Last week, Fox News reached a $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems Corporation. This week, without explanation, the anchor of the media conservasphere announced it was parting ways with the Dark Knight of the right-wing news realm.
Some folks will want to debate where there was a cause-and-effect level of connectivity between the two events. I’m here to posit, it simply doesn’t matter.
Really short post today. Not a whole lot to say. The conservative spin machine will tell you Fox didn’t settle, Fox didn’t lose, Fox didn’t admit any wrongdoing, and a host of other less than creative untruths, all in an effort to gaslight you, and retain some semblance of ability and reason to feel good about themselves. Don’t fall for the okie doke.
Here’s the official statement from Fox Corporation on the matter of its settlement with Dominion Voting Systems Corporation:
“Fox Corp. just released a statement: “We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. We acknowledge the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”
On the face of it, that’s a paragraph filled with gobbledygook. But, amid the blarney, are 13 words that tell a compelling and succinct story. Those words?
‘We acknowledge the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.’
Yes, if you fell off a turnip truck, of just landed from another planet, or have been Rip Van Winkling for the past 20 years, you might have no idea what any of that meant.
But, if you’ve lived in the United States of America for the past 3 years, and you have been at all tuned into the Big Lie…The 2020 Election was stolen from Donald Trump by dark forces aiding Joe Biden, let by the villainous Dominion Voting Systems, and machines designed to turn Trump votes into Biden votes…you know exactly what it means.
It means the court determined Fox and Company were complicit in defaming the voting company, and Fox acknowledged…the court was right.
Mic drop: case closed!
One more thing. Some folks will not be satisfied with this result. They believe it did not go far enough. They would have preferred to have seen Dominion force the issue, go to trial and demand individuals, e.g., the Murdochs, Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, Pirro, etc., take the stand and admit, under oath, that they knowingly and with malice, defamed Dominion. Even though several members of Team Fox had admitted in inter-office communications, they knew Trump’s claims were bogus, and Rupert Murdoch acknowledged in earlier court proceedings he knew this, but didn’t opt to stop it, the burden of proof was high, probably too high, to be confident they could meet that standard to the satisfaction of 12 jurors. Conversely, Fox Corp. was likely averse to parading its a-list staff to the stand, where they’d have to admit many truths that Fox fandom has established it does not want to be forced to hear. Six weeks of that would probably have cost them more than the $787.7 settlement. Meanwhile, Dominion will have to find some solace in being gifted three-quarters of a $billion. Woe is them, I guess. “787.5 Million Reasons Fox Lost: Don’t Expect Them To Admit It!”
Nashville has been abuzz the last couple of weeks; in the opinion of many, for the wrong reasons. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Nashville school shooting that took place on March 27, 2023. At the time I opted not to express the array of grisly details accompanying yet another too frequent horrific mass shooting tragedy. This post revisits, in a tangential way, that event.
After a shooter killed three 9-year-old students and three adults at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, three Tennessee Representatives, Justin Jones, Gloria Johnson, and Justin Pearson, staged a demonstration on the State House floor in Nashville, calling for gun reform and leading chants with a bullhorn.
According to Jones, he and the other lawmakers had been blocked from speaking about gun violence on the House floor, saying their microphones were cut off whenever they raised the topic. Following their demonstrations, Republican House Speaker Cameron Saxton called their actions “unacceptable” and argued that they broke “several rules of decorum and procedure on the House floor.”
Last week, three resolutions were filed seeking the expulsion of Jones, Johnson, and Pearson. All three had already been stripped of their committee assignments, following the protest. The resolutions, filed by Republican Reps. Bud Hulsey, Gina Bulso, and Andrew Farmer, alleged the lawmakers “did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor.”
Moreover, Tennessee GOP Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison told CNN that the caucus believed the issue did not need to be considered by an ethics committee, and accused the two Justins (Jones and Pearson), of having a “history” of disrupting floor proceedings.
He asserted, “It’s not possible for us to move forward with the way they were behaving in committee and on the House floor.”
Not surprisingly, the Tennessee Democratic Party chair, Hendrell Remus, called the move a “direct political attack” on the Party.
He added, “Their expulsion sets a dangerous new precedent for political retribution. The day that a majority can simply expel a member of the opposing party without legitimate cause threatens the fabric of democracy in our state and creates a reckless roadmap for GOP controlled state legislatures across the nation.”
For context, it’s worth noting, the Tennessee House had only expelled two other representatives since Reconstruction…which warrants its own conversation…but not today. The move does require a two-thirds majority vote of total members. In Tennessee, as in several other State Legislatures, Republicans just happen to have a Supermajority.
There is a lot to digest here. Some of it said, some of it left unsaid. First and foremost, the GOP Caucus chair, and the Republican Party members who authored the Resolution spoke about disorder, dishonor, and disruption. Where’s Jesse Jackson when you need him? The King of alliteration would certainly have added another D-word: Distraction. The Republican House Supermajority, by choosing to create a spectacle, and lean into the theatrics of expulsion of two Democratic House members, created a distraction from the issue that led to the imbroglio, in the first place: mass shootings.
Second, conservatives frequently recoil whenever the topic of race emerges as an audible theme in conversations on the public square. Yet, they all too frequently create environments in which not mentioning race would be tantamount to malpractice. The expulsion example is just such a case. Three representatives were engaged in the protest: two Black men, and one White woman. All three were cited for their behavior. Each member was voted on individually. The Black men were expelled; the White woman was not.
