When The Truth Is ‘Bad For Business’

INSIDE: Jill Biden ... Matt Gaetz ... Fetterman
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 08: Truck billboards drive in front of the Palace Hotel calling out Fox News' election denial scheme as Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch attends an event on March 08, 2023 in San Francisco, C... SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 08: Truck billboards drive in front of the Palace Hotel calling out Fox News' election denial scheme as Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch attends an event on March 08, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Media Matters for America) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

New Dominion Materials 

The legal proceedings surrounding Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation suit against Fox News continue to deliver a treasure trove of information about internal comms at Fox News that affirm what has become increasingly clear in the last year, but has been known about the news network for decades: feeding your relatives lies and half-truths that make them angry is just a business model. 

Barack Obama articulated it rather well the other day, speaking about Rupert Murdoch’s role in the polarization of society. I flagged part of his quote in yesterday’s Morning Memo, but this part is relevant to the latest Dominion drop:

“You no longer have a joint conversation and a shared story,” Obama said from Australia as he spoke about Rupert Murdoch’s business model of dividing people for profit. “And the economics of the media, the clicks, are now based on how do I attract your attention? Well, the easiest way to attract attention without having to have a lot of imagination, thought, or interesting things to say, is just to make people angry and resentful and to make them feel as if somebody’s trying to mess with them and take what’s rightfully theirs.

“And if you throw in some good old-fashioned racism and xenophobia and sexism and homophobia, all of that, because now we’re in the realm of identity politics. And it’s very difficult to compromise around identity politics.”

The criticism ties in rather nicely with what’s been revealed in this most recent dump of internal communications at Fox News that were previously redacted and made public on Wednesday. In one of the emails, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott is seen alerting her colleagues to the reality that fact-checking Donald Trump and his allies’ lies about a stolen election was financially bad for the company. 

In one of the emails, Scott tells Meade Cooper, who is the executive VP of prime time programming, that she was frustrated with reporter Eric Shawn who had recently appeared on Martha MacCallum’s show and fact-checked someone who is a regular guest on Sean Hannity’s show

“This has to stop now,” Scott said in a Dec. 2, 2020, message. “This is bad for business and there is a lack of understanding what is happening in these shows. The audience is furious and we are just feeding them material. Bad for business.”

Fox News has responded to the latest drop of documents, arguing specifically in this instance that Scott was not upset about the fact-checking, but rather bothered by “one host calling out another.” 

Dominion Voting Systems

Scott is certainly right about the “feeding” of material for the audience to be “furious” about, but something tells me that is not the point Scott was trying to make.

Breaking This Morning

Russia has detained a Wall Street Journal reporter. Per WSJ:

Russia’s main security agency said it had detained a Wall Street Journal reporter for what it described as espionage.  

The Federal Security Service said Thursday it had detained Evan Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen, in the eastern city of Yekaterinburg.

The FSB said in a statement that Mr. Gershkovich, “acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”

“The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich,” the Journal said. “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”

When Will It Be The Time, Though? 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is telling the public that now is not the time to talk about legislation, as America attempts to grapple with yet another horrific school shooting tragedy that left six people dead, including three nine-year-old children. The shooter obtained at least two of their weapons legally. 

  • “There will be a time to talk about the legislation and budget proposals we’ve brought forward this year,” he said “And clearly there’s more work to do.”
  • Tennessee has been a permitless carry state for handguns since 2021.
  • First Lady Jill Biden attended the candlelight vigil in Nashville Wednesday night, honoring the lives of those murdered on Monday.

First Lady Jill Biden attends a public vigil to honor victims and survivors of a shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, March 29, 2023. (Photo by John Amis / AFP) (Photo by JOHN AMIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Fetterman Returns

Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) will return to the Senate the week of April 17. He has been receiving treatment for depression at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center since mid-February. 

