The decade's most triggering comedy
It’s Friday, February 19th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:
1) Media Silent on Clinton Spying Allegations
The Topline: A new filing from Special Counsel John Durham alleges that at least two individuals linked to the Clinton campaign “exploited” access to internet traffic from several Trump properties, and the the executive office of the president.
Michael Sussman, an attorney for the campaign, was involved in surreptitiously gathering information intended to firm up the claim that Donald Trump was involved in Russian collusion.
Democrats have claimed this does not amount to spying and the media has largely ignored the story. Hillary Clinton responded to the claims on Wednesday, brushing it off as media spin.
American Interest: A recent poll showed that 66% of Democrats who have been following the story want to see further investigations. Among all groups, that number is about 75%.
The main question for legacy media today is whether they can continue on their current track and maintain the confidence of the American people. As polling shows a record drop in trust in the media, there is growing evidence, such as the recent ousting of top executives at CNN, that the American people are getting tired of what they’re receiving from legacy outlets.
2) U.S. Warns Of Russian Aggression
The Topline: With tensions still high in Ukraine, the U.S. government is warning that Russia might be engaging in so-called false flag operations to find an excuse to invade.
Quote Of The Day: “First, Russia plans to manufacture a pretext for its attack. This could be a violent event that Russia will blame on Ukraine, or an outrageous accusation that Russia will level against the Ukrainian Government. We don’t know exactly the form it will take. It could be a fabricated so-called ‘terrorist’ bombing inside Russia, the invented discovery of a mass grave, a staged drone strike against civilians, or a fake – even a real – attack using chemical weapons.”
– Secretary Of State Antony Blinken
Russia claims they’ve decreased their troop numbers along the Ukrainian border, but the Biden administration says there’s no evidence of that. Instead, the administration says it still believes Russia could attack any day.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, calling Russia’s looming aggression against Ukraine the most immediate threat to peace and security. He said groups like the U.N. must acknowledge the broad threat of Russian military aggression, and address Russia’s actions. He also said Russia’s claim that a drawdown in troops had occurred was likely false.
Blinken openly discussed the subject of Russia looking for an excuse to invade — potentially using a false-flag operation.
To that point, Russian media outlets claimed that Ukrainian armed forces fired mortar shells on Russian-backed areas of Ukraine, while a few days ago, Putin repeated a baseless claim that a genocide was being carried out in eastern Ukraine against ethnic Russians.
Blinken also said the Biden administration would be glad to be proven wrong if Russia didn’t attack. Putin’s government and the Russian media is pushing the notion that this sort of messaging is Western propaganda.
3) Americans Return To Normal Life
The Topline: A new study shows that only one third of Americans have returned to the office, but a large majority are once again engaging in their favorite pastimes, such as eating out, traveling, and attending crowded venues
Return To Normalcy
A recent report showed how while Americans aren’t necessarily going back to the office, they’re still returning to normalcy in other areas.
According to Kastle Systems, which keeps track of building-access-card swipes, an average of 33% of the workforce went back to the office in the first week of February as compared to the beginning of 2020. The data comes from ten large cities. The highest rate was in the first week of December, which reached 41%, but it dipped again during the Omicron surge.
In the first week of February, movie theater attendance was at 58% of baseline pre-pandemic numbers, per a Kastle analysis. Restaurants were almost three-quarters of the way back to baseline. Air travel is almost at 80%, and attendance at NBA games is up to 93% of what it was in February of 2020.
Businesses seem to be following suit, as well. Walt Disney World and Disneyland – in Florida and California – are mostly dropping their mask mandates for vaccinated visitors.
As for capacity at the parks, on Disney’s most recent earnings call, CEO Bob Chapek suggested the main reason Walt Disney World wasn’t back to 100% capacity was because of worker shortages.
Most cities and states are starting to loosen their restrictions. For example, L.A. County is dropping its outdoor mask mandate this week, which most cities never imposed in the first place. Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware loosened their COVID restrictions recently, as well. Texas has sued the CDC over its mask mandate for airports and airplanes.
On Wednesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, “We want to give people a break from things like mask wearing when these metrics are better, and then have the ability to reach for them again should things worsen. If and when we update our guidance we will communicate that clearly…”
Other Stories We’re Tracking
Police in Ottawa are reportedly distributing fliers to Freedom Convoy truckers demanding they leave the area immediately. The fliers read, “You must leave the area now. Anyone blocking streets, or assisting others in blocking streets, are committing a criminal offense and you may be arrested. You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you will face charges.”
The Louisville chapter of Black Lives Matter has reportedly paid the $100,000 bail for accused gunman Quinttez Brown. Brown, a social justice activist, is accused of attempting to murder Democratic mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg. Both Brown and Greenberg have called for gun control measures in the past.
The Arizona state Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would ban abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The bill now goes to the state’s House of Representatives.