Mr. Faison claimed the two Black men have a history of being disruptive. The fact is, they were cited for this protest, not for their historical actions. In this instance, any effort to parse the behavior of the three members results in a distinction without a difference. The action sounds very much like a case of UNS, Uppity Negro Syndrome…a popular practice of putting a Black man or woman in their place…because they’ve gotten out of their lane, too big for their britches, too smart, too loud, too successful, or some other excess, such that the comfort of some assembly of White people is compromised. A course correction is deemed in order. In this case, expulsion.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting Gloria Johnson should have been expelled. Representative Johnson is an ally. There was no reason to expel her…or to expel Representatives Jones or Pearson. The GOP Supermajority was flexing, another way of saying, feeling themselves.
Somewhere along the way, the stigma of being called, or thought to be racist, came to be deemed more onerous than doing or saying racist things. When you think about it, what a genius strategic design. If one can make the penalty steep enough for characterizing certain racist words or acts as racist, even though they are, people will, to promote comity, avoid calling out the behavior, thus freeing folks to commit racist acts, without fear of pushback or punishment.
An arraignment is usually the first court hearing in a criminal case, following an arrest. Now that we have dispensed with the definitional part of this discussion, on to the particulars. Yesterday, Don Trump, the Elder, was arraigned in a Manhattan court room. He faced 34 felony counts and pled not guilty to all charges. This is where I stipulate, that Mr. Trump, as any other defendant, is presumed, not just, not guilty, but innocent (there is a difference), until proved guilty.
Mr. Trump claims, and his real supporters swear, he is innocent, and that he is the victim of an evil liberal cabal, executing an overtly politicized agenda against him…and more importantly, the millions of conservatives he represents.
Though the front door of this case makes it appear to be about paying off a porn star, an allegation with copious and detailed supporting evidence, the 34 counts he is charged with relate to falsifying business records under Article 175 of the New York Penal Law. There is a lot of minutiae beneath all the legalese undergirding the charges against Trump. I won’t even attempt to explain it all, but a modicum of clarification is apropos. First, this does not imply Trump committed 34 different crimes. Rather, the indictment lists 34 felony counts under one New York statute. Each count signifies a separate instance of alleged misconduct, but not a different type of crime.
That is not by any means meant to suggest this bundle of counts is one big distinction without a difference. For example, just to tease out one instance, were Mr. Trump to be convicted of the felony bookkeeping fraud charge, he would face up to four years in prison for each count. Surely, we can agree, there is nothing insignificant about such an outcome. It is in the judge’s discretion to impose consecutive sentences, which would mean, Mr. Trump, if found guilty, would have to the counts, one after another.
Conversely, the charge does not carry a mandatory prison sentence. Even if convicted on all counts, Trump would not necessarily face jail time. As a first-time offender (technically, anyway), with no criminal record, legal experts say, it is uncertain whether the former president and 2024 White House candidate would be sentenced to prison if convicted.
If you are pro-Trump, you will probably want to read that again. If you are anti-Trump, you won’t want to, but you probably should read that again. It would behoove you to get accustomed to the possibility of that outcome, even if Trump is convicted.
That brings me to my next point. There is a segment of the geo-political sphere who fully embraces the notion that Trump is innocent. Full stop. He has used the flaming populist rhetoric that has served him so well since the 2015 onset of his initial quest to gain the presidency, to fan the flames of vitriol aimed at Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg, his investigators, and anyone even remotely associated with prosecuting the case against him. On the prosecutorial side, despite the contention of Trumpers to the contrary, the D.A., the Grand Jury, and everyone involved have proceeded slowly, cautiously, and with great rectitude, in an effort to ensure that Trump’s rights, real and imagined, are not trampled.
In theory, this is a good thing. Because in theory, we are all equal under the law, and as such, none of us would want to be consumed whole and spit out by the all-encompassing “system.” But hold on, wait a minute. That’s just not the way it is. In fact, it’s not even close. The reality is, no president, or former president has ever been imprisoned. In fact, Trump, just being arraigned was precedent-setting. Moreover, consider how long it has taken to get this far. I don’t want to suggest this matter is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, but color me hella surprised, if this dude is convicted of anything stemming from this case, and flat stunned, if he goes to anyone’s jail, not even Club Fed.
It is important to note, while this case is currently front and center, there are others in the wings:
In January, the Trump Organization was fined $1.6m for tax fraud
A Georgia grand jury has left potential charging decisions in the hands of local prosecutors
The Legal Defense Fund is suing Mr. Trump and the RNC for attempting to overturn a duly executed and certified election
A federal judge has allowed 3 lawsuits from members of the US Capitol and DC Metropolitan police forces to move forward
Mr. Trump also faces an ongoing suit related to sexual harassment charges
New York AG Letitia James has filed a $250m lawsuit against Trump and 3 of his children
There are others, but perhaps the most threatening case is a DOJ, special counsel-led investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents and materials
Familiar as he is with legal proceedings, Mr. Trump saw many, if not most of these cases coming, a mile away. He had the prescience to become an early declared candidate for president, no doubt anticipating using his candidacy as a shield against potential legal action, much as he used the Oval Office during his presidency. We’ll see how that works out for him. In all fairness, it’s served him well so far. “Arraigned in Manhattan: Don’t Believe Your Lying Eyes!”