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Tom Thibodeau set the tone for incredible Knicks miracle

Five months and a day later, you have to give Tom Thibodeau this: He wasn’t paying anyone lip service.
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Happy 55th birthday, Janet Jackson! The pop icon's music career in photos
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It never made sense for AT&T to buy WarnerMedia. Now it’s undoing its $100 billion deal.
WarnerMedia’s Game of Thrones. | HBO The people who brought you Game of Thrones are merging with the people who bring you 90 Day Fiance. Five years ago, one of the world’s biggest phone companies announced it was buying one of the world’s biggest media companies. Now it wants a do-over: AT&T wants to combine WarnerMedia, the company that owns HBO, CNN, and the Warner Bros. movie studio, with Discovery Inc., the cable TV programmer that owns the Food Network and HGTV. The short version: The people that brought you Game of Thrones and the people that brought you 90 Day Fiancé are getting together. This won’t affect you, the person who likes to watch those shows, very much in the near future. But it underscores the upheaval in the media industry, as companies that used to dominate the landscape are scrambling to catch up with the new media giants — which are tech companies. We’ll do the longer version, including the rationale for this, in a minute. But first, let’s just take a second to marvel at the things you can do if you run a really big, really valuable phone company: You can tell the world that the future of your business involves combining your business — selling subscriptions to broadband and wireless phone service — with someone else’s media business, and spend tens of billions of dollars doing that. And then you can announce, with a shrug, that you’ve changed your mind. That’s what AT&T is doing now. In 2016, the phone company said it was going to pay more than $100 billion (including debt) to buy what was then called TimeWarner, and spent years fighting the Trump administration in court to get the deal done. The deal raised eyebrows from the get-go, because TimeWarner had already been through a disastrous merger with an unrelated company — that would be AOL — during the first dot-com boom, and supposed synergies between those two never materialized. But if you asked AT&T executives to explain why merging a media company with a non-media company would be different this time around, you would get bristly non-answers. Now we’re getting the real answer: Adding TimeWarner to AT&T didn’t help AT&T sell more wireless or broadband plans. And it didn’t help TimeWarner compete against Netflix and the rest of the internet. Which is why AT&T is essentially unmerging WarnerMedia, and merging it with an actual media company, where there might actually be some synergies. If this undoing sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. We’ve seen it happen twice this year alone. In February, AT&T announced that it was unmerging with DirecTV, the satellite TV business it bought in 2015 for $67 billion, and is now worth something less than $16 billion. AT&T paid $67 billion for DirecTV in 2015. Now it’s worth $16 billion.— Peter Kafka (@pkafka) February 25, 2021 And last month, Verizon announced that it was unmerging with AOL and Yahoo, two former internet powerhouses, in a deal that valued those companies at $5 billion — about half of what Verizon had paid for them a few years earlier. All of which is to say: Next time someone gives you grief at work for screwing something up, you can tell them that at least you didn’t waste tens of billions of dollars on a failed media M&A strategy. (You should also consider working as an M&A lawyer or banker, where you get paid to do these deals whether they make any sense or not.) So. Merging WarnerMedia with AT&T didn’t work. Will merging with Discovery work? Mmmmmmaybe. At the very least, it helps WarnerMedia, which is trying to compete with Netflix and Disney for a share of the streaming video subscription market, add weight and heft. Both WarnerMedia and Discovery have their own streaming video subscription services — HBO Max and Discovery+ — and putting both of them under the same roof can be more efficient. And there isn’t a ton of overlap in the services: HBO Max is HBO shows plus WarnerMedia movies plus an assortment of other stuff. Discovery Plus is a collection of reality TV shows. The new company can market the two services separately, but it will undoubtedly roll out a merged version one day. Both companies also own large cable TV operations — WarnerMedia’s Turner group includes CNN, TNT, and Cartoon Network; Discovery has everything from the History Channel to Animal Planet. Those businesses are in permanent decline — as WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has said publicly — but in the meantime, they still reach tens of millions of people and throw off a lot of cash. And combining the backroom operations of those networks can save more money along the way. Wall Street is very excited about companies like Netflix, and now Disney, that can argue that they are streaming video companies. But it never bought AT&T’s argument that it was a streaming video company — it valued it as a slow growth/no growth phone company that happened to own some media stuff. But now, in theory, investors who want to invest in WarnerMedia can do that, so maybe the new company will end up being worth something like the money AT&T sunk into it to begin with. Let’s pause here and note that this merger isn’t a forgone conclusion, because AT&T and Discovery are proposing it in 2021 — a time when regulators around the world are newly interested in slowing or stopping big companies from getting bigger, just for the sake of getting bigger. AT&T had to spend a couple years fighting to get its WarnerMedia deal done, but that fight seems like it had a lot to do with the fact that Donald Trump didn’t like CNN. (Trump and his regulators had no problem with Rupert Murdoch selling most of his Fox empire to Disney.) Now AT&T and Discovery will have to explain why combining two of the biggest video programmers in the world won’t eventually result in less choice and/or higher prices for consumers, to a much more skeptical audience. Free preview: AT&T and Discovery will say they need to do it to compete with Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, TikTok, and anything else on the internet. And the truth is, they’re right. A deal like this would have been jaw-dropping a few years ago. Now, it’s going to seem inevitable, and also not that big a deal. Especially to someone like you, who is likely spending your screen time on a combination of paid services like Netflix, and free ones like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. It’s possible, one day, that if you pay for HBO Max, or Discovery+, you’ll see some effect from this. Maybe you’ll get a discount for buying both services — or maybe the merged company will raise prices on both services, because they can. Perhaps you’ll see some crossover content, like a Food Network show dedicated to red sauce recipes from The Sopranos. But unless you work at WarnerMedia, Discovery, or their competitors, this is a megamerger you may not ever notice. Which tells you everything you need to know.
