We start your Thursday off with a big scoop out of NBC 7 San Diego. As the network’s investigative team Tom Jones, Mari Payton and Bill Feather report, leaked documents show the U.S. government created a secret database of activists, journalists, and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan (44,000+ shares) and in some cases, placed alerts on their passports.
Julia Ainsley has more on that in her report for NBC News, U.S. officials made list of reporters, lawyers, activists to question at border. The list is titled “San Diego Sector Foreign Operations Branch: Migrant Caravan FY-2019 Suspected Organizers, Coordinators, Instigators, and Media.” Tweets Micah Grimes, “@nbcsandiego Several people on the list told @NBCNews that they had been pulled aside at the border after the date the list was compiled and were told they were being questioned as part of a ‘national security investigation.’”
The Committee to Protect Journalists notes, “CPJ expressed concern last month about this questioning of journalists at the US border. We said then: ‘Journalists have a duty to protect their independence and the confidentiality of their sources. They should not be subject to questioning that goes beyond the purpose of facilitating lawful travel entry for an individual.’”
Must-reads upon must-reads
Get ready, because it’s a scoopy day. Charles Ornstein directs you to this “Must, must read. A handwritten note to Trump, addressed ‘Dear King,’ presents another instance of access and influence for Mar-a-Lago associates.” That’s Isaac Arnsdorf’s latest for ProPublica, Trump Mar-a-Lago Buddy Wrote Policy Pitch. The President Sent It to VA Chief. Tweets Katie Rogers, “Recently we reported in a MAL story that Trump's aides spend a lot of time processing (or intercepting) proposals like these from the president's guests. @ProPublica shows us what that process looks like.” Perhaps a “Dear King” salutation gets them to the top of the pile.
But that’s not your only must-read of the day. Matea Gold points to the “Must-read from @partlowj @nickmiroff @fahrenthold”: President Trump’s sons entrusted their private hunting retreat to a caretaker. He was working in the country illegally. Oh, so it’s not just the golf courses. That piece is by Josh Partlow, Nick Miroff and David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post, and Gold notes, “In all, The Post has interviewed 33 immigrants who have worked for the president’s clubs without legal status.”
‘The historical parallel: None’
Meanwhile, in a column for Bloomberg, Timothy L. O’Brien writes about That Time Trump Got $18.3 Million in Palm Beach. “Investigators looking at Donald Trump’s business dealings have landed on the money trail. That will test the willingness of those closest to the president to protect him, @TimOBrien writes,” tweets David Shipley. Adds Greg Sargent, “Via @TimOBrien, all of the hidden fraud in Trump’s past is starting to surface like worms out of the ground after a rainstorm. Good stuff here.”
And here’s a headline: Donald Trump is in the midst of the biggest political scandal in American history, writes Mike Allen of Axios. Sam Baker highlights, “The historical parallel: None.” Tweets Amanda Marcotte, “I’ve been saying this for over a year. The only reason Watergate is still reflexively seen as the stick by which to measure is lingering Boomer-centrism. But the Russia scandal is if Watergate succeeded and was run by the Soviets.” Also worth remembering, as Caroline Baum points out, “And his base doesn't care.”
How the boys play in Hollywood
Another must-read for you today: “This story. This cesspool. Utter disgust,” as Megan Murphy tweets. Kim Masters and Tatiana Siegel have been working on this story at The Hollywood Reporter for 15 months, and Masters calls the piece — “I Need to Be Careful”: Texts Reveal Warner Bros. CEO Promoted Actress Amid Apparent Sexual Relationship — “a window into how the boys play in Hollywood.” Janice Min’s reaction, “Wow 1. This studio chief was promoted YESTERDAY by AT&T 2. The woman is possibly autistic 3. The text messages are Bezos-level insane.” Lacey Rose urges, “Stop what you’re doing and read this. Now.” Joe Bel Bruno notes, “This story has been dangling out there for months. Glad @TatianaSiegel27 and @kimmasters were the ones to finally put it in print — just needed some good reporters to do their homework.” Adds Peter Lattman, “Major kudos to The Hollywood Reporter’s @TatianaSiegel27 & @kimmasters on this excellent and troubling story.”
