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Watch: Local Sinclair Anchors Read Same Shady Script on Biden’s Age

Local news anchors across the country are reading from the exact same script on Joe Biden.

Joe Biden speaking at the presidential podium. U.S. flags are behind him.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Local television news broadcasters are airing suspiciously similar attacks on Joe Biden’s mental acuity and how it will affect the coming election—and it appears to be part of a coordinated effort.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group owns or operates 185 local television stations across the country, and dozens of their stations aired a segment from national correspondent Matthew Galka citing a Wall Street Journal article that makes dubious attacks on Biden’s age and mental awareness. The stations that aired the segment introduced it using startlingly similar, if not identical language, the Popular Information and Public Notice newsletters reported.

It’s not the first time Sinclair, owned by right-wing businessman David D. Smith, has appeared to be running a conservative propaganda campaign. Infamously in 2018, dozens of the company’s TV stations were caught airing an identical editorial about the dangers of biased and false news. This time around, the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, as well as Murdoch’s cable news stations Fox News and Fox Business, have gotten in on the act.

Smith himself has long been a donor to Republican causes through his family foundation, which counts right-wing nonprofits Young Americans for Liberty, Project Veritas, Turning Point USA, and Moms for Liberty among its recipients. In 2016, the Donald Trump campaign cut a deal with Sinclair that exchanged extensive access to Trump in return for positive coverage without fact-checking. That same year, Smith met with Trump and reportedly told him, “We are here to deliver your message.”

Earlier this year, Smith purchased The Baltimore Sun, insulting its staff and laying out a vision to steer it in the conservative direction of his TV stations. It’s quite obvious that Smith, Murdoch, and other conservative millionaires and billionaires are taking over as many media outlets as possible to push right-wing political propaganda, with the Biden age article and subsequent TV segments as examples of the end product they want. They’re finding vast opportunities in America’s declining news deserts, as well as the skeletal newspapers gutted by hedge funds and profit-seeking corporations. It doesn’t just bode well for the next election, but also portends a scary future for American democracy for decades to come.

After publication, a Sinclair spokesperson reached out to The New Republic to clarify that “using a preproduced script for a package that has been provided by another media outlet is a common practice across the industry.”

This article has been updated.

Matt Gaetz Has the Wildest Reaction to Hunter Biden Verdict

The Florida Republican essentially responded with a yawn.

Matt Gaetz looks down
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Hunter Biden was found guilty Tuesday on three charges in his federal gun trial. He could face up to 25 years in prison for lying on a federal form about his drug use, lying to a gun dealer, and possessing a gun.

But as Republicans sprang into a frenzy, someone very unexpected downplayed  the first son’s conviction: Florida Representative Matt Gaetz.

“The Hunter Biden gun conviction is kinda dumb tbh,” Gaetz wrote on X moments after the ruling was released.

Gaetz wasn’t the only Republican rushing to retroactively claim that the gun possession conviction was pointless. Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk also chimed into the conversation, revealing a deeper reason why conservatives might not want to jump on the bandwagon against Biden’s son—all in a thinly veiled effort to aid another convicted felon, Donald Trump.

“Hunter Biden guilty. Yawn,” Kirk wrote. “The true crimes of the Biden Crime Family remain untouched. This is a fake trial trying to make the Justice system appear ‘balanced.’ Don’t fall for it.”

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has already indicated that he won’t be pardoning his son. In an interview with ABC News last week, Biden said that he would accept the outcome of his son’s trial and that a pardon wasn’t on the table. Conversely, Biden said that Donald Trump was trying to “undermine” the legal system by claiming that he had been unjustly targeted by the legal system.

Biden repeated his acceptance Tuesday, saying that above all else, he would keep supporting his son.

“I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal,” he said in a statement. “Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that.”

Hunter has become a favorite target of Republicans over the last couple of years. Besides the gun trial—which dredged up emotional testimony from the 54-year-old’s ex-wife and sister-in-law about his drug use—conservatives have dogged Hunter with alleged tax evasion charges in California and with a sham inquiry remarkably devoid of evidence at the Congressional level, claiming that the president had netted millions off of his son’s connection to Ukrainian oil company Burisma. 

