Governors Newsom and DeSantis agree to debate on Fox News!

Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis

Dear Commons Community,

While much of the country is getting ready to view the debate tomorrow night among Republican candidates for president, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) have agreed to participate in a televised debate on November 30th that will be moderated by Fox News host Sean Hannity.

The debate will run 90 minutes and take place at location that has still yet to be determined but will be in Georgia.

In a statement issued through the network, Hannity said he is “looking forward to providing viewers with an informative debate about the everyday issues and governing philosophies that impact the lives of every American.”

The planned debate comes as DeSantis looks to break through the Republican primary field and establish himself as a legitimate challenger to former President Trump, who has a sizable lead in most GOP primary polls.

DeSantis will also participate in the second GOP primary debate tomorrow night, an event airing on the Fox Business Network,

Newsom has engaged in a media tour of sorts in recent days, sitting for extensive interviews with a number of cable news channels and participating in a wide-ranging conversation with CBS News’s “60 Minutes” Sunday.

The Democrat has ruled out the prospect challenging President Biden for the party’s nomination for president in 2024.  However, should for whatever reason, Biden decides to not run, Newsom would be far and away the most viable Democratic Party nominee.



After 146 Days, Screenwriters Reach Deal With Studios to End Their Strike!

Dear Commons Community,

The Writers Guild of America, which represents more than 11,000 screenwriters, reached a tentative deal on a new contract with entertainment companies last night, all but ending a 146-day strike that has contributed to a shutdown of television and film production.

In the coming days, guild members will vote on whether to accept the deal, which has much of what they had demanded, including increases in compensation for streaming content, concessions from studios on minimum staffing for television shows, and guarantees that artificial intelligence technology will not encroach on writers’ credits and compensation.  As reported by The New York Times.

“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional — with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the Writers Guild’s negotiating committee said in an email to members.

Conspicuously not doing a victory lap was the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which bargains on behalf of studios. “The W.G.A. and A.M.P.T.P. have reached a tentative agreement” was its only comment.

For an industry upended by the streaming revolution, which the pandemic sped up, the tentative accord represents a meaningful step toward stabilization.

But much of Hollywood will remain at a standstill: Tens of thousands of actors remain on strike, and no talks between the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, and the studios were scheduled.

The only productions that could restart in short order would be ones without actors, like the late-night shows hosted by Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert and daytime talk shows hosted by Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Hudson.

The upshot: In addition to actors, more than 100,000 behind-the-scenes workers (directors, camera operators, publicists, makeup artists, prop makers, set dressers, lighting technicians, hairstylists, cinematographers) in Los Angeles and New York will continue to stand idle, many with mounting financial hardship. California’s economy alone has lost more than $5 billion from the Hollywood shutdown, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July 14. Its demands exceed those of the Writers Guild and the studio alliance decided to prioritize talks with the Writers Guild, in part because of the hard line taken by Fran Drescher, the SAG-AFTRA’s leader. Among other things, the actors want 2 percent of the total revenue generated by streaming shows, something that studios have said is a nonstarter.

Even so, the deal with the Writers Guild could speed up negotiations with the actors’ union. Some of SAG-AFTRA’s concerns are similar to ones raised by the Writers Guild. Actors, for instance, worry that A.I. could be used to create digital replicas of their likenesses (or that performances could be digitally altered) without payment or approval.

The last sticking point between the Writers Guild and studios involved artificial intelligence. On Saturday, lawyers for the entertainment companies came up with language — a couple paragraphs inside a contract that runs hundreds of pages — that addressed a guild concern about A.I. and old scripts that studios own. The sides spent several hours on Sunday making additional tweaks.

It sounds like a deal is done.  Now attention will turn to SAG-AFTRA.


NASA’s first asteroid samples land on Earth after release from Osiris-Rex spacecraft!

Artist’s conception of NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft collecting a sample from the asteroid Bennu.  Credit: University of Arizona/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Dear Commons Community,

NASA’s first asteroid samples fetched from deep space parachuted into the Utah desert yesterday to cap a seven-year journey.

