Julian Assange after his 2019 arrest in London. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Assange Gave Us the Truth. Britain’s Transgender Care Reckoning. Plus. . .

Farewell, ‘Curb.’ Ten Stories. And the Free Press Cupid is back!

It’s fight night! This evening, at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas, we’re kicking off our America Debates series, organized with our good friends at FIRE. It’s a showdown over immigration. The question: Should America shut its borders? If you’re attending/have FOMO, watch this pump-up video and get excited/jealous! 

Now, to the news.

Today we bring you a salute to Larry David after the ‘Curb’ finale, a win for sanity on transgender care, abortion confusion in Arizona, the return of the Free Press Cupid, and much more. 

But first, here’s Rupa Subramanya with today’s lead story: 

Julian Assange Gave America the Ugly Truth 

Biden is thinking of dropping America’s case against the Wikileaks founder. He should, argues Rupa Subramanya. 

Today marks five years since Julian Assange was arrested in London as part of a U.S. indictment. So far, he has evaded all attempts to move him onto American soil, but a final decision could come any day now. Last month, a UK court ruled that Assange could continue with his extradition appeal if the U.S. government failed to give assurances about his treatment in this country. The deadline for those guarantees is April 16. 

If the U.S. finally succeeds, Assange will be tried for endangering national security under the Espionage Act—a rarely used 1917 law designed to punish those who interfere with “the war effort.” He stands accused of 17 counts of espionage and one of computer misuse. If convicted, he could face over 170 years behind bars. 

The case has divided America: some argue Assange is an anarchist, trying to undermine our nation. Others say he is a heroic activist, fighting for a transparent democracy. 

But the truth, actually, lies somewhere in the middle: yes, Assange is a deeply flawed character, and he also does not deserve to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Yesterday, President Biden said he is considering a plea from Assange’s homeland of Australia to drop the case, which is a welcome development. Because if the hacker is convicted, it’s not only journalism that will be weaker—it’s democracy itself.


Ten Stories We’re Reading 

  1. March’s inflation numbers came in hotter than expected for the third consecutive month yesterday. The Fed may have to raise rates further, says Larry Summers. Where’d that soft landing go? (Bloomberg

  2. Biden will issue an executive order designed to limit border crossings by the end of the month, the president said in an interview with Univision. Too soon to say whether the order will include funding to build a wall. (Axios)

  3. Iran is edging closer to building its own nukes. Good for sales of Annie Jacobsen’s new book, Nuclear War. Bad for. . . the future of humankind. (Washington Post)

  4. Speaking of WWIII, Matt Pottinger and Mike Gallager argue that America still isn’t taking the threat from China seriously enough. (Foreign Affairs)

  5. Netanyahu must go, argues Bret Stephens. “In a thousand years, Jews will remember Netanyahu’s name with scorn—all the more so for his refusal to take responsibility for anything.” (New York Times)

  6. A Harvard professor who researches honesty is accused of plagiarism. Francesca Gino, the author of Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life, is facing allegations of data falsification. The jokes write themselves here, folks. (Science

  7. RFK Jr.’s pitch to voters is confusing, argues John Halpin. Does nostalgia + personal wellness + vibes + antiestablishment politics = votes? (The Liberal Patriot)

  8. A new Boeing whistleblower has come forward, alleging the company cut corners on Dreamliner jets. “I am doing this not because I want Boeing to fail, but because I want it to succeed and prevent crashes.” (Fortune)

  9. Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis will debut at Cannes next month. The movie is a passion project for the Godfather director, who wrote the screenplay in the 1980s and has spent more than $100 million of his own money bringing it to fruition. (Variety

  10. We’re just two weeks into baseball season and tons of top pitchers are getting injured. Nonexpert tip: stop trying to throw the ball so fast and maybe you won’t get hurt. (The Atlantic

Lisa Selin Davis brings news of a damning report into how Britain’s National Health Service mistreated kids with gender dysphoria:

The Humane Genius of Curb Your Enthusiasm 

Over the show’s twelve seasons, Larry David taught us not to sweat the big stuff. Noah Rinsky bids farewell.

Ladies and gents, Curb Your Enthusiasm is finished. The final episode of its twelfth and final season aired on Sunday, and now it’s time for Larry David to gallop off into the sunset—or onto the golf course. 

Apparently, I’m qualified to give my thoughts because my brand’s shorts were featured in episode three. In one of those Curb scenes that never gets old, Larry squeezed his long balls into our premium cotton (well, 50 percent cotton if I’m being honest). 

Minds like Mel Brooks, Groucho Marx, Woody Allen, and yes, Larry David transcend award shows and fickle audiences. They’re not imprisoned in the zeitgeist like White Lotus and Euphoria. Frasier might have won 37 Emmys, but when was the last time anyone besides your shrink referenced it? But Larry endures, because few comedians distill social complexities in such an easy, mostly palatable way. 