But that effort completely blew up in their face when their star informant Alexander Smirnov was indicted by the Department of Justice for lying to the FBI. Smirnov then reportedly admitted to law enforcement that top Russian intelligence officials were involved in the smear campaign against the sitting president. And all of the other witnesses that Republicans called on in their year-long probe instead debunked every single accusation against the Biden family.

Democrats’ Dystopian Plan to Get Young People to Vote for Biden

Rather than implement major policy change, Democratic donors are giving away some cash.

University students register to vote
Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic donors are test-running a series of party-style campaign events aimed at getting young voters to the polls—a nice idea, but some of their tactics seem downright dystopian.

Over the past few months, The Voter Project has been hosting parties in Pennsylvania, fine-tuning strategies under the banner Stand Up Strong ’24, according to The Washington Post.

“Turning people out to cultural events is not a hard thing to do. The key thing is to make it fun and keep out the doom and gloom,” Kevin Mack, the group’s lead strategist told the Post.

Stand Up Strong ’24 recently held an event in Philadelphia that had all the usual fixings of a community event, including beer, free giveaways, and music.

But there was one more thing: a raffle giving away one month’s rent to lucky attendees. A total of $8,000 was distributed, according to the Post.

Democrats are so desperate to reunite with young voters that they’ve resorted to paying them. Somehow, throwing money at the problem seems easier than making substantial policy changes.

Unfortunately for Biden, his glacial work to erase crippling student loans for millions of people hasn’t proven to be enough to keep young voters, especially not in the face of his disastrous Israel policy, which has actively backed the country’s catastrophic military campaign in Gaza.

For the Biden campaign, youth voter turnout may be the key to keeping the White House in November. In 2020, an astounding young voter turnout, higher than in any presidential election in nearly 50 years, lifted Biden to victory. Without their support, 2024 could look a lot like 2016—with even more dangerous results.

It’s undeniable that community events are essential tools in building public power and engaging young voters. Just look at the massive pro-Palestinian rallies across the country! If only Biden could think of some way to tap into that … oh well.

Fox News Fixates on Beyoncé Tickets to Distract from Thomas Scandals

Fox News is desperate to talk about anything but the millions of dollars in gifts Clarence Thomas has received as a Supreme Court justice.

Clarence Thomas
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fox News is attempting to downplay conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s astronomical $4 million in lavish vacations and gifts by fixating on gifts received by liberal justices—specifically, Beyoncé tickets given to Ketanji Brown Jackson by the superstar herself, which is just an unequivocally cool fact.

Jackson’s Beyoncé tickets, which the Supreme Court justice reported totaled $3,700, have consumed a substantial amount of Fox’s attention. According to an analysis by Mediaite, Fox spent multiple segments discussing Jackson’s tickets in detail while saying next to nothing about the real scandal of Thomas’s mind-boggling disclosure report. Fix the Court tallied all Supreme Court justice disclosures over the last 20 years, finding they collectively received more than $6.5 million in gifts—with a extreme majority of that total attributed solely to Thomas.

When Fox News does mention Thomas’s amended financial disclosure forms (which only come after bombshell reports expose that he failed to disclose them), it’s paired with mention of Jackson’s tickets, seemingly in an attempt to conflate being swayed by conservative billionaire interests with being swayed by the melodious rhythm of Queen Bey’s splashy bops.

According to Mediaite, in the week since Fix the Court’s findings, Fox News mentioned Clarence Thomas’s amended financial disclosures three times, each time omitting the astronomical quantity of his gifts. Every time Fox News mentioned Thomas, it brought up Jackson’s Beyoncé tickets and noted the price.

“Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is acknowledging previously unreported trips that were paid for by a conservative billionaire,” said Fox News anchor John Roberts, during a June 6 episode of America Reports. “Thomas has amended last year’s financial disclosure form to include the trips that were back in 2019. The vacations to Bali and California were not originally included in his 2019 disclosure form. By the way, last year, Ketanji Brown Jackson, the justice, got four tickets from Beyoncé for a concert worth $3,700.”

The analysis from Mediaite further notes that Fox News carried its lopsided framing to its website, publishing articles that vaguely report on Thomas’s amended disclosures while providing itemized detailing of gifts received by Jackson. Fox describes the cost of the Beyoncé tickets as “eye-popping” and includes mention of a floral arrangement gifted by Oprah Winfrey to celebrate Jackson becoming the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Fix the Court responded to Fox’s focus on Jackson’s meager gifts while underplaying Thomas’s extravagant boon, posting on X (formerly Twitter), “$4,000 in gifts is the same as $4 million in gifts, right?”

