Editors’ Blog

An Epic Joke Prime Badge
A Twitter logo is seen on a computer screen on November 20, 2017. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto)

I don’t really know how to summarize it. But to great fanfare this evening Elon Musk announced the release of “The Twitter Files,” basically an exposé of the purportedly corrupt decision of Twitter’s former management to suppress links to the NYPost’s story on the Hunter Biden laptop in the final days of the 2020 campaign. He pulled back the curtain and it was none other than Matt Taibbi, now apparently another of Musk’s hirelings, laying it out in one massive Twitter thread.

I was frankly shocked at how underwhelming it was.

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The Sweetheart Deal Gets Sweeter Prime Badge
DeSantis keeps hosing down his defense contractor pals with more money. But there haven't been anymore immigrant flights.

We’ve discussed already how a GOP-connected defense contractor, Vertol Systems Company, was awarded a no bid contract to run Gov. Ron DeSantis’s controversial immigrant relocation program which flew those bamboozled Venezuelan asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard back in September. The guy who ran the program for DeSantis, public safety czar Larry Keefe, was Vertol’s longtime lawyer. So everyone is real tight. The state of Florida had to waive its normal rules to pay Vertol in advance for the Martha’s Vineyard “project” and two more stunts, the latter two of which ended up getting scuttled or at least delayed after the controversy blew up in September and October. That meant that the state of Florida had paid Vertol $1.5 million for transporting just fifty immigrants to Massachusetts.

But now there’s more.

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Annals of Boom and Bust Prime Badge

You may have noticed that storied Disney CEO Bob Iger is back in his old job after successor Bob Chapek was unexpectedly fired last month, the corporate equivalent of a drumhead trial and summary execution. The issues at Disney are partly the bearish stock market, partly Chapek’s poor performance. But the central issue is managing Disney’s transformation or attempted transformation into a streaming behemoth. You may already subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or AppleTV. If you do, maybe you’ll sign up for one or two more such services. But not more than that. There’s been a furious competition to be one of those one or two more. Under his long tenure at Disney, Iger made a series of acquisitions — Marvel, the Star Wars franchise, Fox entertainment and more — that made that plausible. Now the future of Disney as a streaming business is in question and that is a central reason why Iger is back.

This may seem far from your concerns. But it is part of a larger dynamic that is central to the early 21st century world. We live in an informational and entertainment world in which there are successive cycles of lavish spending to build market share followed by job losses, diminished quality and general chaos when the winners and losers get sorted out.

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Area Judge Drop Kicked to Eternal Shame

I wanted to slow down a bit and make sure you absorb the full weight of the 11th Circuit ruling today in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Specifically this was a ruling on the civil suit which Donald Trump brought to short circuit and hobble the Justice Department probe of his theft and illegal possession of a host of highly classified documents at his South Florida villa. Remember Judge Aileen Cannon, the Trump appointee judge who Trump forum-shopped into the case and who then proceeded to disregard logic, precedent and self-respect to take up as, in essence, Trump’s own lawyer from the bench? The three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit, made up of two Trump appointees and one George W. Bush appointee, ruled against every aspect of Cannon’s involvement in the case, including being involved at all in the first place. The whole special master episode? Nope. Done. Josh Kovensky walks us through the details.

Where Things Stand: Catching Up On The Trump Org Tax Fraud Case
This is your TPM evening briefing.

There are about a hundred Donald Trump-related investigations happening at the moment, so today I’ll save you the Google with this brief rundown of the Trump Organization criminal tax fraud case, which is wrapping up closing arguments either this evening or sometime tomorrow morning. The jury will then begin its deliberations.

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BREAKING

Federal appeals court rules that the U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has no jurisdiction to hear former President Trump’s challenge of the FBI’s seizure of government documents at Mar-a-Lago and orders her to dismiss the case.

Too Hot for Parler

Far right Twitter clone site Parler announces Kanye’s purchase of Parler is off.

From Parler HQ: “Parlement Technologies has confirmed that the company has mutually agreed with Ye to terminate the intent of sale of Parler. This decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November. Parler will continue to pursue future opportunities for growth and the evolution of the platform for our vibrant community.”

The Alt Right Shows Who’s Boss Prime Badge
The on-going Twitter purge of liberal and left-wing accounts is driven as much by Musk's mass firings as his new white nationalist pals.

Like many others I’ve been watching the alt-right take over of Twitter evolve in real time. The whole operation is now chained to the manic outbursts and enthusiasms of majority owner Elon Musk and he — as I explained here — is locked in an increasingly tight embrace with a series of far right accounts who keep buttering him up into an escalating froth about how his battle for “free speech” on Twitter is a battle in which the future of humanity at stake. “This is a battle for the future of civilization. If free speech is lost even in America, tyranny is all that lies ahead,” he tweeted on Monday. (Seriously, I watch this clown so you don’t have to …) But just over the last couple days it does seem like there’s a purge of progressive accounts on the site.

At first some of the banned account were ones that can be reasonably classed as radical anti-fascist accounts. To be clear, I do not in any way equate these groups with the fascist paramilitaries they oppose. But these are groups that mobilize to confront Proud Boys type groups on the streets. Some provide armed security at LGBTQ events and other marginalized group/threatened events. It’s plausible that they might say things that could be reasonably construed as endorsing violence. They might be “doxxing” far right individuals. My point is that in a climate of unequal enforcement of Twitter’s terms of service they might actually be violating those terms of service. Again, I’m not justifying their suspensions. I’m providing context for what might be driving them.

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Listen To This: Ghost of Congress Yet To Come

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss the to-be Republican House in disarray and Donald Trump getting punked on his own turf.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

Gaming Out the Numbers in the Kevin McCarthy Tunnel of Doom

Let me game out a few possibilities on the speakership vote. And let me say first, these remain quite hypothetical. I think Kevin McCarthy will become Speaker. But it’s worth walking through how different scenarios could play out.

First, as we know, to be elected Speaker you have to win a majority of the chamber. In other words, 218 out of 435 votes. A majority of your own party doesn’t cut it. That’s why having such a narrow majority makes everything so difficult. Other unexpected events can become very important. The passing of Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA), who died on Monday, could turn out to be significant in how this plays out, a point we’ll get to in a moment.

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