Larry finds the big thing, the universally important issue, and then focuses on the smaller thing inside it: the problem within the problem. Most of us agree that the stuff in the news—racism, Israel/Palestine, climate change—is out of any one person’s control. But within all of these issues are things people can control. One might even call these smaller, immediate choices. . . life.

It’s not that Larry is oblivious to the big problem—but he’s wise enough to know that it’s useless and unsettling to obsess over it. Larry may not see eye to eye with the Palestinians on every issue, but he can definitely appreciate their chicken. It’s good chicken!


On Our Radar

→ Biden gaining ground: A Reuters/Ipsos poll published Wednesday recorded a four-point lead for Joe Biden over Donald Trump. It’s the latest in a run of strong polls for the president, who has more or less drawn level with Trump in the Real Clear Politics polling average, at 45.3 to Trump’s 45.5. Here are those averages over the past year: 

Reality check: unfortunately for Biden, national polls don’t matter all that much. The picture is less encouraging for Biden in swing states—which is where the election is actually decided. A Wall Street Journal poll from last week found that Trump had a lead in six of seven battleground states.

→ Abortion about-face in Arizona: As we reported in yesterday’s newsletter, Arizona’s Supreme Court has reinstated a near-total ban on abortion from 1864. Republicans are scrambling to deal with the political fallout and following Trump’s lead as he stakes out a more moderate position on the issue. Consider, for example, Arizona Republican Senate candidate and MAGA superfan Kari Lake. Here’s Lake on the nineteenth-century legislation in 2022: “It’s a great law.” And here’s Lake yesterday: “I oppose today’s ruling, and I am calling on [Democratic governor] Katie Hobbs and the state Legislature to come up with an immediate commonsense solution that Arizonans can support.” 

A stray, contrarian thought: while the uproar over the Arizona law undoubtedly adds to the Republican Party’s major headache on abortion, better to have these fights in the spring than the fall. Earlier this week, Trump released a video in which he said abortion should be a matter for the states. It was a vague statement, and hardly a fully fleshed-out policy on abortion. But it’s clear Trump knows the issue is not a winning one for him or his party and he is wasting no time in doing something about it, and losing no sleep about frustrated pro-lifers. 

→ Free speech and the anxious generation: The best disagreements are between smart people who respect one another. Here’s a great example: FIRE president Greg Lukianoff and his friend and sometime co-author, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. As Free Press readers will know, Jonathan has a new book out, titled The Anxious Generation. It’s about the damage smartphones have done to kids, and Greg agrees with Jonathan’s main thesis. But he disagrees with some of his proposed fixes, worrying that they go too far and would restrict free speech rights. Greg has laid out these objections in a post on his Substack. It’s an interesting response to an important book. 

→ Your constitutional right to. . . crash a party?: Every year, Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley Law School, invites students to his home for dinner. For that crime, Berkeley’s pro-Hamas crowd put up posters on campus that read “No dinner with Zionist Chem while Gaza starves” with this image: 

Professor Chemerinsky, a leading First Amendment scholar and an advocate for free speech on campus, took this antisemitic attack remarkably well, arguing that the posters should be kept up because they were protected speech under the First Amendment. When Chemerinsky learned that activist students were threatening to protest the dinner, he decided he and his wife “would not be intimidated” and that they would go ahead with it. 

On Tuesday night he hosted the first of three dinners, and sure enough, anti-Israel activists made a scene. When Chemerinsky asked a protester giving a speech with a microphone to leave, she claimed she had a First Amendment right to stay put and keep talking. As Chemerinsky pointed out, that’s not really how it works. There is no First Amendment right to overstay your welcome at a dinner party. Though some of my friends act like it. 

Throughout all this, Chemerinsky has been a class act. “The dinners will go forward Wednesday and Thursday,” he said in his statement yesterday. “I hope there will be no disruptions; my home is not a forum for free speech.” 

Cupid Is Back! 

The Free Press Cupid has been on sabbatical. It’s not you, it’s us! We promise. Matchmaking is hard work, and we were overwhelmed—and blown away—by all of our submissions. But good news for lonely Free Pressers looking for someone to read TGIF aloud to on the way to work, or fight about foreign policy with: Cupid is back! Here are three readers looking for love. There’s a lot of religion in this round. If you’re faithful too—or God-curious—drop them a line. And in honor of tonight’s debate, two of the entries are from the Dallas area. If you want to be featured next time, drop us a line at New rule: please limit your entries to 200 words. This week and this week only, we’ll let our lonely hearts go long. 

Allison Berti, 28, Dallas, TX

Hi, I’m Allison—I live and work in Dallas, and submitting this is way outside of my comfort zone! A little about me:

I’m Catholic and my faith is the cornerstone of my life. Although I stumble often, my faith guides me and I cherish learning and growing in it every day (arbitrary bonus points if you like to listen to Bishop Barron, too). 

