Justice or Retribution?

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S1: If you follow me on Twitter at PEOC a.m., I will not follow the gist at Slate, just we will take it easy on the MEEMS.

S2: It’s Wednesday, September twenty third, twenty twenty from Slate, it’s the gist.

S3: I’m Mike Pesca. Donald Trump and his legion of feminist fans seem pretty pleased that he’s nominating a woman to the Supreme Court one more time who would rather have a man on the Supreme Court.

S4: Well, you’re the man who would rather have a woman on the zipper. OK, that poll is not scientific.

S3: But then again, under Trump, neither is the CDC, the EPA, HHS or maps of Alabama hurricane paths. But what’s interesting is that Trump at least sees it as a plus to be out there bragging that he’s appointing a woman, just as Joe Biden thought it advantageous to preannounce he’d be naming a woman to be his vice president. Now, The New York Times had a story about this phenomenon today. Men promised a woman for Ginsburg’s seat. Women have mixed feelings. Pledges on both sides of the aisle have inspired some and exasperated others with what they see as political posturing. And while some have said I want them to pick a woman but not make a big deal, that they’re picking a woman. Mostly the people quoted in the story did want them to pick women. And it is also clear the politicians use this tactic in the belief that it benefits them. So let’s contrast this with this situation. A generation ago, then-President Bill Clinton had named Janet Reno to be his attorney general. His first two choices, Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, were scuttled after it surfaced that they each had not paid taxes on their nannies. So Clinton opted for Reno. And the press noticed something about these three candidates. They’re all women. And the president just noticed they did not like it.

S5: When you say somewhat that her gender was somewhat of a factor. Can you explain to us how big a role that played and why? And I’d like to ask Miss Reno how she feels about taking a position that seems to have been set aside to for a woman was not set aside.

S6: They really did not like events. Did you feel hamstrung by the pledge or the perception of a pledge that you had set aside this job for a woman? No. And part two, if we could ask Miss Reno, we never got an answer to this question about how she feels about being appointed to a job in which there is that perception of a play.

S3: No, it’s all from the same half hour press availability. They did not like it.

S6: Mr. President, can you assure us today, sir, that of all the candidates you either reviewed or could have reviewed for this job, that the one you have chosen is the absolute best qualified person possible?

S7: The president was called to account. Was your selection guided by a determination to have a woman as the first attorney general?

S3: Now, Reno did make it through confirmation she was childless. Therefore, no nannies not to file for, but the idea of running away from a blatant attempt to diversify your staff, that idea is no longer in vogue. In fact, it is fine to lean into the fact that we’re specifically trying to hire women, ethnic minorities, people of differing backgrounds. It’s even gotten to the point where, yes, the most sexist president of my lifetime thinks it’s a boon to brag that it’s going to be a lady. This is, of course, cold comfort to the millions of women in America who are not being appointed by Trump to serve on the Supreme Court. They’re reacting with the thought. Wait, you’re telling me the person who’s going to be taking away my reproductive rights also has ovaries? Well, that changes everything. But as to the question of elevating women, things really have changed the quality of said women once elevated. That is a bit more complicated on the show today, the decision by the Kentucky attorney general not to charge the cops who killed Brianna Teller. But first, the second part of our conversation with Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources and author of Hoax Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth Where the Network Goes Now and how much Rupert and sons care to have a political cudgel versus a printing press for money.

S8: That will all be discussed with Brian Stelter next.

S3: Brian Stelter is the author of Hoax Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth. And now is the time in our two part interview where we talk House of Murdoch. So James is the younger son and he and his wife have, as of late, been donating heavily to the Democratic Party. But James is not the one calling the shots at Fox. That’s Locklin. So I ask Brian, what is Lachlan’s motivation in life? Brian, you’ve talked to him. You’ve shared a meal with the man.

