The last days of Jamal Khashoggi’s life
Michael Weiss links to what he says is the “Best piece so far”: Jamal Khashoggi: murder in the consulate, by Martin Chulov of The Guardian. Kyle Griffin calls it “A remarkably comprehensive piece detailing the last days of Jamal Khashoggi’s life; of the investigation that pieced together his fate, and of his legacy—much of it yet to be written—as the region, and beyond, grapple with the aftermath of his death.” Chulov’s piece quotes a senior diplomat, who said, “It’s fair to say that the world order died here along with Khashoggi. I’m dreading what comes next.”
And “Just when you think this can’t get any worse, it does.” Clyde Eltzroth links to the report by CNN, Saudi operative dressed as Khashoggi, Turkish source says. Tweets Richard Hall, “This destroys once and for all the claim that this was a rendition gone wrong. Absolutely ghoulish.” CNN’s Gul Tuysuz, Salma Abdelaziz, Ghazi Balkiz and Ingrid Formanek have more details, along with exclusive law enforcement surveillance footage that’s part of the Turkish government’s investigation, in their piece, Surveillance footage shows Saudi operative in Khashoggi's clothes after he was killed, Turkish source says (40,000+ shares). As Loveday Morris tweets, “Saudis just happened to take a body double along for this unplanned killing so they could have him parade around Istanbul in Jamal’s clothes.” But Gregg Carlstrom thinks, “The details of this story are less interesting than the fact that Turkish officials are still leaking about @JKhashoggi. Suggests that Ankara and Riyadh don’t have a deal to sweep this under the rug.”
Amazing how much influence you can buy
“This story is the deep dive into Saudi money and influence in Washington that we’ve been waiting for,” tweets Alan Sipress. Tom Hamburger, Beth Reinhard and Justin Moyer of The Washington Post take us Inside the Saudis’ Washington influence machine: How the kingdom gained power through fierce lobbying and charm offensives. Emma Brown highlights, “In 2017, Saudi payments to lobbyists and consultants in Washington more than tripled over the previous year.” And still, it’s “Amazing how much influence you can buy in Washington with relatively little,” tweets Paul Farhi.
And then John Fraher links to a “Great scoop — How Saudi negotiated a $20 billion sweetheart deal with Blackstone on the world’s largest infrastructure fund.” That’s from Bloomberg’s Gillian Tan, who explains How Blackstone Landed $20 Billion From Saudis for Infrastructure. Tweets Shahien Nasiripour, “For every $1 that retired Pennsylvania teachers pay Wall Street giant @blackstone to manage their pensions, Saudi Arabia gets to pay 15 cents less. @GillianTan with the inside story of how the Saudis got big breaks from Blackstone.”
Meanwhile, Rick Noack of The Washington Post reports that Germany has become the first major country to suspend new arms exports to Riyadh.
The president’s calculations
For “A look at the president’s calculations, how he sees Saudi Arabia and the Middle East — and the risks to his realpolitik strategy,” as Josh Dawsey tweets, read his new piece in The Washington Post with Philip Rucker, Trump prizes strength, but the world may see weakness in reluctance to confront Saudis.
Andrew Kramer of The New York Times reports that Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from a nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia drew sharp criticism from one of the men who signed it, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who called the decision reckless and not the work of “a great mind.” Carmen Gentile explains: “First read of the day: Trump longs to wind the clock back to the mid 80s, a time when nuclear tensions were high and he had real, albeit still ridiculous, hair.”
What problem is this trying to solve?
Back in present day, Erica L. Green, Katie Benner and Robert Pear of The New York Times report, Trump Administration Eyes Defining Transgender Out of Existence (509,000+ shares). Stephen Totilo calls it “Yet another reminder of what an inhumane disgrace the Trump administration is.” Also, “Once again, a big thick fuck you to everyone who said there was no difference between the candidates,” tweets Jess Dweck. Catherine Rampell wonders, “What problem is this trying to solve? Why are we spending taxpayer dollars to design a policy whose only purpose seems to be to inflict cruelty upon a tiny, vulnerable population? And what happened to ‘small government?’”
Who’s ok with this?
In a new investigation for The New York Times, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Natalie Kitroeff find, “Women in strenuous jobs lost their pregnancies after employers denied their requests for light duty, even ignoring doctors’ notes.” In that piece, Miscarrying at Work: The Physical Toll of Pregnancy Discrimination, they note, “In every congressional session since 2012, a group of lawmakers has introduced a bill that would do for pregnant women what the Americans With Disabilities Act does for disabled people: require employers to accommodate those whose health depends on it. The legislation has never had a hearing.” James Rufus Koren asks, “Who's ok with this? I want a show of hands. Just awful, and heartbreaking and, most importantly, unnecessary.”
Checking in on the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Mark Murray reports that Democrats hold nine-point advantage for midterm elections. Michael Del Moro notes, “Most importantly from the new NBC/WSJ poll: Dems have slight enthusiasm edge Dems still up on generic ballot POTUS approval highest ever at 47%.” And Murray tweets, “The gender gap in 2018 remains stunning in the NBC/WSJ poll -- with Dems holding a 25-pt advantage with women (2nd-straight NBC/WSJ showing this) and GOP +14 among men.”
And now, “Welcome to the future people,” tweets Ryan Broderick. His new piece for BuzzFeed News reveals, YouTubers Are Running For Office In Brazil, And They’re Winning By Huge Numbers. Miriam Elder highlights, “‘I guarantee YouTubers in Brazil are more influential than politicians.’ Crazy read by @broderick.”
