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Texas Republicans Pass Bill to Rig Elections in Their Favor

This is how local democracy begins to crumble.

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Texas Republican senators have passed a bill that would give the (also Republican) governor’s office the power to overturn elections in one county, which has consistently voted Democratic in recent years.

The bill, which easily passed the Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday, is a direct response to a snafu in Harris County midterm elections. About 20 polling stations ran out of ballot paper on Election Day, which Republicans argued swung results away from them. But an investigation by the Houston Chronicle found that while there were issues and technical problems, no voters were unable to vote. There was also no evidence that the issues changed any race outcomes.

Still, Republican lawmakers are targeting the county. Tuesday’s measure now heads to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where it is also likely to pass, and would then head to Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s desk. The bill would give Abbott’s appointed secretary of state the power to order a new election in Harris County should at least two percent of its polling stations run out of ballot paper for more than an hour. Harris County has 126 voting locations, so it would only need to run out of paper at three stations for the secretary to order a brand new election.

Senate Republicans said the bill was about ensuring voting logistics, not overturning an election, but Democratic Harris County Senator Borris Miles said the measure was based on a conspiracy theory. He also pointed out that the bill only affects Harris County. The bill’s sponsor said he was open to expanding the measure to encompass other counties, but there appeared to be no such amendment by the time of the vote.

Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, has consistently voted Democratic since the 2016 election. Since then, Democrats have won most of the county commission seats and nearly all of the judicial ones. President Joe Biden and gubernatorial hopeful Beto O’Rourke also prevailed there by well over 50 percent.

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee also said the bill was “not about making elections better.”

“They are about targeting the largest county in the state, which is led by people of color. Laws that attack only one county are not only bad public policy, but also violate the Texas Constitution,” he said.

Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia put things a little more bluntly: “They’d rather be able to rig results than try to win fair and square,” he said.

Are We Supposed to Believe This Is the Text That Got Tucker Carlson Fired?

A new report says it knows exactly why the Fox host was let go, and it’s a little hard to believe.

Tucker Carlson
Janos Kummer/Getty Images

It seems we may finally have the text message that got Tucker Carlson fired and it’s … kind of a letdown.

The former Fox News host was abruptly let go last week, with no explanation given as to why. There has been plenty of speculation, including that Carlson’s private messages—many originally redacted in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit filings—had shown a side of him that even Fox executives couldn’t stomach. Now The New York Times reports that it has the exact text that got Carlson fired.

In a message to one of his producers, sent just hours after the January 6 insurrection, Carlson said he recently saw a video of three white Trump supporters attacking an “antifa kid.”

“Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob … hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him,” Carlson said. “Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: this isn’t good for me. I’m becoming something I don’t want to be.”

“The Antifa creep is a human being,” Carlson continued. “I shouldn’t gloat over his suffering. I should be bothered by it. I should remember that somewhere somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed. If I don’t care about those things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I better than he is?”

The Times reported that this text “set off a panic at the highest levels of Fox” that ultimately contributed to Carlson’s downfall.

But the thing about the latest message is that Carlson isn’t saying anything that’s worse than what he said every night on his show—until the end. The only way it seems possible that this message doomed him is that he ends the note by expressing concern over his own extremist views.

If what the Times is reporting is true, then as Media Matters writer Ari Drennen pointed out, it may not have actually been Carlson’s vile views that got him canned.

It was that he expressed concern about the impact of that hatred on his own brain,” she said.

Take this apparent change of heart with a grain of salt: In Carlson’s first appearance post-firing, he doesn’t seem to have changed all that much. It also was previously reported that he was fired due to misogynistic comments. But given Fox’s long history with sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s unlikely that would have swayed executives. And again, none of this is too different from what he’s said on air.

What’s more likely is that had all of Carlson’s comments come to light earlier, it would have dealt a huge blow to Fox as it tries to fend off multiple lawsuits. It’s harder to argue that you don’t spout hateful falsehoods or create a toxic work environment for women when your star anchor’s own words show otherwise.

Kevin McCarthy Made a Secret Deal With Tucker Carlson to Become House Speaker

Former Fox producer Abby Grossberg says McCarthy called up the ex-Fox host to discuss his terms.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

“They believed that he could broker who was House speaker. He wanted to do that live on air.”

This is what Abby Grossberg, the former Fox producer currently suing Tucker Carlson for discrimination, said about the then–Fox host’s apparent plans to work with Republican leader Kevin McCarthy in his bid to secure the speaker’s gavel. Grossberg’s comments came during an interview with Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night.