“Here, a decision was made at Fox News at least five times—three on-air television reports plus the two articles on the network’s website cited above—to leave out the seven-figure total of the gifts to Thomas, leave out the broader controversy about Thomas’ gifts from Crow, repeatedly mention the four-figure cost of the concert tickets given to Jackson, and emphasize the celebrity aspect of the story,” Mediaite’s Sarah Rumpf notes.

Supreme Court financial disclosures are intended to prevent conflicts of interest, an issue that has come up frequently with Thomas. Fox’s fixation on Jackson’s Beyoncé tickets moves away from the purpose of financial disclosures toward making a scandal of the fact that Beyoncé did an extremely cool thing, and that tickets to one of her legendary concerts apparently cost just $925 apiece.

Trump Reveals Judge Cannon’s Game With Just Four Words

Donald Trump requested a delay in proceedings for his classified documents trial ... “should there be one.”

Donald Trump holds his arms out as he stands at a podium
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Judge Aileen Cannon is definitely lending Donald Trump a helping hand in his classified documents case—at least, that’s according to the former president’s legal team.

Cannon on Tuesday* granted a request by Trump’s team to delay the trial until July 8, allowing the defense more time to find expert witnesses to bolster their case. But four words included near the bottom of the motion revealed exactly what legal experts have been fearing.

“We respectfully submit that no prejudice would result to the Special Counsel’s Office from granting the requested adjournment,” the team wrote in the Monday night filing, adding that “President Trump is disclosing to the Office tonight the topics of expert testimony that he will seek to present at trial should there be one.”

Cannon has added so many delays to the criminal trial that it has seemingly no start date in sight. Legal experts have warned that the Trump-appointed judge’s actions and apparent aversion to expedite the federal obstruction case could delay the trial until after November.

It could even be Cannon’s way of not-so-surreptitiously dismissing the trial altogether—and now, Trump has spelled it out.

In May, Cannon ordered a stay on the GOP presidential nominee’s legal requirement to give the government advance notice of which classified materials will be discussed—but offered no expiration date for the theoretically temporary reprieve. She also slapped down a gag order request for Trump on the basis that his defense did not have enough time to mull over its details.

Cannon has even scheduled an “unusual” hearing on June 21, making time for amicus briefs from non-parties to make oral arguments on whether special counsel Jack Smith’s appointment to the case is constitutional.

Former Trump White House attorney Ty Cobb has accused Cannon of “incompetence,” insisting that the case could have “easily” gone to trial before Election Day with the amount of evidence available.

“Only her incompetence and perceived bias has prevented that,” Cobb told CNN last month.

Trump faces 42 felony charges in the case related to willful retention of national security information, corruptly concealing documents, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. But the judge actually overseeing the former president’s classified documents case seems to have no motivation to move forward with the trial.

*This story has been updated with Cannon’s response.

Judge Cannon Helps Trump Again—Striking Entire Paragraph in Indictment

Judge Aileen Cannon is once again doing Trump a favor in his classified documents case.

Judge Aileen Cannon portrait (blue background looks like a yearbook photo)
United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Judge Aileen Cannon has once again helped Donald Trump in his classified documents trial, this time by removing an entire paragraph from the indictment.

The paragraph in question alleged that Trump showed a classified map of a foreign country related to a military operation to a representative of his political action committee, who did not have security clearance. Trump’s defense team said the paragraph was prejudicial and included information that was not essential to the underlying charges.

Trump’s team had requested that multiple charges in the indictment be dismissed, but Cannon denied that request. However, while delivering that news, she chided special counsel Jack Smith’s team for including language in the charging documents that she called “legally unnecessary to serve the function of an indictment” and that she said created “arguable confusion” in the allegations.

Trump’s defense team has made numerous pretrial requests and motions, which Cannon’s handling of the case has allowed to pile up. She has postponed the case indefinitely to examine each motion, even if they seem outrageous or frivolous. For example, she has scheduled a hearing for later this month to determine whether Smith’s appointment and funding by the Justice Department was even legal.

Cannon has also agreed to hear Trump’s arguments that the FBI plotted to assassinate him—a completely made-up conspiracy theory. Two weeks ago, she blocked a gag order request from special counsel Jack Smith because it was “wholly lacking in substance and professional courtesy.” And one of Trump’s former lawyers, Ty Cobb, thinks that Cannon is doing a terrible job with the case.