In a flyby of Earth, the Osiris-Rex spacecraft released the sample capsule from 63,000 miles out. The small capsule landed four hours later on a remote expanse of military land, as the mothership set off after another asteroid.  As reported by the Associated Press.

“We have touchdown!” Mission Recovery Operations announced, immediately repeating the news since the landing occurred three minutes early. Officials later said the orange striped parachute opened four times higher than anticipated — around 20,000 feet (6,100 meters) — basing it on the deceleration rate.

To everyone’s relief, the capsule was intact and not breached, keeping its 4.5 billion-year-old samples free of contamination. Within two hours of touchdown, the capsule was inside a temporary clean room at the Defense Department’s Utah Test and Training Range, hoisted there by helicopter.

The sealed sample canister will be flown to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it will be opened in a new, specially designed lab. The building already houses the hundreds of pounds of moon rocks gathered by the Apollo astronauts.

“We can’t wait to crack into it. For me, the real science is just beginning,” said the mission’s lead scientist, Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. He’ll accompany the samples all the way to Texas.

Lori Glaze, NASA’s planetary science division director, added: “Those are going to be a treasure for scientific analysis for years and years and years to come.”

Scientists estimate the capsule holds at least a cup of rubble from the carbon-rich asteroid known as Bennu, but won’t know for sure until the container is opened in a day or two. Some spilled and floated away when the spacecraft scooped up too much material, which jammed the container’s lid during collection three years ago.

This image of the asteroid Bennu taken by the Osiris-Rex spacecraft shows its rubble-strewn surface. NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

The pebbles and dust delivered yesterday represent the biggest haul from beyond the moon. Preserved building blocks from the dawn of our solar system, the samples will help scientists better understand how Earth and life formed, providing “an extraordinary glimpse” of 4.5 billion years ago, said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

Osiris-Rex, the mothership, rocketed away on the $1 billion mission in 2016. It reached Bennu two years later and, using a long stick vacuum, grabbed rubble from the small roundish space rock in 2020. By the time it returned, the spacecraft had logged 4 billion miles (6.2 billion kilometers).

At a news conference several hours later, Lauretta said he broke into tears of joy upon hearing that the capsule’s main parachute had opened.

“I knew we had made it home,” he said, so overwhelmed with emotion when he arrived at the scene that he wanted to hug the capsule, sooty but undamaged and not even bent.

Flight controllers for spacecraft builder Lockheed Martin stood and applauded the touchdown from their base in Colorado. NASA camera views showed the charred capsule upside down on the sand with its parachute disconnected and strewn nearby, as the recovery team moved in via helicopters.

British astronomer Daniel Brown, who was not involved in the mission, said he expects “great things” from NASA’s largest sample return since the Apollo moon landings more than a half-century ago. With these asteroid samples, “we are edging closer to understanding its early chemical composition, the formation of water and the molecules life is based on,” he added from Nottingham Trent University.

Engineers estimate the canister holds 250 grams (8.82 ounces) of material from Bennu, plus or minus 100 grams (3.53 ounces). Even at the low end, it will easily surpass the minimum requirement of the mission, Lauretta said.

It will take a few weeks to get a precise measurement, said NASA’s lead curator Nicole Lunning.

NASA plans a public show-and-tell in October.

Currently orbiting the sun 50 million miles (81 million kilometers) from Earth, Bennu is about one-third of a mile across, roughly the size of the Empire State Building but shaped like a spinning top. It’s believed to be the broken fragment of a much larger asteroid.

During a two-year survey, Osiris-Rex found Bennu to be a chunky rubble pile full of boulders and craters. The surface was so loose that the spacecraft’s vacuum arm sank a foot or two (0.5 meters) into the asteroid, sucking up more material than anticipated.

Osiris-Rex is now chasing after the asteroid Apophis, and will reach it in 2029.