“[Tucker’s] plan was to have Kevin McCarthy come on the show,” Grossberg began. “Tucker a few days earlier had sort of set some terms for McCarthy, which included this Church kind of committee.”

Grossberg was likely referring to demands Carlson had made on January 3, including putting Representative Thomas Massie in charge of a “new Frank Church Committee” to investigate the FBI and other intelligence agencies.

“So, fast-forward to January 5, they start asking me to book McCarthy on the show that night,” Grossberg continued. “That afternoon, Justin [Wells, former Tucker Carlson producer] came in, and he said, here’s the plan: ‘Tucker’s gonna first have Kevin on, hear him beg and grovel. Then we’ll bring in Matt Gaetz, and Matt Gaetz will then kind of set his terms. Then Tucker will set his terms that McCarthy has to agree to … and we’re going to make this whole thing happen on air and save the Republican Party.’”

And the timeline, from the initial demands made by Carlson on January 3 to what happened next with regard to this grand plan to “save the Republican Party,” indeed seems to check out.

“Fortunately, for McCarthy’s sake, he said no,” Grossberg said. “But he did call Tucker the next day from his office with Representative Thomas Massie and had agreed to some of Tucker’s terms, according to a text that Tucker had sent me, and he said that was a win.”

What affirms this timeline? Carlson’s own show. On January 6, the two-year anniversary of the attack on the Capitol, Carlson celebrated McCarthy’s announcement to create a new Frank Church Committee—headed by, yes, Representative Thomas Massie.

“Looks like he’s going to be speaker, and his plan, we have just learned, is to appoint really one of the most honest and dogged members of Congress—we’ll just say it—Thomas Massie of Kentucky, to head that committee,” Carlson said on air.

“MCCARTHY AGREES TO PUT MASSIE ON NEW FRANK CHURCH COMMITTEE,” the Fox chyron blared, hinting at the fact that this was not some surprise plan that Carlson “just learned.”

“We were working to make sure that this Church Committee—a suggestion that you’ve had, and thank you for suggesting that I should be on it, I don’t know if you’re clairvoyant or just made the future happen, but it’s happening,” Massie said to Carlson with a grin and eyebrow raise.

Carlson flashed a momentary tight-lipped smile.

Florida Lawmaker Admits Republicans “Hate Homosexuals” on House Floor

At least one jaw dropped as the state representative tried to make his point.

Florida state Capitol
Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images
Florida state Capitol

A Florida Republican representative accidentally admitted that his party hates LGBTQ people, while expressing support for a bill that would take away LGBTQ rights.

Jeff Holcomb spoke on the House floor Monday in favor of a resolution that states “‘woke’ social engineering and experimentation practices … are eroding military effectiveness.” The resolution would ban policies in the military such as diversity recruitment, unconscious bias training, and the use of gender-neutral language—effectively questioning the presence of LGBTQ people in the military.

“I just can’t let our military be labeled as racist and discrimination without a response. ISIS, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda—those are the folks who discriminate,” Holcomb said. “Our terrorist enemies hate homosexuals more than we do.”

As he says the quiet part out loud, Democratic Representative Kelly Skidmore’s jaw drops in shock. She is seated behind him and clearly visible in the video frame. Next to her, someone whose face is just out of frame raises their hand to their face, also blown away by Holcomb’s words.

Courtesy of The Florida Channel

Republican-led states across the country have begun blatantly targeting LGBTQ people’s rights, and Florida seems to be leading the charge. The state legislature passed a bill in mid-April that is so extreme it could ban all Pride parades and festivals in the state. The bill’s sponsor said he would support the measure even if it meant “erasing a community.” Yet another bill would allow the state to remove trans kids from their families. Separately, another Republican representative compared transgender people to “mutants” and “demons.”

Minnesota Man Charged With Arson at Two Mosques Also Harassed Ilhan Omar

Someone attacked multiple houses of faith, an elected official, and even a police officer. Where are all the columnists calling for civility?

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

A man committed arson against two places of worship and vandalized the office of a sitting member of Congress, but you would not have been blamed for missing it.

Jackie Rahm Little, also known as Joel Arthur Tueting, has been arrested after allegedly committing arson at two mosques in Minneapolis last week. He also is allegedly guilty of shoplifting spray paint before proceeding to vandalize Representative Ilhan Omar’s office, a patrol vehicle assigned to a Somali Minneapolis police officer, and a marketplace locally known as the Somali Mall.

