Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

In our recent Inside briefings we’ve had a running conversation about the ins and outs of congressional oversight, how it’s properly done, its scope, what it can and can’t do. We’re going to continue this conversation next week with former Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), who is widely seen as the most accomplished and capable congressional overseer and investigator of the post-Watergate era.

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Aside from a few remarks on Twitter, I wasn’t sure there was much to add on the unexpected collapse of Ralph Northam’s governorship and political career. But I saw a note from TPM Reader AW who asked me to share my reactions, thoughts, comments. So here goes.

When I first saw this news yesterday afternoon it was such a whipsaw, unexpected development it took me a short while to make sense of it. We see pols appearing in black face or in some kind of Confederate regalia or other similar situations. Usually the identity of the public figure isn’t a huge surprise. Though I don’t know a great deal about him, I certainly didn’t expect this from Ralph Northam. And this is about as over the top as you can get. Not just blackface but a guy in Klan robe as well. Other than a jocular reenactment of a lynching, it’s basically maxed out on racist aggression.

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President Trump just gave one of his conference table press availabilities in which he said a bunch of weird stuff. One example below: he said he thinks part of the problem with the pre-Trump border barriers (a mix of walls, fences, etc.) was that they weren’t beautiful enough. Bizarre. But for all the fireworks, what seemed clear was that President Trump has realized that he’s lost the budget stand off with Nancy Pelosi and will try to create a narrative in which the defeat is actually a victory.

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This morning we have news that VICE is the latest digital media powerhouse to announce major layoffs: 10% of the workforce, apparently around 250 people. They of course join Buzzfeed, Huffpost (as part of Verizon), Gannett and others in recent weeks. With the digital media companies the key thing to consider is why people own media companies in the first place. Does anyone want to own these companies for longterm and consistent, if modest, profitability (or ‘synergy’ within a larger media company)? None of these companies have ever lived in that world. And none of them have those kinds of owners.

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Most of us have been listening for years to Ron Fournier preach the gospel of post-partisanship and bothsidesism. In fact, he was on Meet the Press Tuesday night doing just that. But it turns out he now works for a Republican PR firm and … well, it gets weirder from there. Matt Shuham has the story.

For months, really years, we’ve been hearing conflicting accounts about when the Mueller probe would end. Remember that President Trump’s lawyers at least were telling him it would be done by Thanksgiving of 2017. Not 2018, 2017! Then it was the end of the year. Then President Trump canned those lawyers. Since then there have been numerous reports claiming the investigation was about to wrap up. But for a long time most of those reports seemed to stem either from the President’s lawyers or people near the President. It was only very recently that we heard reports from reporters we believe are reliable — people like NBC’s Pete Williams — saying more or less the same thing: that the probe was entering its final stages or appeared to be in the process of winding down.

I don’t think reporters like that are going to take Rudy Giuliani’s word for it or the word of some Trump appointee flunky at the Justice Department.

Then finally we had acting AG Matt Whitaker say last week that he’s been “fully briefed” and that the investigation is “close to being completed.”

So what’s going on here?

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From TPM Reader AS

I was skeptical about AF. I don’t see many ads with Prime and I just pulled the trigger on AF just to support all of you. But having been an AF member for all of 15 minutes, the enormous speed increase with AF membership (presumably because there is no linking to other sites / services with each page load) makes TPM way more of a joy to visit. Feel free to quote me on this.

Ready to join or upgrade? It’s super easy. If you’re already a Prime member, it’s just a simple button click. Click here.

Howard Schultz is no longer CEO of Starbucks. But as de facto founder (he took it over as a small coffee roaster and developed it into what we know as Starbucks) I imagine he is still a major shareholder. Really he and Starbucks are inseparable. But I don’t think he’s really considered how vulnerable the company is to a boycott or simply enduring brand damage tied to this effort.

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I cannot say I’ve hung on every word of ex-Starbucks CEO (and de facto founder) Howard Schultz’s 48+ hour pre-campaign. But I’ve seen most of the public statements. What’s most notable is that the main theme of his campaign so far is hostility to Democrats. And as he gets criticized by Trump critics that pattern appears to be intensifying.

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President Trump is the best marketing director for anti-Trump books. A short while ago, former staffer Cliff Sims was on CNN pushing his tell-all book when Trump tweet attacked him in real time. He even got a chance to respond in real time: “Nice. There it is.”