Biden Takes Aim At Felon Trump And Out-of-Control Supreme Court

INSIDE: Donald Trump ... Mike Johnson ... Elizabeth Warren
US President Joe Biden (L) speaks next to former US President Barack Obama onstage during a campaign fundraiser at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NG... US President Joe Biden (L) speaks next to former US President Barack Obama onstage during a campaign fundraiser at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

Call Him What He Is

A new Biden campaign ad titled “Character Matters” focuses on Donald Trump’s felony conviction (and his losses in his civil fraud and E. Jean Carroll cases):

What Are We Doing Here?

The NYT write-up of the new Biden ad takes on the kind of weird distancing that political reporting sometimes offers up as objectivity.

The headline — “Biden Campaign Ad Paints Trump as a Felon” — suggests maybe it’s an open question whether Trump is a felon. Sure, the Biden campaign is painting him that way, but who is to say, really?

The story’s lede continues with that weird posture:

President Biden’s campaign on Monday began its most aggressive effort to brand former President Donald J. Trump a felon, with the introduction of a new television advertisement that focuses on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s criminal conviction.

It mentions the criminal conviction explicitly, but what is up with the ascribing the branding of Trump as a felon to the Biden campaign? Why does that have to be hedged as a Biden campaign effort rather than an established fact?

It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Fail to highlight Trump’s criminal conviction and you’re rightly treated like a damn fool. But highlight it, and suddenly it becomes a he said-he said contest.

Late update: The NYT changed its headline since Morning Memo was published. It now reads: “Biden Campaign Ad Calls Attention to Trump’s Felon Status”

Gloves Off

President Biden used a big fundraising event in LA to place the Supreme Court at the center of the campaign. Among Biden’s comments:

  • Trump getting to appoint a predicted two more justices is “one of the scariest parts” of Trump II presidency.
  • “He’s going to appoint two more [justices] flying flags upside down.”
  • “This has never been a court that’s so far out of step.” 

About The Decline Of Local News

The laments about the hollowing out of local news across the country over the past two decades are totally well-founded but are often focused on the shuttering, consolidating, and weakening of existing news outlets — but that’s just one side of the problem. The other important related issue is simply how bad — by design — the outlets that are left often are.

Take this story out this morning from Judd Legum on the propaganda campaign being run by Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is notorious for piping disinformation and right-wing partisan talking points through its network of “185 television stations in 86 markets affiliated with all the major broadcast networks.”

This month, Sinclair Broadcast Group has flooded a vast network of local news websites with misleading articles suggesting that President Biden is mentally unfit for office. The articles are based on specious social media posts by the Republican National Committee (RNC), which are then repackaged to resemble news reports. The thinly disguised political attacks are then syndicated to dozens of local news websites owned by Sinclair, where they are given the imprimatur of mainstream media brands, including NBC, ABC, and CBS. 

Sounds bad, right? It’s quite a bit worse than that. As Judd points out, the kinds of material Sinclair has been pumping through it local stations are the most rancid of the attacks on Biden’s age and mental fitness. I’m talking about things like Biden “pooping” on stage during the D-Day commemoration, supposedly “freezing” during other public appearances (according to deceptively edited videos), and his slurring or stuttering of words.

This flood of disinformation is nonstop, it’s still often under the radar, and it’s saturating millions of American homes.

The Resistance Girds For Trump II

NYT: “A sprawling network of Democratic officials, progressive activists, watchdog groups and ex-Republicans has been taking extraordinary steps to prepare for a potential second Trump presidency, drawn together by the fear that Mr. Trump’s return to power would pose a grave threat not just to their agenda but to American democracy itself.”

Ground Rules Set For First Presidential Debate

The candidates and CNN have finalized the ground rules for the June 27 presidential:

  • The microphone of each candidate will be muted until it’s his turn to speak;
  • No props or pre-written notes will be allowed, just a pen, pad, and bottle of water.
  • No studio audience;
  • 90 minutes long with two commercial breaks, during which the candidates may not interact with their staffs.

2024 Ephemera

We’re Going To be Spending A Lot Of Time On This

The expiration of the Trump tax cuts at the end of 2025 would normally be a campaign-defining issue, but it has taken a back seat to that piddling little concern about whether democracy will survive a Trump II.

Still, it’s happening regardless of who wins the White House and will be a major issue throughout 2025.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), probably keenly aware that tax debates often get framed in one-sided and unhelpful ways, is taking an early stab at setting the terms of the debate with a speech today in Washington.

Things Going Great At The WaPo!

New WaPo publisher Will Lewis and his incoming executive editor Robert Winnett faced two more major news stories over the weekend about the baggage they bring to the jobs from their long careers working in the British press — including an exposé of Winnett’s past work by the very same WaPo newsroom he will lead after the November election:

  • NYT: Washington Post Publisher and Incoming Editor Are Said to Have Used Stolen Records in Britain
  • WaPo: Incoming Post editor tied to self-described ‘thief’ who claimed role in his reporting

Pot Pardons

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) is issuing a blanket pardon for low-level marijuana possession that will impact about 100,000 people in the state.

What To Even Say … 🤦‍♂️

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