The frequently delayed case has not reflected well on Cannon, a former federal prosecutor and University of Michigan law school graduate. One hearing with a Trump co-defendant devolved into a shouting match, and Cannon seems to misunderstand basic legal proceedings and principles in court, forcing legal counsel to explain them to her as the trial proceeds.

All of this has given fodder to allegations that she is deliberately slowing down the case against the convicted felon and Republican presidential nominee, or seeking to ultimately dismiss the case entirely. But, it all could be used by Smith in a motion to try and have her removed from the case. Regardless of whether Cannon’s odd handling of Trump’s case is due to inexperience or a deliberate attempt to help Trump, he certainly seems to appreciate it.

Unfortunately more on Trump:

Why Trump Is So Annoyed by Resurrection of This Quote

Several people in Trump world have revealed why the former president is pissed his infamous insult of fallen U.S. soldiers is back.

Donald Trump yelling
Justin Lane/Pool/Getty Images

The Streisand effect is in full force as Donald Trump aggressively attempts to bat away an ad released by Biden’s campaign that highlights alleged remarks Trump made at a cemetery for fallen soldiers, where he reportedly referred to the cemetery as being full of “suckers” and “losers.”

The ad references numerous comments made by Trump over the years reportedly expressing disdain toward military veterans and fallen soldiers, blending public comments made by Trump with firsthand reports of statements he made in 2018, according to a now infamous story, with multiple sources who spoke with The Atlantic in 2020. While Trump has taken umbrage with the ad for what he purports to be “misinformation,” sources who spoke with The Daily Beast noted it has particularly provoked Trump because it pairs his own “losers” comment with his insecurities about himself being a loser.

“The biggest insult to him to get under his skin is that he lost in 2020, he lost his court case and he’s convicted now,” a Trump world strategist told The Daily Beast. “You can call him fat, call him an insurrectionist, call him a racist [but] that’s just not gonna stick.”

“I think his deepest fear, or the deepest psychology with Donald Trump is that he [didn’t win] the 2020 election [when] he’s won everything in life,” the Republican strategist added. “That’s the pressure. He’s married hot women, he built famous buildings, he had a highly rated, successful TV show. And he became president, right?”

During a baking hot campaign rally in Las Vegas on Sunday, Trump griped about the ad and those who recommended he not mention it. “I gotta mention it,” Trump told the crowd. “It just never goes away.” Trump continued his tirade on Truth Social, where in numerous posts he called for Biden to “take down the Fake Ad,” which he described as “MADE UP DISINFORMATION by Radical Left Democrats, and Trump Haters.”

“Obviously, I never said that dead Soldiers are ‘losers and suckers.’ Who would say such a thing? It was MADE UP DISINFORMATION by Radical Left Democrats, and Trump Haters, working with a failing Magazine, just like Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, FISA Fraud, 51 Intel Agents, and so much more,” Trump posted on Monday.

“They even made these horrific words into an advertisement which shows how desperate they are,” Trump wrote in another post. “No President, especially ‘dumb as a rock’ Joe Biden, has done more for our Military than DONALD J. TRUMP. The Military hates Crooked Joe, and all of the failure he represents. Take down the Fake Ad, Joe, and stop the unprecedented Weaponization of ‘Justice’ against your Political Opponent. You are destroying our Country!”

Trump infamously draft-dodged by making up bone spurs, denigrated John McCain’s time as a prisoner of war by saying, “I like people who weren’t captured,” and, after canceling on a 2018 visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France, asked, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers”—comments Trump denies making but which were confirmed by his then–White House chief of staff, John Kelly.

Alito’s Wife Caught on Tape Spewing Venom at Everyone

Martha-Ann Alito complained about Pride Month, feminists, the Left, and the news media.

Martha-Ann Alito and Samuel Alito stand next to each other, wearing masks
Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

A secret tape has exposed what Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s wife, Martha-Ann, really thinks behind closed doors—and the truth isn’t pretty. In the span of just a few minutes, Alito promised revenge on the media, flung around terms like “femnazis,” lauded her German heritage, and went off about Pride flags. It was a mess.

