THE NEW MEDIA RETRENCHMENT — BuzzFeed News, the prominent digital upstart that shook the media landscape in the early 2010s and won a Pulitzer just two years ago, is shutting down, CNN’s Oliver Darcy scooped.
A leader in a wave of new media outlets, BuzzFeed News was seen as a substantive outgrowth of a site first known for viral listicles. Its output ranged from prize-winning global investigations to the controversial publication of the Steele dossier in 2017. But BuzzFeed, like many of its peers, has struggled to hold on financially in recent years.
In his memo to staffers today, CEO JONAH PERETTI cited funding issues and some management failures. The shuttering of BuzzFeed News is part of 15% layoffs across the organization. HuffPost, which BuzzFeed acquired in 2020, will become the organization’s principal news outlet, and Peretti said some BuzzFeed News employees may be able to get hired there or at other parts of BuzzFeed.
And in another sign of the financial struggles that stretch more widely across the industry, Insider is laying off 10% of its staff in the U.S., The Daily Beast’s Corbin Bolies scooped. “The economic headwinds that have hurt many of our clients and partners are also affecting us,” President BARBARA PENG wrote in a note to employees today.
WHO’S AT DEFAULT — Speaker KEVIN McCARTHY’s debt limit/spending cuts bill rolled out yesterday to a fairly positive reaction from his conference, including the far-right members who most often are the thorn in his side. “The early hours of the legislation’s introduction went as well as it could have for McCarthy,” reports Semafor’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig, as such members as Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) praised the text.
But McCarthy may still have a ways to go to get enough votes from his own conference to pass the lower chamber. (Of course, it won’t pass the Senate.)
The moderates: Rep. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-Pa.) told Punchbowl that he’s currently undecided on the bill and has some concerns about it. Rep. NANCY MACE (R-S.C.) is leaning no. Rep. TONY GONZALES (R-Texas) is undecided. And Rep. GEORGE SANTOS (R-N.Y.), in perhaps no surprise, issued some conflicting statements: He told HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney that he’s “solidly” a no and told other reporters that he’s a hard no — but also said he may still be open to it after he talks to McCarthy.
The ultra-conservatives: In addition to some concerns yesterday from Reps. TIM BURCHETT (R-Tenn.) and ANDY BIGGS (R-Ariz.), Rep. SCOTT PERRY (R-Pa.) said there are “things that need to be cleaned up first” in the bill text before he’ll support it.
To that end, Jordain Carney reports various House Republicans were meeting today to talk about changes to the work requirements for social safety net programs, among other planks, as conservatives push for tougher restrictions for food stamps.
On the other side of the aisle: Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER, of course, slammed McCarthy’s plan, warning that “it takes us in the direction of default.” But the speaker picked up some bipartisan support, as Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) put out a statement applauding the plan: “While I do not agree with everything proposed, the fact of the matter is that it is the only bill actually moving through Congress that would prevent default.” Manchin excoriated President JOE BIDEN for a “deficiency of leadership” in not meeting with McCarthy. (The White House and Schumer remain firm that there should be no discussions over a clean debt ceiling increase.)
THE HITS KEEP COMING — Rep. MICHAEL WALTZ is the latest House Republican to throw his support behind DONALD TRUMP for president, Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle scooped. What makes this even tougher for Florida Gov. RON DeSANTIS: Waltz represents his old district in Congress. “We need experienced and proven leadership back in the White House,” Waltz said in a statement.
As Trump relishes his deluge of Florida congressional endorsements, the group of backers is headed to Mar-a-Lago to gather with him tonight, he said on Truth Social.
DEMOCRACY WATCH — “Top GOP lawyer decries ease of campus voting in private pitch to RNC,” by WaPo’s Josh Dawsey and Amy Gardner in Nashville: CLETA MITCHELL “told a roomful of GOP donors over the weekend that conservatives must band together to limit voting on college campuses, same-day voter registration and automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters … The presentation made clear that at least some key figures within the party remain intent on tightening rules for voting and elections.”
