Fending off the wolf at the door
As Jill Lawrence says, “It's great to start the day with news like this.” Nathan Bomey of USA Today reports that Gannett shareholders have voted to reject MNG Enterprises’ board nominees, siding with the USA Today owner as it attempts to fend off a hostile takeover bid by the hedge fund-controlled newspaper company. The three nominees proposed by Alden Global Capital’s MNG Enterprises failed to gain seats on the board. “Fending off the wolf at the door,” as Shari Rudavsky says. “I’m the only one around and I just screamed *LOUDLY*” tweets Sarah Riley.
But Steve Contorno is a little more subdued: “This is undoubtedly a better outcome for the dozens of local newspapers owned by GCI. MNG is scary. But Gannett's record as a newspaper owner is dubious and they have a long way to go to proving they care about newsrooms and the communities they serve.”
Yes. This is happening.
“Well this will be fun,” says Peter S. Green, and will it? As Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News reported yesterday afternoon, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is announcing his 2020 presidential bid today. Seitz-Wald notes that de Blasio is “not exactly popular back home.” (Brian Moylan tweets, “Someone tell Bill DeBlasio to sit down, shut up, and fix the motherfucking subways already.”) But “Yes. This is happening,” tweets Jim Roberts.
You can check out his campaign video, Working People First | Bill de Blasio 2020. The concept: “‘What if I just rode around in the SUV?’” tweets Andrew Heining. And Josh Robin notes, “When Democrats call climate change a top concern, @BilldeBlasio first campaign video has him riding around NYC in the back on an SUV.” Also, “Not to be a killjoy, says, @bobhardt, but not only did de Blasio film his intro ad in a SUV but in the back of what appears to be his city vehicle — which he's not allowed to film political ads in,” Harry Siegel points out.
By the way, what’s Trump’s nickname for de Blasio? Here’s a radical thought: Who cares? In her latest Washington Post column, Margaret Sullivan points out, Trump won’t stop coining nasty nicknames for his foes — but the media must stop amplifying them. As she tweets, “Never again should a media organization put one of Trump’s bullying nicknames in a headline. Or a tweet. Or a chyron. Or a news alert.”
Speaking of the president, you may have heard that Trump has pardoned his billionaire friend Conrad Black who wrote a book about him, which Colby Itkowitz writes about at The Washington Post. Zev Shalev dubs it, “Unindicted billionaire felon pardons convicted billionaire felon.” Mark Jacob tweets some additional background: “When Trump pardoned Conrad Black, he cited Black’s ‘exceptional character.’ As an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times during Black’s ownership, I know he fostered unethical management of that paper.” Check out his Twitter thread for a few examples.
Also at The Post, Aaron Blake takes a closer look at the very political pattern of Trump’s pardons, noting that 8 of his 10 pardons have carried some apparent political benefit for him.
Meanwhile, Olivier Knox thinks, “this seems...sub-optimal…” Chris Sommerfeldt of the New York Daily News found out that a Brazilian meatpacking company being investigated by the Department of Justice is receiving USDA bailouts meant for struggling U.S. farmers. Sommerfeldt explains that “[t]he Trump administration has forked over more than $62 million” to the company, which is “owned by a couple of corrupt Brazilian brothers.”
We’re in trouble
Reading this next one, you have to wonder, as Jennifer Rubin does, “who did Trump think he was hiring when he picked Bolton??” According to the new report by John Hudson, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Anne Gearan at The Washington Post, Trump is frustrated by his advisers and isn’t convinced the time is right to attack Iran. For the record, Christopher Dickey points out, “When Donald J. Trump appears more rational than his advisors, we are in very, very serious trouble.”
There’s one advisor who remains in his good graces, and in “Get Scavino in here,” Andrew Restuccia, Daniel Lippman and Eliana Johnson of POLITICO explain why Trump’s Twitter guru is the ultimate insider. “As the West Wing shrinks, @realDonaldTrump is relying increasingly on his social media director as a trusted adviser who never says no,” tweets Blake Hounshell. Clara Jeffery notices that “It’s amazing how well the Emperor Has No Clothes fable grafts in to the Trump court.” “Tweetocracy In America,” as Timothy Noah puts it. Also, “Absolutely bonkers,” tweets Christian Caryl.