This was NASA’s third sample return from a deep-space robotic mission. The Genesis spacecraft dropped off bits of solar wind in 2004, but the samples were compromised when the parachute failed and the capsule slammed into the ground. The Stardust spacecraft successfully delivered comet dust in 2006.

Congratulations to NASA and all involved with Osiris-Rex.


The fall equinox arrived yesterday!

The sun sets beyond the downtown skyline of Kansas City, Mo., as the autumnal equinox marks the first day of fall. (Charlie Riedel | AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Dear Commons Community,

Fall officially arrived yesterday. The autumn equinox marked the start of the season for the Northern Hemisphere.

But what does the fall equinox actually mean? Here’s what to know about how we split up the year using the Earth’s orbit courtesy of the various media.

For most of the year, the Earth’s axis is tilted either toward or away from the sun. That means the sun’s warmth and light fall unequally on the northern and southern halves of the planet.

During the equinox, the Earth’s axis and its orbit line up so that both hemispheres get an equal amount of sunlight.

The word equinox comes from two Latin words meaning equal and night. That’s because on the equinox, day and night last almost the same amount of time — though one may get a few extra minutes, depending on where you are on the planet.

The Northern Hemisphere’s spring — or vernal — equinox can land between March 19 and 21, depending on the year. Its fall – or autumnal — equinox can land between Sept. 21 and 24.

The solstices mark the times during the year when the Earth is seeing its strongest tilt toward or away from the sun. This means the hemispheres are getting very different amounts of sunlight — and days and nights are at their most unequal.

During the Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice, the upper half of the earth is tilted in toward the sun, creating the longest day and shortest night of the year. This solstice falls between June 20 and 22.

Meanwhile, at the winter solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is leaning away from the sun — leading to the shortest day and longest night of the year. The winter solstice falls between December 20 and 23.

These are just two different ways to carve up the year.

Meteorological seasons are defined by the weather. They break down the year into three-month seasons based on annual temperature cycles. By that calendar, spring starts on March 1, summer on June 1, fall on Sept. 1 and winter on Dec. 1.

Astronomical seasons depend on how the Earth moves around the sun.

Equinoxes, when the sun lands equally on both hemispheres, mark the start of spring and autumn. Solstices, when the Earth sees its strongest tilt toward or away from the sun, kick off summer and winter.

For me, autumn is the most beautiful time of year what with the color provided by our trees and the changing of the leaves.


Sunrise illuminates fall colors in the Adirondacks in New York state.  Associated Press.


Washington’s National Cathedral replaces windows honoring Confederacy with stained-glass homage to racial justice!

Dear Commons Community,

The Washington National Cathedral unveiled new stained-glass windows yesterday with a theme of racial justice, filling the space that had once held four windows honoring Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

The new windows (above) depict a march for justice by African Americans, descendants of the very people who would have remained in slavery after the Civil War if the side for which the officers fought had prevailed.

The cathedral had removed the old windows after Confederate symbols featured prominently in recent racist violence. As reported by the Associated Press.

The dedication service was attended by many clergy from the Washington area’s historically Black churches, as well as leaders of social justice organizations. The prayers, Bible readings and brief speeches were interspersed with gospel music and spirituals, as well as the contemporary song, “Heal Our Land.”

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, read excerpts from the Rev. Martin Luther King’ Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” from 1963.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” she read from King’s famed message while jailed in Alabama. “The goal of America is freedom. … We will win our freedom.” A week earlier, she had spoken at the 60th anniversary of Birmingham church bombing that killed four young Black girls.

The new windows, titled “Now and Forever,” are based on a design by artist Kerry James Marshall. Stained glass artisan Andrew Goldkuhle crafted the windows based on that design.

In the new work, African Americans are shown marching — on foot or in a wheelchair — from left to right across the four windows. Some march in profile; some directly face the viewer with signs proclaiming “FAIRNESS” and “NO FOUL PLAY.” Light floods in through the sky-bright panes of white and blue above the figures.

