Editors’ Blog

This Will Be Interesting

A Fox News Producer, Abby Grossberg, is suing Fox News, essentially arguing that the network plotted to make her and Maria Bartiromo the fall guys for the Dominion lawsuit.

Where Things Stand: I’m Sure He Will Figure Out How To Insult Me Better Soon But In The Meantime …
This is your TPM evening briefing.

He’s just asking questions.

Donald Trump gave us a taste of the mess that’s to come with the 2024 GOP primaries back in February when he less-than-subtly breathed life into what was, at the time, just far-right internet trolls making vague allegations that had something to do with Ron DeSantis partying with high schoolers.

Now DeSantis is giving him a taste of his own medicine. 

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First Look at the DeSantis/Trump Storm

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, under pressure from Trump allies, is taking his first stab at addressing the Trump indictment situation. It shows both his inevitable strategy and the inherent difficulty of the situation. He pleads little knowledge of how it works when you pay “hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I just, I can’t speak to that.” But he also insists that Alvin Bragg is a “Soros-funded prosecutor and so he like other Soros funded prosecutors, they weaponize their office to impose a political agenda on society at the expense of the rule of law and public safety.” The approach isn’t surprising: Deep State/Soros yada and also did you hear he paid hush money to a porn star he had sex with?

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Dems and the Folly of Micromanaging the Trump Spectacle

I’ve only gotten a couple negative replies to the post below about Alvin Bragg’s expected indictments of ex-President Trump. But those replies have had a wild intensity that started me thinking about what the possible disconnect was between me and these readers. What I said was that it’s not great. But it’s happening entirely outside any framework that any of us can do anything about. And, mostly, I don’t think it will matter much one way or another if, as I expect, it is followed by indictments for graver crimes. In fact, even if this is the only Trump indictment ever, I still don’t think it matters much.

People just see things differently of course. And intense disagreement is nothing new to me. But I think there’s something more going on here — or two things rather. And, because I think these few TPM Readers represent a lot more people who think the same way, here’s what I think those things are.

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Is It Tuesday or No?

I have been assuming that Trump’s unhinged reference to his being “arrested” on Tuesday is based on what Alvin Bragg’s office has told his lawyers (for arranging Trump’s turning himself in to be booked in Manhattan). In other words, the “leak” is from Trump and the information is accurate. But CNN is reporting that Robert Costello, a one time legal advisor to Michael Cohen, has been designated by Trump’s lawyers to testify to the Manhattan grand jury about Cohen’s credibility on Monday. You could still have last-ditch testimony on Monday and an indictment on Tuesday. But that makes me significantly less confident that Tuesday is the day.

Does It Matter That the Stormy Case Goes First?

Quite a lot of ink has been spilled in recent weeks over the supposed problem — perhaps a very big problem — that the years-old case of the Stormy Daniels’ payoff might be the first — and perhaps the only — prosecution of Donald Trump. It weakens, so the argument goes, the whole global case against Trump. It’s old, technical, small stuff, and “why now?” when Trump needs to be held accountable for the gravest sorts of crimes against the country itself. Trump will clearly try to take the iffy nature of a Daniels’ payoff prosecution, use it to make the case that charges against him are all weak and manufactured and then try to use that broad brush to color whatever other more serious charges come later.

Some of these points I agree or agreed with; some not. So let me address different parts of this question.

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On It Not Actually Mattering

If you think back over the last three years, we’ve had a series of epic socio-cultural smackdowns over COVID: Lockdowns, masks, vaccines, schools. Each of these have tended to array broadly similar groups against each other, though with some key variations. But whatever you made of those fights, the public debate had really immense and immediate real world consequences. That is what is so odd and mystifying about the intensity of Lab Leak Discourse. It doesn’t actually matter. Or rather there are basically no real-world implications to either side being “right” or “winning.” I was talking to someone today who said how incredibly important it was. But after thinking about it for a bit, I thought, why? Now it’s much better for people to think up is up rather than up is down. And there are probably important secondary effects of getting this wrong, whichever way is “wrong.” But in any direct sense it’s not clear it has any real impact on anything.

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Keep An Eye Out

I just wanted to flag for you that we’ve got our annual sign up drive coming up in a couple weeks. It’s a very important one. So if you’ve been a member and lapsed or if you’re a TPM Reader who’s never taken the plunge please consider becoming a member during this drive. Before we kick it off I’ll be sharing a few more thoughts with you about our membership business model, why we do these drives and what we’re doing more broadly today as an organization.

A Bit of Earlier Context on Lab Leak Discourse

At present, my main contribution to Lab Leak Discourse is making fun of it. I say this operating on the distinction provided to us by TPM Reader JS a couple weeks ago, noting that Lab Leak Discourse is now entirely autonomous from the actual ongoing research into the origins of COVID-19. Indeed, I noticed yesterday that it has now taken a new turn focusing on public opinion surveys showing that a majority of Americans believe COVID began with a laboratory accident at the virology lab in Wuhan, China. The “wisdom of crowds,” one Lab Leak advocate told me, should be given its own weight along with the judgments of those with domain expertise in virology, genomics and other fields.

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Where Things Stand: Most Americans Are Chill With McCarthy Giving Tucker Jan 6 Tapes!!, Far-Right Media Declares
This is your TPM evening briefing.

Let me just start out with the facts: The Economist/YouGov published the results of a poll this week that surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults between March 10–14 on a number of different topics, mostly about people’s feelings on the state of the country.

A few of the questions touched on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), asking respondents about how favorably they saw him generally and his performance as speaker of the House. Two questions asked about the issue of McCarthy giving Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and his production team exclusive access to all the internal Jan. 6 Capitol security footage for him to use to spread propaganda on his propaganda show. The survey asked if those polled had heard about the issue and if they approved or disapproved of it. The split in approval versus disapproval was relatively close.

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