News From The Headlines

Heather Cox Richardson

Yesterday, in a long story about “the petty feud between the [New York Times] and the White House,” Eli Stokols of Politico suggested that the paper’s negative coverage of President Joe Biden came from the frustration of its publisher, A. G. Sulzberger, at Biden’s refusal to do an exclusive interview with the paper. Two people told Stokols that Sulzberger’s reasoning is that only an interview with an established paper like the New York Times “can verify that the 81-year-old Biden is still fit to hold the presidency.” 

For his part, Stokols reported, Biden’s frustration with the New York Timesreflects “the resentment of a president with a working-class sense of himself and his team toward a news organization catering to an elite audience,” and their conviction that the newspaper is not taking seriously the need to protect democracy. 

A spokesperson for the New York Timesresponded to the story by saying the idea that it has skewed its coverage out of pique over an interview is “outrageous and untrue,” and that the paper will continue to cover the president “fully and fairly.”

Today, Biden sat for a live interview of more than an hour with SiriusXM shock jock Howard Stern. Writer Kurt Andersen described it as a “*Total* softball interview, mostly about his personal life—but lovely, sweet, human, and Biden was terrific, consistently clear, detailed, charming, moving. Which was the point. SO much better than his opponent could do.”

Also today, the Treasury Department announced that the pilot program of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that enabled taxpayers to file their tax returns directly with the IRS for free had more users than the program’s stated goal, got positive ratings, and saved users an estimated $5.6 million in fees for tax preparation. The government had hoped about 100,000 people would use the pilot program; 140,803 did.

Former deputy director of the National Economic Council Bharat Ramamurti wrote on social media, “Of all the things I was lucky enough to work on, this might be my favorite. You shouldn’t have to pay money to pay your taxes. As this program continues to grow, most people will get pre-populated forms and be able to file their taxes with a few clicks in a few minutes.” Such a system would look much like the system other countries already use. 

Also today, the Federal Trade Commission announced that Williams-Sonoma will pay a record $3.17 million civil penalty for advertising a number of products as “Made in USA” when they were really made in China and other countries. This is the largest settlement ever for a case under the “Made in USA” rule. Williams-Sonoma will also be required to file annual compliance certifications. 

FTC chair Lina Khan wrote on social media: “Made in USA fraud deceives customers and punishes honest businesses. FTC will continue holding to account businesses that misrepresent where their product[s] are manufactured.” 

In another win for the United Auto Workers (UAW), the union negotiated a deal today with Daimler Trucks over contracts for 7,300 Daimler employees in four North Carolina factories. The new contracts provide raises of at least 25% over four years, cost of living increases, and profit sharing. This victory comes just a week after workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted overwhelmingly to join the UAW. 

Today was the eighth day of Trump’s criminal trial for his efforts to interfere with the 2016 election by paying to hide negative information about himself from voters and then falsifying records to hide the payments. David Pecker, who ran the company that published the National Enquirer tabloid, finished his testimony. 

In four days on the stand, Pecker testified that he joined Michael Cohen and others in killing stories to protect Trump in the election. Trump’s longtime executive assistant Rhona Graff took the stand after Pecker, and testified that both Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels were in Trump’s contacts. Next up was Gary Farro, a bank employee who verified banking information that showed how Michael Cohen had hidden payments to Daniels in 2016.

Once again, Trump appeared to be trying to explain away his lack of support at the trial, writing on his social media channel that the courthouse was heavily guarded. “Security is that of Fort Knox,” he wrote, “all so that MAGA will not be able to attend this trial….” But CNN’s Kaitlan Collins immediately responded: “Again, the courthouse is open [to] the public. The park outside, where a handful of his supporters have gathered on [trial] days, is easily accessible.”

Dispatch Politics noted today that when co-chairs Michael Whatley and Lara Trump and senior campaign adviser Chris LaCivita took over the Republican National Committee (RNC), they killed a plan to open 40 campaign offices in 10 crucial states and fired 60 members of the RNC staff. According to Dispatch Politics, Trump insisted to the former RNC chair that he did not need the RNC to work on turning out voters. He wanted the RNC to prioritize “election integrity” efforts. 

The RNC under Trump has not yet developed much infrastructure or put staff into the states. It appears to have decided to focus only on those that are key to the presidential race, leaving down-ballot candidates on their own. 

While Trump appears to be hoping to win the election through voter suppression or in the courts, following his blueprint from 2020, Biden’s campaign has opened 30 offices in Michigan alone and has established offices in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Florida.

Finally today, news broke that in her forthcoming book, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem wrote about shooting her 14-month-old dog because it was “untrainable” and dangerous. “I hated that dog,” she wrote, and she recorded how after the dog ruined a hunting trip, she shot it in a gravel pit. Then she decided to kill a goat that she found to be “nasty and mean” as well as smelly and aggressive. She “dragged him to the gravel pit,” too, and “put him down.”  

Noem has been seen as a leading contender for the Republican vice presidential nomination on a ticket with Trump, and it seems likely she was trying to demonstrate her ruthlessness—a trait Trump appears to value—as a political virtue. But across the political spectrum, people have expressed outrage and disgust. In The Guardian, Martin Pengelly said her statement, “I guess if I were a better politician I wouldn’t tell the story,” was “a contender for the greatest understatement of election year.”

Leave a Reply