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Fox’s Post-Tucker Ratings Could Spell Worse Things to Come

Things are getting ugly at Fox News.

Erik McGregor/LightRocket/Getty Images

It’s been a week since Tucker Carlson hosted his last show on Fox News, and the aftermath has been pretty ugly.

Viewership of Carlson’s coveted prime-time slot has dropped precipitously since Fox announced Monday that they were parting ways with the anchor. Carlson was the network’s most popular star, bringing in millions of viewers, including among younger adults. Since his departure, viewers of his 8 p.m. time slot have dropped by half.

And the fast-waning number of viewers is affecting all of Fox News. Shows including Hannity and The Ingraham Angle have lost at least a third of viewers since Carlson left, according to Media Matters. Instead many people are switching to ultraconservative rival Newsmax.

It looks like Carlson’s unceremonious firing hasn’t been good for anyone. Carlson himself returned to social media Wednesday night with a weird, vague, and vaguely threatening video that looks like it was filmed in a sauna. As for Fox, it’s not confirmed why they let Carlson go, but no doubt there were some hopes that doing so would create more stability at the network, not less.

Fox is facing a host of legal cases. Having just settled with Dominion Voting Systems, the network is now dealing with a lawsuit from Smartmatic, which has said it will demand an on-air apology and retraction of the false claims that its electronic voting machines were used to rig the 2020 election.

Former Fox producer Abby Grossberg is also suing the network, alleging she was coerced into lying during the Dominion lawsuit, accusing the company and Carlson’s show in particular of having an openly sexist, toxic work environment.

Multiple advertisers fled Carlson’s show in recent years over his incendiary commentary. If Fox had been hoping to coax them back after his departure, their case for a return is weakening just as fast as their viewers leave. As Media Matters points out, this is incredibly dangerous. It’s anybody’s guess what Fox will do to try and win back viewers that apparently thrive on the kind of rhetoric and conspiracy theories Carlson pushed.

Ron DeSantis Explodes When Asked About His Role in Guantánamo Torture

One of the supposed 2024 front-runners can’t seem to handle questions from the media.

Amir Levy/Getty Images

Ron DeSantis is showing an increasingly poor ability to handle the spotlight.

The Florida governor, who is expected to announce a presidential campaign, served as a lawyer at the notorious Guantánamo Bay prison in 2006. During a press conference Thursday at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, a reporter asked him about claims by a former detainee that DeSantis had attended his force-feeding session. DeSantis snapped immediately.

“No, no, all that’s BS,” DeSantis said. “No, totally, totally BS.”

“How would they know me?” he demanded, his voice rising. “Do you honestly believe that’s credible?”

DeSantis arrived at Guantánamo in the midst of mass hunger strikes among detainees protesting their treatment at the prison. DeSantis arrived as part of a team of military lawyers to help solve the situation.

The Florida governor himself admitted in a 2018 interview that he was one of the people who suggested force-feeding prisoners, something that many human rights organizations have decried as torture. DeSantis was also sent to Guantánamo the same year that three inmates died, the worst loss of life in the prison’s history. The official report was that the three men died by suicide, but many people, including a former Guantánamo guard, dispute that finding.

Two former detainees have called out DeSantis specifically for his role in the unbearable situation at Guantánamo. One, Abu Sarrah Ahmed Abdel Aziz, told The Washington Post he is “100 percent” certain he spoke to DeSantis multiple times. Abdel Aziz spoke fluent English and was trying to report mistreatment claims to JAG officers.

Abdel Aziz said he didn’t know DeSantis’s name at the time, but the then JAG promised to look into the complaints. But conditions got worse instead.

Another former inmate, Mansoor Adayfi, said he saw a photo of DeSantis on Twitter in 2021 and recognized the governor immediately. “It was a face I could never forget. I had seen that face for the first time in Guantanamo, in 2006—one of the camp’s darkest years when the authorities started violently breaking hunger strikes and three of my brothers were found dead in their cages,” Adayfi wrote in an essay for Al Jazeera.

Adayfi said he shared a photo of DeSantis with several other former inmates, and they all recognized him from Guantánamo. Adayfi vividly remembers DeSantis watching from behind a fence as he was force-fed, “smiling and laughing with other officers as I screamed in pain.”

DeSantis has largely avoided talking about his time at Guantánamo, but now that the national spotlight is on him, it’s going to keep coming up. And so far, it looks like he can’t handle that scrutiny.

