👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ Rupert Murdoch testified that several Fox News hosts “endorsed” Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Murdoch, chairman of Fox News’s parent company, conceded in a deposition taken by Dominion Voting Systems that Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, and Lou Dobbs promoted false claims that the election was stolen and that he could have stopped them but didn’t. “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight,” Murdoch said. The Executive Chairman also said that it was “wrong” for Tucker Carlson to allow MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell to make baseless election fraud claims on Fox News, but argued that it was a business decision, saying “it is not red or blue, it is green.” A recently unsealed court filing revealed text messages and emails that many of the most prominent executives, hosts, and producers had privately said claims of election fraud in the 2020 election were bogus. Dominion sued Fox News in March 2021 and is seeking $1.6 billion for alleged lies that “deeply damaged Dominion’s once-thriving business.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg)
2/ Democratic leaders called on Rupert Murdoch “to stop spreading false election narratives and admit on the air that they were wrong to engage in such negligent behavior.” In a letter to Murdoch and the leadership of Fox News, Chuck Schumer and Hakeem Jeffries wrote: “Though you have acknowledged your regret in allowing this grave propaganda to take place, your network hosts continue to promote, spew, and perpetuate election conspiracy theories to this day.” Kevin McCarthy, meanwhile, defended his decision to give Fox News’ Tucker Carlson “exclusive” access to to 41,000 hours of Jan. 6 security footage of the Capitol attack. McCarthy and House republicans are also moving to provide defendants in Jan. 6-related cases access to the footage. (Washington Post / CNBC / ABC News / Associated Press / The Hill / Wall Street Journal)
3/ FBI Director Christopher Wray told Fox News that COVID-19 pandemic “most likely” started after a lab incident in Wuhan, China. The FBI’s assessment, however, is not the consensus among intelligence and scientific communities, though the Energy Department recently concluded in a “low confidence” assessment that COVID-19 most likely arose from a laboratory leak. “The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” Wray said on Fox News. “Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.” Wray added that the Chinese government “has been doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate” investigations into the origin of the pandemic. (NBC News / CNN / USA Today / NPR / Axios / New York Times)
4/ The Georgia Senate Ethics Committee approved legislation to ban ballot drop boxes statewide, as well as make it easier to kick voters off the rolls through residency challenges. The bill, which was rewritten multiple times this week, was passed Tuesday night after limited debate and builds on Georgia’s 2021 election law, which allowed an unlimited number of challenges of voter eligibility, shortened the period to request an absentee ballot, and shortened the early voting period before a runoff election. The expansion of challenges to voter registrations based on names appearing on the National Change of Address database, however, might violate the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. The next step would be a full vote in the Georgia Senate. (Georgia Public Broadcasting / Associated Press / NBC News)
5/ A Republican in Florida’s state Legislature proposed eliminating the Florida Democratic Party, disenfranchising some 5 million voters. “The Ultimate Cancel Act” would “immediately cancel” any party that “previously advocated for” slavery, which the Democratic Party did more than 150 years ago. All registered voters who belong to a canceled party would also be notified that their party no longer exists and have their voter registration changed to “no party affiliation.” (NBC News)
6/ Mississippi’s Republican governor signed a bill banning transgender health care for minors – the seventh state to enact restrictions on puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery for minors. The bill also bans public funding for any institution or individual that provides such care to minors. A Republican in the Tennessee Senate, meanwhile, proposed banning gender-affirming care for low-income people, including adults, in the state. Republican lawmakers in at least five states have proposed similar bills to limit such care for adults. (NBC News / Washington Post)
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