Meanwhile, “At @axios, it’s 2010 again,” tweets John McQuaid. In a new piece for Axios, Jim VandeHei offers up 4 ways that politicians, social media, and you can fix “fake news,” and in turn, Chris Krewson offers up an “Eyeroll.” Sopan Deb says, “I am trying my very hardest to respectfully not ‘show my hand’ after reading this graf, in which it is suggested that a solution to fix the news is to insult the intelligence of readers.”
Victoria Guida calls it a piece “In which an editor tells journalists not to share their opinions because those opinions always appear to be liberal, and then also advocates for more government regulation of social media.” Ben Collins adds, “I cover disinformation for a living and this is some of the least informed advice I’ve ever read. Leave DC and talk to academics, data people, and those who cover extremists and disinfo for ten minutes, man.” James Poniewozik has another suggestion: “BE SMART: This is dumb and treats Axios readers as if they’re dumb.” Chris Seper boils it down: “So @JimVandeHei is getting killed for four largely unremarkable things that too many people don’t do. Some reporters should keep opinions to themselves. Others should be able to say what they please. But much of this is basic media literacy stuff.”
Lots of interesting stuff
Some news from the special counsel investigation. Carol D. Leonnig, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Rosalind Helderman of The Washington Post report that investigators are examining conflicting accounts as scrutiny of Roger Stone and WikiLeaks deepens. Tweets Andrew Prokop, “Lots of interesting stuff in this Post piece. But when mentioning Stone and WikiLeaks' denials that they were in contact, it should probably mention that @NatashaBertrand got a hold DMs proving that they were.” He links to Natasha Bertrand’s earlier piece in The Atlantic about the transcripts of Roger Stone’s Secret Messages with WikiLeaks.
“A year ago next week, US prosecutors identified Joseph Mifsud as the man who dropped the first known hint of Russian hacking into the 2016 elections. I recently traveled to Malta in an effort to locate him. Here’s what I found.” Raphael Satter links to his reporting at The Associated Press, Malta academic in Trump probe has history of vanishing acts, adding, “Some news: * Joseph Mifsud is not dead, his lawyer says * Mifsud's wife has filed for divorce in Malta * His lawyer showed the AP a photo dated May 21, 2018 of Mifsud in Zurich.”
On a totally different note, and yet, somehow...still so familiar, Kate Briquelet of The Daily Beast found out that Michael Avenatti Lived the High Life While Owing Millions to IRS. As Katie Baker points out, “It’s all so ... Trumpy…”
Another reason journalism matters
In his latest Mediator column, Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times captures the scene At the Border Town That the News Cycle Has Left Behind. He tweets, “‘A dopamine hit for every screen-refreshing thumb swipe,’ and the plight of children still separated at the border gets ejected from The Algorithm. Maybe the problem with The Algorithm is us. My column from Texas.”
Also, “Maybe you’ve never even heard of the leak from a Taylor Energy platform off Louisiana's coasts, caused by 2004’s Hurricane Ivan. Guess what? It’s now on the verge of being one of the worst offshore spills in US history.” Juliet Eilperin links to the story by Darryl Fears of The Washington Post, A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history. Morgan Loew calls it “Another reason journalism matters.”
Speaking of, Mechelle Hankerson tweets, “I didn't know about Rae Carruth until I worked in North Carolina, but after listened to @theobserver's podcast, I feel like I was there when it happened. @scott_fowler has done an amazing job following the story for almost 20 years.” At the Charlotte Observer, Scott Fowler reports from the scene as former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth is released from prison after serving 19 years in murder of Cherica Adams. The story of the attack on Adams was recently made into a seven-part podcast by the Observer, called “Carruth.”
This is delightful. Please read it
Here’s what you need on a Monday — a chance to spend a little time in the “pocket universe of delight” where Paul McCartney travels, as James Parker puts it. Parker’s new piece for The Atlantic reminds us, Paul McCartney Can’t Stop Making People Happy, and as Jeffrey Goldberg says, “This is delightful. Please read it.” “If you write as well as James Parker, you can do so much in so few words. Look how this expands into anecdote and then contracts into observation, allowing a brief, occasional piece to stand as something much larger: a valedictory,” tweets Caitlin Flanagan.
And if that doesn’t do the trick, try Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s profile of Melissa McCarthy for The New York Times Magazine, because Nobody Works Harder for a Laugh Than Melissa McCarthy. Tweets Mathew Olson, “without fail, reading a new profile by @taffyakner measurably improves my day.” As Brodesser-Akner points out, “You are all too depressed to read my Melissa McCarthy profile, but that’s exactly why you should.”
If all else fails, there’s always Anthony ‘The Mooch’ Scaramucci dancing off his short stint in the White House at the New York Post’s offices, where he stopped by in advance of the release of his upcoming book, “Trump, The Blue-Collar President.” Tweets Heather Hauswirth, “Monday mood. Somehow got The Mooch to do interpretive dance for his time in the WH #moochmoves found in full here.” Because “Some mornings you just need to tip your hat to the @nypost,” tweets Michael Kurtz. Also, as Erica Pishdadian puts it, “I... what?” But Lia Eustachewich says, “If you watch one thing today, please god let it be this. Anthony @Scaramucci uses interpretive dance ... to describe short stint in White House.” “Of all of the think pieces dedicated to dissecting The Mooch’s 10 days at the White House, this one is my favorite,” says Jenna Johnson.