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Introducing The Front Page: Our New Morning Newsletter

Your first-up, first-read news digest. A portal into the world of The Free Press—and the world at large.

To receive The Front Page in your inbox every morning, become a Free Press subscriber:

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And for more information on The Front Page, read the launch edition below.

Today from The Free Press: Ilhan Omar and AOC at Columbia. Abigail Shrier on the explosion of ADHD. Harvey Weinstein’s conviction overturned. Kristi Noem: dog killer. And much, much more.

But first, our lead story. . . which is about this very newsletter.

Here’s Bari:

In the early days of The Free Press—back when we were a young blog—we were proud when we managed to publish one story every day of the week.

Three years later, we have an enviable problem on our hands: we have too much.

Too many scoops. Too many investigative stories. Too many features and interviews. Too many columns. Too many takes. Too many podcasts and too many videos. Too many sharp, provocative things we’re reading that we want to put on your radar. 

That’s why today, we’re officially introducing The Front Page.

The Front Page is your first-up, first-read Free Press news digest—a portal into the world of what we’ve published in The Free Press that day and a portal into the world at large. Think of it as the front page of a newspaper, but edited and written by people you trust. It’s as old-school as it gets, but delivered the new way.

H.L. Mencken once described a newspaper as “a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier.” The Front Page will do the opposite. 

We’re in the business of creating light, not heat. Every morning, we’ll make you smarter, not angrier, by helping you make sense of an increasingly upside-down world.

We’ll still bring you the outrageous and the absurd, but unlike so many media companies these days, our business model isn’t built on outrage. It’s built on trust. Nothing is more valuable to us than earning it—and keeping it. We do that by telling the truth—even when it’s politically inconvenient to one side or another. By admitting when we’ve gotten something wrong. By holding on to our curiosity. And by changing our minds when we encounter new information.

For a while now, you’ve been getting emails from my colleague Olly Wiseman. He’ll be helming The Front Page with his characteristic British wit and wisdom (I just hear his accent). 

Most mornings he’ll be your guide, though sometimes you might hear from me, Suzy, or another Free Presser.

Every morning, Monday to Thursday—Fridays are sacred and belong to Nellie Bowles forever and ever, amen!—you’ll get one email with all the stories we publish that day. All our scoops, stories, and columns in one email. You’ll also get quick takes on the news from Free Press reporters and columnists. And we’ll give you the best of the rest: other journalism we’re jealous of; tidbits we noticed combing the news; and insights from the people we turn to when we’re trying to make sense of the world.

Most afternoons you’ll get an additional email of original Free Press reporting from us. Sometimes it will be a must-read investigation—the kind of thing you want to print out and read slowly over a cup of coffee. Sometimes it will be a podcast, other times a video. An afternoon delight.

But every morning, starting today, let us do the doomscrolling for you. Close out social media, turn off cable news, go for a walk, and spend time with your kids. 

Trust us—not an algorithm—to bring you what matters.

For a bit more detail on what we’re doing with The Front Page—and to hear Olly’s accent!—here we are talking about the newsletter:

Okay, okay, enough about us. Onto today’s big story from The Free Press:  

Allie Phillips, 29, was almost five months pregnant in February 2023 when she and her husband, Bryan, learned that their baby would not survive outside the womb—and her health could suffer if she carried the child to term. In Tennessee, where the couple lives, abortion is illegal, even for women carrying fetuses with fatal birth defects. Allie and Bryan, who live paycheck to paycheck, had to crowdfund so that she could travel to New York City for the procedure. After she arrived, she learned that their baby had already died—and she was in grave danger of developing sepsis. 

Eight months after her ordeal, Allie announced she planned to run for a seat in the Tennessee state legislature, so she can pass a law that clearly sets out exemptions in her state’s abortion ban. She has named her initiative “Miley’s Law,” after the daughter she never got to meet.

Here’s Allie:

Allie Phillips at her home on April 14, 2024. (Raymond Di Pietro for The Free Press)

CLARKSVILLE, TENNESSEE — As the doctor broke the news to my husband and me, I couldn’t take my eyes off the ultrasound screen. First there had been tiny toes, then tiny fingers, then my baby’s face. But now I was staring at the thick line across her brain, which wasn’t supposed to look like that.

