In This Episode
- Britney Spears is finally free. Last Friday, a Los Angeles judge ended her 13 year conservatorship where her father, Jamie, oversaw many aspects of her life. Washington Post’s Ashley Fetters Maloy, who has been covering the court hearings, joins us to discuss what this means for others who are fighting their own conservatorships.
- And in headlines: President Biden signs the bipartisan infrastructure bill into law today, the U.S. military kept secret a 2019 drone strike in Syria that killed dozens of civilians, and a federal appeals court blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for large private companies.
- Washington Post: Ashley Fetters Maloy – https://wapo.st/3cgPYpC
- Ashley Fetters Maloy on Twitter – https://twitter.com/AFettersMaloy
Gideon Resnick: It’s Monday, November 15th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day. The podcast that is under no financial obligation to mention that there are new holiday flavors of Sprite.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. Winter spiced cranberry is back in stores, but we are not being compensated in any way to say that.
Tre’vell Anderson: That said, Sprite, just let us know if you want to throw some coins our way.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, President Biden’s full itinerary today from signing the infrastructure bill to a summit with China’s Xi Jinping. Plus, Portugal outlaws bosses from texting or emailing employees during off hours.
Tre’vell Anderson: Portugal doing the Lord’s work. Shout out to them. But first at long last, Britney Spears is now free.
[speaker] It is official the conservatorship of Britney Spears has been terminated. [cheers]
Tre’vell Anderson: That was one of her fans and members of the #FreeBritney movement last Friday, when a Los Angeles judge ended Spears’ his 13-year conservatorship. Her father, Jamie Spears, oversaw many aspects of her life. But after the decision, Britney finally won her battle to end the conservatorship, which began in 2008. Here’s her lawyer, Matthew Rosengart, speaking to the crowd outside of the court on Friday.
[clip of Matthew Rosengart] I’m so proud of her. I thank her for her courage and poise and power.
Gideon Resnick: The details and extent of the restrictions she faced really came to light this year, and Spears and her fans got increasingly vocal about the abuse she allegedly suffered during the time. We talked earlier with feature reporter Ashley Fetters Maloy. She is a dear friend of mine, so excited she could join. And she’s been covering all of the court hearings for The Washington Post. And the first thing that we asked was: what it was like for her to actually be at the L.A. courthouse when it was announced that the conservatorship was over.
Ashley Fetters Maloy: So I actually was in the courtroom during the proceedings. But of course, when I got to the courthouse, Stanley Mosk in downtown L.A., the block in front of the courthouse was just packed and it was awash in people dressed in pink, looking very festive. So really just, you know, lots of people showed up to witness this and to kind of to be at this rally outside the courthouse. You know, I walked out of there and, you know, obviously the decision was made and then the court hearing was over and you could hear, you know, just from the other side of the building when the news happened, it was like confetti cannons burst and you know this big whoop, this big, you know, joyful noise kind of erupted up from this big crowd that had gathered. So just a really, really happy day for a lot of people who had been waiting for this for a really long time.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I can only imagine. I want to shift to what like actually happens now, right? So the conservatorship is lifted. We often talk about what Spears was not allowed to do previously, but can you run us through a little bit of like what she legally is allowed to be in control of again at this point?
Ashley Fetters Maloy: There’s a short answer and a long answer here. I’m going to go short answer first is like her person in her state, obviously. You know, she’ll have control over her day-to-day life, who she can see, where she can go and when, and she’ll have control over her medical care. She will also regain control of her bank accounts, all the money that’s in her name once these last few outstanding matters get handled by the accountant that she brought in. I do think it’s worth getting a little more specific here about the details of what Britney was not allowed to do under this conservatorship because like, there are some really salient details that just hit the public for the first time in the last few months, right? So one really notable thing here is she will have control over her medical care and her reproductive health care. Something she said in court over the summer that I think really stuck with a lot of people, me included is that she, under the conservatorship, was not allowed to make a doctor appointment to get her IUD, her birth control device, removed, despite the fact that she has said she really wants to have another child and get married.
Gideon Resnick: Wow.
Ashley Fetters Maloy: That got under the skin of a lot of people and really, really lodged itself, I think. And um, her conservatorship, it also gave her conservator, her dad, power to cancel her credit cards as he pleased, it gave him power to spend money on a whole host of different things, like his own legal fees, new business opportunities, he could hire security, he could pay himself a salary. And it gave him the power to enter her home, take possession of her home, kick people out as he saw fit or saw as necessary.
Gideon Resnick: Wow.
Ashley Fetters Maloy: So now that the conservatorship has ended, she gets all these specific powers back. She gets control over all these things back. And I do think it gets glossed over sometimes just how restrictive and how specific this conservatorship was in telling her what she could and couldn’t do with her life and with her money.
Gideon Resnick: So I guess this is like a difficult question to answer, but is there any indication of what she will actually do now? I mean, beyond just sort of being allowed to function as a human being with freedom?
