THU brief 1.13.22
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His career at the Tribune is emblematic of Dr. Frankenstien’s classic quote: “The form of the monster on whom I had bestowed existence was forever before my eyes, and I raved incessantly concerning him.”
One wonders what day Smith looked up, surrounded by woke lunatics (the Tribune has been hemorrhaging talent for years), and decided to find a new gig.
Smith molded the Tribune into a pro-establishment, modestly left-leaning outlet for most of its first decade. Around 2018, however, that began to change. The longer Donald Trump spent in the White House, the more divorced from reality their “news” product became.
In 2020, they were a repository for COVID fear-porn. They added an unending stream of racialized hot takes following George Floyd's death. In two years, the Texas Tribune went from serving an arguable function to completely unreadable, not unlike the shift to unconsumable made by NPR.
By 2021, the Tribune was left to incessantly beat the drum against a school fight song, one they hit well past the fleeting point of legitimate public concern. While the travails of a university fight song might not amount to much, it’s symbolic of how the Tribune covers many issues.
(Related: Andrew Sullivan, “See You Next Friday.”)
Smith got it while the getting was good, banking millions during his tenure. He’s put in 13 years at the non-profit news outlet that was meant to be a crucial part of turning Texas blue. That effort failed, and Smith is no fool.
Now’s as good a time as any to pull the ripcord. (PJ)
GREG ABBOTT’s bizarre behavior continues. It’s becoming a recurring pattern.
The embattled Governor’s latest misstep is a fundraiser hosted on his behalf…in California.
This is an unforced error; that much is obvious. What’s remarkable about the nature of this misstep is how far it departs from the typical Greg Abbott/Dave Carney playbook.
Bashing California is a favored Texas GOP ploy. Going out of one’s way to hold a high-dollar fundraiser there, three weeks before early voting in a Texas GOP primary, defies rational explanation.
If pressed, Abbott-world (i.e., Carney) would likely claim this fundraiser is geared toward the general election. That argument isn’t convincing.
The simplest explanation for Abbott’s behavior is that his polling stinks. His hubris is an emotional (inherently irrational) defense mechanism.
The Governor's erratic conduct, however, is leading him into a negative feedback loop. He’s not yet ensnared, but the trend lines are apparent.
It’s all very Dewhurst-y. (AC)
[Note for out-of-state readers or those newly moved to Texas: Bexar county means San Antonio. Also, the “x” is silent. It’s pronounced “Bay-r,” or say Bear, like the animal.]
This is a feature, not a bug.
Jacquelyn Callanen, Bexar County election administrator, alleged frustration with new rules aimed at securing Texas elections, suggesting the new rules were to blame for 42 applications being rejected.
It’s unclear which rule violation resulted in the applications being bounced, but historically, the signature is the number one reason applications are invalidated.
Voting by mail is the method of voting most likely to be impacted by fraud, and inaccuracy has been the focus of reform in Texas and other states following the 2020 election.
While proof of large-scale vote-rigging has been elusive (like those would-be D.C. pipe bombers), ample evidence mail-in ballots and lackadaisical voter roll maintenance impacts elections closer to home.
Critiques of mail-in balloting have been bipartisan over the years. Maligning them as the worst voting method isn’t new, and they didn’t begin with Donald Trump's specific criticisms of the last election.
JOAN HUFFMAN has been appointed chair of the Texas Senate finance committee. Huffman succeeds Jane Nelson, who is retiring at the end of this term.
This appointment is notable primarily for Huffman’s political loyalty to Dan Patrick.
Patrick is consolidating power in the Lt. Governor’s office. Expect this to become a more significant issue in his (likely) third term. (AC)
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