In the on-going tragedy of the expulsion and massacre of the Rohingya from Myanmar there’s a small part of the story which overlaps with our domestic discussion of the way social media platforms have been used to sow propaganda, hate speech, fake news and even become the tools of foreign intelligence organizations. It turns out that Facebook has been one of the primary channels for organizing the expulsion and the incitement of religious/ethnic hatred and vigilanteism which is a key part of it.
Much of the central role of Facebook, apparently, is tied to the fact that much of Myanmar until very recently had little modern media infrastructure. Then cell phones grew rapidly. So Facebook is a key way many people get their news. It’s a singular or near singular source of news to a far greater degree than in the developed world or many other parts of the developing world.
Good morning. As the clock ticks toward a government shutdown, here’s what’s on TPM editors’ radar.
In an upset victory, Democrats flipped a reliably Republican state senate seat in Wisconsin tonight. Barack Obama lost Wisconsin’s 10th senate district by 6 points in 2012 and Hillary Clinton lost it by 17 in 2016. But Democrat Patty Schachtner defeated Republican state Rep. Adam Jarchow. Late returns showed Schachtner ahead by roughly 1600 votes out of more than 20,000 cast.
Here’s one thing that caught my attention in the piece Jake Weisberg posted today about Stormy Daniels and President Trump. It seems pretty clear that Daniels and Trump didn’t just have an “encounter” but a relationship over a number of months not long after Trump married Melania Knauss. We can’t prove this. But she seems to have told a number of people about it at the time and since. She also appears to have a decent amount of evidence to back it up. Trump also paid Daniels’ $130,000 for silence, which speaks for itself. In any case, there’s a small detail that caught my attention in connection to that story about a troupe of prostitutes Trump was allegedly offered in Moscow in 2013.
Few stories I’ve read recently better capture the Trump administration’s mix of mendacity and ridiculousness. The Department of Justice prepared a report seeking to show that a huge percentage of terrorist crimes in the US are committed by immigrants. They did this by defining people extradited to the US to face terrorism charges for crimes committed overseas as “immigrants”. Here’s the story.
We’ve been focused for several days on the President’s “shithole countries” remark, as we should be. But that only seems like one part of the story of that meeting, in some ways, not the most consequential or significant, inasmuch as it’s really not a surprise that President Trump thinks or speaks this way. A big story in The Washington Post and other information that has come out over the course of the day puts the whole meeting in a different light.
Two major White House figures are now scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill this week or soon after: Steve Bannon and Hope Hicks. Bannon is set to testify today; Hicks later this week or possibly early next week. Given his centrality to the campaign and the fact that he’s now cut off and seems to have nothing to lose, Bannon may seem like the more consequential testimony. But that’s probably wrong.
Welcome back from MLK day weekend. Both the House and Senate are back in session today. Here’s what’s on TPM editors’ radar.
One of the most striking things about the last several days after the President’s “shithole” outburst is that two of the Senators in the room have now willingly and repeatedly lied on the President’s behalf to serve his narrow interests. Of course, politicians lie. Even the good ones will shade the truth and fail to speak up to clarify public confusion. But this is an extreme and almost unique case.
A few more miscellaneous thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. on this day of remembrance.
One: King was a troublemaker. In many ways, he became more of a troublemaker as he progressed through his life. In key ways, in the final years and especially the final year of his life, he was being abandoned by key supporters and sidelined because he was focusing not solely on race (on which the country was then beginning to build at least a notional elite consensus) but on poverty and democratic socialism and the Vietnam War, issues that divided many of his supporters. It is always important to remember that King died in Memphis because he was there to support a strike not an integration march, though racial discrimination and labor rights were and are impossible to separate.
The fact that the FBI sent Martin Luther King a letter demanding he kill himself or risk the release of recordings of his extra-marital assignations has been known for decades. But the complete and uncensored version of the letter only came to light three years ago. You can see it here. Yale historian Beverly Gage happened on the original version of the letter during research at the National Archives.
There is a lot contained in this letter. To put it mildly.