Gwyneth Paltrow storms the courtroom at her ski crash trial in Park City, Utah. (Rick Bowmer via Alamy)

TGIF: Showdown Edition

DeSantis vs. Disney. Scotland vs. the UK. The IRS vs. Matt Taibbi. Plus: Gwyneth vs. an Optometrist.

Good morning to everyone except the optometrist who skied into Gwyneth Paltrow. 

A missive for our marketing efforts: if you’re a parent and love The Free Press, click this link and tell us how our content has impacted your approach to raising tiny human beings. We might use what you write in a marketing campaign to lure other parents into reading us. 

Okay, let’s get into it.

→ He would win from jail: Holy Rachel Maddow! The Resistance rises! Trump was officially indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on Thursday night. The crime for which he’s accused: using campaign funds to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels. We will monitor this situation closely. With his arrest, MSNBC and CNN are back, baby! The clink of his cuffs is also the sound of 1,000 new hires getting signed at The Washington Post. There were literal gasps among producers at Fox:

The big news to me is we are now a country where the opposition party spends years working to jail the last president—and might just succeed. 

→ A bad week for DeSantis: Florida governor Ron DeSantis hasn’t yet formally announced his bid for the presidency, but the theoretical candidate is down 30 points against Trump, according to a new Fox poll.

Not good. What’s worse is being outmaneuvered by his nemesis: Disney.

DeSantis had organized a new board to run Disney’s governing jurisdiction, Reedy Creek, and that board would be imbued with vast new powers—a punishment for the company speaking out against him and generally going woke. But before the DeSantis crew could seize control, the old Disney-managed board gutted the new panel’s powers altogether. They took the poison pill, and it looks like they had fun doing it. Disney’s new restrictive covenant lasts until “21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, king of England living as of the date of this declaration.” (That’s real.) 

DeSantis is on a hero’s journey, one that will take him up and down Splash Mountain till he emerges from the Briar Patch victorious, bearing nothing less than the Ears of Mickey. 

Meanwhile, Republicans have to start making peace with the fact that their most likely candidate is their old (un)trustworthy steed, Old (un)Faithful, Ye Jailbird: Donald J. Trump. 

→ Heroes in Nashville: When a 28-year-old trans man shot up a Christian school this week, Nashville Metro Police Department officers ran toward the fire. Two men—Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo—took down the shooter. The bodycam footage is harrowing and shows profound, breathtaking bravery. Uvalde PD, with all their fancy gear, might be interested in checking this out:

Katherine Koonce, the school headmaster, also ran toward the shooter according to witnesses. She died trying to save her students. Three of them—Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney—were murdered. They were nine years old.

→ An inconvenient killer: The killer, Audrey Hale, was a biological female who identified as a man. My takeaway from this is murderous lunatics come in all shapes and sizes. And it seems likely that this person had some special animosity toward the religious school where they’d been a student. 

But the mainstream media became obsessed with obscuring the situation and denying that the killer was trans. 

Here’s the Reuters headline: “Former Christian school student kills 3 children, 3 staff in Nashville shooting.” Hmm. Or: “CBS News is still working to confirm Hale’s gender identity.” From the NYT: “The suspect appeared to identify as a man in recent months.” Appeared to identify! According to the New Rules, followed strictly by the Times in all other cases, you’re actually not allowed to say someone “appears to identify as a woman.” The person simply is a woman. At worst, if you’re feeling heretical, you say they are a trans woman. Hale had his pronouns in his bio, for godsake (he/him). But the NYT throws all that out, distancing the shooter from anything trans-related. 

Eli Erlick, one of America’s most prominent trans activists, argued that sometimes shooters only take on a trans identity for convenience: “The Colorado shooter only temporarily took on the identity to avoid hate crime charges.” Weird to see Eli admitting that some people might take advantage of gender self-ID for their own nefarious purposes. Now, let’s talk about a 45-year-old male convict who suddenly identifies as a woman. . . wait, where are you going, Eli?

