We lead off today with the news that outgoing Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has granted full clemency to Cyntoia Brown, setting an Aug. 7 release date from prison (1 million+ shares). Adam Tamburin and Anita Wadhwani have the details on that story at The Tennessean. Brown, who had been forced into prostitution, received a life sentence at age 16 for shooting and killing a man who threatened her. She’ll be 31 when she’s released. “Finally,” as Emma Gray tweets. Adds Beth Elderkin, “Cyntoia Brown's lifetime sentence has been commuted, thank god. She should never have gotten it in the first place. The justice system failed her.”
Has it learned ANYTHING?
It took some deliberation, but here’s what’s on tonight. As CNN’s Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy report, all four networks plan to air Trump’s prime time address making the case for his border wall; Pelosi, Schumer demand equal time (82,000+ shares). “For network execs, tradition and news judgment — ‘a presidential address from the Oval Office’ — outweighed concerns about a speech filled with falsehoods,” says Stelter.
Maggie Haberman and Eileen Sullivan cover the developments at The New York Times, Trump Will Take Case for Border Wall to Public in National Address (139,000+ shares), and Lisa Tozzi suggests, “Who wants to do the MST3K-style factcheck?” Joshua Benton notes, “To give an idea of the stakes for the broadcast nets’ decisions, ABC/CBS/NBC/Fox average about 31 million viewers in prime time — but only about 9 million of those are under the age of 50.” Jim Rutenberg says, “With Trump’s Oval address tonight, television news faces a huge test: Has it learned ANYTHING over the past two years, and will it leave its audience — the American people — with a better or worse sense of reality when the coverage is over?”
Veteran ABC anchor Ted Koppel told The New York Times that the networks ought to give Trump “the benefit of the doubt...When the president of the United States asks for airtime, you’ve got to do it.”
On that note, Matthew Yglesias of Vox reminds us, Networks giving Trump free airtime on Tuesday refused to air Obama’s 2014 immigration speech (63,000+ shares), proving that “They can say no, but they didn't,” as Antoinette Machiaverna tweets. Yglesias’s take: “Network executives’ job is to make themselves and their shareholders richer. Trump being in office helps them achieve that goal and they make programming decisions accordingly.” Adds Ed Garcia, “American networks are run by cowards. Stop airing his lies live.”
Jaime Fuller of The Washington Post has more on that 2014 decision in her piece on Why the major networks didn’t give President Obama primetime real estate for his immigration speech.
Four out of four (or more)
Those not supporting the wall include ex-presidents — well, at least the four living ones. As Peter Baker reports at The New York Times, Trump Says Predecessors Confessed Support for Wall. Not True, They Say (38,000+ shares). Perhaps there was a seance, or a Ouija Board, then? But believe it or not, “This is not be the first time Trump has bragged about conversations that never happened,” tweets Daniel Haar.
Eli Rosenberg and Katie Mettler of The Washington Post also fact-checked the claim, with similar results: Trump claimed ex-presidents told him they wanted to build a wall. Four of them say it’s not true.
Yes, that is real
Meanwhile, the latest from Robert Costa and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post is that Trump aides are laying the foundation for an emergency order to build the wall, saying border is in ‘crisis.’ Greg Sargent highlights, “Trump may declare a national security emergency to build his wall in part because of its ‘symbolic power for his core voters.’ Yes, that is real.”
About this piece, on Twitter, Dara Lind says, “It’s really disorienting to read this from a briefing where I was in the room. The article makes it seem like Pence was talking a bunch about emergency, instead of answering q’s asked by reporters about it (and pivoting where he could).” She adds, “That DOES NOT mean article isn’t correct that Trump seriously weighing this. Sometimes you need to use on-record quotes that align with what you’re hearing on-background/off the record. But the briefing was about admin’s offer to Ds—the opposite of giving up and calling emergency.”
Math is hard
But what about all those terrorists we’ve successfully stopped at the border? As Ali Velshi tweets, “Here’s the reporting by @JuliaEAinsley that proves Trump & Co. is lying about terrorism.” He links to Julia Edwards Ainsley’s piece for NBC News, which reveals, Only six immigrants in terrorism database stopped by CBP at southern border in first half of 2018 (76,000+ shares). That’s slightly less than the 4,000 Sarah Sanders cited on Friday, but maybe she was rounding up? “Facts can be awkward things …” as Charlie Sykes says.
The consequences of reactionary cultural politics
Beyond the grandstanding, the shutdown is affecting real people, and Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times tells one of those stories in her new piece, ‘It’s Just Too Much’: A Florida Town Grapples With a Shutdown After a Hurricane (70,000+ shares). Matthew Yglesias says, “This whole article is a case-study in economic decline as a *consequence* of reactionary cultural politics rather than a cause of it.” James Poniewozik adds, “I saw @andizeisler tweet out the kicker to this story and I thought she had made the quote up. Holy hell.” The quote, from a Trump voter: “I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.” As Ken Wheaton says, “Let that sink in.”
Meanwhile, looking past tonight’s primetime reality show, House GOP leaders fear support eroding for Trump’s shutdown fight, write POLITICO’s John Bresnahan and Sarah Ferris. According to their reporting, “Several dozen House Republicans might cross the aisle this week to vote for Democratic bills to reopen shuttered parts of the federal government, spurring the White House into a dramatic effort to stem potential GOP defections.”
