Life in the Upside Down
“This is blockbuster journalism,” says Antonia Zerbisias, who links to the big New York Times story revealing “the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by Mr. Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement.” That piece is Intimidation, Pressure and Humiliation: Inside Trump’s Two-Year War on the Investigations Encircling Him, by Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos and Michael Schmidt. They interviewed dozens of current and former government officials and others close to Trump and reviewed confidential White House documents to uncover “numerous unreported episodes in a two-year drama.” Joshua Benton thinks, “If we did not live in the Upside Down, the contents of this article alone would lead directly to impeachment.” Plus, “Most of all in this amazing report is a picture of what a mobster mentality prevails with this incompetent gang who really cannot shoot straight,” tweets Kara Swisher.
Meanwhile, Jon-Christopher Bua wonders, “Have we become so numb nothing this administration does shocks us anymore? Read This!” He’s referring to the reporting by Tom Hamburger and Steven Mufson at The Washington Post on a new House Democratic report that reveals top Trump appointees promoted selling nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia over the objections of national security officials. Clayton Swisher calls it “Scandalous. Trump officials pushed to get #Saudi Arabia nuclear power plants, and at least one US company involved ‘provided financial relief to the family of Jared Kushner.’”
Here’s another old familiar name: “Rick Perry, after a long time out of the limelight, gets associated with a scandal: ‘the effort to promote nuclear sales [to the Saudis] persisted, led by... Michael Flynn... and more recently by Energy Secretary Rick Perry,’” as Tim Mak highlights. You can read the release and access the interim staff report by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform here: Multiple Whistleblowers Raise Grave Concerns with White House Efforts to Transfer Sensitive U.S. Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia.
Ken Dilanian also covers the story at NBC News, Flynn-backed plan to transfer nuclear tech to Saudis may have broken laws, say whistleblowers (38,000+ shares), and Kate Brannen says, “I’ve always thought this is the sleeper scandal of the Trump admin. Serious wrongdoing in the early days of the Trump admin that has never fully gone away.”
Unbelievable...or all too believable
It’s also “Worth remembering that @realDonaldTrump is disruptive, difficult to put in any single or simple box,” as Nick Gillespie says. He links to Josh Lederman’s report for NBC News, Trump administration launches global effort to end criminalization of homosexuality (267,000+ shares).
And then there’s this. Peter Gleick calls it “Unbelievable... or all too believable. The White House committee looking at reports from US intelligence agencies that #climate change threatens national security is headed by a climate denier.” That’s the scoop from Juliet Eilperin and Missy Ryan of The Washington Post, White House readies panel to assess if climate change poses a national security threat, and Dan Berman notes that the “Headline misses the point - a skeptic who says ‘more CO2 is actually a benefit to the earth’ would be in charge.”
It’s a problem
Ryan McCarthy links to “Another big @nasiripour scoop: just before Trump took office, the president's main lender was deeply concerned he would default on $340 million in loans. There's a lot we don't know about this, but the president being in potential default is a problem.” At Bloomberg, Gavin Finch, Steven Arons and Shahien Nasiripour write that, according to people with knowledge of the discussions, top Deutsche Bank AG executives were so concerned after the 2016 election that the Trump Organization might default on about $340 million of loans that they discussed extending repayment dates until after the end of a potential second term in 2025. “Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place…” as Clyde Eltzroth says.
Speaking of problems, POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki writes about a ‘sustained and ongoing’ disinformation assault targeting Dem presidential candidates (15,000+ shares). The main targets of the campaign are Harris, Warren, O’Rourke and Sanders. Some common-sense advice from Matthew Yglesias: “Who knows how real this is, but I think a general word of good advice is that before you become enraged at the behavior of a total stranger on social media you take a breath and ask if that isn’t the point.”
Reuters’ Keith Coffman has the details on the lawsuit by Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann. The teen in the Lincoln Memorial protest is suing The Washington Post for $250 million (47,000+ shares). “This is an interesting lawsuit,” tweets David Larter, who adds, “The Hulk Hogan Gawker suit was not the hill to die on. This one, however, will be interesting. And the kid better hope his nose is as clean as he says. We’ve learned a thing or two about Bezos recently.” The lawsuit claims the paper “wrongfully targeted and bullied Nicholas because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red 'Make America Great Again' souvenir cap on a school field trip.”
Meanwhile, Adam Liptak of The New York Times reports that Justice Clarence Thomas has called on the Supreme Court to reconsider New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 ruling interpreting the First Amendment to make it hard for public officials to prevail in libel suit. And watch out, because as Carlos Tejada points out, “If you've ever shouted ‘Crooked Hillary’ or ‘lock her up,’ this could apply to you.” Trip Gabriel notes this little detail: “Before NYT vs. Sullivan -- the landmark decision Justice Thomas wants to open up -- Southern officials had barraged national news outlets w defamation suits to stop tough coverage of the Civil Rights movement by out of state media.”