Happy birthday, Janet Jackson! The pop icon's music career in photos
Happy birthday, Janet Jackson! The pop icon turns 55 on May 16, 2021. Take a look at her music career in pictures.
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'A little bit out of North Korea': Trump critical GOP lawmakers condemn Republican consolidation under former president
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The GOP whitewash of the Capitol attack shows the need for a January 6 commission
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) holds a news conference at the US Capitol in 2019. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Two House Republicans have suggested that a commission could subpoena Kevin McCarthy. On Sunday, a second House Republican suggested that, if a congressional commission examining the January 6 attack on the US Capitol materializes, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) could soon receive a subpoena to testify. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) joined former Republican House conference chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), who was ousted from that job Wednesday, in indicating that a subpoena could be on the table for McCarthy, telling CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union that “I would suspect Kevin would be subpoenaed.” “I would suspect Kevin would be subpoenaed” and other members too, Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan, says to @DanaBashCNN on @CNNSotu, referring to the Jan. 6 commission and McCarthy’s conversations with Trump.— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 16, 2021 Cheney struck a similar note in an interview segment released Friday, telling ABC’s Jonathan Karl that McCarthy “absolutely should [testify] and I wouldn’t be surprised if he were subpoenaed.” “I think that he very clearly and said publicly that he’s got information about the president’s state of mind that day,” Cheney said. “The elements of that commission are exactly as they should be.” JUST IN: Rep. Liz Cheney tells @jonkarl that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy should "absolutely" testify before possible commission investigating Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection."I wouldn't be surprised if he were subpoenaed."Watch the interview Sunday on @ThisWeekABC.— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) May 14, 2021 Upton and Cheney were both among the 10 House Republicans who broke from McCarthy in January to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump in the wake of the Capitol insurrection on January 6, which left five people dead. Since the attack, House members, who were forced to evacuate the chamber after it was stormed by pro-Trump insurrectionists, have been debating the potential creation of an independent investigative commission, after the pattern of the one formed following 9/11, to investigate the January 6 riot. And as of Friday, when the leaders of the House Homeland Security Committee announced a bipartisan agreement on its formation, that commission looks closer than ever — much to McCarthy’s potential discomfort, should he be called to testify. Specifically, if McCarthy testifies either voluntarily or under subpoena as part of the commission’s investigation, he could be faced with the prospect of bridging the rather large gap between Trump — who has shown no inclination to relinquish his grasp on the Republican Party — and the truth of what happened at the Capitol on January 6. As CNN and other outlets have reported previously — and pro-impeachment Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) confirmed in a statement in February — McCarthy spoke with Trump while the riot was still ongoing and pleaded with Trump to call his supporters off. According to Herrera Beutler, Trump “initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol” on the call with McCarthy. Subsequently, Herrera Beutler said in her February statement, “McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’” Other Republicans have corroborated Trump’s state of mind as the attack was unfolding. According to Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), “Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building.” If McCarthy is called on to substantiate Herrera Beutler’s account of the McCarthy-Trump call for the commission, however, it would likely also put McCarthy in an awkward position politically. That’s because McCarthy’s call with Trump — which reportedly took place as rioters were attempting to break through the minority leader’s office windows — is a reminder of the true severity of the January 6 attack, and of Trump’s support for the mob, who he described as “very special” in a video later the same day. It’s also increasingly out of step with a Republican conference eager to downplay the insurrection and a former president who is hypersensitive to criticism — and it’s hard to imagine McCarthy looking forward to giving a faithful retelling of January 6 to a potential commission. The commission plan isn’t a sure thing yet Despite Upton’s and Cheney’s comments, however, there are still lots of “ifs” floating around any potential McCarthy testimony — like the commission itself. Though Friday’s agreement between House Homeland Security Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and ranking member John Katko (R-NY) gives the commission at least a veneer of bipartisanship, it’s less clear how much support the proposal will find with House GOP leadership. Katko, specifically, is an outlier — one of just 10 House Republicans to support impeaching Trump — and his conference just purged the only member of leadership, Cheney, who likewise voted to impeach Trump for inciting insurrection. For now, McCarthy has yet to come down either