More local news layoffs
About this latest story of a newspaper layoff, Dominick DiFurio tweets, “So many talented journalists are leaving @dallasnews today who will announce their status on their own terms. This should be another grim reminder that local news is at risk, and with it a vital part of democracy. For now, there’s still a paper to get out.” Maria Halkias of the Dallas Morning News reports, Dallas Morning News laid off 43 people as newspaper struggles with revenue declines. “We lost top-notch, outstanding colleagues today at @dallasnews, and yet we must still find a way to search for truth, keep public informed & hold the powerful accountable. Please support LOCAL journalism,” tweets Alfredo Corchado. Adds Amber Hunt, “I'm not sure how corporations think decimating staffs will lead to ‘long-term success.’ They've decimated aplenty and it hasn't helped yet. What's that saying about doing the same thing and expecting a different result?”
He’s done it again
Erin Biba has the only appropriate reaction to this next one: “WHAT THE FUCK.” As Neal Broverman of the Advocate reports, Another Black Man Has Died in the Home of Democratic Donor Ed Buck. Tweets Katie Halper, “Nothing happened to Ed Buck, the rich, white, 64 y/o Democratic donor who was accused of fatally drugging Gemmell Moore, a 26 year old homeless sex worker. And it looks like he's done it again.” “Ed Buck is a predator! How many more Black lives will suffer in order to protect this man?” Viktor T. Kerney tweets.
Richard Winton and Hailey Branson-Potts have more at the Los Angeles Times, Second body found in West Hollywood home of Democratic donor Ed Buck, and as Sam Baker points out, “Well that’s … too many bodies.”
The great fight of our time
Brad Plumer of The New York Times reports that U.S. Carbon Emissions Surged in 2018 Even as Coal Plants Closed. John Surico says it’s your “Daily reminder that the world's biggest economy is built on climate-destroying energy, and overhauling it entirely will be the great fight of our time.” And Jeff Goodell suggests that you “Think of it as yet another sentence in human civilization’s long and tortured suicide note.”
At The Washington Post, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis write, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions spiked in 2018 - and it couldn’t happen at a worse time. Tweets Juliet Eilperin, “After years of decline, it turns out US greenhouse gas emissions rose more than 3 percent last year, per @rhodium_group @chriscmooney and @brady_dennis show how Trump's shift has put America's global climate pledge out of reach.”
On a more positive note, Nate Raymond of Reuters reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Exxon in climate change document fight. Alexander C. Kaufman says it’s “Big news: SCOTUS just rejected Exxon Mobil’s appeal to stop Massachusetts’ attorney general from forcing the oil giant to turn over documents detailing what and when it knew about burning fossil fuels causing climate change.”
Being accurate is good
Aaron Blake of The Washington Post gives his analysis of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s very bad defense of her falsehoods. The short version, via Seung Min Kim, “Being accurate is good. Period. Not much more complicated than that.” Or as Jonathan O'Connell says, “No, you don't get to use alternative facts either.” Alex Howard qualifies, “I say ‘mostly,’ as @AOC hasn’t corrected her 🤥🤥🤥🤥 tweet…nor other past misstatements. Being ‘morally right’ is a slippery slope, as @AaronBlake notes. But her errors aren’t comparable to Trump’s lies.”
2019 is shaping up great
In the category, “Everything ties back to Anthony Weiner, vol. 3207455,” Tom Namako links to this story: A Fake Nude of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Was Debunked By Foot Fetishists (40,000+ shares), by Samantha Cole at Motherboard. In other words, “2019 is shaping up great,” as Ana Marie Cox tweets, and “god bless this timeline,” tweets Jason Koebler. He points out that this piece includes the “Quote of the year,” which we’ll just say reveals some clear expertise in foot and toe anatomy. If that doesn’t convince you to read it, Erik Hinton notes, “we often say that ‘this piece has it all’ but ... this piece has it all.” And Oliver Willis, for one, is inspired: “what? oh im just here writing the pilot script for my csi: toes series coming this fall to cbs digital.” But seriously, as Derek Mead tweets, “this is great reporting from @samleecole that can only happen when you can dive into a community without judgment or giggling.”
As Shira Ovide puts it, “Every word of this is just wow.” A Wall Street Journal investigation by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope reveals, China Offered to Bail Out Troubled Malaysian Fund in Return for Deals. Tweets Christopher Mims, “Chinese officials offered to bug the homes and offices of @WSJ reporters in Hong Kong who were investigating the massive 1MDB fund corruption, to learn who was leaking information.”
In her latest column for The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan writes, Campaign journalism needs an overhaul. Here’s one radical idea. Tweets Chris Megerian, “There’s been a lot of talk about how to cover the next presidential campaign, and @Sulliview cites an idea from @jayrosen_nyu on how to develop a ‘citizens agenda’ to drive coverage.”
Speaking of the next presidential campaign, hmmm...Beto O’Rourke is planning a solo road trip to meet Democratic voters outside Texas, report Reid Epstein and Ken Thomas of The Wall Street Journal.
“After 126 years....gone.” Andrew Nelson links to the news that Sears plans to shutter after 126 years in business as Chairman Eddie Lampert's bid fails. Lauren Hirsch has the details at CNBC.
Ankit Panda calls it “Transatlantic sledgehammering.” Deutsche Welle reports that the Trump administration has downgraded the diplomatic status of the European Union’s delegation to the United States. The demotion happened at the end of last year without notice.
Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post reports that Opus Dei paid $977,000 to settle sexual misconduct claim against the Rev. C. John McCloskey, “a priest well-known for preparing for conversion big-name conservatives — Newt Gingrich, Larry Kudlow and Sam Brownback, among others.”