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June 26, 2023
What A Day
Wagner The Dog

In This Episode

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed his nation on Monday for the first time since the short-lived military rebellion by the Wagner Group came to an end. During his five minute televised speech, Putin refused to specifically name Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, and called the mutiny organizers “traitors.” The Kremlin said that it reached a deal for Prigozhin to move to Belarus and receive amnesty, along with his soldiers.

 

  • On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that sexual abuse lawsuits against Ohio State University could proceed, and in a separate ruling, unfroze a case that will likely force Louisiana to redraw congressional districts in a way that includes more Black representation. Decisions on key cases involving affirmative action, student debt, independent state legislature and more, are expected in the coming days.

 

  • And in headlines: the shooter who killed five people at Club Q last year pleaded guilty to five counts of first degree murder and dozens of counts of attempted murder, Guatemala is headed for a runoff election, and Jesse Watters has been named as Fox News’ new primetime TV host.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Erin Ryan: It’s Tuesday, June 27th. I’m Erin Ryan. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day, the only daily news podcast where we think of Yevgeny Prigozhin as a hotdog vendor first, military insurgent second. 

 

Erin Ryan: I never thought I would live to see the day that hot dogs were tied to international war crimes. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] You must not have seen Everything Everywhere All At Once. 

 

Erin Ryan: That’s true. I did see it, but I thought that wasn’t a crime. That was cinema. [laughter] On today’s show, the shooter who killed five people at an LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs last year has pleaded guilty. Plus, nearly 2 million Muslims begin the annual Hajj pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Mecca Monday. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But first, I’ve got an update for everyone on a story from yesterday. We told you all about the attempted sort of kind of military rebellion that lasted for less than a day over the weekend in Russia. The TLDR of it all, in case you haven’t been paying attention, there’s this guy named Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is the leader of the Wagner Group, a private Russian paramilitary company that’s been helping Russia fight Ukraine. Prigozhin basically accused the Russian military of staging an airstrike on his own fighters. But he’s also been in a months long feud with Russia’s top military brass and has openly called on Vladimir Putin to replace them. So everything came to a head over the weekend, and Prigozhin sent a heavily armored convoy of Wagner Group soldiers toward Moscow. They actually made it within 125 miles of the city before the whole thing was called off. Belarus’s president was somehow involved and the whole situation lasted less than 24 hours in the grand scheme of things. Now, that is the background here. The update is that overnight Putin finally addressed the situation publicly. He gave a five minute televised speech to his nation. And while he didn’t name Prigozhin specifically, he did say that the mutiny organizers were quote unquote, “traitors.” He blamed Russia’s enemies and said that they miscalculated and that they unsuccessfully tried to force the group’s soldiers, quote, “to shoot their own.” Putin also praised the rank and file mercenaries for not letting the situation descend into, quote unquote, “bloodshed.” And speaking of bloodshed, by the way, even though this whole situation was fairly quick in the grand scheme of things, there were some deaths. According to Russian media, several military helicopters and a communications plane were shot down by Wagner forces, killing at least 15 people. 

 

Erin Ryan: I feel like I am watching a international relations equivalent of Alien versus Predator playing out before my eyes. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I can see that. 

 

Erin Ryan: Nobody who is in charge and has power in this situation is a good person. And I’m like, I don’t know who I want to win. I don’t know if anybody wins when these two fight. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 

 

Erin Ryan: It’s kind of horrifying, but also fascinating. Yesterday, we weren’t sure what would happen to Prigozhin, especially after the situation had been dubbed perhaps the gravest threat yet to Putin’s authority. Is there any clarity there? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Just a little bit. So the Kremlin has said that it made a deal for Prigozhin to move to Belarus and receive amnesty along with his soldiers. And interestingly enough, earlier in the day before Putin’s address, Prigozhin released a speech of his own in which he discussed how Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, quote, “proposed finding solutions for the Wagner private military company to continue its work in a lawful jurisdiction.” This obviously seems to suggest that Prigozhin might be able to keep his military force, but it’s unclear whose jurisdiction they’d be under. Now, Prigozhin also took that opportunity to reiterate that he hadn’t been seeking to stage a coup against Putin just to oust the military leadership. He said that the rebellion was in protest of a new law that would require his fighters in Ukraine to sign contracts with the Russian government by July 1st. The law would basically lead to the Wagner group halting operations in Ukraine. And then he boasted in his speech that their march on Moscow was a quote unquote, “masterclass” on how Russia’s military should have carried out their invasion of Ukraine. He also mocked the military for failing to protect Russia since his group marched toward Moscow without any resistance. So, you know, he’s not backing down on his criticisms of the military leadership, that’s for sure. And some local Russian lawmakers aren’t too happy about it either. One lawmaker has filed an official request with the country’s prosecutor general’s office seeking to punish those behind the attempted rebellion. And another has said that Prigozhin and his right hand man, Dmitry Utkin deserve, quote, “a bullet in the head.” 

