Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos (second left) leaves court with members of his legal team after reaching a $787.5 million settlement in the company’s defamation suit against Fox News. (Alex Wong via Getty Images)

TGIF: That’s All, Folx!

Murdoch blows a near-billion. Budweiser gets the wrong buzz. Eco-maniacs nuke green energy in Germany. Plus, all the places you TGIF!

I asked. And readers, you responded. Hundreds of you wrote to answer the important question: Where do you TGIF? 

You TG by the fire in Maine (James). Road-tripping through Indiana (Ann). While contact napping (Liz). Over Nespresso in the Willamette Valley (Joel and Carol). At a café in Oxnard (Todd). While working on a roof in Baltimore (Matthew). From a hot tub (Douglas). From the woods of northern Minnesota (Tim). From the ski slopes in Vermont (Suzanne). In winter in Montana (also Suzanne). 

You guys TG in the middle of a turkey stakeout (Mark) and from the toilet (BRANDON!). I got notes from Paris, Panama, and Puerto Rico. By the numbers: a total of four people wrote that they TG while they pump (milk). And many of you are surprisingly attractive: I sent exactly five reader emails to my sister-in-law Suzy as potential husbands. 

My reader, Eric, you are not allowed to date Suzy, after writing me: “I’m a PA in an ER, and reading your post this morning allowed me to procrastinate for a few minutes before addressing this person’s *open foreskin.* TGIF.” 

At the bottom of this week’s column, check out some of the highlights. But first, the news. And as always, I’ll see you in the comments. 

→ Three shootings in a suspicious country: Ours is a low-trust society, and that’s very dangerous. Three very similar shootings happened this week. One in Kansas City, Missouri: Ralph Yarl, 16 years old, was shot twice after going to pick up his twin brothers but ringing the wrong doorbell. (Yarl is home from the hospital.) In Elgin, Texas: two high school cheerleaders, shot after one accidentally got in the wrong car. (One was treated at the scene and released; the other was shot in the leg and back, has damage to multiple organs, and had her spleen removed.) And last, in upstate New York: Kaylin Gillis, 20, was shot and killed after she and her friends accidentally drove up the wrong driveway. 

Blame for this culture goes to both sides: the lockdown-forever movement succeeded in decimating what remained of common, physical spaces. Churches and synagogues and mosques and schools were shut for as long as humanly possible. . . until people forgot how to be with each other. Then there’s the issue of people watching too many viral crime videos who think every delivery person is trespassing on their private property and it’s time to get out a gun. 

Now, atomized and armed to the teeth, we’re a frightened and frightening people. Tell yourself it’s to own the libs or to scare the gun nuts, but this weekend: get out of the house and into the world. Check in with your neighbors, go to church, get coffee and talk to a few strangers in line without threatening their lives or limbs. Bring back the physical world. We’ll be at a Tot Shabbat. Think about it this way: everyone you talk to is someone you don't have to worry about shooting you later! Maybe!

→ Portland loses its REI: The do-good outdoor recreation chain, the one and only REI, the store where I buy most of my clothes (whoever says they don’t carry black tie clothes isn’t trying hard enough), is closing its big downtown Portland location, citing crime and theft. The company said that the store “had its highest number of break-ins and thefts in two decades, despite actions to provide extra security.” From the local coverage: “The company said its theft problem came to a head last November, when a car crashed through the glass front doors of REI’s Pearl District store on Black Friday. It was the store’s third break-in in a week.” Thieves driving a car into and through the side of the store to get access to those sweet REI goods was the third incident of the week. (As someone who appreciates water-wicking material more than most of my blood relatives, I get it!)

I understand that antifa doesn’t believe in private property and that Portland is their capital. But guys, all you wear are cargo pants and hiking boots. How is this going to work? Who will provide your balaclavas and headlamps? 

Meanwhile, the brand-new Shake Shack downtown was met with a Portland Hello: a broken window. It goes without saying that this week it was revealed that staff at Portland’s city-funded drug treatment center were doing drugs with the addicts. 

There are about ten winning issues from those paragraphs for someone to pick and wave around until they’re installed in office. I bet the Republicans had a field day, right? No, they were busy. Very busy. 

→ Republicans laser-focused on the big fights: Budweiser remains the central Republican concern for a second week. For those with happy lives who might have forgotten, Anheuser-Busch made a special Bud Light beer can with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney’s face on it, sparking outrage from the right. Team DeSantis joined the fun with a new ad that opens with a shirtless, muscular man flexing and the words: “Because woke and beer shouldn’t be in the same brew. . . ” Not to be outdone, Republican presidential contender Vivek Ramaswamy came out with special two-gender beer koozies: 

Budweiser is trying to get itself out of its culture war frying pan, releasing ultra-American ads featuring the classic Clydesdale horse galloping across ’Merican fields and dirt roads while a strong, calm, unambiguously male voice says: “Let me tell you a story about a beer.” The ad features many gender-unconfused Americans and also, inexplicably, the Freedom Tower.

Meanwhile, annoyed with all this ’Mericana, gay magazine The Advocate published a piece calling for—what else?—a boycott of Budweiser. 

Me, I am also boycotting Budweiser. Not because of how a TikTok star’s sexual interests map or do not map onto mine. But because a majestic horse—the noble Clydesdale—shouldn’t be used to sell a bad beer. It’s disgusting and it’s wrong. Draw a line with me, dear comrades. Stop kidding yourselves with that yellow water beer and pour yourself a nice, hearty glass of California Zin. 