Matt Gaetz Staffer Is A War Criminal

Derrick Miller, who serves as Gaetz legislative assistant on military policy, is a former Army National Guard sergeant who spent eight years in prison for murdering a civilian in Afghanistan in 2010. The Intercept has the shocking details:

While on a combat mission in Afghanistan’s Laghman province on September 26, 2010, Miller shot 27-year-old Atta Mohammed in the head during an interrogation. Miller has maintained that he was acting in self-defense, alleging that Mohammed, who had walked through a defensive perimeter established by Miller’s unit, could be a threat to his unit and that he had tried to grab Miller’s weapon during the interrogation. But another National Guard member testified he heard Miller threaten to kill Mohammed if he did not tell the truth; and then sat on top of him — Mohammed was lying prone — before shooting him in the head, killing him. According to the prosecutor, Miller then said, “I shot him. He was a liar.”

Mohammed’s body was left in a latrine, in violation of military standards.

Miller covers armed forces and national security, international affairs, and veterans affairs for Gaetz, according to the Congress-tracking website LegiStorm. Gaetz serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

The Indictment Watch Has Ended

For now. The Manhattan grand jury that we’ve been watching closely for signs of a Trump indictment over the last two weeks is scheduled to take a break in April. Reports Wednesday indicated that this break is part of some sort of pre-scheduled hiatus, but the news throws buckets of cold water on the anticipated indictment and any potential vote to charge Trump likely won’t come until late April.

I Guess That Means This Will Have To Wait

New Poll On Potential Trump Charges

Americans 57 to 38 percent think criminal charges should disqualify former President Donald Trump from running for president again, if charges are filed against him as a result of multiple state and federal criminal investigations, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

Pence Hints He May Not Appeal 

Just a day after a federal judge in D.C. ruled that former Vice President Mike Pence must comply with a grand jury subpoena and testify about his communications with Trump leading up to the insurrection, Pence fielded a question from a supporter in Iowa about whether he planned to testify against Trump.

“I am limited in what I can say about the grand jury’s proceedings but I am pleased that the judge recognized that the Constitution’s speech and protection clause applies to my work as Vice President when I was serving as President of the Senate on January 6,” Pence said. “We are currently talking to our council about the balance of that decision and determining a way forward but I have nothing to hide. I have written and spoken extensively about that day and the days leading up to it.”

Pence also told the crowd gathered to meet him in Urbandale, Iowa that he would make a decision about 2024 next spring.

Pope Hospitalized

Utah GOP Tries To Accuse Romney Of Treason

Today Utah’s Emery County Republican Party will vote at its convention on whether to censure Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who they are still mad at for voting to impeach Trump two times. The county Republicans claim that in voting to convict Trump in the first impeachment, the Utah Republican gave “aid and comfort to the Democratic party,” citing the Constitution’s definition of treason. 

They’re also mad that Romney “lent his support to a false liberal narrative” when he voted to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. 

About Damn Time???

The FDA will meet in May to talk about whether the agency should approve one type of birth control pill to be sold over-the-counter. The pill is called Opill and is currently only available via prescription. If approved it’ll be the first birth control pill available over the counter in the country. 

Of Course Mike Lindell Is Involved 

Earlier this month we reported on a county in California that had voted to drop its contract with Dominion Voting Systems after some far-right members of the community who campaigned on election lies were elected to the county election board. Those county officials had been in touch with none other than the MyPillow Guy, who not only encouraged the county board vote but offered to cover any legal expenses the county may incur for ditching the machines (even though he claims he is going broke over his Big Lying). 

This week Shasta County officials voted that instead of replacing the digital machines with another company’s voting equipment, the county is going to attempt to conduct its elections via hand count, a move that could be legally dubious and expensive.

But Lindell’s got their back. 

A Happy Update

We reported earlier this week that the progressive investigative publication the Texas Observer was shutting down after 68 years of publishing. 

Well, the Texas Tribune reports that Observer staff were able to crowdsource $300,000 in funding and the publication can keep the lights on for now. 

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Notable Replies

  1. Tomorrow then. It’s all yours.

  2. Josh was spot on regarding the coming cascade of negative articles concerning the former anointed one, Ron DeSantis. The plan seems to be to depict him as a less personable version of Jeb Bush. Also, what is Chris Christie* smoking? Exactly who is hoping for a Christie candidacy…?

    • Nikki Haley and Tim Scott can be substituted here…

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