In This Episode
- Russia’s attacks on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol continued through the weekend, with missiles striking an art school where 400 people had taken shelter. Russia is claiming that a bombing it carried out on a Ukrainian ammunition storage site was done with a hypersonic missile, and if this claim is true, it could mark the first use of this kind of weapon in combat.
- Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson begin this week. If confirmed, Brown Jackson would be the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, joining the most conservative reactionary court in decades.
- And in headlines: The SEC is expected to announce climate risk disclosure rules for companies, Maury Povich is retiring after hosting 31 seasons of daytime television, and NBC will debut a new competitive singing show based on the famous Eurovision Song Contest.
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, March 21st. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, where we are sheltering in place to avoid catching March Madness.
Tre’vell Anderson: I heard it’s like flu-like symptoms, you know?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, and it’s 28 days of that, many multiple times a day. It’s just a nightmare.
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, a preview of the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Plus the SEC is expected to announce climate risk disclosure rules for companies.
Josie Duffy Rice: But first, an update on the Russia-Ukraine war as of our recording yesterday at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yea, so the violence and destruction in Ukraine continues. Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that it had destroyed an underground storage site in the Ivanov Frankivsk region of Ukraine that was holding aviation ammunition and some missiles. They say they used a hypersonic missile, which flies at five times the speed of sound and is almost impossible to detect by current air defense systems. While both Ukrainian officials and the Pentagon have yet to verify this claim, experts say if it’s true, this would signal an escalation on Russia’s part, and it could also be the first time this kind of weapon has been used in combat. Also hit by a Russian missile strike was the city of Lviv, which is just 50 miles from the border of NATO member Poland. That happened on Friday. This is of note because the city had become a safe haven of sorts for many Ukrainians who fled their homes. We spoke to BuzzFeed journalist Christopher Miller last week, who is in Lviv, and he said, really, no one feels safe anywhere in Ukraine anymore. According to the U.N., roughly 25% of the Ukrainian population has been displaced thus far, or 10 million people. Lviv also has served as a hub for the inflow of humanitarian aid and reports say Friday’s strike may have been an attempt to target the capabilities of Ukraine’s Air Force as it hit an aircraft repair plant at the city’s airport complex.
Josie Duffy Rice: That is all very sad and very terrifying, especially those hypersonic missiles. So what is the latest update on Mariupol, which Russia has had under siege for weeks now, really?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So authorities said Sunday that Russian forces in Mariupol had bombed an art school where 400 people had taken shelter. There is no word yet on the number of folks wounded or killed, but over 80% of the city is damaged, and there are concerns that it could soon fall to Russian forces. Also, rescuers are still working to pull survivors from the rubble of a theater-turned-shelter that was leveled by Russian missiles last week. Russia’s Defense Ministry said Friday they were, quote, “tightening the noose” around Mariupol, which is very specific choice of words if you ask me.
Josie Duffy Rice: You really don’t want to ever use those words, is what I would say. I don’t love it.0
Tre’vell Anderson: I mean. Then the following day, the Mariupol City Council said several thousands of their residents were taken to camps where Russian forces checked their phones and documents and sent them to remote cities in Russia. So they’re forcing people to go to Russia. And then on Sunday, Russia gave Ukraine a 5 a.m. deadline to surrender the city, after which it said it would let the 130,000 remaining civilians leave.
Josie Duffy Rice: Wow. We have seen Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealing to lawmakers in different countries, basically to get as much support as possible. So what’s the latest there?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so Zelensky has spoken directly to the legislatures of the U.S., Britain, Canada, and Germany. He’s still beating the drum for a no-fly zone as Russian air forces continue to decimate the country’s biggest cities. But there’s been no movement on that as of yet. Zelenskyy spoke with Israel’s parliament yesterday and has plans to speak to Japan’s lawmakers this week. The speech to Japan would be his first address to an Asian legislative body. This comes after Japan, which had already suspended trade with Russia and frozen the assets of oligarchs with ties to Putin, imposed sanctions on an additional 15 individuals and 9 organizations from Russia last week.
