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Baltimore Sun’s New Right-Wing Owner Kicks Things Off by Insulting Everyone on Staff

David Smith, of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, is laying out a dangerous vision for Maryland’s largest daily newspaper.


The Baltimore Sun’s new owner doesn’t seem to be on the same page as the paper’s staff.

David D. Smith, the chairman of the monopolistic, conservative, local media empire Sinclair Broadcast Group, scooped up Baltimore’s hometown legacy paper last week for an unspecified, nine-figure dollar point—but his outsize ideas and a crude first impression might have just slapped a damper on the partnership from the get-go.

During a contentious two-hour meet and greet with staff on Tuesday, Smith said he had read the daily paper—which has been a staple in the Baltimore market since its inception in 1837—just four times, according to NPR’s David Folkenflik.

Despite that, Smith seems to be keen on making some big changes. He announced that although the Sun was a profitable enterprise, it could be more profitable. Smith harangued the paper for failing to focus on what he deemed were stories worth reader interest, like fraud in local government, Folkenflik reported. The Baltimore Sun won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for its investigation on corruption in the Baltimore mayor’s office.

The Baltimore Banner reported that in the same meeting, Smith was asked about previous comments he made in 2018, when he claimed that print media is “so left-wing as to be meaningless dribble.” Smith said he stood by those comments. Asked again if he felt that way about The Baltimore Sun specifically, he replied, “In many ways, yes.”

It’s clear what Smith’s aim is with his purchase of Maryland’s largest daily newspaper. His TV empire’s local Baltimore station has been keen on a series of coverage blaming the city’s Black, Democratic mayor, Brandon Scott, for a flurry of local issues, including ongoing gun violence and education-related issues. And Smith’s tax records, obtained by the Associated Press, paint a clearer picture of the multimillionaire’s political affiliations, with donations to far-right political messaging machines like Project Veritas and Turning Point USA. Campaign contributions by the 73-year-old have also generally veered Republican for the last couple decades, according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity.

Smith deflected questions about his own political leanings in Tuesday’s meeting with staff. Instead, he spent most of the time talking about profits, at one point ordering reporters to “go make me some money,” according to The Baltimore Banner.

If this first meeting is any indication, Smith’s takeover could mean the paper will soon be forced to mime changes at Sinclair-bought local stations, focusing on negative coverage of the state’s Black leadership, including Governor Wes Moore, a rising party star who has been described by DNC insiders as a “future president.

The Sun will not technically be included in the Sinclair media empire. Instead, under Smith’s helm, the paper will be under local ownership for the first time in nearly four decades, according to the paper. The media magnate will own it privately and in partnership with one of his on-air commentators, Armstrong Williams.

Like most legacy papers around the nation, The Baltimore Sun has been gutted and gutted again by decades of cycling corporate ownership that have drained resources, cut salaries, and depleted staff for the sake of inflated executive bonuses. The Sun’s last change of hands came in May 2021, when the hedge fund Alden Global Capital purchased Tribune Publishing for $633 million, snatching The Baltimore Sun and nearly 200 other local U.S. newspapers, including The New York Daily News and The Chicago Tribune, in the process.

Florida Democrats Just Flipped a District Blue—And That’s a Big Freaki

Florida’s special election brought Democrats a massive victory. There could soon be more to come.

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Florida Democrats have flipped a state House seat in a special election, a sign that the party may be more competitive than previously thought come November.

Tom Keen defeated his Republican challenger, Erika Booth, on Tuesday night, with a decisive 51.3 percent of the vote. The special election had been prompted after former Republican state Representative Fred Hawkins resigned last year to become a state college president.

Orange and Osceola counties, which Keen now represents, are almost evenly split among Democratic, Republican, and independent voters. Keen won between 65 and 70 percent of independent voters, a crucial demographic.

“What actually clinched the win for Democrats was this massive margin with [nonpartisan voters] and perhaps some Republican moderates, as well,” Democratic elections analyst Matt Isbell told the Orlando Sentinel. “If anything, this should be concerning for the GOP because it indicates a voter anger that maybe they have not understood.”

Florida Republicans swept to power in 2022, winning the governor’s office and supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Since then, they have dedicated themselves to passing unpopular and expensive laws targeting some of the national GOP’s favorite culture wars, including gutting abortion access and LGBTQ rights.

Booth ran on many of these issues. Her campaign website said she wanted to fight wokeness, as well as “trans-education” and the “indoctrination” of children in schools. She also promised to crack down on undocumented immigrants, despite the Florida GOP having to walk back a measure it passed targeting migrants.