Republicans Break Ranks to Save Abortion Rights in Nebraska and South Carolina

At least a few Republicans are finally listening to what the people want.

A woman outside holds a sign that reads "My body my choice."
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Strict abortion bans died in the South Carolina and Nebraska state legislatures, a rare bit of good news in the Republican-led assault on reproductive rights. And in both states, Republican dissenters doomed the abortion bans.

The two bills would have banned abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant, with few exceptions. Both measures failed to overcome a filibuster in the state Senates. Abortion is now still legal in South Carolina and Nebraska until 22 weeks, although both states have multiple restrictions, such as a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and biased counseling aimed at running out the clock.

In South Carolina, the only female senators—three Republicans, one Democrat, and one independent—led the filibuster. “Abortion laws have always been, each and every one of them, about control,” said Republican Sandy Senn. “And in the Senate, the males all have control. We the women have not asked for … nor do we want your protection. We don’t need it.”

She said the abortion ban “insulted” women, adding, “The only thing that we can do when you all, you men in the chamber, metaphorically keep slapping women by raising abortion again and again and again, is for us to slap you back with our words.”

The chamber ultimately voted 22–21 on Thursday to delay the bill until next year. The measure is unlikely to make it back to the floor: There are not enough days in the current legislative session for the House to re-pass it, and the Senate’s Republican majority leader has indicated they are unlikely to try and pass the bill again when it’s clear they don’t have the support.

The South Carolina measure was similar to a six-week trigger ban that went into effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned. The state Supreme Court blocked that law in January, and the new bill was an attempt to circumvent the ruling.

The Nebraska Senate also failed to overcome a filibuster on Thursday, with senators voting 32–15 to end debate on the bill—just one vote short. Two senators, Republican Merv Riepe and Democrat Justin Wayne, voted “present.” The two are considered swing votes should this bill be revived, as both say they are “pro-life.”

Wayne did not explain his vote, but Riepe, a former hospital administrator, had said he would only support the bill if it was amended to ban abortion at 12 weeks. He said the six-week window was too short, citing arguments from doctors he has known for decades, and warned that the measure was too extreme to be popular among voters.

Riepe is one of the few Republicans who is actually (sort of) paying attention to current abortion events. About two-thirds of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center. A new study from the center also shows that 43 percent of people who live in states where abortion is restricted think it should be easier for someone to access the procedure in the area where they live, compared to just 31 percent in 2019.

Abortion rights win elections. Every time an abortion-related issue has been on the ballot, the people vote in favor of protecting reproductive rights, not taking them away. It seems like at least a handful of Republicans are finally taking heed.

Trump Comforts Convicted January 6 Rioter Who Called to Execute Members of Congress

“Listen, you just hang in there,” the former president told Micki Larson-Olson, before hugging her in front of the cameras.

Donald Trump
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Micki Larson-Olson was convicted of defying police orders during the January 6 riots that sought to overturn the 2020 election. If she had had it her way, she would’ve done more. In an interview last year, the Texas woman said that members of Congress should be executed “for being traitors,” accusing them of being “domestic terrorists.”

And on Thursday, Donald Trump signed her backpack and gave her a warm hug.

“Listen, you just hang in there,” the twice-impeached and criminally indicted former president told the convicted rioter. “You guys are gonna be OK.”

The shared connection between the two criminals came during a campaign stop for Trump—who is currently on trial for rape—in New Hampshire; Larson-Olson found the former president at a diner after his event, according to The Washington Post.

“President Trump, will you please sign my Trump backpack that I carried up to Jan. 6?” Larson-Olson bellowed as she entered the restaurant. “I went to jail for 161 days for Jan. 6. I’m an Iraq War veteran.”

“Patriots, I hear the woman,” Trump said in response. “It’s terrible,” he continued. “What they’re saying is so sad, what they’ve done to Jan. 6.”

Trump took a photo with his fellow “patriot,” embracing her with a hug, and even gifting her the marker he used to sign the backpack.

“You just take care of yourself,” Trump told her. “You’ve been through too much. You’re going to wind up being happy.”

Larson-Olson had driven 30 hours from Abilene, Texas, all the way to Manchester, New Hampshire, to see Trump, according to the Post. Immersed in the revelry of his fandom, Trump embraced someone who had said execution “should happen to each and every person that hijacked the voice of the people”—which, in her eyes, would seemingly be any member of Congress who supported certifying the results of the 2020 election.