Josie Duffy Rice: Where do negotiations or, quote unquote “negotiations” between Russia and Ukraine stand at the moment?
Tre’vell Anderson: So the negotiations with Russia have continued, though Russia is blaming Ukraine for the lack of any meaningful progress. Putin said in a phone call with Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany that Ukraine was trying to quote, “drag the negotiations by making a series of new, unrealistic proposals.” This is based on a Kremlin readout of said call, according to the New York Times. That readout also suggested that Putin had expressed a willingness by Russia to find solutions quote, “within the limits of its well-known principle approaches”—whatever that means. And also just an FYI, President Joe Biden is traveling to Brussels this week for both a summit with the NATO leaders and the European Council summit, where the war will be a main topic of discussion.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I got to say it feels pretty rich for Russia to say that Ukraine is making new, unrealistic proposals when Ukraine’s proposal is: please just leave our country. Feels pretty reasonable to me.
Tre’vell Anderson: Simple things, right?
Josie Duffy Rice: Thanks for that, Tre’vell. So now for some Supreme Court nominee news. This week begins confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. If confirmed, Judge Jackson would be the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, and she would also be joining the most conservative, reactionary court in decades, probably in our lifetime.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so tell us what can we expect to see during these hearings?
Josie Duffy Rice: Well, Tre’vell, Brown Jackson is an extremely qualified nominee with a long history of being a fair judge and a brilliant legal mind. And Republicans, for what it’s worth, have claimed that they are going to treat Judge Jackson fairly. She even met with some of them in the past few weeks. But, you know, conservatives will retain a 6-3 majority on the court, even if she is confirmed, so you kind of expect that they wouldn’t fight her nomination in the same way that they would if the majority were at risk. And yet somehow, for some reason, I just don’t believe we’re going to get through these hearings without misleading and below-the-belt attacks from Republicans. After all, we’re already seeing pretty strong hints of the attacks that are likely to come up in the next couple of weeks.
Tre’vell Anderson: Definitely. So walk us through the main arguments Republicans are already making to uphold Brown Jackson’s nomination.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, so the first thing Republicans are doing is trying to make her seem biased in favor of liberals. Right now, the website for the Republican National Committee is describing her as a quote, “radical left-wing activist” and a quote, “rubber stamp for Biden’s agenda.” You know, OK. To make this argument, conservatives are pointing to the fact that Brown Jackson was first nominated to the bench by President Obama, and then Biden nominated her to the Court of Appeals before nominating her to the Supreme Court. So she was nominated by Democrats, and she also apparently donated to Obama’s campaign in 2008, which was before she was a sitting judge. So this is some really hypocritical posturing by the Republicans. I mean, after all, at this point, we know that every judge has political leanings and opinions, and if Judge Jackson’s lean more left than, say, Judge Gorsuch, that’s not a surprise, nor is it disqualifying. Plus, the Republicans on the court are often blatantly partisan, right? I mean, already this term, they’ve rejected years of precedents to champion their own partisan views, namely on abortion. And as far as political affiliations go, Clarence Thomas, his own wife, Ginni Thomas, is what can only be described as radically right-wing. She’s made public her opinions on a range of issues, including issues that were before the court. And last week, she admitted that she actually attended the January 6th rally. So the idea that a political donation 14 years ago is too much for the Republicans to handle is infuriating, but also laughable.
Tre’vell Anderson: It is definitely, definitely absurd. But that’s what they do. That’s what they do.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s true.
Tre’vell Anderson: What else are Republicans doing to make Jackson seem too problematic for the court?
