Gives Democrats a Map for Trump Country (190,000+ shares). Mayra Cuevas highlights this takeaway: “To anyone who questions if their vote counts: ‘627-vote lead appears insurmountable.’” Michael Tackett offers this, “From the glass half full department. ‘The president came in and helped close this race and got it to where it is right now,’ said Mr. Ryan.”
In that same department, Trump Says a Democrat Won in Pennsylvania Because He’s ‘Like Trump.’ That’s according to the piece by Elaina Plott at The Atlantic, who got audio of Trump speaking at a private fundraiser.
Toys R Us loses
Sad news, as Abha Bhattarai of The Washington Post reports that Toys R Us will close all 800 of its U.S. stores. Tweets Mitch Wallace, “I know the writing has been on the wall for a long time, but damn, this is sad. I think the following (and devastating) quote sums things up: ‘You can find more zest for life in a Walgreens.’’ Christina Warren remembers when it was different: “Toys R Us was my absolutely favorite place as a kid. The smell. The excitement. It made me excited for the possibilities of play and the future when I perused the shelves. Online can’t compare with a trip to the toy store when you’re young.” But “Toys Rn't Us anymore,” as Craig Wall says.
A master class in the art of interviewing
In a new interview with James Miller of The Hollywood Reporter, former ESPN president John Skipper Details His ESPN Exit and a Cocaine Extortion Plot, going public with “the real reason behind his abrupt departure from Disney after 27 years.” Michael de la Merced files it under “Things I did not expect to read: John Skipper resigned as ESPN’s president because a coke dealer tried to blackmail him.” Jeremy Markovich points out, “This whole interview by @JimMiller is captivating, but this part in particular is a textbook example of how a well-prepared journalist can respectfully push for an answer.” John Edwards agrees, tweeting, “In addition to being a fascinating confessional, this Q&A is a master class in the art of interviewing. Skipper clearly went into it planning to be candid, but not this candid.” Andy Lewis calls it “The thing everyone will talk about today–amazing & fascinating on so many levels: Skipper's internal struggle to reveal & hide at the same time, how .@jimmiller keeps pressing,” adding, “You don't have to care about ESPN or even really know who John Skipper is to find the human drama at the center of this story utterly compelling and fascinating. Wow.”
Odds and ends
Alexander Quon gives in: “Alright, take my click @washingtonpost.” The irresistible headline for Kyle Swenson’s piece in The Washington Post: She found a dating app on her boyfriend’s phone. Then she bought a samurai sword. Lucky for Alexander, it’s “A story that more than lives up to its headline,” tweets Robby Soave.
At Page Six, Emily Smith is reporting, Donald Trump Jr. and wife headed for divorce, friends say (25,000+ shares). Marlow Stern Mad Libs it: “Couldn't happen to a __________ guy.” And Emily C. Singer notes, “The photo choice here is…”
President Obama has revealed his 2018 NCAA Basketball Championship Brackets, but don’t get your hopes up too high. He shares with a caveat, “Just because I have more time to watch games doesn’t mean my picks will be better, but here are my brackets this year.”