S9: The description I get of Locklin is often these and different things, not that focus on the content. You think about how concerned someone like me might be about the war on truth and destruction of a common reality and that sense that, you know, millions of people are obsessive a around like all of these things that are so concerned about the information universe, many don’t seem to be that concerned. Lachlan Murdoch, his focus is. On growing Fox as a business, taking the Fox News brand international, you know, acquiring start ups, and that’s great. You know, maybe you shouldn’t have to worry about the war on truth except the news channels right at the center of it. Right, center, center, right at the heart of it. You know, he was on earnings. He was on an investor call last week, you know, promoting the business part of FOX, saying that advertising is is very strong. But, you know, that’s really the issue with that. That is he’s got a conservative bent. I’m not that concerned about the scandals that erupted on FOX. He certainly has an alliance with Tucker Carlson, an understanding between the two men that has that has really given Tucker a lot of backing. But, you know, we don’t know what’ll happen. But one day in the event of Rupert Murdoch’s death, when his other son, James Murdoch, could well try to take over, could try to overthrow Lachlan, I know it sounds a bit out of a certain HBO show, but, yeah, there is a there is a possibility that HBO show, of course, not necessarily the news.

S1: OK, call back tonight. By the way, do you watch succession? Do you think it’s it reflects reality?

S9: I probably shouldn’t have brought this up because now I have to admit to you, I’ve never seen this. No problem. You’re unsettlingly embarrassing. Well, I just I’ve been talking to. Too busy reporting. Too busy. Yes, exactly right. That’s my excuse. But but when I when I have free time. Ha ha ha. My children are three and one years old. When I have free time, it is at the top of my list.

S1: Yeah. Busman’s holiday, that one. But you know, the thing about Lochlyn is, as you portray in the book and other reporting bears out, he’s not that interested in politics. And Rupert always was. I mean, Rupert lost money and still loses money on the Post and The Weekly Standard just because he wants to have a place in the conversation. So if you take that away, that not being that interested in politics and just being interested in Fox as a money maker. That’s right. Maybe it fits and maybe it fits in with his kind of MLU or world view a little bit argue from an just a totally amoral standpoint why Lochlan maybe should change the way he runs FOX. Is there a case to be made that it’s not the smartest business move?

S9: You know, this is why some people have speculated that he might just go ahead and sell the channel at some point so that the company that’s on the Fox News, part of the company, because it’s heart may not be in it as much as his father’s, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon, not while his father is alive. I think that the the business argument to Lachlan would be all of the data we have right. Points to the fact that it’s worked as the business resentment news, grievance news, tell everyone not to trust anything but FOX. Tell everybody not to believe in anything but Trump and Fox. I guess I would like to appeal more to his moral sense or its ethical sense that the country should be democratic and not be experiencing creeping authoritarianism.

S10: What about the dollar values their ads command? Is there a discount gois hear stories of this or that advertiser fleeing and Laura Ingraham or Tucker. Maybe they even come back. But is the Fox viewer worth less than MSNBC or CNN viewer?

S9: There’s there’s so many of those viewers to monetize. So the advertising business is very strong at Fox, but I think they are leaving money on the table. And here’s why Tucker Carlson has been such a turnoff to advertisers. Many, many sponsors avoid his show. And you can tell by watching it, his biggest sponsor by far is my pillow. So let me put it this way. When you have a really valuable show, a really valuable asset, you’re going to want to reach the biggest blue chip advertisers possible to charge the most amount of money for your time slot. Right. You have thirty seconds of airtime when I charge as much as you can, I think Fox is leaving money on the table because they don’t have that kind of advertiser demand. They don’t have they don’t have ten sponsors bidding for that 30 second spot. So conceivably, they could be making a lot more money given how big the audience is. But they’ve made this choice. And Lockland, this is really up to Lochlyn to say we are not going to be intimidated by these ad boycotts. We’re not going to be intimidated when a sponsor pulls out. We are going to stand by our talent because that’s all we have is our talent. So I think they’re leaving some money on the table. But in the meantime, my pillow and brands like my pillow do prop up Tucker. So did that change? Still making a lot of money.