Keen, on the other hand, ran primarily on increasing abortion access and decreasing property insurance rates. Insurance rates have skyrocketed in Florida as a result of climate change and Governor Ron DeSantis’s refusal to address environmental issues.

State House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell hailed Keen’s victory and said it was a sign that her party shouldn’t be counted out.

“This proves that Democrats can win close races in the Sunshine State,” she said in a statement to the Sentinel. “Florida is worth fighting for.”

Separately, on X (formerly Twitter), Driskell said there “is still hope for Florida.”

“With hard work and coordination, FL Dems can do great things,” she wrote.

Donald Trump Suddenly Ramps Up Attacks on Rival Nikki Haley

Donald Trump seems to be worried about Nikki Haley’s rise in the polls.

Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Despite leading the polls with more than 60 percent, Donald Trump is apparently feeling the heat in the increasingly narrow GOP primary race, devoting the better part of Tuesday night to a TruthSocial binge dedicated to his rival Nikki Haley.

The GOP front-runner made a dozen posts in a handful of hours devoted to Haley, attacking her policy stances and her favorability ratings. In another post, Trump shared a photoshopped image slapping Haley’s face onto Hillary Clinton’s body.

It’s another sign that Haley is beginning to pose a serious threat to the former president—at least from his perspective.

Earlier this month, Trump’s campaign spent some serious moolah to dismiss Haley’s potential candidacy. In one ad wielding Nazi rhetoric, a Trump-allied super PAC MAGA Inc reissued a Trump claim that immigrants are “poisoning our country” and chastised the daughter of Sikh Indian immigrants for refusing to call undocumented immigrants “illegals.”

“Illegals are criminals, Nikki. That’s what illegal means,” the ad said, slamming Haley as “too liberal” on immigration.

As of the beginning of the year, the Trump-aligned super PAC spent nearly $3.5 million in anti-Haley advertising, largely criticizing the former South Carolina governor for flip-flopping on her position on an unpopular gas tax in the state, according to a report from The Daily Beast.

Haley’s slow-burning success on the ballot poses a serious if unconventional threat for Trump, particularly as the former president contends with several states removing him from the GOP ballot entirely on the basis that he violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis seems to have lost all steam from what was once predicted to be a fireball campaign against the increasingly fascist GOP favorite. As of Tuesday, Haley officially surpassed DeSantis’s waning poll numbers, barely nabbing the number two spot by a margin of 0.3 percentage points, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Ted Cruz Is Getting Absolutely Dragged for His Trump Announcement

Ted Cruz reveals once again that he has no spine.

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Senator Ted Cruz has endorsed Donald Trump for president, a move that has everyone rolling their eyes given the men’s decidedly acrimonious history.

The Texas Republican announced his support for Trump Tuesday night. “I’m a big believer in letting democracy play out,” Cruz said on Fox News. “Well, last night it played out, and I gotta say, Trump’s victory was across the board.”

“At this point, I believe this race is over. So I am proud to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States. I look forward to supporting him enthusiastically.”

It’s ironic Cruz said he believes in “letting democracy play out,” considering he was caught on tape calling for a congressional commission to challenge the results of the 2020 election. Cruz repeatedly pushed Trump’s false and baseless claims that the vote had been rigged.

But before Cruz was such a major Trump toady, the two men were regularly at each other’s throats when running against each other during the 2016 Republican primary.

Trump called Cruz a liar and insulted his wife and father. Cruz, for his part, called Trump a “bully,” a “liar,” and a “coward.”

Media outlets including CNN and MSNBC were quick to remind Cruz of his own previous admonishments.

But once it was clear Trump would secure the nomination, Cruz changed his tune dramatically. He fell in line behind Trump and has been happy to support him ever since.

Cruz’s latest endorsement of Trump isn’t surprising, given how many conservative and far-right goals Trump achieved during his term. But it’s a pretty poor reflection on Cruz and what he’s willing to stand up for.

Trump’s Idiot Lawyer May Already Have Sunk His E. Jean Carroll Defense

If Alina Habba’s opening statements are any indication, this case will not end well for Trump.

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Trump attorney Alina Habba

One of Donald Trump’s lawyers may have already blown his defense in the E. Jean Carroll defamation trial, when she violated some of the judge’s rules during her opening statements on Tuesday.

Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan issued an order last week barring Trump and his lawyers from saying certain things. They are prohibited from making comments about Carroll’s “past romantic relationships, sexual disposition, and prior sexual experiences,” and they cannot argue that Trump did not sexually abuse or rape Carroll or act with actual malice when making his comments about her.

