Wednesday Edition


1. Was Dobbs Bad for the Pro-Life Movement?

The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe. v. Wade in 2022 was viewed as a massive win for pro-lifers. (NYT)

What anti-abortion activist Jessica Rodgers told CNN on the day of the Dobbs decision: “To see this barrier put up for all of these decades that have prevented states from taking necessary steps to protect human life at every level. To see that barrier fall and crash was just kind of euphoric. It was joyous.”

Pro-abortion activists were devastated by it:


But two years later, the momentum has shifted.

  • Since Dobbs, abortion access has been put on the ballot in at least seven states (including some red states), and the pro-life side lost each time.

  • Support for abortion climbed to a near record-high.

  • Abortion is now viewed as a major political vulnerability for Republicans (who have responded by moderating on the issue).

  • On the flip side, Democrats see abortion as a catalyst for driving turnout: Dems ran 703,000 ads mentioning abortion from the time the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022 up to Election Day in November 2022.

  • State bans don’t appear to have had an effect on the number of U.S. abortions, which had been declining for decades until recently. In fact, abortions started ticking up a few years before the Dobbs decision, and have continued to increase.

  • A new study found abortion pill use has increased post-Dobbs.

Bubba’s Two Cents: With the caveat that these are all relatively short-term effects, it sure looks like overturning Roe v. Wade was the political equivalent of kicking a hornet’s nest. If the primary goal of the pro-life movement is to reduce the number of abortions in the country, it doesn’t look like Dobbs has accomplished that. (If you’re looking for a counterpoint to this position, National Review editor Ramesh Ponnuru does a pretty good job here).

2. NBC News Claims the Moral High Ground

NBC’s digital union claimed in a new social media post that the network’s hiring of former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel has “tarnished” its journalism. (Politico)

NBC’s journalistic record is by no means squeaky clean.

  • Last year, NBC News was forced to issue a retraction after falsely claiming a slaughterhouse had employed an underage migrant worker.

  • In November, the network cut ties with a journalist arrested by Israel for glorifying Hamas terrorism.

  • Former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted in 2015 to fabricating a story about his helicopter being shot down in Iraq (Williams was suspended and demoted but allowed to serve out his contract).

MSNBC’s record is even more scandalous.

  • MSNBC host Al Sharpton has been accused of making racist and antisemitic remarks, and once said: “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.”

  • In 2018, MSNBC host Joy Reid apologized for homophobic posts and 9/11 conspiracy theories that appeared on her personal blog.

  • During a 2022 airing of former MSNBC host Tiffany Cross’s show, guest Elie Mystal said Herschel Walker, a black Georgia Senate candidate, “is gonna’ do what he’s told” because “that's what Republicans want from their negroes.”

A number of NBC News and MSNBC personalities have publicly objected to McDaniel’s hiring over her alleged election denialism. McDaniel said Sunday she believes there were “problems” with the 2020 election but President Biden won “fair and square.”

In the wake of the backlash, NBC News has reversed its decision on hiring McDaniel, Puck reported yesterday.

3. The Clock Is Running on Israel-Hamas

Even some of Israel’s most prominent allies are starting to lose patience with the country’s war on Hamas. (Reuters)

On Monday, the U.S. stepped aside and let the U.N. pass a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestine. The U.S. had vetoed previous attempts, but abstained from the vote this time, allowing its passage. Israel responded by canceling a delegation visit to Washington, D.C.

President Biden, who has called himself a Zionist and expressed full-throated support for Israel, recently pushed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to a ceasefire in exchange for Hamas releasing hostages.

Donald Trump, who once said he was “the most pro-Israel president ever,” recently warned Israel it was “losing support” amid the war’s rising death toll.

Trump:You have to finish up your war. ... You have to get it done. We have to get to peace. We can't have this going on. And I will say, Israel has to be very careful because you're losing a lot of the world, you're losing a lot of support.”