S10: So from a purely amoral business argument I might think about, I know the facts right in front of me. But it does seem that if you look ahead to a post Trump Fox, if Trump loses, if Trump if Trump wins, have at it guys, you make a lot of money. So what’s the programming? You’ve gutted much of the journalism. You’ve basically chased away Shep Smith, your most respected daytime anchor, the one who shoots straight. And if you want to have something like, I don’t know, Romney, Jeb Bush version of conservative news, and that’s the version of the party. Where does Fox go from here? May.

S9: In a few months, it will be in a crisis mode, perhaps I tend to think that Fox like they have so much power, it is a monopoly in the marketplace, such a stranglehold on the audience, that they can change, they can evolve and the viewers will stay, you know, meaning a Joe Biden presidency. We know the channel will be more anti Biden and pro then than anything else where we know, like liberals, like Fox as hosts know exactly what to do in a Biden presidency. They know exactly how to attack him and who to target and all of that. If Trump is in fact a rival channel, I think it’ll be very hard for Trump to do that. I think it’s incredibly hard, even when you’re opposed a past president to launch a television network from scratch. Maybe he would join Fox instead. Maybe he would have a nightly show instead. I don’t know. Yeah.

S1: Don Jr., Ivonka, they all got their own shows. The five could just be the five known Trump children during the five extant ones. I want to ask you a little bit about Reliable Sources. And I’ve watched the show for years and years and years. I think you do a very good job lately. There is a host note at the end of many of the shows, and I’ve noticed this trend on CNN. Chris, addressing the camera. Don Lemon, I don’t know if Anderson does this much, but here are my thoughts. Outrage of the day. And you’ve been doing it a little more to now. Here’s the thing. Your outrage of the day is always outrageous. The fact you never say I’ve never noted you saying anything factually inaccurate and the things you’re putting your finger on, a crazy thing the Trump administration did truly is a crazy thing.

S10: But there is a temptation then that you could put one of those out every week or a couple of those out every week, and you’ll get a lot of Twitter support. And the people who use your show as a form of media resistance will like it. But that’s not necessarily what you want to be doing with reliable sources. That’s not and that’s it’s tempting, but it’s not necessarily, I think, how you want to be positioning yourself. So how do you weigh the law of putting that out there, knowing it will get a great reaction with the responsibility of, you know, I want to sometimes hold my fire or I don’t want to treat everything as if it is a catastrophe, because then I wind up catastrophizing the ordinary where there are a lot of catastrophes out there.

S9: But yes, I agree with you in spirit. I think the reason why you see more of these monologues or essays on CNN is because it’s a really effective way to unpack all the nonsense and all the noise rather than having a debate between guests or rather than bringing on a reporter who will say, well, here’s what the Trump campaign said in response. No, no, no, no, no. If they’re lying, we shouldn’t give that as much weight as we should give the truth. And so I think these monologues are a way for the anchors to look at the viewers and say, hey, look, I know the world is crazy and I know what this guy just said is crazy. Here’s here’s what’s true. And by the way, we see it also, you’re not alone. You’re not the only one that sees that this is crazy. I think it’s going a lot of the monologues have been like, Anderson, you mentioned, Anderson, has been about gaslighting a lot. Right. And you’re trying to cut through all that nonsense. But to your point, those monologues might take up five minutes on an hour long program. But I am more interested in getting out of the way and hearing from Mary Trump or hearing from Carl Bernstein or hearing from newsmakers. That is a better that’s the most valuable. That’s the the biggest value add that I can bring, I think.

S3: But but also it turns into then all of our newscasters become another guy with an opinion. Might be an opinion that I happen to cotton to. Might be an opinion that is based on fact. But that’s that’s the that’s the tone of it as opposed to I don’t you know, I don’t know.