Ashley Fetters Maloy: Certainly, we do know she’s engaged, and something she said in a hearing a few months ago that again, I think stuck with me and stuck with a lot of people, is that she was not allowed to go out driving with her boyfriend in his car. Again, just what a what a sad thing to not be able to do that when you are a 40-year old adult, right?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah.
Ashley Fetters Maloy: And so I have to imagine she’s doing that this weekend.
Gideon Resnick: Right.
Ashley Fetters Maloy: Have to imagine she’s doing that this week. And you know, there’s a big question right now over whether she will perform again, and her team has stayed pretty hands-off about that. They’ve stayed pretty clear of answering that for her I would say. Someone did ask her lawyer, Matthew Rosengart, after the hearing, does Britney have plans to perform again? And he said, if she wants to. Which was a nice thing to hear, you know, it’s a nice thing to hear her lawyer say, like, you know, she’s in control of that now, whether she performs or not. You know, it does seem like her next priorities and as far as we know, obviously we haven’t really heard that much from Britney in detail for a long time now, but something I think we can expect to see pretty soon is she’ll get married, maybe, maybe move forward on those plans to have more children. Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: So I also have a question about her father, Jamie. In your reporting, you mentioned that Britney’s lawyer said that Jamie and his representatives haven’t responded to any document requests, they won’t sit for a deposition to answer like money-related questions. Do we have a sense of what might happen to him legally speaking, even though the conservatorship is now over?
Ashley Fetters Maloy: The word right now from Britney’s lawyer is, yeah, it’s like you said, all he has said on the matter is that they have sent requests, they’ve sent document requests, they’ve asked for a deposition, and just have not gotten cooperation thus far. He has said before that he does intend to investigate. So it sounds like there is an intent to kind of get to the bottom and get more details out of his team on the financial management, especially, of her conservatorship. I know there’s also more to be done on an investigation of TriStar Entertainment, which was the firm that handled a lot of her money. So they will be in the mix somehow in the next two hearings. There are two more hearings scheduled in December, and then in January. That was part of the court hearing on Friday, was scheduled in the next two dates.
Gideon Resnick: Got it. This case put the conservatorship system under a microscope. So how has Spears’ case changed the conversation of that legal arrangement, and possible reforms?
Ashley Fetters Maloy: Oh my gosh, the short answer there is it’s completely changed, I think. I’ve talked to multiple folks who work in conservatorship and guardianship law, and people who are advocates for reform in this area of the law. And something I’ve heard them say is that this case for all its ugliness and all its sordid awful details is kind of a godsend for people who are subject to conservatorship abuse and who are trying to fight conservatorship and guardianship abuse. Like, these are really complicated and really strange arrangements, and they’re difficult to understand. I can kind of understand now that I’ve reported on them why it’s so hard to report on them, and there’s so little press around it. They almost sound like too weird and dystopian to be real, right? It’s like someone gets the court to call someone else incapacitated or incapable of taking care of themselves, and then once the court signs off on that, that person can’t choose their own counsel to defend themselves when someone else comes in and takes over their estate and their life.
Gideon Resnick: Right.
Ashley Fetters Maloy: Now that it’s happened to a very famous person in a very high profile way, there is this kind of increased public awareness of like, here’s what happens when you are under a guardianship. Here’s what conservatorship abuse could look like. And I do think that will lend itself to more oversight. I think there’s efforts to increase federal oversight and national standards around guardianship right now, and efforts, I think, on the state level and the national level to protect the rights of conservatees and people under guardianships to retain their own lawyers. So I do think this is going to be something that changes the conversation and really changes the standards around conservatorships as well.
Gideon Resnick: Right. Right. Yeah, I mean, we would hope so. What are other conservatorships that are out there of notable people that might be drawing like similar questions? Like is there a situation that’s like unfolding that we know a little bit about that we’re going to learn a lot more about soon? Are there some that we know nothing about where this is unfolding?
Ashley Fetters Maloy: Yes! One case that I’ve come across that is actually going to pop up in a story that I’m hopefully going to publish this week about kind of conservatorship reform and its intersection with the FreeBritney movement is, there’s this artist named Peter Max, who was kind of behind a lot of the really iconic visuals of the 1960s. He had this kind of wonderful, colorful, psychedelic style. And over the last few years, his daughter, her name is Libra Max has been talking to the press a lot and pursuing in court, justice for her dad, who says is now the victim of an abusive guardianship. What she says, what she has said that the press and has said to me before is that her father’s being isolated by his guardian, his children don’t have access to him, and of course, his estate is being drained away paying for legal fees for the guardian, who’s taken over his estate and his finances. So it’s a different situation, but it’s a similar situation in its own way, right? It involves a lot of control over someone who did not consent to being controlled that way.
Gideon Resnick: Right.
Ashley Fetters Maloy: Allegedly. But yeah, it’s a similar situation. And you know, I have talked to a few other people who are dealing with this in their own families who, you know, have felt like it was so difficult for them to explain, you know, to their family friends or their family members or kind of people who weren’t involved, like, this is why I can’t go see my mom. This is why I can’t, you know, just have access to my childhood home when I want to.