Marshall, who was born in Birmingham in 1955, invited anyone viewing the new windows, or other artworks inspired by social justice, “to imagine oneself as a subject and an author of a never-ending story is that is still yet to be told.”

The setting is particularly significant in the massive neo-Gothic cathedral, which regularly hosts ceremonies tied to major national events. It is filled with iconography depicting the American story in glass, stone and other media. Images range from presidents to famous cultural figures and state symbols.

But the Lee and Jackson windows (see below)  “were telling a story that was not a true story,” according to the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of the cathedral. They were installed in 1953 and donated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy,

The windows extolled generals fighting for a cause that sought to “enshrine slavery in our country for all time,” Hollerith said.

He added: “You can’t call yourself the National Cathedral, a house of prayer for all people, when there are windows in there that are deeply offensive to a large portion of Americans.”

The cathedral has accompanied the window replacement with a number of public forums discussing the legacy of racism and how monuments were used to burnish the image of the Confederacy as a noble “Lost Cause.”

The new windows will also be accompanied by a poem by scholar Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation. The poem “American Song” will be engraved beneath the windows.

“A single voice raised, then another,” it says. “We must tell the truth about our history. … May this portal be where the light comes in.”

Alexander said in an interview Friday that the poem referred both to the literal light from the windows, which she said beautifully illumines the surrounding stonework, and the figurative light that “enables us to see each other wholly and in community.”

The setting is important in a sanctuary that is also “a communal space, a space that tourists visit, a space where the nation mourns,” Alexander said. “The story (the windows) tell is one of collective movement, of progress, of people struggling and asserting the values of fairness for all.”

Good move!


‘Morning” Joe Scarborough: Rudy Giuliani has gone from “America’s Mayor” to “America’s Deadbeat”

Dear Commons Community,

Rudy Giuliani has gone from “America’s Mayor” to “America’s Deadbeat,” according to “Morning Joe” hosts Willie Geist and Joe Scarborough.

The MSNBC personalities coined the moniker yesterday as they recapped the latest in the former Donald Trump attorney’s fall from grace.

“I don’t know if he faces prison, if he faces bankruptcy, if he faces additional charges,” said Scarborough. “It’s just from from all directions. And this is the cost, of course, when you turn your life over to Donald Trump.”

Geist said that it appears Giuliani can’t pay his legal bills.

“It was all fun and games until the indictments started coming down,” he said. “And now, like for so many of the people around Donald Trump, the bill is coming due.”

Giuliani, once celebrated as America’s Mayor for his leadership of New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is dealing with enormous legal and financial woes following his heavy involvement in Trump’s attempted coup.

This week, news broke that former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson accused Giuliani of groping her on Jan. 6, 2021, the day that right-wing rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Giuliani denies the allegation.

And on Thursday, lawyers for 2020 election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss said in a court filing that Giuliani had failed to pay them $89,000 in attorneys’ fees by Wednesday, the deadline set by a federal judge.

Giuliani last month lost a civil defamation lawsuit brought by the two women after he falsely claimed they helped commit fraud during the 2020 election.

In Georgia’s Fulton County, he is charged alongside Trump in a sprawling racketeering indictment over a push to overturn the state’s election results. He was hit with 13 felony counts.

Giuliani was also identified as an uncharged co-conspirator in Trump’s federal election conspiracy indictment.

At the same time, he faces potential disbarment and multiple other lawsuits.

“From America’s Mayor to America’s Deadbeat,” Scarborough said on his MSNBC show. “Following Donald Trump can get you thrown in jail or ruin you financially.”

Giuliani should have stayed away from Trump and continue to bask in his “America’s Mayor” limelight!


Reactions to media mogul Rupert Murdoch stepping down as chairman of Fox and News Corp!

Dear Commons Community,

On Thursday, Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, 92, stepped down as the chairman of Fox Corp  and News Corp, ending a more than seven-decade career in which he created an empire spanning from Australia to the United States.

Here are reactions from various sources as compiled by Reuters and other media outlets.