Since completing her sentence, Larson-Olson has apparently joined Negative48, a QAnon spin-off group that has become a new staying presence at Trump events.

The convicted rioter stands by her actions on that fateful day in January.

“It was the most patriotic day of my life,” she told the Post. “I refused to walk down from the stairs … because I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and those politicians are domestic enemies to our republic.”

Larson-Olson apparently choked up after Trump had left the diner.

“It’s so surreal, I can’t believe that,” she said. “The fact that the president knows my story … this most amazing man knows what I went through in the jail.… It’s just crazy. And he gave me the pen.”

Every Detail in the E. Jean Carroll Case Is Proof of Why Rape Victims Don’t Come Forward

“He raped me, whether I screamed or not.”

E. Jean Carroll
Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump is on trial for rape. Every detail in the case thus far shows that things haven’t really changed since the #MeToo movement.

Writer E. Jean Carroll is suing Trump for defamation and sexual assault. Trump has rejected the rape allegation. He has yet to appear at the trial, which began earlier this week.

During cross-examination Thursday, Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina tried to show that Carroll was making her story up. “You were supposedly raped?” he asked early on.

“Not ‘supposedly.’ I was raped,” Carroll responded.

Carroll accused Trump in her 2019 memoir of raping her in the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. She has sued him twice for defamation: first in 2019, when he said she made up the rape allegation to promote her book, and again in November for posts he made about her on social media.

Tacopina went on to ask her Thursday whether she screamed during the alleged assault. When Carroll said she didn’t, Tacopina repeatedly pressed her on the point.

“He raped me, whether I screamed or not,” Carroll replied, nearly shouting, according to reporters in the courtroom.

Carroll also said that if she had been lying, “I would say I was screaming my head off.” Maybe then more people would have believed her, she added.

Tacopina also asked Carroll why she only told two friends instead of going to the police. Carroll said that she was scared of what Trump might do to her, pointing out that “he has two tables full of lawyers here today.”

Carroll has at least some reason to be concerned. At least 26 women have accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault since the 1970s, all of which he has denied. He then went on to become president of the United States.

And the line of questioning in the case shows exactly why so many people, not just Carroll, hesitate to come forward after they have been sexually assaulted. Nearly 80 percent of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported, according to a 2016 Justice Department report. Many survivors are afraid of retaliation—from both the perpetrator and society in general—as well as that their allegations will be distorted. Another major concern is simply that they won’t be believed.

The #MeToo movement was supposed to be a watershed moment, when society began pushing back on sexual assault and the people who perpetrate it. Instead, people like Carroll are accused of lying for money or told their story isn’t believable because they didn’t react a certain way. They’re also attacked all over again, as if what happened to them is their fault.

Carroll told the court Thursday that she logged on to Twitter in the morning and found a slew of comments calling her a “liar,” a “slut,” “ugly,” and “old.” But then, getting emotional, she said, “I couldn’t be more proud to be here.”

Nebraska Democratic Lawmaker Under Ethics Investigation for Having a Trans Son

The complaint alleges that state Senator Megan Hunt has a “conflict of interest” while discussing anti-trans legislation.

Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Nebraska state Representative Megan Hunt

Democrats are literally just trying to advocate for people’s basic civil rights. But from Tennessee to Montana, Republican lawmakers have twisted ethics and decorum rules to attack them for doing so. The latest? A Nebraska Democratic lawmaker is under an ethics investigation for having a transgender child.

State Senator Megan Hunt is now under attack for having a “conflict of interest” because she has a transgender son.

The investigation comes from a complaint from Omaha lawyer David Begley, who claims that Hunt is financially implicated in the fate of a bill that would ban gender-affirming health care for anyone under the age of 19. Bagely writes that Hunt and her son would have a “more than average chance of obtaining Medicare coverage if the bill fails.” For her part, Hunt has said she has already tried four times to receive care for her son, to no avail; Nebraska’s Medicaid policy does not currently cover gender-affirming care anyhow.

Of course, the complaint is ridiculous. Every bill that lawmakers address is one they are implicated in; after all, they are also members of the society those bills would impact and change.