Writing the truth
At Deadspin, Drew Magary has one simple request: Stop Enabling Barstool’s Shit, and he knows what that means: “Gonna be a swell day online.” But as Heidi Moore emphasizes, “If we want media to be more respected, we're going to have to pay attention to what we boost. Don't boost Barst*ol unless you want more companies to behave like Barstool.” And Foster Kamer notes, “the only positive upshot of barstool's existence is watching magary defenestrate them.” (Choice excerpt: “Barstool’s content—from their sub-Tucker Max postings to their raft of podcasts that exist to supplant Beefer & The Squelch as the go-to sports talk barf-fest for meatheads all around the nation—is the chlamydia of the internet.”) Tweets Matt Schiavenza, “I for one am glad @drewmagary is alive and well so he can write the truth like this.”
Some astute and savage pop culture analysis
It’s that time again. The New York Times Magazine Music Issue is upon us, and it reveals The Top 25 Songs That Matter Right Now, along with “Some astute and savage pop culture analysis. Always happy to see the Midwest mentioned,” tweets Alexandra Hazlett. Jonah Weiner highlights, “There are 30 credited writers on Travis Scott's #1 hit ‘Sicko Mode.’ 14 of them are credited because of just three words. Several of them are dead. One of them is a home-appliance salesman outside Zurich. Up now as part of the @NYTMag music issue.” Adds Heidi Moore, “Usually I believe pop-music writing should be consumed cautiously, if at all, but this is an excellent, smart, clear-eyed feature in which some really good writers really get at the meaning of some popular songs.” In other words, there’s plenty to dig in here. Read it to see why Will Hermes says it’s “One of my fave pop music reads, every year.”
Stay strong, Alex
Finally, today, “Let’s go with ‘Fuck cancer’ for $1,000, Alex,” as Chris Welch puts it. He’s reacting to the message from Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who revealed that he’s been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. “Truly one of the giants of television. Hoping and praying the best for Alex Trebek!” tweets Stanton Tang. Adds T.C. Sottek, “good luck alex. I believe we are still very far from your final jeopardy.” Also, as Barry Petchesky says, “Goddamn.”
- Sen. Martha McSally, the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, says she was raped in the Air Force by a superior officer. She made the disclosure at a Senate hearing on the military’s efforts to prevent sexual assaults and improve the response when they occur. Colleen Long has that story at The Associated Press.
- Some breaking news from Julia Moskin of The New York Times, a year after reports that the celebrity chef sexually assaulted and harassed women, Mario Batali Gives Up All His Restaurants (29,000+ shares).
- From Andy Campbell at HuffPost, Leaked Chats Reveal White Nationalist Plot To Keep Steve King In Office. He tweets, “NEW: Leaked Identity Evropa chats reveal that white nationalists have actively worked phones in support of Rep. Steve King, and donated to his reelection campaign, as part of ongoing efforts to keep a white supremacist in power.”
- More scoop from Rebecca Ballhaus at The Wall Street Journal: Attorney Says Cohen Directed His Lawyer to Seek Trump Pardon, Contradicting Testimony.
- Erin Banco of The Daily Beast reports that Embassy Staffers Say Jared Kushner Shut Them Out of Saudi Meetings, leading Russ Ptacek to tweet, “Wait, Kushner’s summit meetings don’t have US witnesses either?”
- Joe Biden’s 2020 Plan is Almost Complete. Democrats Are Impatient. Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns write about that at The New York Times, and John Brummett says, “This piece tells me Biden is doing everything to run except making a clear and final personal decision that he wants to run.”
- Democratic National Committee rejects Fox News for debates, citing New Yorker article, reports The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi. Tweets John McQuaid, “Official Washington has viewed the quasi-objective journalism side of Fox News as separate from the toxic Murdoch-Fox-Trump mind meld ... until now. Seems like the @JaneMayerNYer piece has triggered a shift, at least in the DNC.”
- Read about how AT&T Is Dragging HBO’s Streaming Strategy Out of the Dark Ages, courtesy of Bloomberg’s Felix Gillette.