 

Erin Ryan: Well, another thing about Prigozhin is that he is the force and muscle behind the Internet Research Agency, which was essentially a troll farm, right? The troll farm that tried to exert influence over American elections. And really, I feel as though I’m watching a gymnast perform a trick that is named after them. When I see all of his trolly posts online, it’s scary. But also trolling is this person’s bread and butter. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s what he does. 

 

Erin Ryan: It’s what he does. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 

 

Erin Ryan: The Biden administration had been pretty mute on the issue over the weekend. Has that changed? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It has. They’re basically giving, “My name is Bennet and I ain’t in it,” energy. [laughter] On Monday, President Biden actually told reporters about a call he had over the weekend with key allies in which they agreed to not give Putin any reason to blame the West or NATO, though Putin basically did that anyway. Biden said, quote, “We made clear that we were not involved. We had nothing to do with it.” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said separately that the uprising was an internal Russian matter and quote, “one in which the United States is not involved and will not be involved.” Of course, though, the war in Ukraine is ongoing and the U.S. has been outspoken about Russia’s invasion this entire time. So it’s obvious that this saga here isn’t over quite yet. 

 

Erin Ryan: Yikes. That’s a uh whiplashy whirlwind. And we will all be staying tuned. Okay. Hold on to your butts, because even though this session of the Supreme Court will draw to a close in mere days, rulings in some of the biggest cases have yet to be handed down. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, we have been waiting very impatiently. Or I have at least. Can you give us a refresher first on rulings that we’ve already gotten? 

 

Erin Ryan: Yeah. You know, watching the Supreme Court Tre’vell, I kind of feel like, you know, when you go to the eye doctor? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Erin Ryan: And they make you sit and you put your chin on that little stir up thing and then just wait for that puff [laughter] to go in the eye? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. 

 

Erin Ryan: That is how I feel every single morning. Every opinion season. It’s like, I don’t like this. Please get it over with. But here is a quick and dirty recap of what the court has done so far this session. In Allen v. Milligan, the court kept the tatters of the Voting Rights Act intact when they ruled that the state of Alabama had violated Black voter’s rights by drawing maps that only produced one Black majority district in a state with a population that is 27% black. They also preserved tribal sovereignty when they declined to dismantle the Indian Child Welfare Act or ICWA in an adoption case out of Texas. The court also upheld a California law that required that pork sold in the state be raised under slightly more humane conditions than are required in other states. And on Monday, the court ruled that sexual abuse lawsuits against Ohio State University could go forward. This case involved the late Dr. Richard Strauss, who allegedly abused hundreds of student athletes while university administrators and coaches turned a blind eye. This is the doctor and the abuse that former Ohio State wrestling assistant coach and current member of Congress, Representative Jim Jordan, allegedly knew about and did nothing to put a stop to. Also on Monday, the court unfroze a case that will likely force the state of Louisiana to redraw congressional districts in a way that includes more Black representation. That case stemmed from a GOP drawn map used in Louisiana’s November congressional election, which opponents said discriminated against Black voters. The map had white majorities in five of six districts, despite Black people making up one third of Louisiana’s population. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s always wild to me when they try to get away with things like this, um particularly in like deeply Black areas. They’re pulling on a history of efforts to do this anyway. 

