Cup of Joe – April 13, 2023

With Dominion’s defamation case against Fox News set to go to trial next week, the judge made several important pre-trial rulings yesterday:

  • Fox will not be allowed to argue that it broadcast false claims about Dominion because they were newsworthy, shutting down what had been a key line of defense for the cable news net.
  • The judge was angered by a last-minute revelation that Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch also held an officer position with Fox News. Dominion complained vigorously that the failure to disclose Murdoch’s role as “executive chair” at Fox News had adversely impacted its approach to the litigation. “My problem is that it has been represented to me more than once that he is not an officer,” the judge said in court, suggesting he might have ruled differently on summary judgment.
  • Fox did win one pre-trial dispute: Dominion will not be allowed to mention the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol during the trial.

“A Fox Corp shareholder sued Chairman Rupert Murdoch and four other board members on Tuesday, saying they failed to stop Fox News from reporting falsehoods about the 2020 U.S. presidential election that damaged its credibility and prompted lawsuits,” Reuters reports.

“Shareholder Robert Schwarz alleged in the lawsuit filed in Delaware Chancery Court that the directors breached their duties to ensure that Fox followed its own ethical standards and avoided reputational risk, and instead sought to keep supporters of former President Donald Trump tuned in.”

“The judge overseeing Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit against Fox News said on Wednesday that he was imposing a sanction on the network and would very likely start an investigation into whether Fox’s legal team had withheld evidence, scolding the lawyers for not being ‘straightforward’ with him,” the New York Times reports.

“The rebuke came after lawyers for Dominion, which is suing for defamation, revealed a number of instances in which Fox’s lawyers had not turned over evidence in a timely manner. That evidence included recordings of the Fox News host Maria Bartiromo talking with former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, which Dominion said had been turned over only a week ago.”

Said the judge: “What do I do with attorneys that aren’t straightforward with me?” You disbar them. Candor before the tribunal is the prime directive of the legal profession.

Gabriel Sherman has a must-read piece on Rupert Murdoch and his legacy at Fox News:

“He monetized outrage and grievance to build a conservative media empire that influenced politics on three continents for the last half century. Now these same forces are threatening to destroy his legacy, his still-vast media empire, and the family that stands to inherit it.”

National Public Radio: “According to Bret Baier’s current and former colleagues, he stands very much alone at Fox News…”

“Even so, some colleagues in the Washington bureau say he too readily bends to pressure from the Trump circle or Fox headquarters in New York City. … In one sign of his isolation, Baier repeatedly sought to devote an hour-long Sunday evening special following the 2020 elections to set out and debunk the leading myths bolstering Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. … Network executives never even gave Baier – their chief political anchor – a direct verdict on his pitch.”

“U.S. inflation eased to 5% in March from a year earlier, its lowest level in nearly two years, but underlying price pressures remained elevated despite the Federal Reserve’s campaign to slow rapid price increases,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The Black unemployment rate sank to a record low 5 percent in March,” the Washington Post reports.

“Just three years ago, the Black unemployment rate had spiked to reached a pandemic high of 16.8 percent, compared to the record White unemployment rate of 14.1 percent.”

More than half, or 58%, of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck, according to a CNBC survey.

And even more — roughly 70% — said they feel stressed about their finances, mostly due to inflation, economic uncertainty and rising interest rates.

“Shelby County Commissioners reappointed Justin Pearson (D) to the Tennessee state House Wednesday to cries of applause and cheers of excitement,” the Tennessean reports.

“The expected move from commissioners means Pearson could be back in the state House as early as Thursday, less than a week after he and Rep. Justin Jones (D) were expelled from their seats.”

I’m not sure I can remember a political power play backfiring as badly as this did for Tennessee Republicans.

Jonathan Martin: “Today, Tennessee represents the grim culmination of the forces corroding state politics: the nationalization of elections and governance, the tribalism between the two parties, the collapse of local media and internet-accelerated siloing of news and the incentive structure wrought by extreme gerrymandering.”

“Also, if we’re being honest, the transition from pragmatists anchored in their communities to partisans more fixated on what’s said online than at their local Rotary Club.”

Tennessee state Rep. Paul Sherrell (R), who said he supported bringing back lynching as a form of capital punishment, is no longer on the House Criminal Justice Committee, WTVF reports.

