Good Friday Morning! Except to the Alabama Crimson Tide, who spent the week smarting after losing to Texas. Paul Finebaum’s show was full of meltdowns this week, and it was glorious. When Alabama loses, America wins.
This week, I’m going through a combo of the Republican impeachment inquiry combined with CNN’s coverage of it — links to follow.
- Bud Light’s sales remain down 30% six months after the Mulvaney fiasco. Analysts are starting to believe previous drinkers and sales are gone forever. That’s why it’s interesting to note that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation purchased 1.7 million shares of the Bud Light parent company Anheuser-Busch last quarter for nearly $100 million. It’s part of a broader portfolio position in alcohol; Gates’s foundation also owns about “$1 billion worth of shares in Heineken’s parent company, Heineken Holding.” This move is a clear case of buying the dip. If you believe the worst is over for Anheuser-Busch, then this is a decent opening to buy while its valuation remains suppressed. We’ll see if it plays out.
- Disney continues to cut projections for Disney+ subscriptions. Bloomberg reports the company expects to miss its subscriber goal by “tens of millions” in 2024. In 2020, Disney set a subscriber goal of 260 million for 2024. In 2022, Disney downgraded that to “215 – 245 million.” At the start of August, Disney reported another round of subscriber losses, bringing the number to 146.1 million subscribers. Think about that shift for a moment — Disney has gone from a 260 million goal to not even cracking 150 million in 2023. Netflix, for comparison, has 238 million subscribers. Bloomberg reported this week that Disney was in talks to sell off the ABC side of its company to NexStar. Byron Allen has also submitted a bid for $10 billion to buy ABC and its related channels. The rumor mill continues turning for a Disney + Apple marriage. If Disney successfully spins off ABC, I’d watch ESPN next. If Disney can offload ESPN, a sale to a company like Apple wouldn’t shock me. But not in its current state. If Bob Iger wants to sell Disney, he has to lean it out. Given the state of things, I wonder how committed to the lawsuits against DeSantis Disney is — they’re continuing to take on water. Whatever the case, Disney’s empire looks to shrink soon.
- 12,700 UAW workers are on strike at three auto plant facilities, starting at 12:00 AM EST Friday. “The facilities are GM’s midsize truck and full-size van plant in Wentzville, Missouri; Ford’s Ranger midsize pickup and Bronco SUV plant in Wayne, Michigan; and Stellantis’ Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.” The UAW represents almost 150,000 workers at Ford, Jeep, and Stellantis. This is a test strike without involving the entire UAW. I’ve seen diverging stories on this. A Bloomberg report suggested that a strike of 10 days would cost the US economy $5.6 billion and push Michigan into a recession. An RSM research note suggests the impact won’t be that large. Either way, it’s another major strike for the Biden White House. They averted the railway strike by using the election as a gambit. That’s not an option here, and I’m unsure how keen the UAW is to help Democrats. “Former UAW President Bob King told Politico in an interview that ‘UAW members feel abandoned by the Democratic Party,’ saying that Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act has failed to help union workers. He further cited former President Bill Clinton’s signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement as another reason.”
Where you can find me this week
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New Mexico Governor’s Unlawful Gun Law is only the Latest Unconstitutional Power Grab – Conservative Institute
The 14th Amendment Won’t Remove Donald Trump from the Ballot – Conservative Institute
Oliver Anthony and Being Unprepared for Success or Fame – Conservative Institute
CNN Ascends New Heights in Defending Biden Over Impeachment Inquiry
House Republicans announced an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden this week. This is not necessarily good politics. I prefer to keep it at the committee level to continue investigating and popping the White House. But regardless, we’re here now. And whatever my thoughts on it, CNN dropped an all-timer in the fact-check category, and I don’t mean that in a good way.
Here are CNN’s lead sentences, carrying water for the White House:
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made several unproven claims Tuesday while announcing the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
The Republican-led investigation will focus on “allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption” by Biden, related to his family’s overseas business dealings, McCarthy said.
There is clear evidence that Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, leveraged his famous name while pursuing lucrative foreign deals, which might be untoward but isn’t illegal. And he isn’t a government official – the impeachment inquiry is into his father.
House Republicans have not presented any proof that Joe Biden ever profited off his son’s business deals or was influenced while in office by his son’s business dealings.
You’ll note this is a marked shift from CNN’s coverage of anything about Russia or Trump. But that’s just basic hypocrisy that you and I would both expect here; nothing new.
It’s hilarious for CNN to claim – out of both sides of its mouth – that McCarthy made “unproven claims” while also saying “there is clear evidence” regarding Hunter Biden. The standard CNN applies is that because there’s no “smoking gun,” Biden is innocent. And that’s not how any of this works.
Where CNN ascends into an art form of defending the White House is how they “fact check” the claims. Here’s the first one:
Claim: Biden family and associates got $20 million through shell companies
“Bank records show that nearly $20 million in payments were directed to the Biden family members and associates through various shell companies,” McCarthy said.
Facts First: This is true about Joe Biden’s family and associates, but there is no public evidence to date that the president personally received any money.
The first three words of their fact check: “This is true…” The word “BUT” holds up everything that comes after it. It’s a pebble in a river that CNN presents as a dam. The “But” here is straining harder than a belt on its last hole, staring down a Golden Corral buffet.
Every “fact check” CNN does for this is the same. “Yes, the allegation is true, but Joe Biden is still an angel.”
Here’s the second one.
Claim: An informant alleged the Biden family got a bribe
“Even a trusted FBI informant has alleged a bribe to the Biden family,” McCarthy said.