 

Erin Ryan: It’s really bonkers. Like, you know, that phrase shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you land amongst the stars? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm 

 

Erin Ryan: I feel like in southern states, trying to make laws restricting Black people’s access to voting, it’s sort of shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you land among the stars and bars. [laughter] Right. Uh. But it wasn’t all small upside surprises. Our standards are just incredibly low for this court. This is the same court that has set its sights on everything from freedom over our own bodies to the rights of people accused of crimes to all but squashing the separation between church and state. And to draw from very recent history, let’s not forget that this Supreme Court also loves sticking it to the EPA and the environment every chance it gets. This session, the SCOTUS gutted the Clean Water Act in a five four ruling that will have massive repercussions for anybody who drinks or uses water. In that ruling, the court found that the act did not apply to wetlands unless they were surface level continuous with other bodies of water. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You know, as somebody who is 60% water that is not continuous with a major lake or river, this deeply concerns me. But let’s talk about the big cases that still remain. 

 

Erin Ryan: Sure. First, the affirmative action case involving Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The court could rule that colleges and universities are not allowed to take race into consideration when admitting students. Thus, all but eliminating race based affirmative action. There’s also the ruling on whether President Biden overstepped his executive authority when he forgave student loan debt for certain borrowers, which we are all waiting with bated breath for. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm 

 

Erin Ryan: We are waiting on a ruling on a case from Colorado that could allow businesses to refuse to provide services to same sex couples. And a religious rights case where a Christian mail carrier objected to being asked to deliver Amazon packages on Sunday. And finally, we have the so-called independent State Legislatures case, which could determine that State Legislatures have the power to regulate elections without being checked by state courts. This one could be fucking catastrophic. But a few months back, a lower court in North Carolina asked the Supreme Court to drop the case. So we’ll see what happens. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Huh yi, yi, yi, yi. That is a lot that we’re waiting on. When can we expect to learn the outcomes of these cases? 

 

Erin Ryan: So today, Tuesday is the last opinion day listed on the court’s official schedule. But they could always opt to hand down more opinions this Thursday or Friday. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, no. It is wild that they’re waiting to the last minute. Right, for all of these major, you know, deeply concerning decisions. Um. I don’t like that. 

 

Erin Ryan: No, the Supreme Court should be a lesson. Like, first of all, this schedule is insane. It’s nuts. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Erin Ryan: But the Supreme Court is a great lesson. Not only does absolute power corrupt, it also makes you incredibly annoying. That’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break] 

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

Erin Ryan: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Erin Ryan: The shooter who killed five people at an LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs last year, pleaded guilty on Monday to five counts of first degree murder and 46 counts of attempted murder. The 23 year old suspect also pleaded no contest to two hate crime charges and was sentenced to five back to back life sentences plus 2208 years in prison. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm. 

 

Erin Ryan: Think he’s probably not going to be getting out of prison. The plea deal comes after the attacker entered Club Q last November with an AR-15 and opened fire, killing five people and injuring 19 others. Others who were there that night were able to stop the shooter until police arrived on the scene. Families read victim impact statements, calling the attacker a, quote, “coward” and a “monster.” Judge Michael McHenry said that he believed the defendant’s actions, quote, “reflect the deepest malice of the human heart. And malice is almost always borne of ignorance and fear.” The 23 year old had been previously arrested and charged with felony menacing and first degree kidnapping in 2021 for threatening to detonate a bomb. The charges were later dropped. The FBI said yesterday that the agency has opened a federal investigation into the attack in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice. So the attacker may still be facing further charges. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Guatemala is headed for a runoff election after none of the 22 candidates secured enough votes to win the country’s presidential election on Sunday. Despite low voter turnout and a high number of invalid ballots, social Democrats Sandra Torres and Bernardo Arevalo landed in second place after the polls closed early Monday morning, triggering a runoff. And while the runoff further delays the election, the two choices on the table guarantee that the country will have its first leftist president in over a decade. A little bit about the candidates. Torres is the wife of deceased former Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom. She’s launched unsuccessful presidential bids in 2015 and 2019, but this year she managed to capture 15% of the vote more than any other candidate in the race. Her opponent, Arevalo, is the son of Juan Jose Arevalo, the man who became the country’s first democratically elected president in 1945. He got away with nearly 12% of the vote. Torres and Arevalo will go head to head again in August, when voters will decide which nepotism candidate they want to lead them as the country battles poverty, violence, and corruption. 

