Dust Biting


The Daily Beast reports that ThinkProgress is for sale. The Progressive news site has been the launching pad for the careers of several prominent leftwing journalists, but it’s losing more money that the Center for American Progress, the leftwing think tank that owns it, can afford. The site is expects to lose $3 million this year.

ThinkProgress has never been profitable. In the past, it has made up its shortfalls with contributions from CAP and CAP donors. Several ThinkProgress alums told The Daily Beast that they believed that CAP could continue covering the deficit but had concluded that the site was too much of an editorial headache and too big a financial drain for them to rationalize doing so.

One of the things I learned even before I took Econ 101 was that if too few people want to pay for your product, it will fail in the market place. ThinkProgress has had over a decade to find a functional business model. It doesn’t have the Real World eyeballs and clicks to survive on ad revenue. It hasn’t attracted a subscriber base. It hasn’t attracted sugar daddy donors. And now, it seems to have become more trouble that it’s worth as a propaganda arm for its related think tank.

I suspect that someone will buy it cheap (Remember when Newsweek sold for a dollar?), and it will struggle along as a vanity project á là The New Republic for a while.

First Amendment News


Congratulations to Project Veritas on its victory in court yesterday. They were being sued for defamation in a federal court in North Carolina, and Judge Martin K. Reidinger granted them a directed verdict when the plaintiff failed to produce enough evidence for the case to go to the jury. The judge said this in his ruling (beginning at the bottom of page 14 of the transcript below):

The law requires, and the Supreme Court has made clear under the Liberty Lobby case, that I not only have to look at this from the standpoint of whether or not there is the thinnest of thin reeds, that scintilla of evidence, but rather whether a jury could find by clear and convincing evidence that there was actual malice. And these very thin reeds, which I believe as to several of these are really no evidence of malice at all, are insufficient to meet that standard. Therefore, for that reason, the defendant’s motion — defendant’s motions pursuant to Rule 50 will be granted.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50 deals with ruling on matters of law during a jury trial. Judge Reidinger continued:

Whenever I have something that is of particular difficulty, such as this case, it is my ordinary, knee-jerk reaction to tell the party that I’ve ruled against that I urge you to have the court of appeals go grade my paper. To that end, I will say that I will follow this up with a written order before I enter a judgment in this matter that will further elucidate what I’m talking about.

And I do have an inclination to say exactly that. I think that if I got this wrong I’d certainly like for somebody to tell me that I got it wrong. I have a little bit of hesitation in saying that this time. Because if I’ve gotten this wrong, and the Fourth Circuit says that this is not what the law is, I hesitate to think where the First Amendment is going in this country.

It’s always good First Amendment news when a frivolous defamation LOLsuit fails, and I have to admit that seeing one fail because the plaintiff couldn’t come up with a “scintilla” of evidence at trial has a certain resonance for me.

Today’s Talking Point


The Alabama Legislature has passed a bill that would put significant restrictions on abortion if it becomes law. The bill contains, get ready for today’s talking point, “no exceptions for rape or incest.” That phrase appears in the headlines in stories about the bill from the Washington Post and CBS News; the lack of such exceptions figures in stories from the AP, Reuters, and other sources. The real problem that Progressives have with the bill is that it outlaws abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. It seems that they’re trying to use the lack of exceptions for the rare instance of rape and incest as a way painting the bill’s supports as out-of-the-mainstream extremists. We’re also beginning to see stories about Rowe v. Wade being in danger of reversal by the Supreme Court.  I expect to hear the tip jars rattling at various presidential campaigns quite soon.

I’m not in favor of rape or incest but I believe it’s a good thing that we no longer treat rape as a capital crime and hang the perpetrators. I also believe that we shouldn’t kill either of the victims of a rape, so I’ve never understood why it makes sense to allow killing a child because he or she was conceived during a rape. I feel the same way about killing a child conceived incestuously.