The doctor told us our baby had semilobar holoprosencephaly, a birth defect that occurs in 1 in 250 conceptions, with only three percent of fetuses surviving until birth. Her brain had not developed properly. Nor had her kidneys, her stomach, her bladder. Her heart was beating, but it was only half a heart. If she defied the tiny odds of being born alive, she would likely have severe facial deformities, perhaps just one eye. She would almost certainly die within six months.

“I’m so sorry,” the doctor concluded about my daughter, “but she’s not compatible with life outside the womb.”

The grief had barely hit me when I was told I had two options: I could continue the pregnancy—but the longer I stayed pregnant, the greater the danger to my own health. The doctor was vague about the risks, but later I learned that if Miley died inside my womb, I could develop sepsis, which could scar my reproductive organs and leave me infertile. It could even kill me.

The second option was to terminate the pregnancy. But, as my doctor said, “You can’t do that here.” 

CONTINUE READING.

  1. At the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday, Joe Biden joked that age is an issue in the election, because “I’m a grown man running against a six-year-old.” (New York Post

  2. But a new CNN poll suggests American voters don’t quite see it that way. The survey gives Trump a six-point lead over Biden in a head-to-head race and a nine-point lead when RFK Jr. and other candidates are included. (CNN

  3. The Biden administration is scrapping its proposed ban on menthol cigarettes. The White House is reportedly worried about “angering some black voters in an election year.” (WSJ)

  4. A Catholic group launched an AI priest but quickly defrocked “Father Justin” after he claimed to be a real member of the clergy. The robo-priest advised one member of his flock that it was okay to baptize his child in Gatorade. (Catholic Herald)

  5. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem killed her family’s dog and goat and cites this in her memoir as evidence of her capacity to do “difficult, messy, and ugly things.” “I hated that dog,” she writes of Cricket, who she took to the gravel pit and shot at 14 months. We miss simpler times, when leading Republicans just put their dogs on the roof of the car. (The Daily Beast

  6. The U.S. government has now spent half of the $39 billion in its Chips Act funding for the semiconductor industry. A new study suggests the money is having an impact: construction of manufacturing facilities for computing and electronic devices has increased fifteen-fold, with chip companies and supply chain partners announcing $327 billion in investment over the next decade. (FT

  7. PEN America is fighting for its life. The free-speech group has been forced to cancel its annual World Voices festival and its awards ceremony as writers demand it denounce Israel. (The Atlantic)

  8. In case there was any doubt about Americans’ border frustrations, 51 percent of voters are in favor of mass deportations for illegal immigrants, a new survey has found. Even among Democrats, the figure is at 42 percent. (Axios

  9. New evidence suggests British Soviet double agent Anthony Blunt may have also passed information to the Nazis. Was one of the biggest traitors in British history even worse than we thought? (The Times)

  10. Our favorite jokes from the White House Correspondents Dinner came from comedian Colin Jost: “Wordle is here tonight. Sorry, I meant The New York Times.” And: “By the way, when I started at the Staten Island Advance, we had a circulation of 100,000. The Washington Post would kill for that.” (Politico)

→ “Fantastic” people on both sides: “The leadership you have is so fantastic,” said Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she visited the Columbia protest encampment on Friday. 

Is that so, AOC? Here’s what one of those leaders, Khymani James (“he/she/they”), said in footage that was widely reported on a day earlier: “Zionists don’t deserve to live.” And: “Be grateful that I’m not just going out and murdering Zionists.” 

James made those remarks not in private, not under the influence, but in a January Zoom meeting with Columbia administrators that he livestreamed on their Instagram page. The meeting was supposed to address earlier remarks James made on social media that threatened Zionists: “I don’t fight to injure or for there to be a winner or a loser, I fight to kill,” he had said. At the time he was not disciplined, which tells you just about everything you need to know about Columbia’s current leadership.