for or against the plan — telling reporters Friday that he hadn’t approved the deal and wants to see more details — but a vote on the measure could be coming “as soon as next week,” according to the statement released by Thompson. “Inaction — or just moving on — is simply not an option,” Thompson said Friday. “The creation of this commission is our way of taking responsibility for protecting the U.S. Capitol. ... we owe it to the Capitol police and all who enter our citadel of democracy to investigate the attack.” There are also questions about whether a McCarthy subpoena could materialize even if the commission is established in its proposed form. McCarthy will likely get a say in selecting half of the commission According to the statement released Friday by Thompson, the independent commission would consist of 10 total members appointed by a bipartisan, bicameral leadership group — five by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), including the commission chair, and five by McCarthy himself and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), including a vice chair. None of those members may be sitting members of Congress or current government employees, according to Thompson, and they must all have “significant expertise in the areas of law enforcement, civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, intelligence, and cybersecurity.” The negotiation between McCarthy and McConnell - one who still talks to Trump regularly and the other who won't say his name -- over the 5 GOP commissioners will be....interestingNOTE: "Current government officers or employees are prohibited from appointment"— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) May 14, 2021 But though the commission would have subpoena power in its proposed form, actually issuing a subpoena would require at least limited bipartisan consensus — either an agreement between the chair and vice chair, or a simple majority vote. In other words, McCarthy will have a direct hand in choosing enough commission members to block the subpoena process if they vote as a bloc, which could make Upton and Cheney’s suggestion that McCarthy be subpoenaed aspirational at best. The Republican conference is trying to whitewash the insurrection If the commission proposal, which calls for a final report and “recommendations to prevent future attacks on our democratic institutions” to be issued by the end of this calendar year, does come to fruition, it could be a valuable reminder of what actually occurred on January 6 — something which some House Republicans appear increasingly fuzzy about. In the past week alone, the GOP effort to whitewash the insurrection, which injured 140 members of law enforcement, has kicked into high gear. On Wednesday, for example, in a committee hearing on the attack, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) said that “there was no insurrection and to call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a boldfaced lie.” “Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes, taking videos and pictures,” Clyde said. “You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.” i want to reiterate how crazy it is for Andrew Clyde to say this. bonkers. one of the craziest things i’ve heard uttered in a dozen years covering Congress.— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) May 13, 2021 Clyde isn’t alone — also this week, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said that “there’s no evidence this was an armed insurrection,” and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) described the insurrectionists as “peaceful patriots.” Rep. Paul Gosar offers unequivocal defense of the January 6 insurrectionists, describing them as "peaceful patriots" who are being "harassed" by the DOJ— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 12, 2021 Needless to say, all three statements (and there are several others in the same vein just from this week) are flat-out false — and there’s abundant video evidence to prove it. In addition to all of the footage that has already emerged from the riot — much of which is graphic and disturbing — CNN just this week obtained new bodycam video showing a DC Metropolitan Police officer, Michael Fanone, being attacked by the mob. According to CNN, Fanone was “stun-gunned several times and beaten with a flagpole” by Trump supporters. He also suffered a “mild” heart attack, according to the Washington Post, and at least one insurrectionist shouted that the mob should “kill [Fanone] with his own gun!” As the Washington Post editorial board argued on Friday, it’s no sure thing that the 9/11-style commission agreed on by Thompson and Katko will stop Republicans from pushing a false, revisionist account of January 6. “But,” the board writes, “as [the commission] answers outstanding questions about how the riot occurred and who is responsible — in part, we hope, by taking the sworn testimony of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other eyewitness lawmakers — the panel ought to make it harder for Republicans to twist the truth.” Upton himself has made the same point: In the same CNN interview Sunday, he told Bash that his colleagues’ claims that the attack was “peaceful” were “absolutely bogus.” Republican Rep. Fred Upton on the Jan. 6 US Capitol riot: “It was chilling what happened. Absolutely chilling. And that's why I think that it's important that we move forward with this bipartisan commission” #CNNSOTU— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 16, 2021 “I saw the gallows that were constructed on the East Front of the Capitol,” Upton said. “It was chilling, what happened, absolutely chilling. And that’s why I think that it’s important that we move forward with this bipartisan commission.”
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