Little has a troubling history, and the latest incidents embody the exact kind of violence most of mainstream America purports to care about: attacks on houses of faith, law enforcement, and elected officials. As always, the point is not to ramp up carceral impulses but rather to confront the basic fact that acts of arson against mosques and threats to one of the first Muslim women, the first Somali American, and the first naturalized citizen of African birth elected to Congress are simply not garnering the national concern that any such attack should warrant.

Court documents from the Justice Department detail the exact alleged sequence of events. On December 30, 2022, Little, using the email address, sent a message to a congressional email account (redacted in the documents, though Omar has confirmed that her office was the target of the harassment). The message depicted a Quran in a toilet being urinated on by a male subject. The following day, Little sent an image of a bloody ear.

Days later, Little was seen “shoplifting or attempting to shoplift spray paint from a Target store.” Hours later, he spray-painted the text “500” on the door of Representative Omar, photographing his handiwork once done. In the evening, he went on to spray-paint the same message onto the vehicle of the Somali police officer before doing the same at the Somali Mall.

Two days later, Little sent another message to Omar’s congressional email account, with an image titled, “Ready for rush n*****.png” (censored). The image was of Omar in the U.S. Capitol speaking with a colleague.

Finally, two months later, on March 6, Little sent another message with images—one of which was a picture of the “500” spray-painted on Omar’s door.

The following month, in late April, Little started a fire in the bathroom of the Masjid Omar Islamic Center, which is located in the same building as the Somali Mall.

The next day, Little allegedly started a fire at the Masjid Al Rahma Mosque, prompting the evacuation of an array of individuals, including some 40 children who were attending daycare at the center. The damage may have totaled tens of thousands of dollars, according to court documents.

Authorities from nearby Plymouth’s police department say the suspect has a history of suspected arson, including in May 2022 and December 2021; he also has numerous documented incidents of domestic assault and other violent incidents on his record from as recently as March 2023.

“We are witnessing an epidemic of hate against the Muslim community and other religious minorities in Minnesota and globally right now. This campaign of terror is designed to keep us fearful and divided,” Omar said in a statement after the news of Little’s arrest. “As Muslim-Americans and as Minnesotans, we will not be terrorized. We will continue to stand united against bigotry because love is stronger than hate.”

Tucker Carlson Caught Making Disgusting Comments About Women in New Leaked Video

The recently fired Fox anchor made a host of creepy comments about women behind the scenes.

Tucker Carlson
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Politicon

Erstwhile Fox News host Tucker Carlson was caught on camera making crude and misogynistic comments, which could have contributed to his firing.

Carlson was abruptly let go last week, with no explanation given as to why. The New York Times reported a few days later that some of Carlson’s private messages had come to light. Originally redacted in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit filings, the Times said the now-revealed messages showed Carlson making “highly offensive and crude remarks” that somehow went further than the “inflammatory, often racist comments” he made on his show. The Times also said it had obtained videos of Carlson making nasty comments about women.

Media Matters released those videos Tuesday, and they’re pretty vile. The videos show Carlson joking around after cameras started rolling but before that episode of his show began. In one, Carlson jokes about discussing his sex techniques on air with then–Fox Nation host Piers Morgan.

“If we’re going to talk about sex, I’d love to hit some of the fine points of technique, but, you know, but it’s your show. It’s totally up to you,” Carlson told Morgan.

In another video, Carlson says he thinks someone’s girlfriend is “yummy.” The third video shows Carlson saying he likes to “wait for my postmenopausal fans to weigh in” on his appearance.

​​Carlson was Fox’s most popular host, and he made a name for himself by spouting falsehoods, conspiracy theories, and a range of racist, sexist, and homophobic ideologies. He was also the subject of one of the many lawsuits against Fox News.

Former Fox News producer Abby Grossberg, who worked on Carlson’s show, is suing the network, alleging that company lawyers coerced her into giving misleading testimony in the Dominion lawsuit. The move, she argues, was due to a culture of “poisonous and entrenched patriarchy,” citing multiple examples from Carlson’s team in particular.

It’s unlikely that Carlson was actually fired for his misogyny, given Fox’s long history with sexual harassment in the workplace. But his dismissal could be part of an attempt to get out ahead of Grossberg’s lawsuit.

Your Favorite Hollywood Icons Are Warning Not to Cross the Picket Line

Hollywood screenwriters are on strike, and a lot of people are backing them.

A sign reads Writers Guild of America On Strike!
David McNew/Getty Images
The Hollywood writers strike in 2008

Hollywood is now in disarray because studios refuse to take care of the writers who helped build it.