But on Tuesday, Trump attorney Alina Habba kicked things off by immediately insinuating that Trump hadn’t sexually assaulted Carroll.

“President Trump defended himself when publicly accused—” Habba began, when Carroll’s lawyer cut her off with an objection.

“Don’t go much farther,” Kaplan warned Habba.

Habba proceeded to argue that Carroll actually wanted all the attention she has gained since 2019, when she accused Trump in her memoir of raping her in a department store dressing room. Habba claimed that Carroll has been enjoying her newfound fame and is just complaining about a few mean tweets.

The evidence I will show you will show you that Ms. Carroll’s conduct has caused this media frenzy,” Habba said.

Habba’s arguments don’t hold water, though, because they mimic what Trump said about Carroll. The former president insisted that Carroll made up the assault allegations to boost book sales—and his comments have already been deemed defamatory.

Kaplan had actually reminded the jury before opening statements began that they were not trying to determine whether Trump assaulted and defamed Carroll but just how much Carroll is owed in damages. “This trial is not a do-over of the previous trial that established those facts,” he said.

Habba also argued that Carroll was “fully enjoying the attention.”

“We will ask Ms. Carroll to confirm that she felt she was in a cocoon of love after the publication,” Habba said.

Carroll has been open about the backlash she faced after revealing Trump assaulted her in the mid-1990s. During her first trial against him in April, Carroll testified that she was fired from Elle magazine after 27 years over the revelation. She got so many death threats that she bought bullets for a gun in her possession. And once the trial started, more people began insulting her online, calling her a “liar, slut, ugly, old.” Not exactly the “cocoon of love” that Habba claims.

The jury in that trial unanimously found Trump liable for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault. He was ordered to pay her $5 million in damages. Kaplan ruled in September that since Trump has already been found liable for sexual abuse, his 2019 comments are by default defamatory. Tuesday’s trial is to set damages, and Carroll is seeking at least $10 million.

Nikki Haley Tries Defending Trump in Case Where He’s Already Been Found Guilty

Innocent even if proven guilty?

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GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley is so desperate not to criticize Donald Trump that she went as far as to call him innocent in a case where he’s already been found guilty.

“You’re the only woman in this race. How do you feel about your party’s front-runner being held liable for sexual abuse?” CNN’s Dana Bash asked Haley on Tuesday.

“First of all, I haven’t paid attention to his cases, and I’m not a lawyer,” Haley responded. “All I know is that he’s innocent until proven guilty, and when he’s proven guilty, and he’s sitting in a courtroom—that’s exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve got investigations on Trump and Biden.”

“Forgive me, but a lot of people in the Republican Party blow it all off and say that it’s all a witch hunt,” Bash pressed.

“Some of the cases have been political.… Look, if he’s found guilty then he needs to pay the price, he needs to do what he’s supposed to,” Haley continued. “Every one of these cases, they need to be heard out, he needs to defend himself. If he’s found guilty, he’s gonna pay the price. If he’s not found guilty, then we move forward. What I will tell you is that I’m focused on the economy, the border, and education, and getting our country back on track.”

“If he’s sitting in a courtroom, that goes back to what I’m saying,” Haley added, seemingly suggesting that the several dozen criminal charges against the Republican favorite are unnecessary diversions. “We can’t continue to be distracted. We can’t continue to be in chaos. We have a country to save.”

But that answer conveniently (and rather blatantly) overlooks the fact that Trump has been found liable—the civil case version of guilty—by a court of law.

In May 2023, a jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation, awarding Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll $5 million in damages. He was then found liable for defaming Carroll in a second case. The judge even went on the record to clarify that yes, the liable verdict means that Trump did rape Carroll, based on the common definition of the word.

This isn’t Trump’s only legal woe of course, and it’s not the only one where he was found guilty.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron has already found that the Trump Organization and its top executives, which includes Trump and his adult sons,  committed bank fraud. Engoron is deliberating the final damages owed and whether the Trump Organization can continue to operate in the Empire State. The fraud is so massive that last week, he asked lawyers with the New York attorney general’s office how Trump’s financial strategy compared to Bernie Madoff’s notorious Ponzi scheme.

Trump is currently on the line for 91 criminal charges in four other separate legal cases. On Monday, the GOP front-runner lost a good chunk of his legal representation, including star attorney Joe Tacopina, who filed a declaration to remove his law firm from representing the former president on unknown grounds.