Alito has been in and out of the news in the last month, after her high-ranking husband blamed her for hanging an upside-down American flag outside of their home, a symbol favored by the “Stop the Steal” movement following the 2020 presidential election. She supposedly hung the flag in response to a neighbor’s “F— Trump” sign, which sparked the rather unneighborly spat. Alito also engaged in some light menacing as part of the feud, prompting the neighbor to call the cops on the Alitos. Still, Justice Alito has refused calls to recuse himself from cases relating to the January 6 insurrection.

Journalist Lauren Windsor recorded Martha-Ann’s and her husband’s comments during the Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual dinner earlier this month. A copy of the tape was published on Monday by Rolling Stone.

Windsor first approached Martha-Ann, posing as a Christian conservative, to express her sympathy over “everything that you’re going through,” referring to the highly publicized flag hanging.

“It’s OK because if they come back to me, I’ll get them,” Alito said cheerfully. “I’m gonna be liberated and I’m gonna get them.”

“What do you mean by ‘they?’” Windsor asked.

“There is a five-year defamation statute of limitations,” Alito said, letting out a laugh.

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘they’, like by ‘get them’?” Windsor pressed.

“The media!” Alito said, going on to complain about her coverage in The Washington Post style section from nearly two decades ago.

It appears Alito doesn’t forget about the journalists who’ve gotten on her bad side. In 2016, Alito was reportedly enthusiastic about Trump’s promise to expand U.S. libel laws to make it significantly easier to sue news outlets for their coverage, one GOP operative told Rolling Stone.

While maintaining her cheerful tone, Alito also took aim at any woman who suggested her husband should’ve prevented her from hanging an “Appeal to Heaven” flag, a symbol revived by a Christian nationalist sect and favored by January 6 insurrectionists, at their vacation home.

“The other thing the femnazis believe, that he should control me,” Alito said about her husband. “So, they’ll go to hell. He never controls me.”

When Windsor asked what someone who has the same flag should do, Alito responded simply, “Don’t get angry, get even.”

There was one group that Alito seemed to admire, and it’s not exactly one that people are often openly praising. “Look at me, look at me. I’m German, from Germany. My heritage is German. You come after me. I’m gonna give it back to you. And there will be a way, it doesn’t have to be now, but there will be a way they will know. Don’t worry about it,” she said.

When Windsor tried to ask Alito about the political divide in the United States and her thoughts on the “radical Left,” about which her supposedly nonpolitical husband had plenty to say, Alito cut her off to complain about Pride flags.

“You know what I want? I want a Sacred Heart of Jesus flag because I have to look across the lagoon at the Pride flag for the next month,” she said.

“And he’s like, ‘Oh please, don’t put up a flag.’ I said, ‘I won’t do it because I’m deferring to you. But when you are free of this nonsense I’m putting it up, and I’m gonna send them a message every day. Maybe every week I’ll be changing the flags. They’ll be all kinds,’” she said, fantasizing about the day when she could finally antagonize her neighbors who support the LGBTQ+ community.

Alito even explained she had invented a flag that says, “Vergogna,” which means “shame” in Italian. “Shame, shame, shame on you,” Alito added darkly.

One can scarcely believe that her husband ruled in favor of allowing businesses to discriminate against people who identify as LGBTQ+.

Coward Trump Scrambles to Worm Out of Biden Debate

Sean Hannity suggested Donald Trump should wait to debate until he has formally secured the Republican presidential nomination.

Donald Trump holds his finger up to his mouth
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The first presidential debate is set to take place June 27 at CNN’s studios in Atlanta. The event was always going to occur, but that didn’t stop Donald Trump from spending weeks goading his opponent into accepting the details. Now it seems that the presumptive GOP presidential nominee may be trying to weasel his way out of the situation.

Fox News host Sean Hannity floated the idea Monday night, wondering aloud if Trump should “pass on the debate.”

“I think we’ll see the return of ‘Jacked-Up Joe,’” Hannity began, speculating about Biden’s abilities. “Whatever Joe drank, ate, took before the State of the Union—maybe it was just Red Bull and caffeine pills. I don’t know. Whatever it was, that was not the normal Joe. We never saw it before, and we haven’t seen it since. But we will see it for the debate.”

“Now, there are some even saying, Mark, that Donald Trump might be wise to just pass on the first debate, wait until he’s nominated, then debate him,” Hannity said, speaking to Harris Poll chairman Mark Penn. “What would you say to that?”