The men legislating your body
Now it’s Missouri, joining Alabama and Georgia, in passing a near-total abortion ban. Gerald Herbert has the story at the Kansas City Star, noting that the Senate voted to ban abortions eight weeks into pregnancy, even in cases of rape, incest or human trafficking. The vote literally took place in the middle of the night. Tweets Seth Fletcher, “To the authors of all those ‘you should move back to your hometown’ essays: no thanks, we’re good.” And Bryan Lowry says, “If you told me six years ago that of the two states Kansas would be the one with a constitutional protection for abortion and Missouri would be on the verge of a near total ban, I would not have believed you.”
And so we turn to Jessica Valenti at Medium, who points out that Anti-Abortion Lawmakers Have No Idea How Women’s Bodies Work. On Twitter, she notes, “John Becker (OH) thinks ectopic pregnancies can be ‘reimplanted’ in a uterus. Vito Barbieri (ID) said women can have gyn exams by swallowing a camera. Dan Flynn (TX) believes abortion requires cutting into a uterus. Meet the men legislating your body.” As she writes, ‘It’s not just that women’s rights and autonomy are being legislated away, but that it’s being done by complete morons.”
And while all that’s going on, don’t miss the fact that the “Trump administration strips the kids of LGBT parents of birthright citizenship by ‘de-recognizing’ their parents' marriage. The GOP is destroying America, one family at a time.” Steve Silberman links to Scott Bixby’s piece at The Daily Beast, Trump Administration to LGBT Couples: Your ‘Out of Wedlock’ Kids Aren’t Citizens (147,000+ shares). “Like @AdamSerwer keeps saying: the cruelty is the point,” tweets Noah Shachtman. Bixby tweets an “Update: A federal judge has denied the State Department’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two of the parents I spoke to for this story. It’s the department’s second attempt to quash lawsuits fighting the policy in a week.”
Speaking of the cruelty, a fourth child has died after being taken into custody at the U.S.-Mexico border. Maria Sacchetti is following the story at The Washington Post with Robert Moore, who tweets, “Another Guatemalan child has died after being taken into custody by US border agents. This boy died at the same El Paso hospital as Jakelin Caal Maquin.”
Ready. Set. Debate.
Kim Gittleson says, “My ‘most fascinating story of the day’ award goes to this one.” She’s referring to Douglas Belkin’s latest for The Wall Street Journal, SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ to Capture Social and Economic Background. “Ready. Set. Debate,” tweets Tony Dokoupil. For example, “How in the world do you (a) create a formula to determine how much “adversity” a 17-year-old has faced, (b) using only school-level and neighborhood-level data, not personal data, and then (c) hide the formula’s results from the kid?” wonders Joshua Benton. And Erin Geiger Smith says, “I can hear the screams about this in my current neighborhood, shouts of joy in my hometown. (Metaphorically. Not a lot of WSJ readers in Liberty, truth be told.)”
The climate emergency
“For our new cover of @TIME, @suyinsays traveled 1,200 miles by train with teen climate activist @GretaThunberg for an intimate look at the ways young people around the world are refusing to accept old excuses for big problems.” Ben Goldberger links to Suyin Haynes’ cover for TIME on the 16-year-old activist who’s trying to save the planet, How Teen Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Got Everyone to Listen.
And the message has never been more urgent. Damian Carrington of The Guardian reports on a new study that finds ‘extraordinary thinning’ of ice sheets revealed deep inside Antarctica. The research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, shows ice is now being lost five times faster than in the 1990s.
We started off strong, but we realize the rest of this has been mostly terrible, so maybe you should take a moment out for A Brief History of the Spit Take, by Donald Liebenson at Vulture. As Liebenson points out, “Only last month, ‘spit take’ was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. At last, the term is an established member of the English language.” And as Dustin Nelson says, “I don’t know why, but this really hits the spot.”
A few more