Wtf is happening
Like a lot of us, Doha Madani is wondering, “Wtf is happening over at the Chicago police department,” in light of the news that all charges against ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett have been dropped (176,000+ shares). Minyvonne Burke and Andrew Blankstein of NBC News report on what we know at this point, and one thing seems certain: “Two reputations damaged here. Smollett and the Chicago PD,” as Craig Melvin tweets.
So Odette Yousef has a request: “Somebody make sense of this for me.” Well, good luck with that. Megan Crepeau and Madeline Buckley are following the “baffling turnabout” at the Chicago Tribune, writing, On Tuesday, the script was flipped yet again — and in many ways it only added to the mystery (296,000+ shares). Ray Long notes that the “Smollet deal triggers rip-snortin’ Rahm: Mayor Emanuel blasts decision to drop charges against ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett: ‘This is not on the level.’” Again, “WTactualF is going on here?” asks Niv Elis.
Next up, “??????????? I genuinely do not understand this. The report isn’t out! No one has read it! The story isn’t over yet!” Quinta Jurecic is referring to Peter Baker’s latest piece in The New York Times, Mueller’s Investigation Erases a Line Drawn After Watergate. Baker writes that “Mueller’s decision to not take a position on whether Mr. Trump’s many norm-shattering interventions in the law enforcement system constituted obstruction of justice means that future occupants of the White House will feel entitled to take similar actions.” Matthew Miller says, “I think @peterbakernyt may be reading too much into Mueller’s lack of a decision on obstruction, but his underlying point is dead on. If there is no sanction for Trump firing Comey, the norm establishing DOJ independence may be forever dead.” “First read of the day: These are dangerous times,” adds Carmen Gentile.
Beyond a reasonable doubt
In a new op-ed for The Washington Post, George Conway (of the Kellyanne Conways), writes that Trump is guilty — of being unfit for office. As Dave Briggs puts it, “DCs juiciest reality show ‘Keeping up with Conways’ taking an interesting turn tonight as George Conway writes @washingtonpost: ‘If the charge were unfitness for office, the verdict would already be in: guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.’” Conway points out, “If [Mueller’s] report doesn’t exonerate the president, there must be something pretty damning in it about him.”
“Making decisions about the constitutionality of major laws against the advice of your AG — gotta be a first here, right?” Darius Tahir links to the latest from Eliana Johnson and Burgess Everett at POLITICO, who found out that the White House Obamacare reversal was made over the objections of the heads of the Justice Department and Health and Human Services Department. “So...why exactly are they doing this, again?” Catherine Rampell wonders.
Meanwhile, “Here’s the full story on White House attempt to paper over the president’s confusing North Korea sanctions tweet last Friday.” Nick Wadhams links to his story with Saleha Mohsin and Jennifer Jacobs at Bloomberg, Trump Tried to Undo North Korea Penalty, Contrary to U.S. Account. JA Sobczyk calls it “A tangled tale of presidential tweets and national security policy.”
And then there’s Betsy DeVos, the Education Secretary who wants deep cuts to programs meant to help students and others (335,000+ shares), including eliminating $18 million to support the Special Olympics. Todd Spangler has the details at the Detroit Free Press, and as Joe Rexrode says, “This is ridiculous.” Sure, it sounds Cruella DeVil-ish, but on Twitter, Josh Barro cautions acting like this is a done deal. He highlights, “Ahem: ‘Even with Republicans in the majority in the U.S. House the last two years, most of DeVos’ strongest proposals for cuts or spending were turned back; now with Democrats in the majority, they are far less likely to gain traction.’”
‘I’d probably say no today’
In her forthcoming book, “The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty,” USA Today’s Washington Bureau chief Susan Page gives us lots of new details and insights about Barbara Bush. An excerpt has been published at USA Today, and, among other things, we learn that Barbara Bush blamed Donald Trump for what she called her heart attack. Did she still consider herself a Republican? “I’d probably say no today,” is what she told Page in February of 2018. Another tidbit: She had a red, white and blue countdown clock displaying how many days, hours, minutes and seconds remained in Trump’s term.
John Verhovek of ABC News also shares some highlights from Page’s book, including the fact that George H.W. voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 — and that Barbara wrote in Jeb’s name on her ballot.
