Read it and weep
Before we dive into the rest of it today, head over to NiemanLab to check out Ken Doctor’s take on the latest Newsonomics: Let the 2019 Consolidation Games begin! First up: Alden seeks to swallow Gannett. As Joshua Benton tweets, “The great @kdoctor writes about what's really going on with Digital First Media, Alden Global Capital, and Gannett here. (Plus a bonus Tronc appearance!) The takeaway: This is the start of a new round of newspaper industry consolidation, and it sucks.” “Read it and weep: A knowledgeable and thoroughly depressing look at why the @Gannett newspapers are in play, from @kdoctor at @NiemanLab,” says Margaret Sullivan.
Shocked, I tell you!
In other news, “GOP leaders are shocked! Shocked! To find that RACISM has been going on here,” tweets Garrett Epps, who links to the report by Trip Gabriel and Jonathan Martin of The New York Times, Steve King Removed From Committee Assignments Over White Supremacy Remark.
Paul Kane suggests that you “Do yourself a favor & read the @RepBobbyRush proposal to censure Steve King. It just lays out 12 years of direct quotes that are, well, pretty controversial.” You can read Rush’s censure resolution here.
At The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim and Mike DeBonis write that Rep. Steve King’s inflammatory remarks roil a GOP already struggling on race. As Annie Linskey points out, “Warren didn’t respond to Trump’s recent offensive tweet about her heritage. Now Republicans are doing it for her.”
Nbd just another Mueller mega-scoop
A new scoop by Erin Banco along with Asawin Suebsaeng, Betsy Woodruff and Spencer Ackerman of The Daily Beast reveals that Mueller is Scrutinizing an Event With Nunes, Flynn, and Foreign Officials at Trump’s D.C. Hotel (25,000+ shares). As Woodruff (who’s had her own share of Mueller scoops) tweets, “Nbd just another Mueller mega-scoop w lead byline from @ErinBanco.” According to their reporting, the breakfast event took place two days before the inauguration and “has come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors in Manhattan as part of their probe into whether the Trump inaugural committee misspent funds and if donors tried to buy influence in the White House.” Joshua Holland shares, “If Nunes ended up in a federal prison I might stroke out on Schadenfreude.” Be careful out there, folks.
So, about that inaugural committee. The New York Times and ABC News got a look at Trump’s inaugural spending documents, and...it’s a lot. The Times piece, by Maggie Haberman, Sharon LaFraniere and Ben Protess, is headlined, At Trump’s Inauguration, $10,000 for Makeup and Lots of Room Service, but that’s just the beginning. As Shane Goldmacher says, there are “Some amazing details ‘For the dinner at the auditorium, table menus, table numbers and place cards, including an on-site calligrapher to correct last-minute mistakes, amounted to $91 per guest.’” And on Twitter, Haberman notes, “There was also an effort to film a documentary about the inaugural, which people felt they had to participate in. The effort was ultimately abandoned, although the footage still exists, and there are multiple copies of it.”
Then there was the $6.4 million write-off for hotel rooms the inauguration committee booked but never used. “In 72 days,” write Haberman, LaFraniere and Protess, “it laid out about $100 million, roughly twice as much or more than was raised by Barack Obama or George W. Bush for their first and second presidential inaugurations.” Meanwhile, Carolyn Lochhead is “Trying to remember when wretched excess became conservative.”
John Santucci, Matthew Mosk, Allison Pecorin and Benjamin Siegel report on their findings at ABC News, President Donald Trump’s inaugural fund spent lavishly at his DC hotel. From that piece, Jon Swaine highlights the fact that “Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, was paid *$2.7m* to provide ‘digital operations’ for the inauguration.” Now that’s an extremely lucrative pivot to digital.
This seems like a good time to mention that the Trump administration has doubled its estimate of the shutdown’s cost to the economy, as Steve Liesman of CNBC reports.
“Meanwhile, Trump's acting chief of staff appears to have weaseled his way out of millions in debt, leaving a South Carolina businessman in a lurch.” Dan Zak links to the story by Michael Kranish of The Washington Post, Old land deal quietly haunts Mick Mulvaney as he serves as Trump’s chief of staff. Tweets Glenn Kessler, “Worth reading this great story about a guy who's been preaching fiscal conservatism ever since he got into Congress. Except apparently for himself!”