Senator Wendy DeBoer put it quite simply. “Every time we have a tax bill, I’m a taxpayer. So I may be involved in that every time. We have a bill that involves families, well, I have a family. So I may be involved,” she told Nebraska Public Media. “Every time we have a bill on basically anything in here, I’m involved because I care about my state. I care about the people in my state, and I’m involved with them, just like Senator Hunt is.”

While some Republicans have supported Hunt against the ethics complaint, the senator says that is not enough.

What’s happening in Nebraska is a parallel of what we saw unfold in Tennessee and Montana earlier this month. Tennessee Republicans expelled two Black Democrats for standing in solidarity with thousands of people protesting against gun violence after a school shooting. Montana Republicans censured the state’s first and only transgender legislator for speaking out against vicious attacks on transgender lives, barring her from the House floor for the rest of the legislative session.

By the way, Begley, the complainant and self-purported former Democrat, once told then-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg that he should “just tell the Black people of South Bend to stop committing crime and doing drugs.” He has also called for arming teachers and making gun ownership even more widespread in a country where there are more mass shootings than days in a year. Just a few weeks ago, he called Nebraska Democrats “Jacobins” and part of the “cults” of “Net Zero Carbon” and “Transgenderism.”

How in the World Did the Pentagon Leaker Get Top Security Clearance?

The more reports come out, the more we learn about the (racist and violent) red flags.

Overhead shot of the Pentagon building
Brenner/Bloomberg/Getty Images
The Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia

New court documents in the case against an air national guardsman suspected of leaking classified intelligence documents reveal he had a history of racist and violent behavior. So how did the 21-year-old get top secret security clearance?

Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s intelligence wing, was arrested earlier this month for allegedly leaking documents that include information on Russian and Ukrainian strategies in the ongoing war, as well as intelligence on Canada, China, Israel, South Korea, the Indo-Pacific military theater, and the Middle East. He is believed to have posted them on a Discord server in early March.

In a memo released late Wednesday, ahead of a detention hearing, the Department of Justice revealed that Teixeira had a “troubling” history of making racist and violent comments. He was suspended from high school in March 2018 when a classmate overheard him talking about weapons, “including Molotov cocktails, guns at the school, and racial threats,” the documents said.

The documents also show that later that year, Teixeira applied for a gun license but was denied because local police were concerned over the comments that got him suspended. The military conducted a full background check on Teixeira when he joined, and yet apparently these details raised no red flags when he was granted a high-level top secret security clearance known as TS-SCI (Top Secret—Sensitive Compartmented Information).

The Discord server where Teixeira shared the documents was created for a group he led. The other members were mostly young men and teenagers who had bonded during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic over their shared interest in guns, racist memes, and video games.

The Washington Post reported that a video of Teixeira shows him at a shooting range. He shouts a series of racial and antisemitic slurs before firing repeatedly at a target. Even the name of the Discord server, Thug Shaker Central, is a racist reference. Group members were encouraged to “to hurl epithets and crude jokes,” according to the Post.

Teixeira’s arrest has raised questions about how the junior airman was able to access such highly classified information. As more details about his background emerge, the bigger question seems to be why he was able to access any classified information at all.

Jerry Springer Loved to Show Trans People Humiliated

Trans people reflect on the death of the former talk show host.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Image

The death of talk show host Jerry Springer has brought back painful memories for many transgender people, amid a rapidly rising tide of anti-trans legislation in Republican-led states.

Springer died Thursday at the age of 79, a family spokesperson told TMZ. The former politician and comedian hosted the controversial talk show Jerry Springer for almost three decades, during which the show became known for featuring violence, nudity, and profanity.

The show was particularly notorious for its exploitative treatment of trans women, especially trans women of color—which is ironic, considering that his family has asked fans to commit an act of kindness to honor him, rather than send flowers. Jerry Springer regularly featured segments that dehumanized trans women, referred to them by slurs, and portrayed them as deceptive.

Trans women, as well as allies, spoke out on Twitter after Springer’s death was announced about how much he and his treatment of trans people affected their sense of self worth. They pointed out that his show was often some of the only trans representation they saw in popular culture when they were younger.

Springer’s show was canceled in 2018, but it faced regular criticisms for transphobia before that. He was vocal in his support for the LGBTQ community, but on the show, things looked a little different.

Although Springer had pushed back on the accusations of transphobia, his show and its audience always mocked trans people when they appeared as guests, including in the offensively named segment “Trannies Twerk It Out.” Presenting one community as a joke stood in stark contrast to the rest of his show, online magazine Queerty pointed out.