On April 26, James offered a half-hearted apology for his livestream in a statement that read in part, “Zionism is an ideology that necessitates the genocide of the Palestinian people,” which, to be fair, is probably what he learned in class. (Over the weekend, Columbia announced that it had banned the Columbia junior from campus.)

AOC wasn’t the only elected official who made a pilgrimage to the tentifada. Ilhan Omar also paid a visit to her daughter’s school, where she made the following comment:

“I actually met a lot of Jewish students that are in the encampment, and I think that it is really unfortunate that people don’t care about the fact that all Jewish kids should be kept safe, and that we should not have to tolerate antisemitism or bigotry for all Jewish students, whether they are pro-genocide or anti-genocide.”

Sorry—what was that? Jewish students are pro-genocide? We don’t know what else to call that but a blood libel—and one that has purchase among Columbia students. A big element of the harassment of Jewish students on campus is that their peers, and in some cases their professors, have accused them of endorsing a genocide because they support Israel’s defensive war against Hamas.

Neither Omar’s nor AOC’s remarks have generated the critical press coverage usually reserved for members of Congress who embrace extremists or antisemitic language and narratives. 

Just think about what happened when, in 2021, Media Matters combed through Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Facebook page and discovered a 2018 post that mentioned, “there are all these people who have said they saw what looked like lasers or blue beams of light causing the fires,” and speculated the California wildfires that year may have something to do with “Rothschild Inc, international investment banking firm.” Newspapers, cable news, and late-night comedians pounced. In an instant, Greene became the Jewish space laser lunatic. And rightly so!

But we wonder what’s more dangerous—a wingnut imagining Jewish bankers control the weather from space, or a leader of the Squad encouraging the bigotry directed against Jewish students for the last six months? 

In other campus news, more than 800 protesters have been arrested so far nationwide. The arrest of protesters at UT Austin was a flagrant breach of the First Amendment, say our friends at FIRE. A sign at the George Washington University encampment read “Students will go home when Israelis go back to Europe.” USC canceled commencement. Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is backing the protesters. “The voice of American universities demanding an end to Zionist terrorism is our voice,” said the radical Islamist leader. The beat goes on.

→ One in ten American kids has an ADHD diagnosis: We knew ADHD diagnoses were being handed out freely these days, but a new study finds that more than one in ten Americans between the ages of 5 and 17 have been diagnosed with the condition. To us, at least, that’s a shockingly high figure. Abigail Shrier, whose new book Bad Therapy is about what she sees as the pathologization of ordinary childhood behavior, thinks the study shows that we’re too quick to diagnose the disorder.

Here’s what Abigail told us:

We should be asking what’s in American kids’ environments that’s making them so hyperactive? Are they spending too much time on the iPad? Is their classroom cluttered and filled with distraction? Are they eating two Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast? 

Instead, we hand them a diagnosis and put them on speed. But handing kids a diagnosis for a mental disorder is not a neutral act: it’s telling a child there’s something wrong with his brain, something he can’t fix on his own.

#MeTooManDown: Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction has been overturned in New York, undoing the most visible and official victory of the #MeToo movement. 

In a 4–3 decision, Manhattan’s Court of Appeals found that the trial judge, James Burke, did not grant Weinstein a fair trial. In part that is because he allowed three women—who did not themselves bring charges—to testify in the case about Weinstein’s previous behavior. 

“Without question, this is appalling, shameful, repulsive conduct that could only diminish [the] defendant’s character before the jury,” the court said. The court added that Weinstein “was judged, not on the conduct for which he was indicted, but on irrelevant, prejudicial, and untested allegations of prior bad acts.” 

A retrial is now in the cards. “We will do everything in our power to retry this case, and remain steadfast in our commitment to survivors of sexual assault,” a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

Weinstein’s rape conviction in California has yet to be overturned, but his lawyers plan to appeal the decision next month, and believe the New York decision bolsters their chances of winning. 