Idaho Republicans’ War on Books Has an Unbelievable New Target

Fellas, is it gay to hold hands?

Yang Kejia/China News Service/VCG/Getty Images

Idaho Republican lawmakers are pushing a bill to ban books that mention homosexuality, a broad definition that could include two characters of the same gender just holding hands.

The House of Representatives State Affairs Committee passed the bill 11–2 on Monday, along party lines. House Bill 384 now goes to the chamber floor for a vote.

The bill would ban all visual, audio, and written material that depicts “nudity, sexual conduct, or sado-masochistic abuse and that is harmful to minors” from schools and public libraries. These would be classified as “obscene materials.”

Obscenity laws are particularly hard to enforce, because definitions of obscenity still largely come down to individual interpretation. As a result, there will likely be more reports of material that should be banned, made by people who are either more conservative or just nervous about accidentally breaking the law.

Republican Representative Julianne Young, who sits on the committee, claimed that the proposed law would target “acts” of homosexuality, which could apply to characters of the same gender holding hands.

The measure says anything overtly sexual is harmful to minors, and specifically states that sexual conduct includes all acts of homosexuality. Any facility that violates the bill would be required to pay $250 in statutory damages, as well as legal fees and additional damages to the person who reported the offending material.

During Monday’s hearing, multiple library workers warned that this bill would prove devastating to libraries. One worker pointed out that libraries’ budgets are not big enough to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees from all the lawsuits that could result from this bill.

One thing I’ve learned is, there is something offensive about everything to someone,” she said.

Another library worker pointed out that many libraries employ people who are 16 or 17 years old. Under the bill, those teenagers would no longer be able to work in libraries.

Homosexuality does not equate to obscenity. It is your choice to sexualize children’s books,” she said.

At one point, Republican Representative Kevin Andrus said he had gotten a lot of emails from people concerned that the bill would require encyclopedias to be moved into the adult section of libraries. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Jaron Crane, said that encyclopedias do not violate the bill because they have “literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

Unfortunately, Crane’s defense doesn’t hold much water. Republican-led states have increasingly banned books that discuss race, gender, and sexuality. Most recently, a school district in Florida banned five dictionaries, eight encyclopedias, The Guinness Book of World Records, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not because those books mention sexual conduct.

Bernie Sanders to Force Vote That Could Freeze Military Aid to Israel

“I hope it is not controversial to ask how U.S. weapons are being used.”

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Bernie Sanders is forcing a Senate vote that could potentially freeze aid to Israel.

The independent senator from Vermont utilized a provision called the Foreign Assistance Act to introduce the resolution last week. If adopted, it would require the State Department to document any human rights abuses committed by Israel since October 7, 2023. Failure to produce a report within 30 days would stall military aid to Israel.

“In essence, we will be voting on a very simple question: Do you support asking the State Department whether human rights violations may have occurred using U.S. equipment or assistance in this war?” Sanders said on Wednesday, citing billions spent in military aid and the use of tens of thousands of American-supplied bombs in the conflict resulting in civilian deaths.

“I hope it is not controversial to ask how U.S. weapons are being used,” he added.

While the measure has small odds of passing—it would need to get through both chambers of Congress and be signed by President Joe Biden, who has vehemently sided with Israel in the ongoing conflict—Sanders’s resolution will elucidate which politicians really care about the widely documented crimes committed by the Israeli military.

As of this weekend, at least 24,100 Palestinians, including more than 9,600 children, have been killed since the war began, along with some 61,000 Palestinians injured, according to Palestine’s mission to the United Nations.

Gazans are also suffering from the complete bombardment of war as well as deliberate intervention by Israel to restrict humanitarian aid to the region, resulting in shortages of food, drinking water, medical supplies, electricity, and housing in Palestine.

The “great majority” of Gazans are “are actually in famine, not just at risk of famine,” Martin Griffiths, the U.N. undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, told CNN on Monday.

“In Gaza, 1.9 million people have been displaced by the bombing and the fighting, more than 85 percent of the population,” Sanders said in his statement last week. “Many of these people are homeless, and some 1.4 million are crowded into UN facilities. More than 100 of these UN facilities have been damaged in Israeli attacks. Tens of thousands of others are sleeping out in the cold as winter sets in.”

“All of us who know a little bit about history, when we hear the name Dresden, know that it is synonymous with the destruction of WWII. But that destruction happened over two years. Gaza matched this in two months,” Sanders noted.

Police Don’t Appear to Think Roger Stone’s Assassination Threats Were Just a Joke

The loyal Trump adviser is under police investigation yet again.