S9: There’s a difference between someone coming on and giving an essay in support of, I don’t know, Social Security cuts or Social Security expansion. Like there’s a difference between arguing for a policy and arguing for democracy, democracy and writing and arguing for the truth. And I think what we’re doing is we’re arguing about values. We’re arguing about value is not about policy.

S3: Right. I do get that. I just wonder if there will be the impetus to keep doing that. If there is a new administration, then you’re not maybe playing it fair. I don’t need both sides. I know this is an extraordinary time, but I have to tell you, I listen to a lot of NPR and used to work there and they don’t do that. And I think that’s to their credit. And every once in a while, if a strong line of questioning comes through, it has extra value. Because, you know, your NPR host, Steve Inskeep, isn’t giving you this essay every day where he tells you how terrible the Trump administration is. There are other ways to present that without having the anchors put themselves forward and say I. We shall now be the avatar of truth on this issue.

S9: I’ll tell you, I’m going to I’m actually going to punt on this a little bit because I don’t think we will know what the right answer was for 10 or 20 years. I know that’s an interesting insight. Yeah. I’m sitting here and I’d like to judge the the cliche nightly news anchors, because I think they don’t spend enough time unpacking Trump’s distortions and attacks. I don’t think they take it seriously enough when there’s these examples of democratic backsliding and creeping authoritarianism. Like I would argue that those newscasts are making Trump seem like just a normal average president. But maybe they’re right. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t think we’ll know for 10 or 20 years. I don’t think we’ll be able to know what was the best approach to try to cut through the chaos of the Trump years.

S11: Well, I come back to was it Marty Baron who said we don’t go to war, we go to work.

S3: And if you go to work diligently enough, I think having Daniel, you know, chef kiss to that guy that counts is going to work. It’s not the anchor. It’s a factual segment. It’s not grandstanding. It’s not going to be increasing anyone’s it’s not for the purpose of but not also having the side effect of increasing anyone’s brand or Twitter clicks the only.

S9: Yes, that’s true. The only problem I have with Marty Barron’s line, which I greatly admire the man and I’ve I’ve called out this line with him before in person. I say, OK, I agree with you, we should go to work. It’s going to work, go to work. But if one side is at war and the other side is a pacifist, I know who wins. Like I know who loses in that scenario. And I don’t know what the right answer is because I’m not advocating for war, obviously. But but we are in one. We are in one.

S3: Yeah, well, I don’t want I don’t want the news to be Switzerland yet. I don’t I don’t know if I want the news to be the front lines. Maybe it could be, you know, the U.S. and World War Two just getting dragged into it and then being decisive.

S9: That would be my ideal, I guess. Oh, wow. Wow. That was a heck of an analogy or metaphor, whatever it’s called.

S7: Brian Stelter is the host of Reliable Sources and the author of Hoax Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth. Thank you, Brian. Thank you so much.

S11: And now the spiel, a Louisville grand jury has indicted one of the officers involved in the killing of Brianna Taylor, the charge against him, Brett Hankinson, already forced from the Louisville Metro P.D., is a class D felony. The charge specifically wanton endangerment because he fired into the apartment from the outside through a glass door shielded by blinds and into neighbors apartments. A Class D felony carries with it a possible sentence of one to five years. And we are, of course, looking at this charge as a way to account for an innocent woman who was killed in her own bed. Two of three cops walk. The other is charged with the lightest felony the Kentucky Criminal Code has on its books. And it’s easy to see why the decision would be met with outrage. And MSNBC’s Joy Reid tweeting, Apparently, no one killed Brianna Taylor. She simply died in a, quote, tragedy like she had a hard fall or got hit by a bus. This apparently is the law in the state of Kentucky, according to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Well, now, of course, someone killed Brianna Taylor. We know who killed Brianna Taylor. It was the two cops who rushed in to her door, returning fire after Brianna Taylor’s boyfriend shot at them first. Of course, she was killed. And it really was a tragedy, not a tragedy in quotes. But the question is, was it a killing? The question is, was it a murder or a manslaughter or a crime? Was it legal or illegal? And is that unique to some twisted interpretation of the law in the state of Kentucky? The answers to all these questions might not comfort us, but they’re all clear. These are as legal calls, not close. The Louisville Courier Journal surveyed seven esteemed defense attorneys for white, three black, including the former head of Louisville’s NAACP. This was days before the grand jury decision came down. And all of these defense attorneys said that the two officers who broke down Brianna Taylor’s door would not be charged and furthermore should not be charged. NBC and its immediate analysis of the case rounded up legal experts who all agreed that it was unsurprising that the two officers were not charged, but they all agreed to some degree or another that not charging them is not just here was Jonathan Capehart.