“Well, he is someone who, love him or loathe him, had a defining influence on all of our lives over the last half century.”

“I recognise there’ll be lots of other things that he’s done over the years that people disagreed with. But I don’t think anyone would disagree this was an absolutely formidable operator.”


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Thursday she’s glad Rupert Murdoch is stepping down from his empire, but blasted the media magnate for the “incalculable damage” he’s done to the country.

Warren appeared on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” after the news, telling host Joy Reid that Murdoch’s work ― including the creation of Fox News — had made lasting changes to the nation.

“Rupert Murdoch built a hate-for-profit machine and that machine has undermined our democracy and done incalculable damage to this nation,” the senator said. “I’m glad he’s leaving, but I wish he’d never come.”


“Logically one would always have expected him to step aside at some point given his age, and the transition to Lachlan has been conveyed to the world for some time.”

“His legacy for the industry – and the world – it’s mixed.”

“Clearly he’s done a lot for journalism, and many of his enterprises still produce a lot of important news which helps keep the world informed in ways that might not have occurred were it not for his leadership.”

“But it’s impossible to ignore the other side of that, where Fox News amplified toxicity in the US political environment, and other properties similarly impacted other territories.”


“Rupert Murdoch stepping down is the end of a media era that has had its fair share of controversy, including, most recently Fox agreeing to pay a $787.5 million settlement to voting machine company Dominion over its reporting of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.”

“And Fox remains entangled in a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit brought forth by Smartmatic.”

“I can’t help but think that the Dominion and Smartmatic suits have helped influence Rupert Murdoch’s decision. Lachlan may not take Fox and News Corp in completely new directions, but he can put a new face on the conglomerate and try to set a new tone.”


“I’m surprised that he’s leaving now. His son Lachlan Murdoch is seasoned and capable of running the business, but of course there’s no replacement for someone like the chairman, Rupert Murdoch, who founded the company and built it over decades.”

“It turned out to be yet another sort of a long career of smartly building and acquiring and divesting media properties. So yeah, he’s irreplaceable in a sense but I think he’s leaving behind a business that is sort of as good as he could have left it for his son Lachlan to run.”


“Rupert Murdoch’s departure is significant, he’s been a force in the media world, a shrewd operator with fingers in more pies than Mary Berry.”

“Controversial, charismatic and cantankerous this is a man who leaves big shoes to fill but a man who will have planned his departure down to the last dotted I.”

“The media world is unrecognisable from the one he stepped into seventy years ago and the decision to scrap plans to reunite his empire must have smarted.”

“His appointment to the role of chairman emeritus suggests he’ll still be exerting his influence, just in a less hands on way.”


“Like in the series Succession, inspired by Murdoch, observers have long questioned where things would go once he was no longer at the helm. Lachlan is the heir apparent, but it is important to understand that this is now a data-driven business machine.”

“Fox News runs minute-by-minute ratings, and ties their storylines and coverage to what its audience wants to hear. Now that there are more and more right-wing media outlets like Newsmax, they have to keep the audience glued in to remain profitable.”


“Murdoch has immeasurably transformed the U.S. media ecosystem, not only ideologically in laying the foundation for the growth of a right-wing media infrastructure, but stylistically and ethically.”

“Even if there is conflict within the family, which I would expect to be subdued as long as he lives, whatever his official title, it is difficult to imagine a fundamental reshaping of Fox, given its success as a commercial formula.”


“Murdoch is stepping away after a tumultuous year at Fox’s TV network. While his decision comes as a bit of a surprise, there is certainly some logic to the decision.”

“Broadcast TV is in secular decline, and Fox has lost both on air talent and ratings. As one of his sons will be taking over the leadership role, we wouldn’t expect to see much of a reaction in the stock, which is unchanged on a year-to-date basis.”


“Rupert Murdoch’s retirement from the Fox board and the elevation of his son Lachlan to the chairman role come at a momentous time for the company and the media industry.”