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The Capitol Police are reportedly investigating remarks made by Roger Stone, after explosive audio revealed the longtime Trump ally tried to plot the assassinations of two Democratic congressmen.

The FBI is aiding with the investigation, Mediaite reported Tuesday, citing anonymous sources.

A few weeks before the 2020 election, Stone told a member of his security detail that he wanted either Representative Eric Swalwell or Representative Jerry Nadler (or both) killed, according to audio obtained by Mediaite. Just a few months prior, Nadler had announced that the House Judiciary Committee, on which he and Swalwell serve, would investigate Trump’s decision to commute Stone’s sentence for federal crimes.

“It’s time to do it,” Stone told Sal Greco, then a member of the NYPD who was working as Stone’s security. “Let’s go find Swalwell. It’s time to do it. Then we’ll see how brave the rest of them are. It’s time to do it. It’s either Nadler or Swalwell has to die before the election. They need to get the message. Let’s go find Swalwell and get this over with. I’m just not putting up with this shit anymore.”

Stone, a notorious conservative political operative, has long been a loyal Trump adviser and ally. When Stone was convicted in July 2019 in relation to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, Trump indirectly intervened.

Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction of a proceeding. Prosecutors wanted Stone to be sentenced to nine years in prison, but Trump’s Justice Department reportedly stepped in to give him a shorter sentence. Then, just days before Stone was due to go to jail, Trump commuted his sentence entirely. Nadler announced the House Judiciary investigation into the commutation just a few days later.

Four of the prosecutors abruptly quit the case following the Justice Department’s intervention. At least one, Aaron Zelinsky, acknowledged he had left in protest. A separate audio recording revealed Stone wanted retribution against Zelinsky, as well.

Stone has denied making the comments about Zelinsky, Swalwell, or Nadler and said the audio had been made with artificial intelligence.

Nikki Haley Tries Weighing in on Racism Again—and It’s a Disaster

Why is the daughter of Indian immigrants like this?

Jim Vondruska/Bloomberg/Getty Images

GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley tried to claim that racism is no longer an issue on Tuesday, arguing that the United States isn’t a racist country and never has been.

“We’re not a racist country, Brian,” Haley told Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade. “We never have been.”

“I know, I faced racism when I was growing up. But I can tell you, today is a lot better than it was then,” the former South Carolina governor added. “I don’t want my kids growing up where they’re sitting there thinking that they’re disadvantaged because of a color or a gender. I want them to know that if they work hard, they can do and be anything they want to be in America.”

Viewers were quick to dredge up recollections from Haley’s own  2012 autobiography, Can’t Is Not an Option, as evidence that the daughter of Sikh Indian immigrants did experience discrimination on the basis of her race.

In one section of the book, Haley recounts how as a kindergartner she was cast as Pocahontas during a Thanksgiving play, despite the fact that she “wasn’t that kind of Indian.”

“It was annoying. I remember thinking to myself, Why can’t I be the pilgrim?” Haley wrote.

In another section, Haley recollects how her father was profiled by law enforcement due to his turban, how her brother begged to break with Sikh tradition and have his hair cut due to relentless bullying, and how, at the age of 8, she was disqualified from a local beauty pageant due to the color of her skin.

But despite Haley’s insistence that America—and her hometown of Bamberg, South Carolina—have changed, compatriots and local residents feel otherwise.

“I think all of us know what this country was built on. And [racism] still exists,” Tony Duncan, a Black business owner in Bamberg who went to school with Haley’s older siblings, told NPR last year. “It exists. As people here in America, we have to deal with these things.”

A 2023 Washington Post poll found that 51 percent of Black Americans felt racism would get worse over the rest of their lifetimes, with nearly 70 percent of respondents saying that now is a more dangerous time to be a Black teenager than when they were teenagers. That statistic includes nearly 80 percent of Black Americans who were aged 50 or above.

At the end of the day, the recent gaffe is just another sign that Haley has not yet figured out how to square the issue of race in her campaign. In December, Haley spurred controversy when she stumbled and fumbled her way through answering a point-blank question about the cause of the U.S. Civil War during a New Hampshire town hall, completely avoiding the topic of slavery.

Weeks later, the politico attempted to swat away comments about her perceived ignorance by claiming that she had Black friends.

“I knew half of South Carolinians saw the Confederate flag as heritage and tradition. The other half of South Carolinians saw it as slavery and hate. My job wasn’t to judge either side,” Haley said at the time, noting that “a leader doesn’t decide who’s right.”