Daily Beast: “To Democrats who have toiled for years to rebuild state level power, the reaction to what unfolded in Tennessee not only crystallizes the party’s recent shift, but signals the increased investment they believe is coming to states where Democrats hope to make gains in the 2024 election cycle.”

“Federal investigators are asking witnesses whether former President Donald J. Trump showed off to aides and visitors a map he took with him when he left office that contains sensitive intelligence information,” the New York Times reports.

“The map has been just one focus of the broad Justice Department investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents after he departed the White House.”

“The nature of the map and the information it contained is not clear. But investigators have questioned a number of witnesses about it.”

“Donald Trump’s close presidential aide and speechwriter Stephen Miller returned to testify to a federal grand jury in Washington on Tuesday after the courts ordered that he and other top advisers must share their recollections of direct conversations with the then-president related to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot,” CNN reports.

“Miller is likely to be asked in the grand jury about his phone call with Trump minutes before the Ellipse rally that day, and other conversations they had about the election.”

In a sign of how serious he is, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has engaged national-caliber litigator Ted Boutrous to handle Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan’s use of his official power to publicly meddle in the state prosecution of Trump. This is shaping up to be worth watching, both because of the legal issues involved and because of the novelty of a Democrat being this aggressive in fighting Republican attacks on the rule of law.

“New legislation from House Republicans aims to prevent local district attorneys from pursuing charges against former presidents,” the HuffPost reports.  “The symbolic bill is yet another show of support for Donald Trump, who faces the possibility of criminal charges in Georgia and was arraigned in Manhattan last week for allegedly violating state law with false business records.”

Here’s how Donald Trump described meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Fox News last night:

President Xi is a brilliant man. If you went all over Hollywood to look for somebody to play the role of President Xi, you couldn’t find, there’s nobody like that.

The look, the brain, the whole thing. We had a great relationship. You know, when he first came to Mar-a-Lago, It was so organized by them and by us, but by them very pom, pom, pom. Everything’s like business. No games, you know.

“He had an incredible — I’m not allowed to say it, because it’s politically incorrect — a beautiful female interpreter.”— Donald Trump, quoted by the Daily Mail, when asked to recall his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Here’s his take on North Korea’s Kim Jung Un:

You know, when you come out and as a young man at 24, 23, even though he sort of inherits it, most people when they inherit, they lose it. And that’s easy stuff.

He took over a country, a very smart people, very, very energetic people, very tough people at a very young age. And he has total dominate control. That’s not easy. These are these are very smart.

Here’s what he says about Russian president Vladimir Putin:

You can’t beat Russia. Russia right now, I’m not saying anything out of school. I read it in one of our newspapers. So, you know, it’s probably fake news, but maybe not. I don’t think it is.

Donald Trump’s claim that New York court employees were “crying” and apologizing for his arraignment on felony charges is “absolute BS” and doesn’t remotely resemble what took place, a law enforcement source familiar with the details of what transpired that day told Yahoo News. Said the source: “There were zero people crying. There were zero people saying ‘I’m sorry.’”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) poked fun at Donald Trump’s speech from his Mar-a-Lago resort after being arrested last week, The Hill reports.

Said Christie: “That sounded to me like a guy that you’d encounter in a bar who you’d wind up sitting next to and he’s griping to you about his bad divorce.”

“The Biden administration on Wednesday will propose new health privacy protections to prevent protected health information from being used to investigate or sue people who facilitate abortions,” the NBC News reports.

“The number of legal abortions in the United States decreased just over 6 percent in the six months after the Supreme Court ended the right to abortion last June, according to a report released Tuesday, the most comprehensive and up-to-date count of abortions nationwide,” the New York Times reports.

“The overall decline exceeds what was estimated by some researchers before the Supreme Court ruling. New restrictions and the obstacles they create — including travel logistics and expenses, long wait times at some clinics and confusion or fear about laws — seem to have prevented even more women than expected from obtaining legal abortions.”

A federal judge’s decision to invalidate the FDA’s approval of mifepristone could affect availability even in states where abortion is legal, the New York Times reports.

Washington Post: “The Biden administration is privately promising an array of liberal groups that it will wage a fierce legal battle to preserve access to abortion medication, while also developing contingency plans in case those efforts fall short.”

“One possibility is that Danco Laboratories, the manufacturer of Mifeprex, the brand-name version of mifepristone, could file a new application to have the drug approved under the standard process.”