Polls show American endorsement of a ceasefire is growing. A Data for Progress survey from February found support for a permanent ceasefire was up 6 percentage points (67%) since November.

On the other hand, the U.S. public still generally backs Israel. 58% of Americans believe Israel has valid reasons for fighting Hamas, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

Bubba’s Two Cents: This is a common cycle with every war that starts out popular. People are gung ho about it at first, but the longer it goes on, the uglier and more exhausting it gets, and people want out. Case in point: how many people are still talking about Ukraine these days?

4. The Real Problem With EVs

The big headlines about electric vehicles these days are all about how sales have slowed — but that may be missing the bigger picture. (Plain English)

According to Robinson Meyer, a former staff writer at The Atlantic and the founder of a climate change media company, the EV sales slowdown is being overblown. According to BloombergNEF, EV sales in North America were up 47% in 2023 and are set to grow another 32% in 2024. Even though the growth rate is cooling off, it remains strong compared to most segments of the auto industry. Another thing — a closer look at the data reveals EV issues are mostly concentrated in Ford and GM (companies like Tesla, Hyundai and Kia are killing it).

According to Meyer and Plain English podcast host Derek Thompson, the issue really boils down to companies like Ford and GM trying to break into new markets and the hiccups they’re having creating unfamiliar products. And that’s not a problem that’s unique to auto manufacturers.

Thompson: “It reminds me honestly of some of the dilemmas that legacy entertainment companies have faced in the last 10 years. Like if you're [Disney CEO Bob Iger], you were thinking, all right, we are essentially a cable company. We make our money from affiliate fees on television and from movies, but now there's this upstart Netflix. Maybe we should go into streaming.

And then you realize that streaming takes a lot of money to build up the infrastructure. It immediately turns out you can't necessarily compete. You're losing a lot of money in this new sector.

And the question is, how do you cross that river from the thing that's made you money for the last 40 years in Disney, which is television and film, into streaming? It sounds so similar if you're a company like GM. … A fully Americanized company when it comes to their operating income, and they have to learn how to make an entirely different kind of car that competes in international markets. This is a revolution akin to moving from linear TV to streaming. And it's really, really difficult for legacy companies to change themselves to become competitive in entirely new segments.”

5. Looking Back on the Katie Britt Debacle

Alaska Sen. Katie Britt’s star had been rising in the GOP, with many people tapping her as a potential running mate for Donald Trump — then her State of the Union rebuttal happened. (Puck)

March 7: Britt’s awkward kitchen table response to President Biden’s SOTU speech was widely mocked, even by conservatives. Actress Scarlett Johansson lampooned Britt on “Saturday Night Live,” and Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a fellow Republican, said Britt’s speech, “obviously didn’t go too well.”

Screenshot/”Saturday Night Live”

Prior to the speech, Britt had a reputation for coming across as likable and sharp. So what went wrong? According to a new report from Puck, D.C. insiders are blaming Britt’s consultants.

Puck senior political correspondent Tara Palmieri: “Quietly, however, people who have known Britt for many years are still perplexed by how such an ostensibly savvy operator—a campaign-turned-Senate aide who quickly became chief of staff in Shelby’s office—botched the delivery of a potentially career-accelerating speech. In D.C., of course, confusion has been eclipsed by the rich tradition of nasty finger-pointing, in this case at the staff and the highly paid consultants who clearly overcoached her, breathy voice and all. (This isn’t so unusual: During my brief career in network news, I was encouraged to speak in the same manner, as are many women, apparently.)”

Bubba’s Two Cents: In my experience, there are plenty of smart and competent political consultants in D.C, but there are also too many cooks in the kitchen. Politicians are coached to act “just like us,” but often end up coming across as awkward and phony. It’s not a coincidence the most popular Republican politician of our time is aggressively off-the-cuff and true to himself. You can say a lot of things about Donald Trump, but one thing you'll never see him do is pander to voters by wearing cowboy boots and jeans.

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