 

Erin Ryan: Heavy fighting continues in Sudan as the battle between two rival military forces has entered its 11th week. The conflict, which began in mid-April, has led to thousands of deaths and millions displaced. According to Al Jazeera, the paramilitary rapid support forces, also known as RSF, has said it took control over the headquarters of a heavily armed police unit in the country’s capital on Sunday. This unit is a camp that belongs to the Central Reserve police in Khartoum and is equipped with ammunition, vehicles and weapons. RSF even posted footage of its fighters removing boxes of ammunition from one of the unit’s warehouses. The United Nations expressed, quote, “grave concern” about this development, especially as fighting intensified over the last two days in towns near Kurmuk, which is the part of south eastern Sudan that borders Ethiopia. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Fox News has chosen its new prime time TV host to replace its former star anchor, Tucker Carlson. Jesse Watters, co-host of Fox’s The Five, is set to take over the network’s coveted 8 p.m. spot. Waters got his start at Fox as a production assistant back in 2002. From there, he worked his way up to appearing regularly on The O’Reilly Factor, where he was most known for his recurring man on the Street segment, Watter’s World in New York. His content ranged from patronizing and shaming unhoused people for their circumstances in Penn Station– 

 

[clip of Jesse Watters] You live here. You sleep here too? 

 

[clip of unknown unhoused person] Yes. 

 

[clip of Jesse Watters] Are you allowed to sleep here? 

 

[clip of unknown unhoused person] Yes. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Huh yi yi. To visiting Chinatown and asking people questions based on Asian racial stereotypes. 

 

[clip of Jesse Watters] Am I supposed to bow to say hello? I like these watches. Are they hot? Is it the Year of the Dragon? Do they call Chinese food in China just food? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, my God. Watters went on to join Fox’s the Five in 2017 and began hosting his own show during the network’s 7 p.m. slot earlier this year. It’s safe to say Waters has got some pretty big shoes to fill now that he’s moving further into the spotlight. Fox has seen a huge drop in ratings since firing Carlson back in April, having only been able to draw about half his nightly audience during prime time. That might be a positive for the rest of us. Anyway meanwhile, the network continues to battle with its former star, even after parting ways earlier this month. Fox sent Carlson a cease and desist letter over his new weekly show on Twitter because the network is paying him until the end of 2024, per his contract. Fox promoted Watters to finally answer the question, what if a sentient teleprompter also believed in QAnon? 

 

Erin Ryan: [sigh] And also Tre’vell, can I point something out? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm 

 

Erin Ryan: Jesse Watters eponymous segment was called Watter’s World, which is a reference to the 1995 movie Waterworld. That’s how you know that your viewers are old when you’re making references that are like– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 

 

Erin Ryan: –old enough to not only rent a car, old enough to worry about a mortgage. That is an old, old reference. I wish him everything he deserves. [laugh] Nearly 2 million Muslims began the annual Hajj pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Mecca yesterday, marking the first time that pilgrims have been allowed to partake with no restrictions since the start of the pandemic three years ago. In 2020, the number of pilgrims was limited to 10,000 local residents and only 59,000 were permitted in 2021. Although restrictions were significantly loosened last year still only about 900,000 people were able to participate, which sounds like a big number until, you know that is about half of what is normally expected at the Hajj. The Hajj pilgrimage takes five or six days to complete, and participants walk the paths taken by Prophet Muhammad and other religious figures. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and all physically and financially abled Muslims are required to participate in the pilgrimage at least once in their life. Because of the religious significance it holds many Muslims save for years to participate in the pilgrimage. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I just want to applaud the religious commitment of Muslim folks who are participating in this, because five or six days of walking the path of, you know, the prophet and them, I can’t do it. That’s a lot of walking it sounds like. 

 

Erin Ryan: That is a lot of commitment and a lot of people make it every single year. And those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

Erin Ryan: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Challenge Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to a pushup contest and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading, and not just Barbie/Oppenheimer Multiverse fan fiction like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

Erin Ryan: I’m Erin Ryan. 

 

[spoken together] And put us on the Supreme Court. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, yes, honey. 

 

Erin Ryan: No, absolutely [laughter] no. I would get so much anxiety about my collar. Because that’s really the only way that the justices can express themselves– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely 

 

Erin Ryan: –in those robes. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’d do a different collar every hearing. 

 

Erin Ryan: That’s why you should be on the Supreme Court and not me. [laughter] For collar styling alone. [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz, our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers. Our intern is Ryan Cochran, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. 

 

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