Today in wtaf, CNN edition
Well, “It sounds like CNN is already in the hunt for the 2020 version of Hillary’s emails,” tweets John McQuaid, who links to the news that CNN has hired ex-Sessions spokeswoman Sarah Isgur as political editor to oversee its 2020 coverage, which Eliana Johnson and Michael Calderone write about at POLITICO. Putting it more mildly than many, Will Bunch thinks, “This feels...wrong.” Staci D. Kramer calls it, “today in wtaf, CNN edition,” while Jamil Smith says, “Journalistically, this is indefensible. Yes, folks left and right may snark that CNN isn’t journalism, but there are many professionals who work and report there. They are tarnished by this. Hiring this person as a paid pundit would have been questionable.”
How do the people who work at CNN feel about it? Not great. According to Maxwell Tani’s reporting at The Daily Beast, CNN Staffers Are ‘Demoralized’ by the Hiring of GOP Operative Sarah Isgur to Oversee 2020 Coverage. For those missing the point, Andrew Kirell clarifies, “I see plenty of people (willfully) misreading this as ‘people are mad a conservative got hired.’ No. People are mad that a partisan operative with zero journalistic experience got a high-ranking editorial job overseeing the assign/editing of reporting.”
Money changes everything
Let’s switch gears and ponder this question: “What happens when you get life-changing money? We asked 15 people—and got an essay from @IjeomaOluo—on the pleasures and perils of a windfall.” Reyhan Harmanci links to the new piece in Topic on Financial Windfalls: 15 Stories of the Money That Changed Everything. Andy Wright, Jhoni Jackson and Haley Cohen Gilliland conducted those interviews and Ijeoma Oluo contributed an essay on the subject. Tweets Rebecca Greenfield, “I LOVE this whole series, but power to the couple who won a million dollars on the Amazing Race and spent it on ‘two iPods and a laptop.’” Harmanci also finds it “Interesting that multiple women used their windfalls—including a MacArthur Genius grant—for childcare.”
Here’s another question: What happens When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online? Taylor Lorenz writes about that at The Atlantic, and Meghan Morris says, “The consciousness even a 7-year-old has around their online presence is astounding.” Jessica Goldstein tweets, “Great story, by @TaylorLorenz, on something I think about all the time: how kids react when they come of age and find their parents have been posting their whole lives online.” Just be thankful your own personal potty training antics are safely confined to a dusty, crumbling scrapbook in the attic.
Not pulling any punches
And what happens when an NBA referee goes rogue? “Philly and Delco are ALL OVER this amazing ESPN investigation into Tim Donaghy's corrupt NBA reffing. Frank Rizzo’s son-in-law! A pivotal scene at the bar at the PHL airport Marriott!” Chris Krewson links to Scott Eden’s story at ESPN on how former ref Tim Donaghy conspired to fix NBA games (23,000+ shares), and you’ll want to read this one. As Danny O'Neil says, “This is one of the very best pieces of investigative journalism that I have seen this year. ESPN (deservedly) takes a lot of grief for carrying water for the leagues/conferences it televises, but deserves credit here for not pulling punches at the NBA.” Adds Seth Wickersham, “This is the riveting @ScottEden1 story I referenced last week, edited by @TyWenger and @RossMarrinson. Let the incredible details sink in, and then ask: How are any leagues or the NCAA going to prevent a lone-wolf Donaghy repeat? Really, how?”
More Wednesday reads
- Declan Walsh of The New York Times reports that Egypt Turned Back Veteran New York Times Reporter David D. Kirkpatrick, a move that represents “an escalation of a severe crackdown against the news media under Egypt’s strongman leader, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.”
- “Thought America’s child separations are bad? China’s are far worse. Read this haunting @meghara piece, about an 18 month old boy -- that’s right, 18 months old -- caught up in China’s crackdown against Muslims. Oh, and he’s an Australian citizen.” Isaac Stone Fish links to the story of One Man’s Desperate Battle To Free His Son From China’s Growing Police State, by Megha Rajagopalan of BuzzFeed News.
- Pablo Torre says, “You should read this Kaepernick column by @bomani_jones, who is on vacation but dropping heat.” That’s Bomani Jones’s column at The Undefeated, which asks, Kaepernick sacrificed his career - what more do people want? Andrew Garda says, “There was a whole bunch of what @bomani_jones wrote I could quote, but I went with this: ‘The prerequisite for courteous indifference to the national anthem isn’t the ability to helm a revolution.’”
- In a new piece for The Wall Street Journal, Ted Mann explains how an Amtrak Plan to Expand Ridership Could Sidetrack Storied Trains, including legacy long-haul trains like the City of New Orleans and the Empire Builder.
- As Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston quit the Tories to join The Independent Group, Matt Chorley of The Times reports on a new YouGov poll that shows 1 in 7 people would back The Independent Group candidates in an election. “Not bad for a party that doesn’t actually exist. And bad news for Labour,” he tweets.