S12: Well, sir, I think the message that it sends is that justice is hard to come by if you’re African-American and dealing with law enforcement. I think Danny laid out the legal issues just right. I think anyone who has been paying attention to other cases like this, it is extremely difficult for for the police to be held accountable in the way that communities would like them to be held accountable for because of the way laws are written, because of the power that police have.

S11: And here’s Michigan law professor and former Justice Department official Barbara McQuade.

S7: Lester, I think this case is a great demonstration of the difference between law and justice.

S11: The law is written down. It’s open to interpretation. But none of the experts NBC surveyed suggested that this was the misapplication of the law, per say, but they all pointed to a miscarriage of justice. Now, justice is, of course, an abstract concept. And the basic contours of the case don’t leave you convinced that the killing of an unarmed innocent in her own home was what we would call just it wasn’t just it wasn’t good or right or what should happen. But that’s different than the question of charging the two officers who killed her. Would charging them be just. And we will get to the third officer, the one who actually was charged in a second. But the state’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, indicated that if all the bullets are projectiles because he just he described one that was lodged in Brianna Taylor’s foot. They came from the guns of the two uncharged officers, not the haphazard spray of Hankinson. So in this case, would it be just or unjust to charge them? Now, Barbara McQuade put some more facts on the table and she noted that police officers often get the benefit of the law. And she suggested that that might be special or an unearned status.

S7: All of those ways stack the deck in favor of police officers and often leave us with this feeling that justice is not served.

S11: Yes, sometimes with the police, the deck is stacked. Laws are written to give them prosecutorial immunity in some situations. Also, their testimony is often taken as gospel. Prosecutors too often give them wide latitude. The holds and maneuvers they cite as justified actually aren’t in many situations, but in this case. None of that came into play. It is not an unfair stacking of the deck that leave the two officers who actually shot Brianna Taylor as uncharged. In fact, I am going to argue that it would not advance justice to charge these two cops. These two cops actually had nothing to do with pursuing the search warrant. Their only task was to execute it. The two specific officers who were talking about had every reason to believe they were entering a potentially dangerous situation. And upon being fired upon, that fear seemed justified. They were just the front line grunts tasked with carrying out what very well as far as they knew was a properly granted warrant, but it turns out might not have been properly granted.

S13: We should probably turn to the detective, Joshua Jain’s, who asked for the warrant, citing deliveries of suspicious packages. That seems not to have been the case. Let’s also look at Jefferson Circuit Judge Mary Shaw. She granted the warrant, but the officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Miles Cosgrove, who are at Brianna Taylor’s door that day, were not involved in obtaining the warrant. They behaved just as almost every officer who’s breaching a locked door to make an arrest behaves. They behave just like the officers who executed a no knock warrant against Roger Stone. They behave like the officers who arrested the Beltway snipers. They behaved as any officer who executes any warrant, no knock or otherwise, if not fired upon. They do not fire. But upon being shot at, they return fire roughly 100 percent of the time when executing a warrant. If fired upon, the officers will return fire. Even in cases where police aren’t charged cases like Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Eric Garner in New York, or Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson. I can name a number of other cases. You know, if you talk to law enforcement experts, they might defend the officer’s actions as not a crime. Sometimes they’ll use the phrase lawful but awful. But in those cases, in many of these cases, they will fault the officers. They will fault the officers. They will say in that split second they made a wrong decision. It might be justified, but it was a wrong decision. These experts are experts I’ve talked to. We’ll talk about the poor choices of the officers who I’ve just mentioned and many others that that’s that’s not the case in Louisville.