Gideon Resnick: Right. Feature reporter Ashley Fetters Maloy, who has been covering the hearings for The Washington Post. It is so great to have you join today. Thank you again.
Ashley Fetters Maloy: Thank you so much.
Gideon Resnick: I don’t know why I’m awkward with people that I know that join us the show, but I apologize. Ashley is awesome. We’re going to link to her work and her Twitter so you can keep following her indispensable reporting. But that is the latest for now. We’re going to be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: President Biden starts his week today by scratching a longtime goal off of his to-do list: he is finally going to be signing the trillion dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. That bill is going to allocate $40 billion for bridge construction, $65 billion to build out broadband and lines, billions of dollars to help build electric vehicle charging stations across the country, and more. And this signing is a win that Biden certainly needs at the moment. According to a Washington Post ABC News poll released this weekend, his approval rating has slumped to a record low of 41%. The poll found that the president’s low overall approval stems from increased prices and rising inflation. Also today, Biden will attend a virtual summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. US-Chinese relations have been icy, to say the least. Biden and Xi have only talked on the phone twice since Biden took office. But this video conference is expected to be their most substantial talk so far, and it’s going to cover Taiwan, human rights, and trade.
Tre’vell Anderson: For years, the U.S. military has kept secret a 2019 drone strike in Syria that killed up to 64 women and children.
Gideon Resnick: Wow.
Tre’vell Anderson: New reporting by The New York Times says a drone dropped two bombs on a crowd huddled against a riverbank near the town of Baghuz. It was during the last days in America’s fight against the Islamic State in Syria, and one of the largest civilian casualty incidents in that war. The military never acknowledged the bombings until The Times sent its findings to the U.S. Central Command last week. The military replied with a statement claiming that it self-reported and investigated the deadly strike. But the paper detailed how in the years since, the military did all it could to conceal all knowledge of it. One official for the Defense Department’s inspector general told The Times quote, “Leadership just seemed so set on burying this. No one wanted anything to do with it.”
Gideon Resnick: Jeez.
Tre’vell Anderson: he paper says this incident is just one of many where the U.S. military undercounted or underreported civilian casualties from drone strikes in the battle against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that is absolutely outrageous. Wow. A federal appeals court reaffirmed its decision to block the Biden administration from enforcing its vaccine mandate for large private companies last Friday, writing that legal challenges to the mandate were quote, “likely to succeed on their merits.” The court in question is the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit, which is composed of three judges appointed by Republican presidents. The judges said that Biden’s mandate has the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, exceed its regulatory authority. The White House is still telling businesses to make preparations to comply with the mandate by January 4th, when it is set to go into effect. Republican attorneys general in at least 26 states have challenged the requirements, and the cases will be consolidated into one court, to be announced soon. Here are Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy yesterday on the cost of delaying the mandate:
[clip of Surgeon Gen. Dr. Vivek Murthy] It would be a setback for public health. What we know very clearly is that when people get vaccinated, and the more people who get vaccinated, the quicker we’re able to bring this pandemic to an end. The more lives we can ultimately save.
Tre’vell Anderson: Portugal is mobilizing its government to attack the Sunday scaries, by making it illegal for bosses to text or email employees outside of working hours if it’s not an emergency. A new law protecting people’s quote, “right to rest” was approved last Friday by the country’s socialist-led government. It’s one of the world’s most robust attempts to regulate remote work since the pandemic forced many of our offices into the corner of our bedrooms with the smallest number of unfolded shirts. Other elements of the legislation give parents of children younger than eight the right to work from home without getting their bosses approval first, and require employers to help pay the internet and electricity bills of remote employees. According to Portugal’s labor minister, the new rules are intended to protect domestic workers, but also encourage digital nomads from around the world to make the country their home base. So if you have to stay in the U.S., you can tell your boss you expect to be left alone on the weekends by adding an image of a Portuguese military tank on your profile on Slack.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I just want to be clear that is the reason why mine has been there for a long time.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now we know, OK? We won’t be hitting you up on the weekend anymore, Gideon.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. Thank you very much and thank for the Portuguese military tank symbolism. And those are the headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: One more thing before we go: the holidays are almost here and we’re dropping new merch in the crooked store every week of November. This week we have festive items like our Hysteria holiday ornament, Friend of the Pod tees, and more. Shop all the new holiday arrivals now at Croocked.com slash store.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, keep the Portuguese military looped in on your work situation, and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading, and not just the words “winter spiced cranberry Sprite is back” like me, What A Day is a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And fight for your right to rest!
Gideon Resnick: You deserve it. And you deserve more than you deserve.
Tre’vell Anderson: You deserve it all.
Gideon Resnick: Anything you can get. And then ask for more.
Tre’vell Anderson: Always asks for more.
Gideon Resnick: Always.
Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine is our associate producer. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran, me: Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.