Saturday News: Persistent delusion


2/3 OF REPUBLICANS STILL BELIEVE TRUMP'S NUTTY ELECTION FRAUD CLAIMS: About two-thirds of Republicans say Joe Biden was not legitimately elected president, according to a new poll conducted barely two weeks after he was inaugurated. The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows 33% of Republicans say Biden was legitimately elected as the 46th president of the United States, while 65% say he was not. Overall, roughly two-thirds of Americans say Biden was legitimately elected; nearly all Democrats say so. Former President Donald Trump and his allies disputed the outcome of the 2020 election for months, arguing without evidence that it was stolen and that there was fraudulent voting in pivotal states. Courts dismissed those allegations in lawsuits. State and local election officials verified — and, in some cases, reverified — that voting was fair and secure. Trump's own attorney general said there was no evidence of widespread fraud.

RALEIGH NURSERY OWNER APOLOGIZES FOR IDIOTIC CARTOON ON CATALOG COVER: In a lengthy Jan. 28 letter addressed to gardening friends, owner Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery asks for an end to the “disheartening controversy” over the latest Plant Delights catalog. The “Plant Parenthood” cover shows a cartoon President Joe Biden reading to children from the “Kama Seedtra,” while a winking Vice President Kamala Harris showed children the “seedtra” positions. Though the nursery has long used satirical cartoon covers, this one outraged many people who saw a connection to far-right QAnon conspiracy theories that erroneously tie Democrats to a pedophilia ring. They also didn’t plant drawings bearing an uncomfortably close resemblance to sex toys. “There has never been any politically leaning intent,” Avent wrote in his Jan. 28 letter. “There is also no intent to portray racism, the abuse of children, or anything else which we find unequivocally abhorrent.”

DAN FOREST WILL GET HIS DAY IN COURT OVER 2012 CAMPAIGN AD: Forest's campaign claims that one of the group's 2012 commercials failed to include identifying information required by North Carolina's since-repealed law. The now-defunct "stand by your ad" law enacted in 1999 required the TV ad to contain a spoken statement identifying the sponsor's chief executive officer or treasurer and that person's photograph. The ad instead showed a picture of Dana Cope, who was neither CEO nor treasurer of EMPAC. The image displayed was not a full-screen picture and instead was about an eighth of the height of the full ad, according to Forest's campaign. The law said a candidate may receive compensation equivalent to the "total dollar amount" spent to air the unlawful ad. EMPAC has argued the ad was lawful under the First Amendment's freedom of speech protection and that the ad did not damage Forest. Amanda Martin, a lawyer for EMPAC, said the group was disappointed by the court's decision to let the Forest complaint proceed. "My clients and I are deeply disappointed in the Court's ruling, and we are evaluating all our alternatives," Martin said in a statement.

PRESIDENT BIDEN WANTS TO LIMIT TRUMP'S ACCESS TO INTELLIGENCE BRIEFINGS: President Biden said Friday that former president Donald Trump should not have access to classified information in the form of the briefings usually given to ex-presidents, citing Trump’s “erratic behavior” and the risk that he might recklessly reveal sensitive information. Biden stopped short of announcing that he had officially decided to prevent his predecessor from receiving the briefings, which are traditionally given before former presidents travel abroad, particularly in an official capacity. But Biden has the unilateral authority to deny intelligence access to anyone he chooses, and his remarks amounted to a statement that Trump — who for four years controlled the entire U.S. security apparatus — was himself a security risk. As president, Trump selectively revealed highly classified information to attack his adversaries, gain political advantage and impress or intimidate foreign governments, in some cases jeopardizing U.S. intelligence capabilities. The Washington Post reported in May 2017, for example, that Trump had revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador to the United States during a White House meeting, jeopardizing a valuable source of intelligence on the Islamic State. Current and former U.S. officials said Friday that they shared Biden’s concern about giving Trump access to national secrets. “President Biden is certainly correct about the lack of any value in providing Trump intelligence briefings,” said David Priess, who, as a CIA officer, briefed George H.W. Bush for many years after he had left the presidency.

FOX NEWS CANCELS CONSPIRACY THEORIST LOU DOBBS SHOW AMID $2.7 BILLION LAWSUIT: Lou Dobbs, one of former President Donald J. Trump’s most loyal media supporters, abruptly lost his pulpit on Friday when Fox Business canceled his weekday television show, which had become a frequent clearinghouse for baseless theories of electoral fraud in the weeks after Mr. Trump lost the 2020 presidential race. Mr. Dobbs’s decade-long tenure at the network ended with little warning — a guest host filled in for his Friday slot — only a day after the election technology company Smartmatic filed a defamation lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation and Fox News. The suit, which seeks damages of at least $2.7 billion, also named Mr. Dobbs as an individual defendant along with two other Fox anchors, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro. Smartmatic specifically cited Mr. Dobbs’s program, which by late last year had become so packed with falsehoods about Mr. Trump’s defeat that Fox Business was forced to run a fact-checking segment debunking some of its own anchor’s assertions. A person familiar with Fox’s decision said the network’s concerns about Mr. Dobbs predated this week’s filing of the Smartmatic lawsuit. But the person, who requested anonymity to describe private personnel matters, conceded that Mr. Dobbs’s extreme and unrepentant endorsements of Mr. Trump’s false election claims had imperiled his position, as did other moments. For instance, on the day of siege at the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Dobbs described protesters as merely “walking between the rope lines.” The cancellation came as lawsuits and legal threats are rippling the landscape of media organizations popular with right-wing viewers. Dominion Voting Systems has sued two lawyers who represented Mr. Trump, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, over false claims they made on Fox News and other outlets that the company aided President Biden’s victory, and it is considering additional litigation.