“As it has in every US Presidential Election cycle this century, in 2024, Fox News will play a central role in shaping public opinion on the right side of the political spectrum in an increasingly divided society.”

“And in the broader media landscape, Fox Corp. – like other TV network groups – is grappling with existential questions about the viability of the cable bundle and the challenges in monetizing streaming assets.”


“Built an incredible company. Wise to step down at this stage and hand over to next generation.”

“He is 92 years old. It’s time. His legacy has been creating a counter-balance for traditional news media that allowed both sides of the debate to be heard. Lachlan has had his hands on the wheel for some time so this will be a seamless transition.”


“I think whenever you get to that age, that’s (health issues) always a possibility. You also want the right balance of giving it to the next generation at the right time.”

“(Murdoch’s legacy is) Huge, good and bad. I think he was the first to make news really entertaining, but his decision to move Fox to the right created MSNBC and politicized news forever.”


“I was surprised he didn’t step down a lot earlier. At 92 years old, Rupert Murdoch’s transition of power to one of his son’s is no surprise for anyone. The timing makes sense given Fox is about to enter a marathon of election coverage and probably try to do a little rebranding.”



Ray Epps, Trump supporter targeted by Jan. 6 right-wing conspiracy theory, pleads guilty to Capitol riot charge while suing Fox News for Defamation!

Ray Epps on January 6th.   Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Dear Commons Community,

Ray Epps, a onetime Donald Trump supporter who was the target of a right-wing conspiracy theory about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack that forced him into hiding, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge for his role in the U.S. Capitol riot.

Epps, appearing remotely for a hearing in Washington’s federal courthouse, entered his plea on a charge of disorderly conduct on restricted grounds a day after the case was filed in the Justice Department’s massive Jan. 6 prosecution.

Epps’ attorney said after the hearing that it was a step toward putting his client’s “life back together.”   As reported by the Associated Press.

“Defamatory lies have ruined his and his family’s life,” defense attorney Edward Ungvarsky said in an email.

After the riot, Epps became the focus of a conspiracy theory — echoed by right-wing news outlets — that he was a secret government agent who incited the Capitol attack.

Driven from his Arizona home, the former Marine and ex-member of the Oath Keepers extremist group filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News Channel this year, saying the network was to blame for spreading the baseless claims that led to death threats and bullet casings in his yard.

Michael Teter, an attorney representing Epps in the defamation case, said Epps’ plea agreement is “powerful evidence of the absurdity of Fox News’ and Tucker Carlson’s lies that sought to turn Ray into a scapegoat for January 6.”

“Had Ray been charged earlier, Fox News would have called him a hero and political prisoner,” Teter said in an emailed statement. “Instead, Fox News spread falsehoods about Ray that have cost him his livelihood and safety.”

The judge scheduled Epps’ sentencing for Dec. 20. The charge carries up to one year behind bars, but federal sentencing guidelines call for zero to six months, according to court papers.

Epps, who worked as a roofer after serving four years as infantry in the U.S. Marine Corps, has vehemently denied ever working for the FBI.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gordon said during the hearing that “Epps was not … a confidential source for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.”

Epps has said he went to Washington to protest the 2020 election, which he falsely believed — based on stories he heard on Fox News — was stolen from the Republican president, who lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

In videos shared widely on social media and right-wing websites, Epps is seen the day before the riot saying, “Tomorrow, we need to go into the Capitol … peacefully.” On Jan. 6, video shows him saying, “As soon as the president is done speaking, we go to the Capitol.” Epps has said he left Capitol grounds when he saw people scaling walls and never actually went inside the building.

“Mr. Epps exhorted other supporters of President Trump to be peaceful on January 6 at the Capitol, and outside he repeatedly acted in support of officers to try to deescalate actions,” his attorney, Ungvarsky, said.

Epps’ lawyer noted that his client has been cooperating with the Capitol riot investigation since Jan. 8, 2021. Epps contacted the FBI to provide his information after returning home from Washington and hearing from a relative that his picture was on an FBI website. He and his then-attorney were interviewed by agents in March 2021. Epps was also interviewed by the U.S. House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack.