Sam Gustin highlights this next one with, “Nothing to see here →” while Jonathan Capehart tweets, “🚨🚨🚨 Y’ALL —->” New from Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper of The New York Times, Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia (32,000+ shares), “A story that would be front page news for days in a normal presidency,’” as Shashank Joshi tweets. The piece quotes retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, who said, “Even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin.” Pedro Rosado puts it this way: “Let's say for the sake of argument that @realDonaldTrump is NOT a Russian asset. The fact that he doesn't understand what a colossally dangerous and globally destabilizing move pulling out of NATO would be is terrifying. Not surprising though.” Matt Negrin adds, “It is so obnoxious that not one single White House reporter has ever asked Trump ‘what does NATO stand for?’”
Behind each day’s controversies
This is not good news. Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis of The Washington Post report on a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which finds Ice loss from Antarctica has sextupled since the 1970s. As Bill McKibben says, “Just a reminder that behind each day’s controversies, the biggest story is constantly playing out.”
And then there’s the Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems,’ scientist Brad Lister tells Damian Carrington of The Guardian. George Monbiot tweets, “This is horrifying. A collapse faster and further than anyone anticipated. We can expect many more tipping points of this kind in our lifetimes, in the absence of a decisive response to #climatebreakdown Report by @dpcarrington.”
Howard Blume, Sonali Kohli and Hannah Fry of the Los Angeles Times have the latest on the historic Los Angeles Unified teachers’ strike, Only about a third of LAUSD students attended school on first day of teachers’ strike. Putting the size of this strike into perspective, Matt Pearce notes, “The second-largest school district in the nation — which has more teachers than some entire states — has gone on strike.”
Meanwhile, in an op-ed for The New York Times, Barbara Ehrenreich and Gary G. Stevenson write that It’s Time for T.S.A. Workers to Strike (30,000+ shares). S. E. Smith has an even better idea: “You know when would be a really good time for a TSA strike to start? This Friday, as members of Congress are getting ready to go home for their district work period/in-person constituent evasion.”
RIP Carol Channing
Stephanie Wild has the Broadway World obituary for the legendary Carol Channing, who died at 97 (98,000+ shares). Tweets Steve Noviello, “Another star joins the sky RIP.” Enid Nemy writes the New York Times obit, Carol Channing, Larger-Than-Life Broadway Star, Dies at 97, and Ilana Keller notes, “The word ‘legend’ gets thrown around a lot, and that’s OK. Many people are legendary in their own way. But Carol Channing, perhaps, is one of the only legendary in all the ways.” Read more about Channing, her career and her life in Kim Kokich’s NPR Morning Edition piece, Bidding Farewell To ‘Hello, Dolly!’
Making the rounds
An analysis by David Pilling, Tom Wilson and David Blood of the Financial Times reveals huge fraud in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election last month. Contrary to the declaration in December by the election commission, their analysis of two voting databases shows that Martin Fayulu won the presidential election. FT has put the story outside its paywall as a public service.
Read Cory Doctorow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation to understand why The Internet is Facing a Catastrophe For Free Expression and Competition and what you can do about it. Tweets EFF, “This is a crucial moment for those in the EU to stop #Article13 and #Article11—votes in the coming weeks will determine whether huge swaths of online expression will be subject to mass, arbitrary control. Here’s what you can do today to help.”
We’ll let Adam Sternbergh set this one up: “USA: American healthcare is the best in the world, not like those failing socialist dystopias where everyone is covered. Also USA:” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is going to Canada for surgery (179,000+ shares), as Thomas Novelly of the Louisville Courier Journal reports.
It’s been 102 years since Jeannette Rankin of Montana won a seat in the House of Representatives, becoming the first woman ever elected to federal office. A New York Times interactive, with photographs by Elizabeth D. Herman and Celeste Sloman, shows us The Women of the 116th Congress (40,000+ shares) — and how “one has become 131.”
Brian Steinberg of Variety has the scoop on the NBCUniversal Shakeup: Mark Lazarus, Jeff Shell and Bonnie Hammer Promoted, Streaming Service to Launch in 2020. On that note, Roben Farzad tweets, “I'm thinking of launching a paid streaming service called Farzify @kevinkrim @RichBTIG.”
Deadline’s Anthony D'Alessandro reports, Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ Finds Its Maria, Anita, Bernardo & Chino. The part of Maria will be played by 17-year old New Jersey high school student Rachel Zegler, who’ll be making her feature film debut. Tweets Whitney McIntosh, “This casting is pretty solid from top to bottom (Ariana DeBose! An adorable 17 year old!) but somehow, in the midst of everything I completely missed THAT RITA MORENO IS PLAYING A GENDER SWAPPED VERSION OF DOC EXCUUUUUUSE ME.”