Fire the writers
Insert your “emails/lock her up” joke here, because Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business last year (1 million+ shares), according to the big scoop yesterday from Carol Leonnig and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post. Mike Madden wonders, as we all do, “Was she... not following... the 2016 election closely?” As Patrick LaForge points out, “This issue sounds vaguely familiar.” And Peter Sagal has had enough of this season’s recycled plot lines, tweeting, “Fire the writers.” “I am 2015-2019’s acid trip of dramatic irony,” as the Alt US Cyber Command Twitter account says.
Maggie Haberman covers the story at The New York Times, writing that the personal email use of Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, has been expected to be among the topics the new Democratic House leaders will address (30,000+ shares).
In other scoops today, Wesley Morgan of POLITICO is reporting that the 5,800 troops who were rushed to the U.S.-Mexican border amid Trump’s pre-election warnings about a refugee caravan will start coming home as early as this week — just as some of those migrants are beginning to arrive (115,000+ shares). As Eric Zorn says, “Psyche!” But Carol Pogash notes, “Troops at U.S.-Mexican border did their electoral duty. They can now go home.”
Meanwhile, in a blow to Trump’s immigration agenda, a federal judge blocks asylum ban for migrants who enter illegally from Mexico. Isaac Stanley-Becker and Maria Sacchetti have that story at The Washington Post, and Miriam Jordan reports at The New York Times, Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Proclamation Targeting Some Asylum Seekers (46,000+ shares).
Another big story today, from David Hearst of Middle East Eye, Pompeo handed Riyadh a plan to shield MBS from Khashoggi fallout. A senior Saudi source told MEE that the US secretary of state gave Mohammed bin Salman a roadmap to insulate himself from the scandal. Tweets Radley Balko, “My God. If this is true, someone — probably several people — on the US federal payroll wrote a plan to cover up the murder of a journalist. Who of course was killed for writing critically about a US ally. This is called ‘accessory after the fact.’” “Please don’t let this be real,” tweets Bradley P. Moss.
Nick Tattersall of Reuters is reporting that, after the Khashoggi murder, some Saudi royals are turning against the king’s favorite son. Gregg Carlstrom says, “I'm still skeptical that Prince Ahmed has the chops to depose MbS. But there are definitely Saudi royals scheming about how to challenge the crown prince after King Salman dies.” Adds Luis Martinez, “The Saudi Royal family is huge, so anything's possible in the line of succession.”
And another Washington Post scoop, this one from John Hudson and Lena Sun, Trump administration prepares to add Venezuela to list of state sponsors of terrorism. James Gibney tweets, “I'd say Saudi Arabia comes closer to the mark…” and Andrew Feinberg notes, “I’ve never got a straight answer from @PressSec or any other @realDonaldTrump administration official on why the democracy-eroding, press-suppressing, human-rights-abusing Maduro regime deserves sanctions but not Erdogan, Putin, Duterte, etc.”
Closer to home, yet another deadly shooting, this time at a hospital. Madeline Buckley of the Chicago Tribune has been following the story at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital, and her latest update is that a young cop, doctor, pharmacy resident and gunman have died in the attack (86,000+ shares). The gunman was the ER doctor’s former fiancé. John Keilman notes, “This preliminary story is packed with remarkable details, and was produced with remarkable speed.” ABC7 Eyewitness News Chicago has additional updates, Mercy Hospital Shooting: 4 dead, including gunman, Chicago Officer Samuel Jimenez.
In their cover story for Bloomberg Businessweek, The Predatory Lending Machine Crushing Small Businesses Across America, Zachary Mider and Zeke Faux explain “how an obscure legal document turned New York’s court system into a debt-collection machine that’s chewing up small businesses across America.” “This story is absolutely crazy,” as Joe Weisenthal says, and Jason Linkins thinks, “this Bloomberg story (the beginning of a series) about financial predators are using confessions of judgment to pilfer money right out of the bank accounts of small businesses is some kind of blend of terrifying and enraging.” Jim Aley notes that “Having @ZekeFaux @zachmider co-byline a @bw cover story is like having Drew Brees and Tom Brady on the same team.”