This whole ongoing saga illustrates the chasm between the courts, where due process still remains in force, and the culture, which has no patience for a speedy and fair trial—even for those accused of terrible crimes. —Suzy Weiss

→ Fast and furious: Last week, Anduril, the defense tech company run by Palmer Luckey, won a contract from the U.S. Air Force to develop an unmanned fighter jet. There are a few things to note about this news. First: this thing seems extremely badass. It’s called Fury, and just look at it: 

Second, and more seriously, this is a major moment for the burgeoning, made-in-America defense tech scene we covered recently on Honestly. Anduril, a company that’s just seven years old, beat the big beasts of the aerospace industry, like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, to win the deal. As Katherine Boyle—a Free Press columnist and venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz, which is invested in Anduril—put it to us, “For a decade, start-ups like Anduril have been asking the Department of Defense to move beyond small-dollar ‘innovation theater’ and to award real contracts and programs of record to emerging technology companies with needed capabilities.” And that is exactly what has finally happened. 

Katherine argues that this disruption is good news for all Americans—not only because our defense demands the best and most innovative companies working on hard problems, but also because, as she put it, “For too long, a handful of defense primes have hoarded defense dollars at significant cost to the taxpayer without real investment in research and development.” She added: “Competition from start-ups is core to American dynamism and a win for every citizen who cares about defending America and our allies.”

→ Disproving the denialists: “I can’t believe this film has to be made,” said Sheryl Sandberg at the premiere for Screams Before Silence in New York on Thursday night. The movie documents the sexual violence committed when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on October 7, killing over 1,200 people and taking more than 240 hostage. It features firsthand accounts of survivors of the Nova music festival, first responders, medical staff, and hostages who have returned home. All either witnessed or were themselves the victims of sexual violence at the hands of Hamas fighters, and the collective power of their testimonies is overwhelming. Despite the irrefutable evidence of the atrocities committed that day, denialism abounds. In the aftermath of the attack, prominent womens’ rights organizations were silent. At The New York Times, a harrowing and thorough investigation into the mass rape committed by Hamas that day was subject to pushback in the newsroom

The hour-long documentary is presented by Sandberg and made by Israeli production company Kastina Communications. Just as powerful as the interviews in the film are its moments of silence, in which the cameras capture the destruction wrought on October 7—destroyed homes, burnt cars, bullet holes, and blood-stained walls. “We made this film because we know this happened,” Sandberg continued. And, she said, “because rape is never, and will never be, resistance. Ever.” —Francesca Block 

Screams Before Silence is out now and can be streamed on YouTube

→ From the archives: We enjoyed this essay by Glenn C. Loury on Louis Farrakhan and the Million Man March, first published in The New Republic in 1995 and reposted to his Substack yesterday. Loury begins: 

Try to understand my problem. I am a black intellectual of moderate to conservative political instincts. Unlike many of my racial brethren, I have been denouncing the antisemitism of Minister Louis Farrakhan for over a decade. . . 

Imagine my surprise, then, when on the day before the march, as I walked along the Mall from the White House toward the Capitol encountering other black men in town for the event, I found myself becoming misty. 

Read the whole essay here.

We’re big believers in word of mouth here at The Free Press. Other news sites want to turn recommendations into a science—spending thousands of hours ascertaining which smoothie maker to buy in the $100–$150 price range, or insisting that we all have the same sheets. We like MyPillow as much as the next guy—we joke, we joke—but life is about more than the search for the best mixing bowl. 

Which is why we’re trusting Free Pressers to help other Free Pressers. We want to bring our readers the best of one another’s advice and tips, so we’re looking for you to do the recommending for us. Whether it’s a workday-melting cocktail recipe, the best new Substack you’ve come across, a niche Etsy find, or the best general store in your town. 

To get things going, we’re starting off with recommendations from Free Press staffers. 

Suzy Weiss, who has clearly been spending too much time in California, suggests sipping Lillet Blanc on ice while cooking dinner, hopefully using herbs from your swag bag, and listening to Joni Mitchell, newly back on Spotify.

Julia Steinberg, otherwise known as Intern Julia, recommends drinking a banana bread latte (she gets hers from Backyard Brew in Palo Alto, CA). Milk, espresso, banana extract, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. She drinks hers while responding to Where I TGs or figuring out the velocity of magma for her mandatory science class.

Send your own recs to thefrontpage@thefp.com.

Become a Free Press subscriber today: 

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