Facts First: It’s true that an informant gave a tip of this nature to the FBI in 2020, and that the bureau had viewed him as a credible informant. But the underlying allegation that the Biden family was given a bribe is totally unproven; the informant was merely reporting something he said he had been told by a Ukrainian businessman.
The first words on the check: “It’s TRUE.” You can’t make this stuff up. It continues like this…
Claim: Biden participated in calls and dinners with son’s business partners
“Eyewitnesses have testified that the president joined on multiple phone calls and had multiple interactions – dinners resulted in cars and millions of dollars into his son’s and his son’s business partners,” McCarthy said.
Facts First: McCarthy’s claim omits key context about what was – and wasn’t – reportedly discussed in the calls and dinners. A Hunter Biden associate testified that even though Joe Biden was on these calls and at these dinners, he didn’t discuss business. And Republicans have not presented any evidence that Joe Biden himself benefited financially from his appearances at the dinners or on the calls.
Claim: Biden family members’ financial transactions were flagged as suspicious
“The Treasury Department alone has more than 150 transactions involving the Biden family and other business associates that were flagged as suspicious activity by US banks,” McCarthy said.
Facts First: The existence of these suspicious activity reports don’t prove wrongdoing on their own.
Claim: Then-VP Biden used his powers to help his son’s business
“Biden used his official office to coordinate with Hunter Biden’s business partners about Hunter’s role in Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company,” McCarthy said, apparently referring to Biden’s time as vice president.
Facts First: There is no public evidence that Joe Biden abused his government powers to help his family.
This last one is my favorite. There’s no evidence Biden abused his government powers. Exactly what purpose does Hunter Biden serve anyone in international politics? Hunter Biden has no marketable skills or an education that proves he’s capable of holding down a job. He’s clearly drifting off his dad’s influence. Hunter clearly presents himself as a power mover in the White House, the question is how much did Joe help Hunter.
They save the best for last, though:
Claim: Biden lied about his knowledge of family’s business deals
“The President did lie to the American people about his own knowledge of his family’s foreign business dealings,” McCarthy said.
Facts First: Joe Biden’s unequivocal denials of any business-related contact with his son have been undercut over time. But so far there is no public evidence that his occasional interactions with Hunter Biden’s business partners led to him getting substantively involved in his son’s financial arrangements.
Joe Biden’s claims have been “undercut over time” is a hilarious description for lying. It’s like Biden’s “lying, dog-faced pony soldier” quote, which he attributes to John Wayne. That quote has been seriously undercut over time because no one can find it in any John Wayne movie or any movie at all.
So here it is, the absolute best defense CNN can trot out for Joe Biden ahead of the impeachment inquiry. “It’s true” is how they have to open things. That’s where we are. And “it’s true” isn’t enough for a scandal at CNN. Joe Biden is still in good shape.
It will be a mess if we end up with a 2024 rematch between Biden and Trump. Joe Biden will be under an impeachment cloud, with indictments against his son. Trump has a litany of cases against him, too. It’s a legal mess from top to bottom, with allegations everywhere.
Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton slimed it up in 2016. 2020 topped that by throwing Trump and Biden into a generational pandemic. We will take that, throw indictments everywhere, and have an ongoing impeachment inquiry. Long-time readers may remember a piece I wrote in March 2020 about the first Trump impeachment at The Dispatch.
The timing was the key to that impeachment (and the second one). Nancy Pelosi was constrained by the calendar, needing the impeachment vote to be over before the 2020 primary calendar got rolling. That wrapped things up in the House and Senate by February.
I don’t have as good of a sense on this one. If Republicans push a similar schedule, they’ll end the impeachment before it could impact Biden in the election. And I doubt many Republicans are interested in voting on impeachment during an election year.
What I believe Republicans will do is push a vote off for as long as possible. If they don’t have to vote in 2024, they won’t. If they lose the House in the 2024 elections, they’ll do the vote in the lame duck session and pitch to the Senate for either a lame duck vote or the next session. If Trump wins in 2024, this all ends up moot anyway. There’s no way Biden will run again if he loses.
It’s hard to believe, but here we are in September of 2023, and we already have a running storyline that will impact the 2024 election along with Trump’s various trial dates. It’d be much easier for Republicans to pivot to Ron DeSantis and avoid all this mess. But if DeSantis doesn’t win Iowa, this all goes down the drain. It’s a slopfest all the way down.
DeSantis is still a long shot, too. There’s not much movement in the polls, but that’s largely true of everyone. Trump has frozen the field so far. The next stage is kicking people out of the race, which won’t start happening until November at the earliest. Fun times ahead.
CNN will mark this statement as “true, but” as well.
Links of the week
We Are Repaganizing – Louise Perry, First Things
Why women need to feel fear: Our instincts aren’t bigoted — they’re essential – Bridget Phetasy, Unherd
JPMorgan allegedly notified the government of $1 billion in suspicious transactions by Jeffrey Epstein: “Epstein’s entire business with JPMorgan and JPMorgan’s entire business with Jeffrey Epstein was human trafficking,” a lawyer for the U.S. Virgin Islands said. – NBC News
CIA tried to pay off analysts to bury findings that COVID lab leak was likely: whistleblower – Josh Christenson, NYPost
CCP-tied electric vehicle company awarded more than $500 million in taxpayer money for second US plant: Chinese executive says he hopes the plant will bolster ‘economic and trade exchanges between China and the US’ – Fox News
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Jets File Restraining Order Against Colin Kaepernick – Babylon Bee
Study Finds No Acceptable Place to Clip Toenails – Reductress
Ireland Completely Forgot To Celebrate First Anniversary Of Queen’s Death – Waterford Whispers News
Apple Confirms Siri Is Sentient and Making Mistakes on Purpose – The Hard Drive
Thanks for reading!