A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
C’mon, This Ain’t The Hatfields and McCoys
I love covering a good ol’ fashion pissing match as much as anyone. Call it what you want: feud, quarrel, squabble, grudge match. I’m almost always there for it, especially when neither side is particularly sympathetic. But – and this is an important caveat – pissing match coverage can be a sub-genre of bothsidesism. Take for example the direction that the coverage of Disney standing up to the bullying of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is starting to take.
Sample headlines from yesterday (emphasis mine):
NBC News: Disney scraps plan for new Florida campus amid DeSantis feud
NYT: Amid Feud With DeSantis, Disney Cancels $1 Billion Development in Florida.
BBC: Disney scraps $867m Florida plan amid Ron DeSantis feud
Calling what’s happening a “feud” minimizes the stakes. Its subtext is a classic of bothsidesism handwringing: Why can’t they just aloooong???
In general, I’m not a fan of relying on corporate interests to vindicate broader ethical, moral or political aspirations. Their commercial interests compromise them too much to serve as proxies for the things we care about most. But for better or worse, companies are often on the frontlines when the GOP manufactures another cultural clash.
In this case, Disney stood up to defend its patrons and employees against DeSantis’ Don’t Say Gay law. DeSantis retaliated in dramatic and unprecedented ways. Disney stood firm. DeSantis upped the ante. Disney fought back. DeSantis kept going. Disney sued. Florida sued back. It’s still going.
I get that there’s a punch-counterpunch back and forth here that lends itself to pissing match-type coverage, but both sides aren’t equal here. I don’t for a minute buy the fairy tale Disney image of innocence, sweetness, and light. It’s a corporate entertainment giant with all that that entails. But corporate Disney under CEO Bob Iger made a calculated business decision to stand on principle.
To reduce what’s happening to a “feud” misses important elements of the story.
A tinpot governor with proto-fascist tendencies is trying to bend a multinational corporation with a footprint in his state to his will, make them compliant and subservient, and cow not just other corporations but other institutional power centers, like universities. That’s not a “feud”! You don’t want anyone just “getting along” with that agenda.
Fani Willis Aiming For Early August Indictments
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sent a letter Thursday sent a letter to county Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville indicating that she plans to have much of her staff work remotely for most days during the first three weeks of August and asking that judges not schedule trials and in-person hearings during part of that time. Copied in on the letter are 20 other county officials, including Sheriff Pat Labat, the court clerk and top leaders.
Alvin Bragg Considers New Charges Against Trump Org’s Ex-CFO
The threat of new charges represents the latest effort in a two-year campaign to persuade Mr. Weisselberg to testify against Mr. Trump. And it comes at a crucial time, just weeks after the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, unveiled an indictment of the former president.
Santos Comms Director Resigns
The poor woman in the thankless role of communications director for Rep. George Santos (R-NY) quit with one of the best parting shots ever: “Unfortunately, you never took one point of professional advice given.”
Stacey Plaskett, the ranking member on Jim Jordan’s “weaponization” subcommittee, is proving to be the perfect counterweight to Jordan despite her status as a non-voting delegate from Virgin Islands.
Here she is blowing things up in yesterday’s committee hearing that focused on the GOP’s newfound anti-FBI fervor, with Jordan hauling in purported “whistleblowers” whose security clearances have been revoked because of questions about their allegiance to the Constitution:
Plaskett: “But when the FBI investigates conservative Christian white men who are actually threatening violence, suddenly my Republican colleagues are rushing to defund the police.” pic.twitter.com/zUq7GXA2tV— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 18, 2023
The Kash Patel Connection
One other gem from yesterday’s Jim Jordan circus ring:
What’s Going On Between Sotomayor and Kagan?
We also saw another split between the liberals today, with Sotomayor and Jackson splitting sharply from Kagan in the Andy Warhol case, complete with cutting snipes back and forth, like this one from Kagan directed at Sotomayor (!). https://t.co/ew8BmInWZO pic.twitter.com/JBTl7SH17l— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) May 18, 2023
New Details On Feinstein’s Poor Health
Ms. Feinstein’s frail appearance was a result of several complications after she was hospitalized for shingles in February, some of which she has not publicly disclosed. The shingles spread to her face and neck, causing vision and balance impairments and facial paralysis known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome. The virus also brought on a previously unreported case of encephalitis, a rare but potentially debilitating complication of shingles that a spokesman confirmed on Thursday after The New York Times first revealed it, saying that the condition had “resolved itself” in March.
Characterized by swelling of the brain, post-shingles encephalitis can leave patients with lasting memory or language problems, sleep disorders, bouts of confusion, mood disorders, headaches and difficulties walking. Older patients tend to have the most trouble recovering. And even before this latest illness, Ms. Feinstein had already suffered substantial memory issues that had raised questions about her mental capacity.
Strong Reporting Effort
WSJ: Antiabortion Group Used Cellphone Data to Target Ads to Planned Parenthood Visitors
So You Like Open Carry Laws, Uh?
A pet theory of mine has been that we could roll back a lot of the insane new gun laws in America if Black men rose up as one and started taking advantage of them to openly carry. Not fair to Black men of course, but the calculus seemed solid: Do white people really want everyone to have guns or is something else going on (duh). Welp … it was more of a thought exercise than an actual plan anyway:
Say You’re Pro-Coup Without Saying You’re Pro-Coup
Rep. Bishop describes January 6 as “being on a bus to travel to a place where there was a speech by the president and so forth” pic.twitter.com/FRwemUFaA5— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 18, 2023
Have A Great Weekend!
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