NEW ON THE SCENE — DENVER RIGGLEMAN, OLIVIA TROYE and MARCUS FLOWERS have launched Mission Democracy PAC, a bipartisan group that intends to challenge far-right members of Congress, NYT’s Nick Corasaniti reports. Their goal is to raise $18 million this cycle, though they have only $500,000 currently, to take on the likes of Greene, Gaetz and Perry. The PAC plans to hammer them as extreme and anti-democratic; the first ad calls them “fascist.” Most of these representatives face no real threat in bright-red districts, but “the group argues that pouring money and negative advertising into such races can still weaken politicians.”
SPOTTED: Riggleman, Troye and Flowers having drinks at Off the Record last night.
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
SUDAN FALLOUT — As violent chaos engulfs Khartoum, the U.S. is planning to put forces in Djibouti in preparation for an evacuation of diplomatic personnel, Alex Ward, Lara Seligman and Erin Banco scooped. For now, they report, the military is planning only to evacuate embassy staff, who are currently sheltering in place, not all U.S. citizens in Sudan.
GITMO LATEST — Guantánamo Bay prisoner SAID BIN BRAHIM BIN UMRAN BAKUSH was repatriated to Algeria today, NYT’s Carol Rosenberg reports from Cuba. His departure brings the number of Guantánamo Bay prisoners down to 30.
BIG COMMITMENT — Biden pledged major funding from the U.S. today to help tackle climate change in the developing world and Amazon rainforest deforestation. The U.S. will pump $1 billion into the Green Climate Fund. And Biden said he’ll try to get $500 million from Congress for the Amazon Fund. More from Reuters
BIG VOTE — House Republicans voted 219-203 today to pass legislation that would bar transgender girls and women from participating in female school sports. It was a strictly party-line vote with no defections on either side. (The bill won’t go anywhere in the Senate.)
SCOTUS OVERSIGHT — Senate Judiciary Chair DICK DURBIN (D-Ill.) today invited Chief Justice JOHN ROBERTS to testify before the panel about ethics rules for the high court on May 2. Durbin said Roberts could also designate another justice to appear.
WHO NEEDS DIFI? — Senate Democrats may not be able to advance nominees on party-line votes out of the Judiciary Committee due to Sen. DIANNE FEINSTEIN’s (D-Calif.) absence, but they nonetheless moved several forward today with Republican support, NBC’s Sahil Kapur reports. Five others were shelved for now, including controversial 1st Circuit nominee MICHAEL DELANEY, who is also facing doubts from some Democrats.
GREENE VS. GREEN — After House Homeland Security Chair MARK GREEN (R-Tenn.) silenced and chided Rep. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.) for her outburst against DHS Secretary ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, Greene hit back at Green today. She told CNN’s Manu Raju that she was “surprised and angered” and had already talked about it with McCarthy, who she said supported her. “I had a conversation that was maybe a little different with him,” Green retorted.
INDICTMENT FALLOUT — As House Republicans seek to attack Manhattan DA ALVIN BRAGG’s office for indicting Trump, an appeals court today issued a temporary administrative stay of a subpoena for former prosecutor MARK POMERANTZ. He had been scheduled to be deposed by the Judiciary Committee today, but that will be delayed now as judges consider the legal fight.
SURVEY SAYS — In the court of public opinion, the Manhattan indictment may be the least threatening to Trump of the various legal probes circling him, a new AP/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll indicates. Forty-one percent of Americans think Trump broke the law in the hush money case, compared to 47% in the classified documents investigation, 49% in the Jan. 6 probe and 53% in the Fulton County, Ga., investigation. The circle of Trump defenders is small: No more than 20% of Americans think he did nothing wrong in any one of these cases.
MYPILLOW TALK — An arbitration panel has determined that MyPillow CEO MIKE LINDELL has to pay $5 million to software developer ROBERT ZEIDMAN, who was able to disprove Lindell’s claims of 2020 election fraud, WaPo’s Chris Dehghanpoor, Emma Brown and Jon Swaine scooped. Lindell had said he’d give that money to anyone who could debunk his data — but now that someone has, he doesn’t want to pay it. Lindell said he may take the matter to court.
AFTER TWO YEARS OF PLANNING — “Biden to Unveil China Investment Curbs Before G7 Summit in May,” by Bloomberg’s Jenny Leonard: “President Joe Biden aims to sign an executive order in the coming weeks that will limit investment in key parts of China’s economy by US businesses.”