A new class of fool
Also crazy, but in a different way, “holy shit this @willsommer piece is WILD,” tweets Jason Linkins. Will Sommer of The Daily Beast has the story as Trump Fans Sink Savings Into ‘Iraqi Dinar’ Scam, and first of all, “How on GOD’S GREEN EARTH is this headline anything other than ‘Dinar For Schmucks,’” Matt Negrin wants to know. Timothy Aeppel highlights, “Jay Addison, an attorney who follows financial scams, calls it a ‘study in stupidity.’” Graeme Wood notes, “In the mid 2000s, Iraq was full of US contractors investing nontrivial sums in Iraqi dinars -- cash, vacuum-packed blocks of it. Looks like at least some of them passed on the bag to a new class of fool.” As Benjamin R. Freed points out, “Currency markets aren’t for everyone.”
Edmund Lee links to the “Big report from @davidfaber: Amazon bidding for all 22 regional sports networks Disney is selling. First big indication Amazon is serious about media. (But also a sign they’re still learning the biz. RSNs aren’t a great media business).” As David Faber of CNBC reports, Amazon bids for Disney's 22 regional sports networks, including YES Network, sources say. Brian Fung says, “It should surprise no one that Amazon appears to be interested in getting into TV for real.”
In other Amazon news, Josh Barbanel of The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon Employees Are Joining the Rush to Buy Long Island City Condos, and some of them bought condos before the company announced its decision to open a headquarters there.
And in other media news, Lee himself writes in The New York Times about BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti's Big Idea to Revive BuzzFeed’s Fortunes: A Merger With Rivals. “This reads as essentially an admission of defeat for digital-native media cos,” says Gady Epstein. “Merging won't save digital media companies like BuzzFeed and Vox. Building sustainable independent businesses will,” tweets Jessica Lessin. But Brian Feldman thinks they may be on to something: “lmao damn… imagine forming a group with other people who share your concerns for stronger bargaining power against those calling the shots. cool idea.” Wait...this also sounds vaguely familiar?
Making a point
And now, “A rare English column in La Presse, from @kick1972,” tweets Justin Ling. As Patrick Lagacé of La Presse explains, “I penned a little something for all those newspapers in Toronto who were all over Pastagate but are MIA when it comes to francophones’ rights in Ontario. In English. In La Presse.” That column is Guys, remember Pastagate?! — in which “Montreal columnist is so shocked by the lack of outrage in the Ontario media after the cuts to Franco-Ontarian services that he wrote a column in English,” tweets Roberto Rocha. Lisa Goldman says, “I enjoyed reading this smart column by @kick1972 for La Presse, Canada's most important French-language newspaper. He writes in English, to make a salutary point. It's also an excellent primer on Canadian language politics.”
More Tuesday reads
- In an exclusive for The Guardian, Jason Wilson reports that the FBI now classifies far-right Proud Boys as ‘extremist group’, documents say (47,000+ shares). The group is designated “with ties to white nationalism,” according to a report produced by Washington law enforcement. Zoe Samudzi thinks, “The bigger and understated story here is the fact that the state has been discussing the Proud Boys as an extremist group for a handful of months but agents of the state continue to positively interact with and protect them.”
- According to the report by Josh Dawsey and Paul Sonne of The Washington Post, the White House is discussing a possible Trump visit to troops in Iraq or Afghanistan. He’s yet to visit the combat regions, and the piece quotes a former senior White House official who had conversations with the president about it and says, “He’s never been interested in going. He’s afraid of those situations. He’s afraid people want to kill him.”
- At BuzzFeed News, Mat Honan writes that California’s 2018 Wildfires Should Be A Turning Point On Climate Change. Beth Fouhy highlights, “Wow. ‘2018 is the year when everyone in the state ran from the fires or choked on the fumes. In California, in mid-November of 2018, it became as clear as it did in New York in mid-September of 2001 that what was a once-distant threat has now arrived.’”
- Archie Bland links to his “Favourite story of the day: Clement Attlee took in kindertransport child but never publicised it, the boy reveals for the first time (he's now 90).” Read Rajeev Syal’s piece in The Guardian about the UK's post-war Labour prime minister, Clement Attlee took in Jewish child refugee who fled Nazis.
- It’s here: The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Dig into the 100 Notable Books of 2018.