In the aftermath of the riot, the “search for a scapegoat” landed on Epps, who was subsequently featured in more than two dozen segments on then-host Tucker Carlson’s prime-time show, Epps said in his lawsuit.

A barrage of death threats would force Epps and his wife to sell their home in Mesa, Arizona, and live in a recreational vehicle in the Rocky Mountains, he said in an interview this year on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

“I had to do the necessary things to keep my family safe,” said Epps, who described being “on the run.”

Fox News and a lawyer for Carlson have not responded to messages seeking comment from The Associated Press.

Epps was once a member of the far-right Oath Keepers extremist group, serving as an Arizona chapter leader before parting ways with the anti-government group a few years before the Jan. 6 attack because the Oath Keepers were “too radical” for him, he said.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and other members were convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack for what prosecutors said was a weekslong plot to stop the transfer of power from Trump to Biden. Rhodes was sentenced in May to 18 years in prison.

Altogether, more than 1,100 defendants have been charged with federal crimes in connection with the riot, and authorities continue to regularly bring new cases nearly three years later. Roughly 670 people have pleaded guilty, and of those 480 pleaded to misdemeanor charges, according to an Associated Press analysis of court records.

Another gullible Trump supporter mixed up in a Fox News debacle!



Rupert Murdoch Steps Down as Fox and News Corp. Chairman!

Dear Commons Community,

Rupert Murdoch, the 92-year-old Australian media magnate whose creation of Fox News made him a force in American politics, is stepping down as leader of both Fox’s parent company and his News Corp. media holdings.

Lachlan Murdoch, his son, will take over the chairman role at both companies, which between them operate Fox News Channel and The Wall Street Journal in the U.S. and The Times and The Sun in the U.K. Rupert, who is 92 years old, will shift into an emeritus role. The moves are expected to be approved in mid-November by the shareholders of each company. The elder Murdoch would appear to still control the family trust that governs both companies.  As reported by Variety.

“On behalf of the Fox and News Corp boards of directors, leadership teams, and all the shareholders who have benefited from his hard work, I congratulate my father on his remarkable 70-year career,” said Lachlan Murdoch in a statement. “We thank him for his vision, his pioneering spirit, his steadfast determination, and the enduring legacy he leaves to the companies he founded and countless people he has impacted. We are grateful that he will serve as Chairman Emeritus and know he will continue to provide valued counsel to both companies.”

In a memo sent to staff, Rupert Murdoch said “the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole Chairman of both companies.”

The transition comes in the midst of a difficult era for the Murdochs. Fox Corp. earlier this year paid out a $787.5 million settlement to Dominion Voting Systems, a voting-technology company that alleged in a mammoth suit that it was defamed purposely by anchors and guests during shows on Fox News Channel after the 2020 presidential election. Fox faces shareholder lawsuits as a result, and another defamation suit from another voting company, Smartmatic, that is expected to get underway in 2025.

In the wake of Dominion’s victory, Fox ousted Tucker Carlson, the most-watched single opinion host on Fox News Channel, and, like other cable-news networks, has grappled with ratings churn, even as it has launched a new primetime lineup. Fox News Channel is arguably the financial linchpin of the Murdochs’ empire, but the millions it throws off in advertising and distribution fees are threatened by the exodus of viewers from linear TV to streaming, as well as moves by hard-line conservatives to smaller media outlets like Newsmax, or even to single hosts like Carlson, who has launched his own video podcast via X, the social media outlet formerly known as Twitter.

The Murdochs slimmed down their holdings in March of 2019 when they sold the bulk of their cable and studio assets to Walt Disney Co. In some ways, the move was prescient. Cable networks — especially those like FX and Nat Geo, which were among those sold — have been in gradual decline in the streaming era, and Disney recently agreed in a new carriage contract with Charter Communications to let the distributor drop some of its popular cable offerings.

