On today's BradCast, finding light on a very dark news day, and making sense of Devin Nunes' bizarre new legal attack against a well-respected media outlet. [Audio link for today's show is posted below.]
You know the news is dark on a day when the brightest spot seems to be the first-ever photographic evidence of a black hole in a galaxy that is 53 million light-years from Earth, as constructed by an international consortium of scientists from 20 different countries employing an array of observatories around the world to construct a virtual "telescope" the size of the planet itself. The assembled image of the supermassive black hole is the first such glimpse of such an object in space (theorized by Einstein over a century ago, but directly proven today for the first time) containing the same mass as 6.5 billion suns and so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitational pull.
Sounds a lot like the Trump Administration. But we (mostly) avoid that today, even as we discuss one of its biggest supporters in Congress, California Rep. Devin Nunes, and his increasingly mysterious (and troubling) new legal gambit.
But, before we get there today, an update on last week's razor thin race for a key seat on Wisconsin's Supreme Court. With computer-reported results from last week's election showing progressive-aligned Judge Lisa Neubaeur fell less than half of a percentage point shy of defeating far-right Judge Brian Hagedorn for a seat on the state's high court being vacated by a retiring progressive-leaned Justice, Neubauer decided on Wednesday against seeking a recount which she would have had to pay for under state law. Her concession today --- despite unofficial and unconfirmed computer tallies showing a loss by just about 6,000 votes out of some 1.2 million cast statewide --- means that progressives will be unable to regain a majority on the court until 2023 at the earliest. The new 5 to 2 rightwing majority all but scotches hopes for rolling back former Republican Governor Scott Walker's anti-union measures and GOP voter suppression laws, and could handicap the state's Democrats during the inevitable redistricting fights following the 2020 census. (Have we mentioned lately that elections matter?!)
Also today, more on the incoming and "potentially historic" "bomb cyclone" developing over plains states and the upper Midwest, where blizzard warnings have now been issued in 6 states, snowfall as high as two feet is predicted in some areas, and the threat of more major flooding is plaguing several states still fighting to recover from billions of dollars in damage from the last "bomb cyclone" which erupted just weeks ago. This latest evidence of the increasingly dangerous threat of catastrophic climate change comes on the same day as Donald Trump signed two new Executive Orders intended to make it more difficult for environmental regulations at the state level to prevent the construction of new oil and gas pipelines (which serve to exacerbate man-made global warming.)
Several weeks ago, the California Congressman and top Trump ally in Congress filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter, the owners of two anonymous parody accounts (@DevonCow and @DevonNunesMom), as well as Republican strategist and Nunes/Trump opponent Liz Mair for defamation. This week, the GOP Congressman filed suit against Mair again, along with the 162-year old McClatchy Company, a news consortium which publishes the Fresno Bee, the hometown paper in the Nunes' central California district. His latest complaint seeks $150 million in damages, charging defamation based on an article published by the Bee last year detailing the settlement of a lawsuit after a charity yacht cruise which reportedly included cocaine and underage prostitutes, according to court documents cited by the paper. The cruise was auctioned off by the philanthropic arm of the Alpha Omega Winery, in which Nunes is an investor.
But where his Twitter suit seemed absurd, this new suit --- like the first one, originally reported by Fox "News", of course --- suggests a darker and more nefarious effort to undermine Constitutionally-protected freedom of the press. Who is funding these efforts by Nunes and why? Might it have anything to do with Trump's repeated assertions that libel laws need to change to make it easier for public figures like himself to challenge reporting that celebrities like himself don't care for?
Boehlert offers insight on what may be going on here: "The Republican Party has decided that Google, Twitter and Facebook are the new targets. And they're using the exact same playbook that they used on the traditional media for four decades, which is you work the refs, you scream and yell over these fake phony allegations of 'liberal media bias'. And it works! Facebook has bent over backwards to make sure Republicans are happy. Twitter could have easily banned Donald Trump two years ago and saved this country an enormous amount of pain, because he obviously violates the rules all the time. So it works."
But there may be even more behind all of this, as we discuss, along with his concerns about ongoing corporate media failures in the wake of Trump AG William Barr's handling of the still-secret Mueller Report and other related matters as we head into the 2020 Presidential election cycle.
Finally, we close with some listener mail regarding our ongoing discussions of how Dems should move forward as they attempt to remove both Donald Trump from office next year and the nation itself from the black hole we continue to sink into under his increasingly dark reign...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)