I tend to have two modes. One I would call “relaxed grandpa.” Think a quiet night in with a cup of tea and blue light glasses (please don’t judge), reading or listening to a podcast (will gladly take recommendations for both). The other we’ll call “overcommitted millennial.” Think adventuring around town with friends (adventure here just means going to restaurants, coffee, concerts, walks, etc.), taking Spanish lessons, or hopping on a plane for a weekend trip, preferably to somewhere with access to nature and hiking. 

I would say I spend 35 percent of my time in the “relaxed grandpa” zone, 40 percent as an “overcommitted millennial,” and the other 25 percent somewhere in the middle. Common interests are less important to me in a relationship, though. As long as our values line up, I can learn to love Monday Night Football, too.

If you’re a man of faith who loves the Lord and likes a good balance of adventure and rest, I’d love to hear from you! 

Sterling C. Beard, 34, Dallas, TX

I’m a 6’3” West Texan who’s seen America—raised in Abilene, TX, undergrad in New Hampshire, worked in northern Virginia, and finally settled in the Dallas–Fort Worth area to get my MBA.

I’m extroverted with a creative side, so I’ve got a bevy of interests: politics, musical theater (I sing a lot and tap dance a little), writing, football, improv comedy, skiing, voice acting, and more.

I’m looking for a tall, musically inclined, conservative Christian woman of wit and humor, someone quick with a quip who considers teasing a love language. In short, something between Carol Burnett and Margaret Thatcher.

My background is in journalism, but I’m currently in consulting. I consider myself a competitive saver. As such, I’ve socked away a chunk of change to eventually afford a down payment on a house as well as for retirement.

I enjoy a night in or out; if the latter, preferably seeing a musical, movie, museum, or a Rangers/Stars game. Novelty’s great, so I’m always up for nontraditional dates (indoor skydiving, for example). Regardless, we’ll talk a lot; a good conversation is like a close tennis match—furious rallies of back-and-forth with lots of give-and-take.

I most recently changed my mind about my job. I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be “fulfilling” or “meaningful.” I find myself happier pursuing my passions and treating the job as a means to pay the bills. This mindset has made work less frustrating and allowed me to immerse myself in my hobbies.

If you’re the kind of woman who can make me laugh (and thinks it’d be fun to form a modern-day version of the George Burns and Gracie Allen comedic duo), do drop me a line at the below email. I always pay on the first date.

Jennifer Dolan, 39, Woodcliff Lake, NJ

On New Year’s Eve, I thought: Wouldn’t it be great to get to know someone over time while I’m convalescing? We could email each other, share articles and life stories, discuss books. Actually get to know each other. An old-school correspondence sounded lovely. 

You see, over three years ago, I developed Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a form of shingles in the cranial nerves. If you’re like Justin Bieber and catch it early, recovery is fairly quick. If you’re like me and catch it late, it’s much slower. The most obvious symptom is one-sided facial paralysis, and in my case, I can only speak or make facial expressions with the aid of kinesiology tape. Without it, I resemble a Picasso painting entitled Woman Who Forgot How to Smile

So, I signed up for a few sites and put myself out there, using recent pictures of myself, tape and all. And you know what? People are super chill. If you have an obvious thing and are upfront about it, it’s refreshing. Everyone has something. And admittedly, it looks kind of cool, like a pink Mike Tyson faux facial tattoo.

I’m also about 5’3”, with longish fair hair and green eyes. 

There were a lot of nice men, but no match. Mainly because there’s one thing about me that’s even more niche than an ongoing rare neurological infection: I’m Christian. But I don’t attend church, and haven’t in many years. I have no idea what book is taking the evangelical world by storm right now. I don’t know what personality tests women’s Bible studies are using to fix all their problems. I love old hymns, but can’t tell you the names of modern worship songs. Yet, I rely on Psalms a lot, and my favorite book is either Ecclesiastes or Job. 

I’m also a conservative who remembers when Colbert was funny. I like Amy Coney Barrett, and I’m scared of Ann Coulter. I’m a registered independent and was hoping for a more viable third-party candidate. 

For those looking for someone attending a megachurch who’s deep into Instagram social justice movements, I’m not a fit. And for all the non-believing men who share my interests (like subscribing to news outlets to read about sugar babies at Stanford and euthanasia in Canada, etc.), I’m not a fit either. 

So, I thought The Free Press might help. Maybe there’s some lovely man out there who also loves Jesus, prefers spending Sunday in the outdoors, and listens to podcast interviews between Bari Weiss and Tim Scott too. 

So, The Free Press, please be my yenta. I can be reached at:

Okay, Free Pressers, if any of these three sound like they might be a match for you or someone you know, don’t be shy! 

Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman.

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