Big pharma: It gets worse
At The Washington Post, Christopher Rowland reveals “A new twist on #Pharma profiting from taxpayer-funded research”: Gilead profits from Tuvada HIV treatment funded by taxpayers and patented by the U.S. government. “Taxpayers paid for this. Now big pharma is overcharging for it and thus limiting access to a drug that could basically END the HIV epidemic. How is this even legal?” Travis Mayfield wonders. Jeff Stein tweets, “There's so much stuff in here and you should really go just read the story in full but this quote - Gilead: ‘Limited awareness & societal * structural barriers, rather than cost, have hindered broader Truvada usage’ Gilead charges $1.6-$2K for month’s supply of pill.”
Michael Luo says, “If you care about local news and the future of our republic, read @charlesbethea's piece about what's happening in Kentucky. A year ago, the last Kentucky newspaper staffer dedicated to the environmental beat full-time left his job. He was not replaced.” That’s Charles Bethea’s story for the New Yorker on Shrinking Newspapers and the Costs of Environmental Reporting in Coal Country. “What a community loses when it loses its environmental reporter (especially one as good as @jbruggers),” tweets Craig Pittman. In other words, “Why local news matters,” tweets Chris Bury.
Speaking of local news, a major new study by the Pew Research Center looks at news habits and attitudes across the U.S. and finds, For Local News, Americans Embrace Digital but Still Want Strong Community Connection. “Fascinating survey regarding local journalism just released. Weather’s importance to daily life stands out,” tweets Ian Livingston.
At Broadly, Lindsay Schrupp tells us Why We Created a Gender-Inclusive Stock Photo Library (19,000+ shares). Katie Drummond’s take: “This is really, truly rad and long overdue.”
This bonkers dispatch
Ready for something different? We’ve got you covered. Michael Slackman tweets, “In this episode of life on our planet we visit a bridge that seems to compel dogs to jump off. From the land of the Loch Ness Monster comes the dog suicide bridge.” At The New York Times, Ceylan Yeginsu bring us the mystery of the ‘Dog Suicide Bridge’: Why Do So Many Pets Keep Leaping Into a Scottish Gorge? Emily Flitter says, “This is a really cool story that is either about a haunted bridge in Scotland or a bunch of careless dog owners,” while Bill Wasik says, “This story is like the Scottish canine version of the Mr. Show sketch about the ‘Devastator.’” Either way, “This bonkers dispatch from west of #Glasgow wins not only for its fantastic headline but also for the tone, detail & pace @CeylanWrites employs. Just masterful. More of this please, @nytimes,” tweets Gaar Adams.
Get you a nemesis
One more thing. At The Atlantic, Taylor Lorenz explains How an Online Nemesis Can Help You Succeed, and Jordan McMahon can vouch for the approach. He tweets, “my best writing is fueled by my desire to never lose to my nemesis.” Rosie Gray shares, “I actually got a new nemesis just yesterday: the woman next to me in barre class using 4 pound weights for the entire arms section.” Is it you? Because as Marina Koren tweets, “You know who you are.” Jeff Maysh, meanwhile, posts, “Work nemesis wanted: Apply within,” so if you think you’re “just slightly more successful” than Jeff (which is how Lorenz describes the ideal nemesis), then this is your big chance.
In an interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News, Conservative MP Ben Bradley says May ‘won’t get numbers for her deal’ if she doesn’t promise to quit. Meanwhile, in his latest column for The Guardian, Aditya Chakrabortty writes, The debacle that followed the Brexit referendum has its roots in moneyed nihilism at the top of the Conservative party. “I’d have put this on the front page of today’s Guardian: a brilliant piece by @chakrabortty on our ruling class, and why something will have to be done about them,” says Richard Williams.
For more Brexit coverage, there’s some “Weapons grade @MarinaHyde here,” as Rafael Behr puts it. That’s Marina Hyde’s latest take for The Guardian, Get set for Brexit: Indicative Day – the one where the Grand Wizards turn on each other.
Tariq Panja of The New York Times reports that Irish Police Are Investigating Conor McGregor for Sex Assault Accusation.
At The Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt brings us this story: These Maryland teens rated their female classmates based on looks. The girls fought back (18,000+ shares).
Head over to The Athletic for The 2019 MLB Poll: Who’s the funniest, the best, the most overrated? How tense are labor relations? And who’s afraid of Aaron Judge?