EDITORS' BLOG
Stop! Give Me Just Two Minutes

We made a strong start last week to our second annual drive for The TPM Journalism Fund. We really need to keep that momentum going. If you thought of contributing last week but didn’t get around to it, please consider doing so right now. Just take two minutes out of your routine and click here.

We have made great strides over the last five years totally transforming the site’s business model from one based almost exclusively on advertising to one based overwhelmingly on membership fees. But it’s not quite enough, at least not yet. That’s where The TPM Journalism Fund comes in. It plays a relatively small (in percentage terms) but still critical role in our budget, allowing us to keep our focus on original reporting and evolve with the changing news environment.

Please help us keep this momentum going. It’s really very important. Just click right here.

Thoughts on the COVID Crime Wave

I went in with low expectations reading this article in The New Republic about whether criminal justice reform can survive the COVID-triggered rise in violent crime. I say low expectations because I’m accustomed to reformers being in denial about the role of violent crime in triggering support for punitive law enforcement regimes. Equally I find they are often in denial about the relevance of arguing – even convincingly – that rising crimes rates are not driven by lack law enforcement. But the article was quite good. It made the case, fairly persuasively, that the 2020-2021 crime surge isn’t tied to reformist criminal justice policies. It also explained why this likely won’t matter, or at least that public fear tends to drive more punitive and authoritarian law enforcement regimes whether or not those policies are rooted in clear evidence of efficacy.

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Where Things Stand: Trump Will Endorse Literally Anyone Who Challenges GOPer Who Co-Wrote Jan 6 Commission Bill
Prime Membership Required

The former president has vowed to make reelection a living hell for any Republican who voted to impeach him.

But his recent handwritten note to a local county conservative group promising to do just that to take down Rep. John Katko (R-NY) was the encapsulation of Trumpism — just the right blend of outsized ego and transparent desperation.

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Let the Playacting Begin!

Today is the day for voting rights legislation, or H1/S1. But we remain in a kind of play-acting drama. Kirsten Sinema remains steadfast in her opposition to ending the filibuster, a position she reaffirmed last night. But she’s a preening clown. More interesting, befuddling, bizarre is the stance of Joe Manchin.

As you’ll remember, a couple weeks ago, Manchin announced he was opposed to the For the People Act (H1/S1). This didn’t turn the tables too dramatically since that really only meant that the bill went from being ten votes short of 60 to eleven votes short of 60. But then a few days ago Manchin came forward with a revised version of the bill which he said he did support.

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Where Things Stand: Dem Calls For GOPers Ouster After Latest Jan 6 Conspiracy Theory
Prime Membership Required

Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) yesterday called for the removal of three of his colleagues — Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) — from Congress over their promotion of the far-right’s latest wild conspiracy theory surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Moulton told CNN Sunday the trio were “traitors” who are attempting to “whitewash history” by hyping the theory, which makes the case that the FBI was actually the entity responsible for the Jan. 6 attack.

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The Era of Email Newsletters

As you may know we’re in the midst of an burgeoning era of email newsletters. We have two new or upgraded ones ourselves: The Franchise (on voting rights and democracy) and The Weekender. (You can sign up for both here.) There’s also Substack, a newsletter platform which now hosts a substantial number of established journalists (and newcomers) who are striking out on their own as one-man/-woman shops with revenue from recurring subscriptions. There’s even been some controversy in the case of Substack because they have basically fronted a year of guaranteed revenue to a number of journalists with established followings. Substack thinks it will make money on those advances and does so because it wants as many proofs of concept on the platform as possible. Nothing surprising or controversial there, though some think otherwise.

A key part of the newsletter revival is the subscription model, one which I’ve discussed at great length as a key to TPM’s survival and current vitality. That is a key part of their attractiveness. The greatest financial challenge to journalism today is the dominating role occupied by platform monopolies which take from publications their longstanding role as gatekeepers and profit centers for commercial speech. Direct relationships with readers via subscriptions cuts right through that existential challenge.

But it’s not the business model of newsletters that brings me to write about them today. It’s the more intangible or elusive qualities that makes them attractive to readers. The apparently viable business model makes them attractive to independent journalists and publications. But none of it would work if there wasn’t demonstrable demand. And that demand very clearly exists.

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Juneteenth

Read Gregory Downs’ history of Juneteenth, originally published in 2015.

Could the Court Toss a Ban on Partisan Gerrymandering?

Last week I noted that even if Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is watering down the For the People Act, his somewhat diminished version is still very much worth fighting for. Part of my argument is that the ban on partisan gerrymandering is likely the most important part of the legislation. And Manchin appears to be saying that he supports that part of the bill.

Now, a number of you have written in to ask how excited we can be about that given the GOP majority (yes, intentional usage) Supreme Court which is often inclined to use the most facially absurd arguments if they advance conservative ideology or the present interests of the Republican party (yes, this is definitely still true). Or to put it more directly, how likely are those provisions to withstand the scrutiny of this Supreme Court?

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MUST READ

I teased it yesterday, and now it’s live. Josh Kovensky peels back the layers of “ItalyGate” (not familiar? Josh will explain). Along the way, he finds a surprising cameo by a longtime TPM fixture, threads into Iceland and Somalia (no, really), and a cast of characters that will leave you scratching your head. It’s rollicking good fun, but remember this is the crap Trump’s White House chief of staff was pushing the Justice Department to look into. It’s a classic TPM story.

Check Back Tomorrow

We have a Josh Kovensky must-read coming Saturday. You won’t want to miss it, even on a holiday weekend. Trust me: it’s a lot of fun.

| News

Before Texas filed a lawsuit that asked the Supreme Court to block President Biden’s win in four battleground states, a draft of the petition was circulated to the Louisiana attorney general’s office.

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| News

In the minds of the right, the international communist threat is back. And this time, it’s not just personal — it’s genetic.

At least, that’s according to a letter that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent to President Biden this week.

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| News

Nearly three months after the head of Michigan’s Republican Party unveiled an audacious plan that would allow GOP legislators to circumvent the state’s Democratic governor’s veto to pass restrictive voting laws, the contours of the scheme remain murky. 

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| Muckraker

Over the past two months of infrastructure talks, there’s been a constant refrain from Republican negotiators: why not just use all the unspent COVID aid money to pay for the bill?

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| Cafe

As a lifelong novel consumer who enjoys throwing myself into other worlds for hours on end, it probably won’t come as a surprise that I don’t read too many short stories.

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