News Roundup

In a whole semester of news reporting, it was inevitable that some stories receive updates after their initial publication in The Tartan. To end the year, here's a roundup of updates to some of the hot button stories in previous issues:

Senator John Fetterman back in office

Two weeks ago, Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) has returned to Congress. His return comes two months after he checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to receive treatment for clinical depression.

This return comes at the end of a two-week recess, and Fetterman's return coincided with Senator Mitch McConnell's return after a month of recovery following hospitalization after a fall at a fundraising dinner.

In statements to reporters, Fetterman commented on how great it was to be back, and stating: "I want everyone to know that depression is treatable, and treatment works. ... This isn’t about politics — right now there are people who are suffering with depression in red counties and blue counties. If you need help, please get help." He expresses extreme gratitude to the "'incredible team'" at Walter Reed, stating that "'the care they provided changed my life.'"

Fetterman's decision to receive treatment was supported throughout Congress, opening up the conversation about mental health on Capitol Hill and in public discourse.

Fox News vs. Dominion

Dominion Voting System sued Fox Corp for defamation in March of 2021, seeking $1.6 billion. Dominion alleged that Fox News hosts and guests had been falsely claiming that Dominion voting machines had been rigged in the 2020 presidential election in favor of President Biden. Fox’s argument was that they had simply been reporting others’ opinions, and were protected by our nation’s robust libel laws. This is reminiscent of when Tucker Carlson was sued for slander and got off scot-free, with the judge remarking that Carlson “is not 'stating actual facts' about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in 'exaggeration' and 'non-literal commentary'” and that “given Mr. Carlson's reputation, any reasonable viewer 'arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism' about the statement he makes." On March 31, 2023 Delaware Superior Court judge Eric M. Davis ordered for a trial. Fox News settled for $787.5 million. In a statement released April 18, they said: “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects Fox's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards (sic). We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues.” We may have not gotten the soap opera trial that some wanted, but the trial did cause the release of many Fox News figures’ private messages. These revealed that cynical figures like Tucker Carlson do not believe what they peddle. (Carlson on Trump: “I hate him passionately … What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong,” on Sidney Powell’s fraud claims: “Sidney Powell is lying by the way,” and much more), and true believers like Maria Bartiromo (“I want to see massive fraud exposed.”)

Fox News still has a $2.7 billion lawsuit from Smartmatic USA, another voting system company, who claim that they were irreparably harmed by Fox News’ lies about election fraud. Fox News claimed that Smartmatic was founded by Hugo Chávez (it wasn’t), that they worked with Dominion (they don’t), and that they messed with votes in battleground states (they didn’t).

DeSantis vs. Disney

Ron DeSantis’ war on woke has continued as his campaign prospects falter, now at just 24.9 percent in FiveThirtyEight’s Republican primary polling average. This implies that he would lose unless Trump goes to jail. DeSantis has not yet announced a run for the presidency. Members of even the Florida GOP have endorsed Trump in droves, and at this point, the DeSantis 2024 campaign may be dead in the water. In the meantime, DeSantis has decided to fight the wokest company of all, Disney. Disney World’s position in Florida law is very peculiar, with the park benefiting from many deals from the 60s. DeSantis, who got married at Disney World, now sees them as the woke elite and is determined to make his tussle with them part of his legacy. The Reedy Creek Improvement District was a district that encompassed the Walt Disney World Resort. It gave Disney its own governmental authority for the area, on the level of a county government, without being subject to the constraints of a governmental body. This deal situation lasted for almost 60 years before recently being repealed. Critics of the repeal categorize it as retaliation for Disney’s opposition of the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. They also believe that this will be detrimental to Florida’s tourism industry, impose billions of dollars in tax burdens on the local government, and may load them with over a billion dollars of debt. Proponents claim that this will be good for Florida, and give more power back to the Florida government. The situation is still in flux and Disney lawyers seem to have at minimum cemented Disney’s exclusive rights to their property, prohibiting the Florida state government from using any pieces of intellectual property owned by the company until 21 years after the death of the last currently living descendent of King Charles II.

The most recent blows traded takes this battle to the federal level. Last week, Disney sued DeSantis in federal court, claiming political motivations and violations of the First Amendment. Such new developments lead to even his fellow conservative politicians doubting whether attacking Disney was the right approach.