Cup of Joe – March 9, 2023

On a day that not so long ago would have seen Fox News preening over its top star’s bogus Monday night segment downplaying the Jan. 6 attack, Rupert Murdoch’s baby was instead lambasted by Republicans and law enforcement and humiliated by more revelations from the titanic defamation case pending against it.

Tuesday marked a collision between the Dominion Voting Systems $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News over its Big Lie claims during the 2020 election and the network’s latest Big Lie: that Jan. 6 was a hoax, a peaceful saunter of the citizenry through the halls of the Capitol. One Big Lie begat another, both centered on the 2020 election and its aftermath. All in service of Donald Trump, its own ratings, and the warped worldview that sustains a propaganda network for more than quarter of a century.

In the end though, what was most striking about yesterday was Fox News starting to eat its own. No one deserves it more than the personalities, hosts, and would-be journalists who populate the Fox News shows.

“Every time the pain of that day seems to have ebbed a bit, organizations like Fox rip our wounds wide open again and we are frankly sick of it. Leave us the hell alone…” — A statement from the family of U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, in response to Tucker Carlson’s attempt to whitewash what happened on January 6.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Fox News made “a mistake” by depicting Jan. 6, 2021 as largely peaceful, The Hill reports. Said McConnell: “I want to associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief of the Capitol police about what happened on Jan. 6… Clearly the chief of the Capitol Police, in my view, correctly described what most of us witnessed first hand on Jan. 6.”

“I thought it was an insurrection at that time. I still think it was an insurrection today.”— Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), quoted by the Washington Post, on Tucker Carlson’s attempt to whitewash the January 6 riots.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD): “I was there on Jan. 6. I saw what happened. I saw the aftermath. There was violence on Jan. 6.”

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND): “I think that breaking through glass windows and doors to get into the United States Capitol against the borders of police is a crime. I think particularly when you come into the chambers, when you start opening the members’ desks, when you stand up in their balcony — to somehow put that in the same category as, you know, permitted peaceful protest is just a lie.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said it’s “really sad to see Tucker Carlson go off the rails like that,” saying he’s “joining a range of shock jocks that are disappointing America and feeding falsehoods.”

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA): “I was here. It was not peaceful. It was an abomination. You’re entitled to believe what you want in America, but you can’t resort to violence to try to convince others of your point of view.”

Even a House Republican piled on. “I don’t really have a problem with making it all public, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said in an interview with Politico. “But if your message is then to try and convince people that nothing bad happened, then it’s just gonna make us look silly.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he does not regret sharing footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson despite receiving bipartisan blowback, arguing that the decision was made for transparency, The Hill reports.

Politico: “Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to release thousands of hours of security footage from that day to Fox News has reopened a painful fault line that his party has repeatedly tried to mend. Two years after the violent assault on the Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters, with most of its members no longer openly parroting the former president’s false claims that Joe Biden’s win was illegitimate, the GOP is still stuck reliving Jan. 6.”

“Inside McCarthy’s conference, few if any members would say outright on Tuesday night that their speaker made a mistake by sharing the footage with Carlson — in fact, only a handful admitted to watching the segment at all.”

In a remarkable segment Tuesday night, Fox News host Bret Baier and congressional reporter Chad Pergram effectively counter-programmed Tucker Carlson’s Jan. 6 whitewash from the night before.

The segment starts off as you might expect, touting Carlson’s “new” surveillance video containing images that “were hidden from the public for more than two years.” But then you can almost hear the tires screeching and the gears grinding as Baier hits the breaks and reverses course, kicking it to a pre-recorded report from Pergram on the Hill, where pushback was fierce all day.

The segment ends with an amazing and hilarious “to be sure” closing from Baier: “And to be clear, no one here at Fox News condones any of the violences that happened on Jan. 6.”

Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity in text messages bashing their Fox News colleagues Chris Wallace and Leland Vittert after the 2020 presidential election:

INGRAHAM: My anger at the news channel is pronounced.

CARLSON: It should be. We devote our lives to building an audience and they let Chris Wallace and Leland f*cking Vittert wreck it. Too much.

HANNITY: Too much is correct. I am disgusted at this point.

INGRAHAM: I think the three of us have enormous power. We have more power than we know or exercise… Together.

Both Wallace and Vittert have since left the network.

Amidst all the fallout from the Tucker Carlson segment whitewashing Jan. 6, Dominion Voting System dropped more juicy inside banter from Fox News in its landmark defamation lawsuit.