At 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, the Writers Guild of America began a strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, upending programming across Hollywood.

The strike comes in the aftermath of studios refusing to meet workers’ reasonable asks, such as higher minimum compensation levels and greater protections for writers in an industry rife with precarity. Streaming has decimated what used to be somewhat reliable income sources for writers (residual income from programs rerun through online, DVD, or network modes). Meanwhile, most industry writers are still limited to residing in high-cost-of-living areas, like New York City and Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the job as an industry writer brings no stability on its own.

“The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing,” the guild said in a statement on Monday.

The news of the strike loomed over the Met Gala, an annual fundraising event held to raise money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, which houses thousands of historical fashion artifacts over centuries.

While the gala is oft-dismissed as a garish display of high society, many of the gala attendees were quite forthright in their solidarity with the workers who help make their careers as film stars and television icons happen at all. Here’s a list of some of the most renowned social figures who are supporting Hollywood workers, and refusing to cross the picket line:

“If there’s a strike, yeah, I think we will, we’ll go dark,” late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon said.

“People strike for a reason,” Brian Tyree Henry, star of comedy-drama series Atlanta and films including If Beale Street Could Talk and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, said, simply.

“I support the writers,” said Olivie Wilde, star of acclaimed programs including medical drama House, Broadway actress, and award-winning director. “I support unions.”

Edie Falco, beloved star of programs like The Sopranos, reportedly canceled an appearance at Peacock’s NewFront where she was set to promote her new series. “It’s the least I can do,” she said.

“I don’t get what the problem is,” Amanda Seyfried, star of Mamma Mia! and Emmy award winning actress said. “Everybody needs to be compensated for their work. That’s fucking easy. I don’t get it.”

Mitch McConnell’s Obtuse Defense for the Supreme Court Justices Mired in Scandal

Republicans really don’t care about the Supreme Court’s ethics (or lack thereof).

Mitch McConnell speaks at a podium
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he doesn’t think the recent Supreme Court scandals, in which multiple justices did not report major financial dealings, are that big a deal.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing Tuesday about ethics reform at the highest court, following a ProPublica report that Justice Clarence Thomas didn’t disclose two decades’ worth of luxury vacations paid for by billionaire Republican megadonor Harlan Crow. Crow also bought Thomas’s childhood home, where his mother still lives, which similarly went unreported.

Justice Neil Gorsuch did not disclose the name of the person who bought property from him in Colorado. The buyer turned out to be the head of a law firm that has argued multiple cases before the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts is also under fire because his wife reportedly made more than $10 million as a headhunter placing attorneys at multiple law firms, including at least one that went on to argue a case before the Supreme Court.

But McConnell hit back at the arguments that Congress should implement an ethics code for the Supreme Court with a shameless display of whitewashing. “The left and some of their media allies want the American people to gasp in horror—in horror—that one Supreme Court justice vacations with his friends,” he said.

McConnell also dismissed the accusations against Gorsuch as just selling his house “when he moved” and the ones against Roberts’s wife as attacks on a modern, empowered woman with a career outside the home.

The Supreme Court has no official code of conduct, and it appears that the justices are exploiting that lack. The Senate has introduced a bill that would require the court to create a code of ethics within a year. So far, Lisa Murkowski, who co-sponsored the bill, is the only Republican to back it.

CNN, WTF Are You Thinking Having a Donald Trump Town Hall?

The former president has been impeached twice, criminally indicted, and is under investigation for rape. Now he gets to be on prime time.

Donald Trump

“If ‘low ratings’ CNN ever went Conservative, they would be an absolute gold mine, and I would help them to do so!”

This is what Donald Trump posted on Truth Social last September. And within a year of the post, while his reputation has tanked even further, CNN took him up on the offer.

Trump has been impeached twice, criminally indicted, and is under investigation for rape. He helped fan the flames of an election conspiracy that led to Fox Corporation forking over three-quarters of a billion dollars to stop further investigation into its own efforts to spread lies surrounding the election. And he still faces numerous other criminal investigations related to his efforts to overthrow our democracy.

And next week, CNN is hosting an exclusive town hall with him.

A video ad for the town hall looks more like a time capsule from 2015 than, for instance, content that would present even remote awareness of every scandal Trump is currently implicated in.