Rupert Murdoch was initially a print baron, taking a newspaper previously owned by his father, the News of Adelaide, and gradually expanding into New Zealand and the U.K. In the 1970s, his empire stretched to the U.S. when he bought the San Antonio Express News, and then gained control in the 1980s of the 20th Century Fox movie studio. By 1986, he used a group of TV stations he controlled to launch the Fox broadcast network, a start-up that, after a bumpy ride, began to challenge ABC, NBC and CBS after Murdoch snagged NFL rights in 1993.

“I am truly proud of what we have achieved collectively through the decades, and I owe much to my colleagues, whose contributions to our success have sometimes been unseen outside the company but are deeply appreciated by me,” his memo continued. “Whether the truck drivers distributing our papers, the cleaners who toil when we have left the office, the assistants who support us or the skilled operators behind the cameras or the computer code, we would be less successful and have less positive impact on society without your day-after-day dedication.”

But Murdoch was never content to simply entertain the masses. He has long tried to play a role in national politics, using his media assets to promote issues or people he thought belonged in office. Fox News was seen as a direct ally of Donald Trump during his term as president, and has since its founding in 1996 held a larger-than-life role in the make-up of the Republican Party in the U.S.

The elder Murdoch stressed that “our companies are in robust health, as am I.”

“Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges,” he wrote. “We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years – I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them. But the battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense.”

There has long been speculation that Murdochs’ heirs — sons Lachlan and James, daughters Elisabeth and Prudence — could chart new directions for the companies. James is known to hold decidedly different political views than his brother, Lachlan, who is more in tune with the right-wing and conservative programming that airs on Fox News.

But Rupert Murdoch insisted he will keep an active hand in the operations of his companies.



Lindsay Powell Wins Special Election:  Democrats Retain Narrow Control of Pennsylvania House!

Lindsay Powell. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Dear Commons Community,

Democrats will retain their one-vote majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives after voters in Pittsburgh on Tuesday elected former congressional aide Lindsay Powell.

Powell’s victory gives Democrats a 102-101 majority in the House. Republicans have a 28-22 majority in the Senate, creating a divided Legislature that has kept Democrats from passing priorities such as broadened protections for LGBTQ+ people and gun control measures and Republicans from wins on issues including school vouchers.

The divided Legislature has also meant Republican senators have been unable to take to voters proposed constitutional amendments limiting the governor’s power and implementing voter ID.

Most recently the division has mired the state in a two-month budget stalemate after negotiations soured over education funding, in part because of the voucher debate.

Powell identified affordable and dignified housing, a strong local economy and community assets such as robust recreation centers, libraries and strong infrastructure as top issues. Housing, she said, was a particular concern. People feel displaced by rising costs and seniors want to stay in their homes.  As reported by the Associated Press.

“I’m grateful. As someone who’s been a lifelong public servant, this is the highest honor of my life, and I am so excited to be able to work on behalf of every single one of us,” she said in an interview Tuesday night.

Powell, 32, is the director of workforce strategies for InnovatePGH, a public-private partnership aimed at making the city a leading tech hub. She previously worked in Washington, D.C., for U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

“I joke, but truly I’ve had the honor of holding every job in government except this one,” she said previously.

Powell will fill the vacancy left by progressive Democrat Sara Innamorato, who resigned in July to pursue local office in Allegheny County. She defeated Republican Erin Connolly Autenreith in the heavily Democratic district.

Autenreith said in a phone interview Tuesday night that she hopes the Legislature tackles her top priorities — funding for police, improvements in education and increasing jobs in Allegheny County. She hopes to continue working with Republican candidates in her role as Republican committee chair in Shaler.

The House is due back at the Capitol next week to resume work on a long-overdue state budget, though Powell’s victory may not be certified until early October, a spokesperson for the county said.

Majority Leader Rep. Matt Bradford said fellow Democratic lawmakers welcomed Powell to the House and “we look forward to continuing our work as the majority to move our commonwealth forward.”

Congratulations Ms. Powell!