Some of the highlights:

  • Two days before Jan. 6, Carlson texted a colleague: “We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.”
  • More Carlson on Trump: “I hate him passionately. … What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”
  • Carlson on the eve of touting the bogus claims about Dominion: “The whole thing seems insane to me. And Sidney Powell won’t release the evidence. Which I hate.”

For its part, Fox News denies Dominion’s claims and maintains it was engaged normal reporting on a newsworthy topic.

 “Five women who say they were denied abortions despite grave risks to their lives or their fetuses sued the State of Texas on Monday, apparently the first time that pregnant women themselves have taken legal action against the bans that have shut down access to abortion across the country since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade,” the New York Times reports.  “The women — two visibly pregnant — plan to tell their stories on the steps of the Texas Capitol on Tuesday.”

“President Biden’s pick to serve as a telecommunications regulator is withdrawing her nomination to the Federal Communications Commission, following a bitter 16-month lobbying battle that blocked her appointment and opened her up to relentless personal attacks,” the Washington Post reports.

“Gigi Sohn, a longtime public interest advocate and former Democratic FCC official who was first nominated by the White House in October 2021, said her decision to withdraw follows ‘unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks’ seeded by cable and media industry lobbyists. The announcement is a defeat for consumer advocates, who had rallied behind Sohn during three Senate confirmation hearings.”

“But it is a devastating blow to the Biden administration, whose ambitious internet agenda has been mired in limbo for more than two years, amid a deadlock at the FCC.”

“President Biden on Thursday will propose policies aimed at trimming federal budget deficits by at least $2 trillion over the next 10 years as his administration embraces the politics of debt reduction amid a fight with Republicans over raising the nation’s borrowing limit,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Biden’s plans, which will be detailed as part of his budget blueprint, are expected to rely heavily on a familiar batch of tax increases on corporations and high earners along with savings from some spending reductions, including efforts to save money on federal health care programs by expanding legislation he signed last year that allows Medicare to negotiate the price of certain prescription drugs.”

The Hill: Biden launches battle on Capitol Hill with call for Medicare tax hike.

“President Biden is expected to propose a 5.2 percent raise for federal employees in his budget set to be released Thursday — the largest increase the White House has put forward since Jimmy Carter was president,” the Washington Post reports.

Bloomberg: “The House Democrat leading his party’s debt-limit fight with Republicans has a warning for US markets: prepare for a summer plunge because Democrats are going to the mat to stop the GOP from using the ceiling to enact spending cuts.”

“Representative Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, sees the standoff as ‘the most dangerous moment since 2011,’ when the US credit rating was downgraded for the first — and only — time.”

“The House Ways and Means Committee is soon taking up a bill that would require the government to keep making certain payments if it breaches the debt ceiling,” Semafor reports.  “Per a notice sent to committee members reviewed by Semafor, the panel will be marking up a three-page bill from Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., that would authorize the Treasury Department to continue making interest payments on the national debt in the event of a default.”

Politico: “Congress, whose members struggle to accomplish simple tasks like funding the government and raising the debt ceiling, is suddenly talking about changes to Medicare and Social Security. There’s plenty of reasons to be skeptical that any of that big talk will pay off.”

“A bipartisan group of senators unveiled a bill Tuesday that would give the executive branch new powers to take action against tech companies with ties to foreign adversaries and cut them off from the U.S. market, a measure that would allow the Biden administration to eventually ban Chinese-owned TikTok and other tech products in the name of protecting national security,” CBS News reports.

House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer (R-KY) told Fox & Friends that it was too bad that Donald Trump didn’t launch a military attack on Mexico to try to stop drug traffickers.  Said Comer: “One of the things we learned post-Trump presidency is that he had ordered a bombing of a couple of fentanyl labs, crystal meth labs, in Mexico, just across the border and for whatever reason, the military didn’t do it.”  He added: “I think that was a mistake.”

“A year into Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko is steadily gathering enough financial aid from the U.S. and other international allies to ensure the Ukrainian state can keep functioning. His new challenge is to assuage doubts about the country’s history of corruption,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  “Graft scandals at the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and other government agencies have added to calls in the U.S. for stricter controls over assistance for Ukraine, as more American voters and lawmakers are growing skeptical about the cost of financial and military support for the country’s defense against Russia’s invasion.”

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is inviting House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to visit Ukraine to see the situation on the ground first hand – an invitation that comes as the Republican Party faces a divide over whether the United States should continue to provide aid to the country under attack from Russia,” CNN reports.

“House Democrats are vowing a fierce fight over Medicaid as Republicans eye plans to curb spending for the low-income health care program in the name of deficit reduction,” The Hill reports.