Others blamed Nashville for bringing the slaughter on themselves. Here’s New York Times contributor Benjamin Ryan on the situation: “Nashville is home to the Daily Wire, where @benshapiro & @mattwalshblog have led an ideological war against trans people.” Many deranged people online echoed this notion that Nashville had it coming. A few hours after the Nashville shooting, Arizona governor Katie Hobbs’ press secretary, Josselyn Berry, posted an image of a woman wielding two guns and wrote: “Us when we see transphobes.” She’s since resigned, though I’m sure she will pop up with a much better-paying job soon.

Anyway, the most important thing to happen in an inconvenient situation is to suppress it quickly. And that’s what has happened. Soon after the shooting, it had fallen from the top story slot. And within a day or two, it was all about gun control efforts and how Republicans were getting in the way. 

→ Bad timing for your Day of Vengeance: It was very awkward that this week is the planned Trans Day of Vengeance. Days before the Nashville school shooting, leftist media personality Cenk Uygur had encouraged trans people to get tons of guns: “If anyone should get guns, it should be trans Americans.” So maybe communities shouldn’t do Purge-themed holidays? Just an idea! 

→ No one wants gun control: Don’t kill me, armed TGIF readers, but I’m for gun control. Yes, I think insane people and convicts should have to fight me with their bare hands (don’t worry, they’ll still win!). Here’s the funny thing: while conservatives balk at even the mildest gun control efforts on account of it being a slippery slope (fine), progressives have absolutely no intention of enforcing even existing gun control laws. What could I mean by this? Just listen to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner this week on how his office won’t prosecute illegal gun possession:

“We do not believe that arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shootings,” the DA’s office said

This is the ur-progressive prosecutor, saying gun control doesn’t stop shootings and that he’s just not going to do it. Because enforcing gun control laws would mean—it’s almost too terrible to say—enforcing laws. And that’s a line that America’s progressive prosecutors simply cannot cross.

Let’s look at Washington, D.C., where maybe it’s different? There, the U.S. Attorney for D.C., Matt Graves, has declined to prosecute 67 percent of all those arrested. So: nearly 70 percent of the people D.C. cops arrest are released and never prosecuted for anything. And Graves this week is defending that 67 percent “declination” rate. Here’s what he said in a sympathetic Washington Post piece: “[T]he declinations are mostly coming after arrests in cases such as gun possession, drug possession and misdemeanors — not in violent crimes.” Okay, so. . . illegal gun possession is something you will not be charged for, per Matt Graves. He is declining, as policy, even to enforce the basic gun control laws already on the books. 

An idea: I’ll enforce gun control. I will personally march to every home in America and decide who’s too crazy to be armed. I will be swift, and I will be fair. If I see a Beanie Baby or if you identify as a Disney Adult, I need to see the Glock on the table. 

→ Conservative media needs to stop doing crimes: In their defamation lawsuit against Fox News, Dominion Voting’s lawyers are calling for star witnesses, like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, to take the stand. This lawsuit is a newsroom nightmare. It really does seem like the anchors and producers were smart enough to know they weren’t telling the truth, smart enough to know Trump just lost and it wasn’t the fault of a voting machine company—but they continued to imply that it was anyway. 

Meanwhile, conservative media company The Daily Caller put its nonprofit and for-profit newsgathering efforts uncomfortably close, according to a scoop from Semafor’s very talented Max Tani. In a presentation the nonprofit sent to donors, The Daily Caller suggested donors will be able to “propose topics of coverage” and set the price for a reporter at $200,000. “Together, we can decide on a specific area that you want to see covered.” 

For some reason this was all written in a nicely formatted proposal. Millennials: when you do a scam, when you’re in a gray zone between right and wrong, fight every part of you that wants to type it up and add a fun border and instead, just pick up the phone. If you learn nothing else here let it be this: No. Paper. Trails. 

And now a ditty from resident cartoonist David Mamet. . . 

→ No independence vote for the Scots: Scottish leader Humza Yousaf—the country’s first Muslim and youngest ever head of state—called for an independence vote. United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak rejected it, with his spokesman saying the British and Scottish people want representatives who “focus on the issues that matter most,” like reducing inflation and waiting time in the public health system. If you step back, what’s going on is incredible (and was pointed out a lot online, so this isn’t my genius): two leaders, one of Indian and one of Pakistani descent, are fighting over the partition of England. 

→ Differently fentanyl: The White House is pushing Congress to nix the term substance abuse from agency names like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Advocates want the agencies to instead use more “neutral” terms like substance use disorder that they say will decrease stigma. You see, there’s no such thing as abusing substances, just using them really enthusiastically! 