S11: There were poor choices made, but it wasn’t made by the two officers who knocked on Brianna Taylor’s door or said they did. And one neighbor said he heard it. It was the authorization to go in in the first place. The New York Times podcast, The Daily, had an excellent two part series on the case. They raise great questions about how much the LAPD got wrong. It’s just that the locus of the poor policing was not the two cops who protesters were demanding be charged. As far as Hankinson, I’ve seen some arguing that a stronger charge may have been justified under the law.

S13: May be. I have also seen criticism that it is bizarre that his wanton endangerment was of the shots he fired into a neighbor’s apartment, but not of Taylor’s and Walker’s firing blind with such a violation of protocol that he was fired. But the law finds no problem with firing blindly into an apartment for which there is a warrant. That seems far fetched to me. Putting that aside, I think this is a very tough case of protesters who are generally asking for the right reforms, who have morality on their side, in the specific being wrong about charging these two officers. And the sentiments that I’m expressing here will not be popular. I know Brianna Taylor is a cause and a tragedy and a rallying cry, and we must never forget a person. And passing out the legalities and justifications for these legalities seem like an insult to that person. That’s what PB’s is Umesh Alcindor was getting at when she spoke about what the reaction to the lack of an indictment might be for a lot of African-Americans.

S14: And I’ve been talking to are bracing for these officers to not be charged in a way that feels as though beyond killers, like it’s really being honored and valued in a way that she would be if she was, frankly, someone who was not African-American, but what it honor and value her life to charge officers for a crime that they didn’t commit.

S11: The A.G. had this to say about reconciling the tragedy with the law.

S15: Obviously, again, the criminal law is not meant to respond to every sorrow and grief. And that is that is true here. But my heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor. And I’ve said that repeatedly, my mother, if something was to happen to me. Would find it very hard, and I’ve seen that pain on this Palmer face.

S11: I’ve seen that pain in the community that Miss Palmer referenced is Tamika Palmer, Brianna Tyler’s mother. So what what do you say to her? What would I say to her if she were listening that just sorry, law doesn’t call for an indictment, therefore, you don’t get accountability now. But I would say something like this that we use the phrase systemic racism because that phrase is accurate and we talk about fighting for change because that is needed and the fight becomes less righteous when the target is just the most readily available party. It’s it’s actually harder to pinpoint the wrongdoers who killed your daughter than just indicting these officers. It could be Detective Jain’s or the judge or the department or the culture of the department or the state government. Maybe I would just quote Kentucky Representative Charles Booker, who said, quote, It was never about these officers. It’s about inequity, arresting officers, not going to say it’s easy, but compared to what really would constitute justice, it’s a lot easier than where we have to go, as hard as that is to hear.

S16: And that’s it for Today Show, Margaret Kelly produces the gist, she understands the machinations of the Murdoch family only through that excellent HBO series, True Blood. Daniel Shrader, just producer, said he would like to know of all the candidates available to be listed first in the credits. Is it just a coincidence that that honor went to a woman? Alicia Montgomery, executive producer of Slate podcasts, thought she may have heard Sam Donaldson’s terse brai in that Clinton press conference. Visions of sugarplums and eyebrows now dancing in her head. The gist, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, quote, When I’m sometimes asked, when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court, I say, when there are nine, which if a package is in the offing, maybe just enough for an 11 to nine minority report. And thanks for listening.