Josie Duffy Rice: So they’re using a couple of things about her history to try to smear her as quote, “soft on crime.” And first, they’re claiming that her history as a public defender makes her a problematic candidate. So if confirmed, she would be the first public defender to serve on the Supreme Court. Compare that to the fact that at this moment, seven of the current nine members of the court have experience as prosecutors. Seven out of nine. That’s an enormous number, and that’s just current justices, much less justices throughout history. But of course, the senators are going to try to make this into a big deal and pretend that she doesn’t care about the law because she defended people who had been accused of crimes. Mitch McConnell, who has admitted Brown Jackson is quote, “highly likely to be confirmed” has also said that quote, “her supporters look at her resume and deduce a special empathy for criminals.” Republicans already made a big deal out of the fact that Jackson represented detainees at Guantanamo Bay and others. Tre’vell, it’s truly hard for me to even talk about this without losing my mind because it’s so absurd. And by the way, these attacks are coming from a group of people who have defended the Capitol insurrectionists.
Tre’vell Anderson: Of course.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right. But as I wrote and Balls and Strikes a few weeks ago, Brown Jackson’s history as a public defender is what makes her nomination so important, right? Working as a public defender means standing between one individual and the most powerful body in the country, if not the world: the US government. The fact that Republicans are going to use that history to smear her is offensive, and it’s not just offensive to her, but it’s offensive to the entire profession.
Tre’vell Anderson: For sure. And beyond her record as a public defender, what else are they going to use to try to paint her as soft on crime?
Josie Duffy Rice: Well, one of our most rabidly conservative senators, who is also easily the least charismatic, Josh Hawley, has already thrown out some extremely incendiary accusations, trying to make it seem like Judge Jackson has gone easy on sex offenders. So he tweeted that he’s concerned that she has a quote, “record that endangers our children” because she sometimes didn’t follow federal sentencing guidelines when sentencing people for possession of child pornography. But what Hawley doesn’t mention is that her record on this issue is decidedly mainstream. Much of the federal judiciary on both sides, about 70% of the judiciary, find the guidelines on this issue to be severe. And in two out of three cases, federal judges sentence below the guidelines. So, you know, she’s squarely in the middle of what judges are doing across the board. In fact, in many of the cases that Brown Jackson handled specifically, even the prosecution wanted a sentence below the guidelines. So Hawely and others are going to use this to indicate that she’s soft on crime. For what it’s worth. Democrats, including Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Durbin, have already pushed back on some of this. Here he is on ABC’s This Week responding to Hawley:
[clip of Senator Durbin] As far as Senator Hawley is concerned, here’s the bottom line: he’s wrong, he’s inaccurate and unfair and his analysis. Judge Jackson has been scrutinized more than any person I can think of. This is her fourth time before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and three previous times she came through with flying colors and bipartisan support.
Josie Duffy Rice: At the end of the day, I expect and deeply hope that Brown Jackson will get confirmed to the court, but as usual, Republicans will probably not make it easy.
Tre’vell Anderson: For sure.
Josie Duffy Rice: So that’s the latest for now. We will be back after some ads.
Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: Public health experts remain concerned that there could be an increase in COVID cases this spring based on trends observed in other countries. One notable place where COVID is on the rise is the UK, with daily case numbers now about twice what they were two weeks ago. UK health officials say many of the cases they are seeing are driven by the quick-spreading BA-2 Omicron sub variant. They also attribute the spread to the removal of various COVID restrictions, and to waning immunity from vaccines and infections. All this doesn’t mean we need to panic here in the U.S. just yet. The BA-2 sub-variant is estimated to account for about 25 to 30% of new cases here. That’s according to White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, who told ABC’s This Week yesterday that he doesn’t expect a surge from BA-2, though it is about 50 to 60% more transmissible than Omicron. Here’s what else he had to say about the new variant:
[clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci] So it does have an increased transmission capability. However, when you look at the cases, they do not appear to be any more severe and they do not appear to evade immune responses either from vaccines or prior infections.