This is part of a broader effort to rebrand addiction as a disease, much like obesity. Yes, the White House wants it to be the National Institute on Drug Use. Saying drug abuse is too mean. Who cares that record numbers of people are dying from overdoses—the White House needs to spend the next year making sure addicts don’t feel stigmatized by any words on info packets that might imply they have a problem. 

→ Gouda for them: Earlier this month, Dutch farmers surprised Europe—and themselves—when their small party won provincial elections to make them the biggest bloc in the country’s Senate. They’d campaigned against the government’s plan to halve nitrogen emissions by 2030 in order to meet EU climate requirements. To meet that target, thousands of farmers would have to significantly reduce the number of their livestock. The Netherlands produces, on average, four times as much nitrogen as other European countries—much of it from the manure produced by 1.6 million cows, whose delicious cheese delights us all. Last year the farmers protested the plan by setting fire to hay and animal dung along highways; dumping trash on roads to create traffic jams; and blocking food distribution centers with tractors, leading to empty supermarket shelves. Across the country, supporters hoisted upside-down Dutch flags. 

Now the farmers have turned their protests into power. It was “a victory of the common man over the elite,” said Ben Apeldoorn, a dairy farmer.

→ An astonishing chart showing U.S. life expectancy:

→ We stand with Matt Taibbi: The day journalist Matt Taibbi testified in Congress about his ongoing work with the Twitter Files, something strange happened back at his home: The IRS showed up. Yes, the exact day. And yes, they showed up in person at his door. What was the IRS doing there? They said they had “concerns over identity theft.” What a farce. There’s nothing nastier than the White House using the IRS as a political tool (Trump had them audit James Comey and Andrew McCabe during Russiagate). And now it seems the IRS is coming for anyone who personally annoys Biden’s staff. This week, that was Matt Taibbi.

As The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote: “The bigger question is when did the IRS start to dispatch agents for surprise house calls? Typically when the IRS challenges some part of a tax return, it sends a dunning letter. Or it might seek more information from the taxpayer or tax preparer. If the IRS wants to audit a return, it schedules a meeting at the agent’s office. It doesn’t drop by unannounced.”

You might not have heard about the harassment of Taibbi until now. That’s because everyone who normally champions press freedom against government harassment actually loves when Biden does the harassing against a reporter who exercises the First Amendment a little too hard. Anyway: we stand with Taibbi. And to the IRS agents who will inevitably show up at our door, you’ve got the wrong Nellie! What’s TGIF and why are you chanting it? Bari? Like Barry White? Don’t know him. 

In other press freedom news, a Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, has been arrested this week in Russia on “espionage” charges. Our thoughts are with Evan. Bring him home. 

What really matters: It is not inflation. It is not public safety. It is not Chinese influence, you xenophobe. All that matters in this glorious country is what happened on a fateful Utah ski slope in the year 2016. And finally we have a verdict: Gwyneth Paltrow did not, in fact, crash into retired optometrist Terry Sanderson. 

The trial between Goop founder, actress, and my personal sinewy hero, Gwyneth Paltrow, versus some guy named Terry, is one for the ages. It has it all. A $65,000 custom necklace. A curious observer who joined an online meetup group and ended up uncovering bombshell evidence the lawyers had missed. Terry’s granddaughter apparently doesn’t like him since his brain changed after the crash (or, per Paltrow’s team, had already been in decline). And Gwyneth suffered too: She lost half a day of skiing. 

On one hand, Gwyneth Paltrow probably should’ve settled to avoid this. On the other hand, why should she accept a shakedown? His case was looking weak, and this week Terry took the stand and sealed the deal, in explaining why he’s been so obsessed with suing Gwyneth: “I guess like, what is going on here? This is obviously an issue that someone needs to be accountable for, and if they’re never accountable, what are they gonna do? They’re gonna do it again. Now we have the. . . molesting of young children on an island.”

Terry had sued Gwyneth for $300,000. She, following the Taylor Swift model, countersued for $1, which the jury awarded her today. I love that she stood up to him. Eight hundred more wins like this and she can pay for the typical hotel room recommended on Goop. 

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