Politico: “The energy package — which they aim to pass the last week of March — is set to include some of the party’s most popular pitches over the past decade, from boosting fossil-fuel production on federal lands to disapproving of President Joe Biden’s block on the Keystone XL pipeline to easing environmental reviews of energy and mining projects.”

Rolling Stone on Jim Jordan’s failing and flailing attempt to find a credible Deep State whistleblower:  “The results have left Democrats gleeful and even some Republicans deeply unimpressed. A ‘dumpster fire,’ is how one Democrat with knowledge of the at-times combative interactions terms the proceedings.”

Jordan “has heard the criticisms — including on Fox News — that his subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government has yet to uncover much. He doesn’t see it that way,” Semafor reports.

Said Jordan: “I feel like our staff is working their tail off and we’re getting things up and rolling.”

Jordan is also having to beat back a concerted effort by House Democrats to preempt his nonsense narrative. But it’s notable that it’s the cries from the right for more blood in the water that has Jordan on his heels.

“New York’s House Republicans are racing away from the walking political grenade known as George Santos,” Politico reports.  “Six of Santos’ New York colleagues, particularly the four who flipped tight battleground districts last fall, are working — out in the open and behind the scenes — to contain the blowback from the embattled lawmaker’s deceptions about his past. The first-term foursome started by breaking from the vast majority of their party by calling for Santos to resign, a move that would hurt the GOP’s already tiny majority.”

“Florida’s Republican-led legislature on Tuesday filed bills that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but offer exemptions for victims of rape and incest if they can provide official proof of the crime,” Politico reports.

Politico: “DeSantis couldn’t ask for a better runway for a national Republican primary than Florida. The Republican-dominated Legislature over the past two years has handed him almost anything he wanted as he has ascended through the national conservative ecosystem and appears poised to continue the trend.”

“Both Florida Republican House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo opened their speeches Tuesday by praising DeSantis, which has become common among the state’s Republican leaders.”

Miami Herald: “Interviews with over a dozen former Navy officers and personnel, defense attorneys and former detainees shed light on the access DeSantis would have had to the men held captive on the base, suspended in a legal and ethical gray zone during a turbulent phase in the camp’s history.”

“DeSantis came away from his time at Guantánamo Bay advocating for the camp to remain open, convinced that its inhabitants were terrorists at a time when hundreds of detainees were being released by a Republican president after years of imprisonment and without ever facing charges.”

Punchbowl News: “We reported this morning that the White House blindsided House Democratic leadership about President Joe Biden’s intention to sign the GOP-authored disapproval resolution overturning D.C.’s new criminal code.”

“Guess what? Top House and Senate Democrats were caught completely off guard by this New York Times story disclosing that the Biden administration is considering bringing back the Trump-era policy of detaining migrant families as the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border worsens. And they’re not happy about it.”

“The Federal Trade Commission has demanded Twitter turn over internal communications related to owner Elon Musk and detailed information about layoffs and other business decisions as part of a wide-ranging investigation into the company,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“U.S. officials are set to relax coronavirus testing requirements on travelers from China as soon as Friday, a decision that comes amid declining covid cases in that country,” the Washington Post reports.

“Chinese leader Xi Jinping issued an unusually blunt rebuke of U.S. policy on Monday, blaming what he termed a Washington-led campaign to suppress China for recent challenges facing his country,” the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Meanwhile, CNBC reports China’s new foreign minister, Qin Gang, said relations with the U.S. have left a “rational path” and warned of conflict if Washington doesn’t “hit the brake.”

Gallup: “A record-low 15% of Americans view China favorably, marking a five-percentage-point, one-year decline in this rating, which Gallup has measured since 1979.”

“China has been gradually falling in the U.S. public’s esteem in recent years and is down a total of 38 points since 2018.”

 “A coalition of parties seeking to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey anointed a veteran opposition politician on Monday as its presidential candidate just two months before elections that could drastically alter the country’s political and economic trajectory,” the New York Times reports.  “The candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of Turkey’s largest opposition party, represents diverse political forces that have vowed to reverse what they call Mr. Erdogan’s erosion of democracy as he has consolidated power during two decades as the country’s paramount politician.”

Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. military’s success in the Mideast and Afghanistan came in part from air superiority, a less well-equipped foe and the ability to control the initiation of the war.”

“A conflict with China would be very different. The U.S. would be fighting with its Asian bases and ports under attack and would need to support its forces over long and potentially vulnerable supply routes. If a conflict with China gave Russia the confidence to take further action in Eastern Europe, the U.S. and its allies would need to fight a two-front war.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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