The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

Today’s New Bits About False Statements

The Wall Street Journal reports that Jack Smith is about to ask a judge to reject Trump’s privilege claims.

A federal judge is set to hear arguments Thursday over special counsel Jack Smith’s push to extract more grand-jury testimony from a lawyer for Donald Trump, according to people familiar with the escalating investigation into the handling of classified documents at the former president’s South Florida estate.

In a closed-door court proceeding, Mr. Smith’s team is expected to urge Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the District Court for the District of Columbia to reject attorney-client privilege claims that Evan Corcoran, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, raised on behalf of the former president during a January grand-jury appearance. Following that appearance, prosecutors asked Judge Howell to invoke the so-called crime-fraud exception to bypass the privilege claims and compel Mr. Corcoran to provide more testimony, the people said.

That exception applies in instances where there is reason to believe that legal advice has been used in furtherance of a crime. The move to invoke it suggests that Mr. Smith’s team suspects Mr. Trump or his allies used Mr. Corcoran’s services in such a way.

Another baby step toward a Trump indictment. Also too, former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis has been censured by a Colorado Supreme Court judge for making false statements about the 2020 election.

Speaking of false statements, this has turned into Laughing at Tucker Carlson Week. And everywhere I see the question — Why didn’t Fox settle with Dominion? For example, yesterday Erik Wemple wrote, “Perhaps Fox News now wishes it had settled?

The several truckloads of exhibits filed by Dominion are not just being gleefully made public by most news media. Television news people not at Fox are also connecting specific emails and texts to what was being said on Fox the same day. There is absolutely no question that the Fox program hosts knew good and well that Sidney Powell et al. had no evidence for the stolen election claims. Some of them — Lou Dobbs, for example — may have desperately wanted to believe the claims, but he was told otherwise by multiple people at Fox.

So why didn’t Fox settle? David Kurtz at TPM may have the answer.

Fox News viewers don’t care whether the network was “in the wrong.” If anything, they celebrate and reward Fox News’ transgressive behavior. If Fox News takes the case to trial and loses, it and its viewers can easily dismiss it as another rigged, liberal, stabbed-in-the-back setup by their foes. They will all be victims together of Dominion’s jihad against them.

But that doesn’t work if Fox News settles. It’s not the admission of wrongdoing that’s the issue: It’s the capitulation. That is harder to spin up into a made-up narrative of victimization and fighting the good fight.

Along those lines, there is some grumbling on the Right that Tucker must’ve gotten reined in by “the regime.” Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit (don’t go there if you have high blood pressure or heart disease) complained that Tucker’s shows since the release of his propaganda video have been subdued. This was because of threats (?) issued by Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, Hoft said, plus “Now there are suggestions that Rupert Murdoch and the FOX News brass got to Tucker and changed his show plan.” So, in Hoft’s tiny mind, “Rupert Murdoch and the FOX News brass” are just part of the “regime.” And Tucker capitulated. It’s like Tucker Carlson works for Fox News, or something. Wow.

Today, Paul Waldman is thanking Kevin McCarthy and Tucker Carlson. Calling Carlson’s efforts amateurish, Waldman writes that, “Displaying snippets of video in which the Jan. 6 rioters were momentarily calm is the equivalent of a murder suspect saying, ‘Why aren’t we talking about all the people I didn’t kill?’”

Let’s summarize what the McCarthy-Carlson collaboration produced. First, it put Jan. 6 back on the top of the news agenda, reminding everyone of Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his 2020 defeat, the violent reaction of his radical supporters and the craven response of Republican politicians who fed deranged conspiracy theories to their base to save their own political skins.

More important, it created an opportunity to revisit the actual events of that day. Some people watched Carlson’s fantasy depiction of Jan. 6 as a peaceful protest where Trump supporters strolled into the Capitol and took selfies while “milling around.” But a much larger audience likely saw multiple news reports on TV, newspapers and the internet in which both journalists and Republican leaders reiterated the ugly truth about that day’s attack on democracy.

The episode has also further discredited Fox News as it reels from extraordinary revelations showing network executives and personalities privately acknowledging in emails and texts that claims of a stolen election were preposterous even as they amplified those claims on the air. It’s long been argued that Fox News is in no real sense a news organization but is instead a propaganda machine that advances the interests of the Republican Party. That’s never been more clear than it istoday.

At least, it’s keeping us amused until the indictments begin …