→ DeSantis and Disney continue their war: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to unveil new crackdown against Disney after 11th-hour coup” is a headline from this week, Year 20 of the Great Mickey Mouse Wars. DeSantis also speculated about building a prison next to Disney World, since the state owns some of the land around the park: “Come to think of it: what should we do with this land? So it’s like, okay, people have said, ‘Maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusement parks,’ someone even said, like, ‘maybe you need another state prison.’ Who knows? I just think the possibilities are endless!” Meanwhile, unfazed, Disney announced Pride Nite and launched a new sparkly rainbow collection. 

I actually think a prison complex at Disney, for any childless adult who comes within 100 feet of the place, and for those people who choose to spend $25 on a slice of pizza, is a good idea. 

→ Fox pays big to settle: Fox Corp. paid $787.5 million (!) to settle with Dominion Voting Systems right before the trial was set to begin. Fox has money in the bank, sure, but a billion dollars is a lot of money (not to mention the legal fees—I actually get charged a .2 hour if I just think about my lawyer). And now there’s blood in the water. Smartmatic, another voting technology company, is also suing for defamation. “Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign,” the lawyer said in a statement. “Smartmatic will expose the rest. Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recouping the significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.” 

Ah yes, Smartmatic’s good, heritage brand tarnished. If I knew I could get $1 billion, I’d have worked harder to get on Fox News. 

Fired Fox host Bill O’Reilly took a moment to pile on, like a sorority girl who is thrilled her nemesis got fat over the summer: “Since I left FNC, the template changed from ‘Fair and Balanced’ to ‘tell the audience what it wants to hear.’ And millions of Trump voters, to this day, want to believe the 2020 election was rigged.” Bill O’Reilly, model of restraint, prince of decorum

→ BuzzFeed News is shutting down: BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti announced he will be shuttering the company’s flagship news division, BuzzFeed News. Instead they will concentrate on growing HuffPost, which Peretti says is “profitable” (who could have guessed that?!). As the founder of TGIF, I’m never happy when other media entrepreneurs suffer (I see myself, Rupert, and Jonah as colleagues, equals), and so this week, I feel for my compatriots.

Peretti cited broader issues hurting media companies and the difficulty of building on a fickle foundation: social media feeds. There are easy jokes like: Eleven Reasons BuzzFeed Shouldn’t Have Been the Name. Or: Which Failed Media Strategy Are You, Based On Your Favorite Cereal. But under former editor-in-chief Ben Smith, the place recruited and trained a generation of smart reporters, who now staff the legacy press and will give me a lifetime of fodder, so I’m grateful to BuzzFeed (lest you think I mean only the lefties, BuzzFeed also trained and launched crazed and wild New Right media figures too). Meanwhile, Insider (né Business Insider) is laying off 10 percent of its staff. A hard week for my fellow leaders. I’ll see you all in Aspen. 

→ I guess we’re going to the opera! I can’t believe it, but there’s an opera we simply must endorse. As Luke Savage, a writer for the socialist magazine Jacobin, writes: “In a left twitter joke come to life, the Kennedy Center is putting on an opera about a female drone operator torn between family obligations and her day job merking people by remote control. It’s sponsored by one of the world’s largest weapons companies.” 

I’ve watched Jack Ryan season 1 three times. Reacher? I consider that the most beautiful TV show made in a decade. (Any show that stars someone named Jack is getting binged.) Now you’re telling me there’s a killer drone opera featuring feminist themes and sponsored by General Dynamics? An orgy of neoliberalism designed specifically for me? If the star doesn’t salute, then tentatively turn around and cradle an American flag mid-aria, I’m asking for a refund. 

→ I like this guy: I don’t know anything about his politics and, no, I do not care to google. I barely want to know his name (Jeff Jackson, Democrat from North Carolina). But I like this message, which I think is true and a good reminder (reader, do not send me some arrest record from the time he killed kittens; let me have one nice thing): 

→ New Senate report offers more details on the lab leak: At this point it’s close to consensus that Covid came from a lab. Or, as a new Senate report puts it: “The preponderance of information affirms the plausibility of a research-related incident that was likely unintentional resulting from failures of biosafety containment during vaccine-related research.” Someone was way under the word count for that one. 

The report also finds that China was working on a Covid vaccine months before we in the U.S. knew about Covid, indicating that China knew about the leak and worked to hide it while secretly scrambling to protect themselves. Because they’re communists, their vaccine was never much good. But still. It’s the thought that counts, and the thought was bad. 

Never forget that the lab leak was a “conspiracy theory” that the New York Times’ head Covid reporter called “racist.” If you think I’ll tire of recalling this, my friends, you are wrong. My grandchildren will ask me for life memories, and I’ll look at their sweet faces and softly tell them about how I knew the lab leak was real because in the year 2019 I’d read it in a place called ZeroHedge

→ Air Force unbuttons: The Air Force announced earlier this month that they will be loosening pants, opening belts up a notch, and amending their rules around weight. From the Air Force Times: “In the past, men and women’s bodies needed to be 20% or 28% fat, respectively, to be eligible for service. That benchmark is now 26% for men and 36% for women, Air Force Recruiting Service spokesperson Leslie Brown said Monday.” (H/t to Rob Henderson, who reads these things.) I used to be skinny and smug and then I got pregnant, and now I live on the wrong side of skinny, a horrible new place I recommend you never enter. Other than symptoms of rage and nausea if my snacks are late, I am completely able to operate a fighter jet. 

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