Josie Duffy Rice: Oh boy, I have to say, COVID, please go home. The Security and Exchange Commission, or SEC, is expected to announce new guidelines today, requiring U.S. companies to publicly disclose how they contribute to climate change—specifically, how they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and how they themselves could be impacted by climate change in the near future. While some companies like Apple already disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, there aren’t any clear policies on whether or not they have to share this information to investors. These new guidelines are aimed at closing that gap and keeping investors informed about what climate risks come with the stocks they own, so that someone who owns a million shares in a company that makes say, whale-killing machines has to look at their personal impact and sustainability in addition to their short-term profits. This historic move by the SEC is part of a global effort to recognize climate change as a real economic threat worth preparing for. And these rule changes come after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report detailing how countries are not doing enough to combat global warming.
Tre’vell Anderson: The one man who’s done more for paternity tests as a concept than actual scientists, Maury Povich, is retiring after hosting 31 seasons of daytime television with his show “The Maury Povich Show” later known simply as “Maury.” This makes Povich, who is now 83-years old, the longest-running daytime host in broadcast history, which, according to these results in front of me, makes him definitely the father of tacky daytime television. Network representatives confirmed yesterday that Maury will cease production when the current season ends in September in light of Povich’s retirement. Don’t panic, though. Reruns of the program will remain on air in syndication for those who simply need to watch someone yelling at their parents on mute, while they wait their turn to get their teeth cleaned. Maury is just the latest daytime talk show titan to take their leave in recent months, as The Wendy Williams Show, Nick Cannon, and Ellen all have announced their imminent departures from the daytime lineup. Povich said of his retirement quote,” I’m so proud of my relationship with NBCUniversal and all those who worked on the ‘Maury’ show, but as I occasionally tell my guests on ‘Maury,’ ‘Enough already!’
Josie Duffy Rice: Maury—end of an era. Really.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.
Josie Duffy Rice: If The Voice, American Idol, and The Masked Singer have proven anything, it’s one, every judging panel needs a Simon, and two, the only thing that can truly unite Americans is competitive singing. NBC debuts a new competitive singing show this week based on the famous Eurovision Song Contest, in which 40 European countries compete with original songs in a televised tournament. The Eurovision Song Contest, which began in 1956, has launched the careers of many European artists, including Abba, who won the 1974 contest, and Celine Dion, who won in 1988. The American Song Contest, hosted by Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson, will have representatives from 56 states, territories, and Washington, DCs singing original songs, competing in live telecasts until the victor is determined. Like the United States themselves, the contestants are varied. While many will be new faces to viewers, some celebrities have offered themselves as tribute in NBC’s Hunger Games but for songs. New Haven native Michael Bolton will represent Connecticut. Jewel will represent her home state of Alaska. And Cisco, better known as the guy who loves thongs, will sing for Maryland. Truly incredible. Truly incredible.
Tre’vell Anderson: This is the perfect mix of people that would bring me back to like watching song competition shows.
Josie Duffy Rice: Nine million percent. I have never thought of Michael Bolton, Jewel, and Cisco, even on the same day, much less the same sentence and I am thrilled, thrilled, to have them all on the same program. This is going to be phenomenal. I cannot wait.
Tre’vell Anderson: And hosted by Snoop Dogg and our original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson? Like, come on.
Josie Duffy Rice: I love it. Come one. I love it. I’m ready.
Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. One more thing before we go this week on Offline, Jon talks to technology reporter Taylor Lorenz about what journalism in our digital age requires of writers and media publications, and her decision to move from the New York Times to The Washington Post. New episodes of Offline drop every Sunday wherever you get your podcasts. That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, blast Cisco’s “Thong Song” on repeat, and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you are into reading, and not just life-changing paternity results on national television like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[together] And you’re going down Florida.
Josie Duffy Rice: Honestly, if Georgia doesn’t win this, I’m protesting.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. I mean, what about California? I feel like we deserve a win at this point.
Josie Duffy Rice: You have every Hollywood win. You know what? Give it to someone in the Midwest or give it to Georgia. Give it to someone who nobody really talks about, you know?
Tre’vell Anderson: Rhode Island.
Josie Duffy Rice: Rhode Island! You’re right.
Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.