It is no secret that CNN has been on a lurch toward disinterested and lazy journalism, at least on the television side of things, mainly since the ascendance of new network President Chris Licht. He has discouraged reporters from calling Trump’s monumental lies about the 2020 election “the Big Lie.” He has sought to make CNN focus on “straight-news reporting” (as if there is some objective meter that determines what constitutes “straight news” and there is no editorial decision-making as to what does and doesn’t get covered beneath that umbrella, and how any of it is covered). CNN higher-ups have overall reportedly expressed an interest in shifting to the right.

And Licht is only one piece of the puzzle. CNN’s new owner, Warner Brothers Discovery Inc., is headed by David Zaslav, who seems to measure the success of the network’s shift mainly by how many Republicans it gets on air. Zaslav is also very close with Warner Brothers’ leading shareholder, John Malone, a self-described “libertarian” who once held 32 percent of the shares of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and also donated $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration. Malone has echoed desires for CNN to “evolve back,” suggesting Fox as a role model network, by having “‘news’ news, I mean some actual journalism, embedded in a program schedule of all opinions.”

That formulation tells you all of what the CNN higher-ups mean by wanting to shift to “straight-news” or “objective” analysis—patently right-wing and power-serving programming that platforms the type of conspiratorial lies that may lead to a $787.5 million lawsuit.

Perhaps the worst part of it all is that, despite the right’s perennial wailing, CNN is not in fact a meaningfully left-leaning network. Sure, like other mainstream big-box outlets, it has a liberal tilt. But there ought not be the illusion that the network has served as some bastion for the broader left base—workers, young people, people of color, environmentalists, anti-war voters, to name just a few groups seldom represented by the network’s day-to-day coverage. And let’s not forget how much free press CNN and other big-box outlets gave Trump in the lead-up to the 2016 election, nor how many former Trump officials were allowed to rehabilitate their own careers serving as talking heads and experts on the network’s airwaves.

And after nearly eight years of think-pieces, reflections, and “important conversations” within media circles, CNN is doing exactly what prompted so much reflection in the first place: giving open air to a man who warrants none of it. Only this time, Trump isn’t just coming with the baggage of decades of shady financial dealings, suspicions of sexual misconduct, and even calling for the hanging of the Central Park Five. He’s coming with every despicable act America, and the world, has witnessed since CNN helped manufacture tolerance for him eight years ago.

Buckle up while you’re at it: A Trump adviser has said that the town hall is part of a larger effort “to jumpstart the relationship” CNN and Trump’s team shared in the past.

Will the Freedom Caucus Destroy the U.S. Economy?

The government could run out of money to pay its bills sooner than expected. And the Freedom Caucus doesn’t seem to care.

Kevin McCarthy
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The United States could default on its debt within a month, all because of concessions Kevin McCarthy made to the House Freedom Caucus to become speaker.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Congress Monday that the government could run out of money to pay its bills as soon as June 1, earlier than initially anticipated, unless the debt ceiling is raised or suspended.

While Yellen acknowledged it’s “impossible” to say exactly when federal funds will run out, “given the current projections, it is imperative that Congress act as soon as possible to increase or suspend the debt limit in a way that provides longer-term certainty that the government will continue to make its payments,” she said in a letter.

Democrats and Republicans are locked in a protracted battle over the debt limit, which the GOP has indicated it’s willing to hold hostage in order to reduce government spending. The government already hit the debt ceiling in January, and Yellen has repeatedly warned of the disastrous consequences should the U.S. default on its debt. “It’s simply a recipe for economic and financial catastrophe to think we can pay some of our bills and not all of them,” she told the Senate Finance Committee in mid-March.

House Republicans passed a bill last week that would raise the debt limit into next year, but only after drawn-out in-party negotiations. The measure is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, and President Joe Biden has already promised to veto it if it does. The bill includes several radical measures put forward by members of the House Freedom Caucus, such as food stamp and Medicaid work requirements, reduced funding for the IRS and climate change initiatives, and an end to Biden’s student loan forgiveness program.

Caucus members were some of the most vocal critics of McCarthy’s debt ceiling bill over the past few weeks. The far-right wing of the House Republicans also was primarily responsible for forcing all of us to sit through seemingly endless rounds of votes for House speaker in January.

McCarthy may have ultimately won the gavel, but only after he made multiple concessions to the House Freedom Caucus that essentially gave them all the power. These include the ability to boot him from the speakership—for instance, if he starts making debt limit deals with Democrats that they don’t like.

Democrats are refusing to compromise on the debt ceiling, and if the battle goes on much longer, the U.S. could be in serious trouble. It’s time for Congress to get a move on, but it’s unclear what McCarthy will do next.