The Trump administration intentionally separated thousands of migrant children from their parents at the southern border in the spring of 2018, an aggressive attempt to discourage family crossings that caused lasting trauma and drew widespread condemnation,” the New York Times reports.

“What is only now becoming clear, however, is that a significant number of U.S. citizen children were also removed from their parents under the so-called zero tolerance policy, in which migrant parents were criminally prosecuted and jailed for crossing the border without authorization.”

New York Times: “The question now is whether banks and other lenders will pull back so much that the U.S. economy crashes into a severe recession. Until comprehensive data is released — a Federal Reserve survey of loan officers nationwide is due in early May — economists are parsing stories from small businesses, mortgage originators and construction firms to get a sense of the scale of the disruption.”

“Interviews with more than a dozen experts across a variety of industries suggested that the effects are beginning to take hold and could intensify.”

Elon Musk told the BBC that running Twitter has been “quite painful” and “a rollercoaster.”  And he admitted he only went through with the takeover because a judge was about to force him to make the purchase.  Musk also said he would sell the company if the right person came along.

“NPR will no longer post fresh content to its 52 official Twitter feeds,” NPR  reports.  “By going silent on Twitter, NPR’s chief executive says the network is protecting its credibility and its ability to produce journalism without ‘a shadow of negativity.’”

Dennis Aftergut: “There goes Jim Jordan, the MAGA chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and its ‘weaponization of government’ subcommittee, driving his clown car to a new town.”

“Since February, he has hosted hearings that have flopped harder than a distracted trapeze artist. As Francis Wilkinson wrote in the Nation yesterday, Jordan doesn’t ‘seem able to manufacture a political hit for a new era.’”

Washington Post: The holes in Jim Jordan’s convoluted weaponization theory.

“House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) has issued a subpoena to FBI Director Christopher Wray in connection with a now-withdrawn memo that explored avenues for gaining information on white supremacists’ interaction with local Catholic churches,” The Hill reports.

CIA Director William Burns said that Russia risks becoming an “economic colony” of China as its isolation from the West deepens after the invasion of Ukraine, The Guardian reports.

“The Biden administration is proposing strict new automobile pollution limits that would require as many as two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be electric by 2032, a nearly tenfold increase over current electric vehicle sales,” the AP reports.

CNN: “The standards would also have the effect of cutting planet-warming pollution from cars in half. Transportation accounts for nearly 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US.”

“Donald Trump has asked a U.S. judge to delay by four weeks a trial scheduled for April 25 over whether he defamed former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll by denying he raped her,” Reuters reports.

“In a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, Trump’s lawyers said the former U.S. president’s right to a fair trial required a ‘cooling off’ period, following the recent ‘deluge of prejudicial media coverage’ of his indictment by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.”

“Donald Trump said he wouldn’t drop out of the 2024 presidential race even if convicted of a crime,” the Washington Post reports. Said Trump: “I’d never drop out, it’s not my thing. I wouldn’t do it.”

“There is no barrier to someone running for president if convicted of a crime, as socialist Eugene V. Debs did in 1920 while imprisoned for speaking out against the draft in World War I.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who once promised a “bipartisan tsunami” against Saudi Arabia in the wake of the 2018 assassination of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, held what he called a “very productive” meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday, the Washington Post reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin personally approved the arrest of a US reporter on espionage charges for the first time since the Cold War,” Bloomberg reports.

“The Russian president’s endorsement of the move reflects the growing influence of Kremlin hardliners who push for deepening a confrontation with Washington they view as irreversible.”

“Missouri House Republicans voted to defund all of the state’s public libraries, in a proposed $45.6 billion state budget that will soon move to a vote in the GOP-controlled state Senate,” WCPT reports.

Mark Barabak: “Trump thrives on attention the way plants need water and all of us need oxygen. He famously said bad publicity is sometimes better than none at all. So it’s tempting to deny Trump his drug of choice and the means he uses to perpetuate his never-ending cash grab.”

“His rallies are easily ignorable, having long assumed the diminished feel of a faded band grinding out stale oldies on the county fair circuit. Even Fox News (motto: Ratings Over Country) no longer carries them live.”

“But turning away doesn’t mean Trump would go away.”

“Besides which, at the moment he’s the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He continues to hold sway over a vast swath of the GOP and many of its leaders, including the speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, who follows the master of Mar-a-Lago like a Pomeranian on a leash.”

“That’s why it’s important to keep spotlighting Trump’s continued recklessness and mendacity.”

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

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