BIG INVESTIGATION — “The NIH has poured $1 billion into long Covid research — with little to show for it,” by Stat’s Rachel Cohrs and Betsy Ladyzhets: “The National Institutes of Health hasn’t signed up a single patient to test any potential treatments — despite a clear mandate from Congress to study them. And the few trials it is planning have already drawn a firestorm of criticism … Instead, the NIH spent the majority of its money on broader, observational research that won’t directly bring relief to patients. But it still hasn’t published any findings from the patients who joined that study, almost two years after it started. There’s no sense of urgency to do more or to speed things up, either.”
PLAYBOOK METRO SECTION
HEADS UP — “A new Smithsonian boss settled multiple employee retaliation lawsuits,” by WaPo’s Manuel Roig-Franzia and Thomas Floyd: “The lawsuits were filed by former employees who said they were fired in retaliation for reporting alleged sexual harassment on behalf of young female staffers at the [Museum of Chinese in America]. The two men who were accused internally of harassment kept their jobs; one was later promoted by [NANCY YAO, the founding director of the new American Women’s History Museum]. Yao has vigorously denied retaliating against the whistleblowers.”
OUT AND ABOUT — Spotify held an event at the AutoShop in NoMa yesterday, where founder and CEO Daniel Ek was questioned by Betsy Fischer Martin about why he is in D.C. pushing for passage of the Open App Markets Act. Ingrid Andress and D.C. native Ari Lennox also performed. SPOTTED: Reps. Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenn.), Hillary Scholten (D-Mich.) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Alphonso and Marcia Jackson, Dustee Jenkins, Farshad Shadloo, Laura Batey, Eve Konstan, April Boyd, Scott Wilson, Joe Hadley, Tiffany Ge, Lauren Feiner and Michelle Fang.
— SPOTTED last night at a screening of the new Netflix show “The Diplomat” at the Motion Picture Association (trailer): British Ambassador Karen Pierce, Keri Russell, Bela Bajaria, Ron Newman, Debora Cahn, Janice Williams, David Satterfield, Lee Satterfield, Dafna Linzer, Liz Allen, Dana Shell Smith, Charlie Rivkin, Beth Jones, Jen Chaney, Stuart Holliday, Ruchi Bhowmik, Catherine Collins, Jinny Howe, Emily Lenzner and Urmila Venugopalan.
— SPOTTED yesterday at the Hirshhorn Spring Luncheon, where Jacqueline Badger Mars, Megan Beyer, Abigail DeVille, Cathy Halstead, Pamela J. Joyner and Barbara Levine received the Hirshhorn National Arts Awards from Melissa Chiu: Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Abby Phillip, Kathleen Buhle, Amy Baier, Katy Hessel, Lindsay Ellenbogen, Imani Green, Emily Lenzner, Marlene Malek, Michelle Freeman, Sophia Narrett and Carol Melton.
— SPOTTED at Consumer Technology Association’s annual CES on the Hill event on Capitol Hill yesterday evening: House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Reps. John Joyce (R-Pa.), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Val Hoyle (D-Ore.) and Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.), and Spot the Robot Dog.
MEDIA MOVES — Bloomberg Government is adding Cooper Lohr as a legislative analyst and Oma Seddiq as a technology policy reporter. Lohr previously was a policy analyst for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Seddiq previously was a politics reporter covering legal affairs at Insider, and is a POLITICO alum.
TRANSITIONS — Christopher LaPrade is now senior director of international advocacy at PhRMA, with a focus on Latin America. He previously was senior portfolio manager for global outreach at the American Chemical Society. … Glenn Hall is now partner and executive editor at Brunswick Group. He most recently was head of professional news at the WSJ. …
… Lauren Gillis is now chief of staff to State Department Counselor Derek Chollet. She most recently was senior policy adviser to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield. … Carissa Faña is now a managing director at DCI Group. She previously was a senior government relations consultant at Becker & Poliakoff.
ENGAGED — Conor Gallagher, state outreach liaison for the EU Delegation to the U.S., proposed to Sarah O’Neill, client partner for advocacy at WaPo, on Saturday in Austin, Texas, at the restaurant Mattie’s. It was formerly the house Sarah’s grandmother grew up in and where her grandparents got married. The couple met at 7DrumCity in D.C., when Conor winked at Sarah from across the room. Pic
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this newsletter misspelled the name of Janice Williams.