“I’d say he accepted it. He accepted it in the lion’s den. If I were Donald Trump, I would have done some better negotiating here, but I don’t think he can back out now without really looking cowardly,” Penn replied.

Hannity then took it a step further, suggesting that Trump would be better off during the debate if moderators muted his mic.

“Joe might have done Donald Trump a favor, and I say this affectionately, by insisting that when it’s not his turn to speak that they mute his microphone, ’cause I think that was a mistake in the first debate in 2020,” Hannity said, recalling Trump’s terrible performance the first time the pair squared off in the last election.

Hannity has held a close relationship with Trump for years. The two reportedly exchanged upward of 80 text messages between the 2020 election and Biden’s 2021 inauguration, with Hannity acting as a pseudo-adviser to the former president. Trump, however, has stayed surprisingly mum on the debate, even with the reality of the event just two weeks off.

The Toni Morrison Award Winners: Fighters in the Censorship Trenches

Five award recipients at Saturday night’s Right to Read celebration talk about what drives them.

Eleven authors hold up prizes  while standing on a stage side by side
Johnny Louis
From left to right: Crystal Etienne (Democratic Public Education Caucus of Florida), Esther Jimenez (Cuban-American Women Supporting Democracy), Pastor Laurie Hafner (Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ), Mitchell Kaplan (Books and Books Literary Foundation), Stephanie Pacheco for Dr. Marvin Dunn (Miami Center for Racial Justice), Katie Blankenship (PEN-Miami), Ana Sofia Palaez (Miami Freedom Project), Vanessa Brito (Moms4Libros), Lissette Fernandez (Moms4Libros), Maxx Fanning (PRISM), and Hedieh Sepehri (FABB)

“I think it’s important for us as teachers to create a space so that our students can dare to reimagine new futures, and they can dare connect and they can dare to dissent,” Texas history teacher Daniel Santos said as he accepted the Toni Morrison Award for Courage at The New Republic’s Right to Read celebration in Miami Saturday night. Santos, executive vice president of the Houston Federation of Teachers and one of five recipients of the award, told the story of a graduating former student from Guatemala who returned to tell him how much a novel he’d assigned about Japanese internment had stayed with him. “He connected with that book, and to this day, he says he continues to read that book because it was valuable and it was important,” he said.

Santos criticized policymakers in his home state, who have enacted some of the country’s most restrictive book banning legislation. So did fellow award-winner Allison Grubbs, Broward County Library director. Over 40 percent of book bans have occurred in Florida, prompting Grubbs to create book sanctuaries in all 36 branches of the Broward County Library system. Grubbs pledged that her “commitment to the freedom to read will remain unwavering,” even in the face of the harassment and threats she’s faced by right-wingers. “When we lose the unchallenged right to read, think, speak freely, we have lost not only our social liberty, but our humanity,” Grubbs said. “The history of totalitarianism in every age and culture has demonstrated that censorship of citizens and their press is a preliminary mechanism by which the descent begins.”

Two award recipients, Texas booksellers Valerie Koehler and Charley Rejsek, are taking on that mechanism directly. They are lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of House Bill 900, the Texas law requiring booksellers to rate books being sold to schools for their “sexual content.” The case, currently in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals after the state unsuccessfully appealed the ruling blocking the law’s enforcement, reminded Rejsek of a line from Fahrenheit 451, the once-banned Ray Bradbury novel from which her store draws its name. “‘Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick when it came to censorship.’ And I feel like we’re in that moment right now,” she said.

Four-time Newbery Award–winner and MacArthur grant recipient Jacqueline Woodson, who sat on a panel during the Right to Read celebration before accepting her award, drew from another celebrated American writer. “You think your pain is unprecedented in the history of the world, and then you read,” she said, paraphrasing James Baldwin. Woodson’s memoir of the Civil Rights Movement, Brown Girl Dreaming, which won the National Book Award and Newbery Honor award, was challenged in Florida and Texas during the 2021 “critical race theory” panic.

Woodson recalled reading Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, one of the country’s most banned books, as a fifth grader, reflecting on how it informed her own work. “We have seen mirrors of ourselves in literature,” she said. “We have seen windows into worlds that we would never have experienced or understood, or grown to have empathy for. We have seen the other and come to love the other, and we want the other to be OK because sometimes the other is us.”