“The laughter, the pointing, the hooting and hollering—how can this be perceived as supporting the transgender community?” Queerty editor Dan Tracer wrote in 2015.

Springer’s death comes amid a wave of state-level anti-trans legislation that only seems to be picking up speed. The Republican-led measures range from banning trans people from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender to banning gender-affirming care for minors and even letting state officials take trans teens away from guardians who give them such care.

Just Wednesday, Montana House Republicans voted to censure Zooey Zephyr, the state’s only trans lawmaker, after she gave a fiery speech warning them that banning gender-affirming care would increase suicide among trans minors.

Feinstein’s Absence Helped Republicans Overturn a Biden Rule on Truck Pollution

The Democrats control the Senate. This shouldn’t be happening.

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Every single Senate Republican and Joe Manchin voted explicitly to make our air dirtier—and Dianne Feinstein helped them do it.

On Wednesday, by a vote of 50–49, Senate Republicans and Manchin passed a resolution to nullify an Environmental Protection Agency rule that seeks to reduce toxic air pollution from heavy-duty vehicles.

The EPA estimates the rule will prevent up to 2,900 deaths, 6,700 hospital and emergency room visits, and 18,000 cases of childhood asthma. Beyond the vitality benefits, the rule has material ones too: 78,000 fewer lost days of work, 1.1 million fewer lost school days for kids, $29 billion in annual net benefits.

And because of Feinstein’s absence, and Manchin’s continued cowardice, corporate-wedded Republicans were able to advance the bill to cancel all those benefits.

To be clear, Republicans are entirely at fault for so doggedly pursuing deregulation, day in and day out. In the wake of Norfolk Southern’s toxic derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, we are reminded that this is the same political movement that has had senators like J.D. Vance and Josh Hawley and figureheads like Tucker Carlson appropriating populist bona fides to pretend they care about protecting everyday people from corporate malfeasance and environmental degradation. But when it comes down to it, it’s all smog and mirrors.

But the point of an opposition party is indeed to serve as the opposition. And with Feinstein’s absence, and Manchin’s insistence on showing himself to be just as captured by corporate greed as the next conservative, Democrats are not, in fact, serving as meaningful opposition to a corrupt political movement.

Democrats can’t confirm judges—which, as should be apparent by now, is crucial for instilling any lasting power to protect the basic civil liberties and rights of millions of people against right-wing assaults. Now Democrats can’t even protect low-bar environmental protection rules from being assailed by industry-captured Republicans. What next?

Sure, the resolution may not survive a White House veto, but consider what this kind of dynamic signifies more broadly.

As Alex Pareene wrote in TNR, “I​​f you don’t want to run on big ideas, you should be obligated to run on making shit work, and that should require a commitment to actually making shit work. It is incumbent on those who reject revolution to make the current system not require it.”

If this current system is to even be perceived as superficially functional, Feinstein must either return to Washington yesterday or exit the Senate yesterday. Judges must be confirmed, and regulations meant to protect people must not only be legislatively affirmed but become proud rallying calls for Democrats to boast of to voters.

Democrats, the opposition to Republicans, must prove themselves to be exactly that, not just rhetorically but substantively. The system either works or it doesn’t—and if it doesn’t, don’t blame people for wanting to upend it.

Watch Tucker Carlson Admit That His Fox Show Was a Total Scam

Carlson has put out his first public statement since he was fired from Fox News—and it’s a doozy.

Janos Kummer/Getty Images

Erstwhile television host Tucker Carlson made his first public statement since being fired from Fox News, and he essentially admitted that his show was pointless to begin with.

Carlson was abruptly let go Monday, catching most people off guard. He has been radio silent on social media in the aftermath of his departure from Fox—until now. Carlson posted a video message to Twitter Wednesday evening saying that in his time offline, he has discovered how “unbelievably stupid most of the debates you see on television are.”

“They’re completely irrelevant. They mean nothing,” he said. “Trust me, as someone who’s participated.”

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. Court documents from the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit showed that he knew the things he said on air weren’t true, but he continued to say them anyway.

Carlson also issued what sounded like a warning Wednesday, saying that people who tell the truth prevail. “At the same time, the liars who’ve been trying to silence them shrink, and they become weaker,” said the man who was found by a court to have lied on air. “See you soon.”

He did not indicate what he’ll do next, but it looks like we haven’t seen the end of Carlson yet.