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April 11, 2014

While it's still in its early days, Ezra Klein's much-hyped new site dedicated to explanatory journalism has already attracted a whole lot of mockery, in some cases for jaw-droppingly elementary question-and-answer items like "What is marijuana?" and "Who is Gwyneth Paltrow?"

And criticism is not just coming from the right, where conservatives are dinging the site for Matthew Yglesias declaring the national debt to be about $5 trillion less than it is — or Klein's insistence that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' decision to resign was proof ObamaCare had won. Liberals are on Vox's case, too.

A few weeks ago, liberals were upset when Klein hired what some described as a self-hating gay journalist. Now, the assistant managing editor of the left-leaning Pro Publica is accusing the outlet of lifting content.

The hits just keep on coming. To be sure, a certain amount of controversy is good publicity. But one gets the impression there are a lot of people out there rooting for Klein's experiment to fail. Matt K. Lewis

3:54 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is historically disliked, a Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday has found. The Republican governor is disapproved of by New Jersey voters 77 percent to 19 percent, the lowest rating recorded for any governor in Quinnipiac's more than 20 years of polling.

"How the mighty have fallen," assistant poll director Maurice Carroll wrote. "Remember four years ago, when Republican leaders were pleading with … Christie to run for president and he looked like a sure thing for reelection — which he was?" Christie's national stock took a huge hit in late 2013, when his aides were found to have closed off access to the George Washington Bridge in an apparent attempt at retaliating against a political foe.

Voters said 71 to 22 percent that Christie knew his aides were causing "Bridgegate," with 48-43 saying he personally ordered the 2013 fiasco. Christie recorded negative ratings from every party, gender, race, or age group measured. Democrats held the lowest opinion of the governor, with only 9 percent approving of him and 90 percent disapproving.

While Christie once had presidential hopes, and then hoped to join President-elect Donald Trump's administration after losing to Trump in the Republican primary, New Jersey voters agree 69 percent to 24 percent that their governor should not be offered a position in the White House. "The [governor]'s job approval numbers get worse every time anyone looks. The last time we looked, May 18, he had a 64-29 percent disapproval rating," Carroll said. "This could be a long final year for Gov. Christie."

The survey was conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 4, reaching 1,218 voters in the Garden State by phone. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent. Jeva Lange

3:28 p.m. ET
Screenshot/The Weather Channel

Breitbart News mocked "climate alarmists" last week in an article observing that "global land temperatures have plummeted by one degree Celsius since the middle of this year." The article is led by a video from The Weather Channel, and The Weather Channel is none too happy about it.

"Note to Breitbart," the website responded Tuesday. "The Earth is not cooling, climate change is real, and please stop using our video to mislead Americans."

The Weather Channel explained that their video is "unrelated" to Breitbart's claims and added that the Breitbart article is "a prime example of cherry picking, or pulling a single item out of context to build a misleading case." The station then proceeded to break down the claims and truths of the article.

"Finally, to our friends at Breitbart: The next time you write a climate change article and need fact-checking help, please call," The Weather Channel wrote. "We're here for you. I'm sure we both agree this topic is too important to get wrong." Read their full, blistering takedown here. Jeva Lange

3:12 p.m. ET

President-elect Donald Trump emerged from a meeting with SoftBank Group Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son on Tuesday with news he'd secured "a $50 billion investment in the United States and 50,000 jobs" from the Japanese billionaire, per a pool report. "I just came to celebrate his new job," Son said, referring to Trump's pending assumption of the presidency, before confirming he would make jobs by investing in American start-ups. "I said, 'This is great, the U.S. will become great again.'"

Trump called Son one of the "great men of industry" and was quick to celebrate the deal on Twitter:

Outside of Japan, Son is known for his purchase of American phone carrier Sprint in 2013. Son recently attempted to craft a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, but The New York Times reported those efforst have "so far resulted mostly in red ink."

Son reportedly said he had "no specific agenda" for his meeting with Trump on Tuesday. Becca Stanek

3:05 p.m. ET

President-elect Donald Trump's tweet Tuesday criticizing Boeing prompted his spokesman Jason Miller to reveal Trump "sold all of his stocks back in June." Miller's claim — which The Washington Post noted did not include specifics on why or how Trump sold his stockholdings — came amid questions about whether Trump still had his shares in Boeing, an investment he'd tweeted about back in January 2013:

Miller, however, added that his claim was "referring broadly to all of Mr. Trump's stock, not Boeing specifically," The Wall Street Journal reported. Miller's comment Tuesday marked the first time Trump's campaign has mentioned anything about the president-elect ridding himself of his entire portfolio, the purported June timing of which would coincide "with a point when Trump was pouring money into his presidential campaign," The Washington Post reported.

Trump's remarks about the cost of Boeing's new Air Force One — which briefly drove the company's stocks down — is not the first time the president-elect's investments have raised questions about potential conflicts of interest. A financial disclosure in May revealed that, as of December 2015, Trump had shares "in a number of banks, oil giants, and other companies with business pending before the U.S. government and whose value could rise due to Trump's decisions in office," the Post reported.

No documents have been provided since the May filing that could serve to substantiate Miller's claims. Legally, Trump won't have to release another personal financial disclosure until May 2018. Becca Stanek

2:22 p.m. ET
AP Photo/Danny Johnston

Liberal political operative David Brock is gearing up for four years of Donald Trump, and he plans to remold his media networks into anti-Trump weaponry in preparation. Media Matters, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and the social media platform Shareblue will all be refocusing in anticipation of the incoming administration, The Hill reports.

Specifically, Brock is looking for financial investment for Shareblue, which he believes could become the "Breitbart of the left" if it finds backing. Brock is also looking to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch as a template for how CREW might operate, and he plans to steer Media Matters' focus away from Fox News to zero in on fake news, conspiracy theories, and hoaxes.

Additionally, Brock's super PAC, American Bridge, is prepared to comb through Trump's history, use the Freedom of Information Act to uncover new stories, and fact-check his claims in real time. The group will feed its potential findings to the media, lawmakers, and Trump's supporters, The Hill reports.

"The Trump administration is shaping up to be one of the most corrupt since the Gilded Age," Brock said. "American Bridge will use everything at its disposal to hold it accountable." Jeva Lange

1:55 p.m. ET

When asked by reporters Tuesday about the tax plan of his party's leader and the nation's president-elect, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) only had this to say:

Then, after he reportedly "apologized for raising his voice," McCain apparently quipped he'd someday come around to answering these "stupid questions" about America's future:

Apparently, McCain hasn't totally sworn off of Trump talk though. Also Tuesday, the Financial Times published an op-ed detailing the damage Trump would do if he withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal — authored by none other than McCain. Becca Stanek

1:44 p.m. ET
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images

Former Sen. Bob Dole admitted Monday that he "may have had some influence" on the controversial phone call between President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Public filings show that Dole is paid $20,000 a month to advance Taiwan's interests in Washington, BuzzFeed News reported Tuesday.

Trump's decision last week to accept the congratulatory phone call was a sharp break with diplomatic norms. American and Taiwanese leaders are last known to have spoken directly in 1979 as the United States does not formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, separate from China.

BuzzFeed News found that none of the documents it reviewed between Dole's client, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), and his firm suggest that TECRO explicitly asked Dole to arrange the conversation between Trump and the Taiwanese president. But a March 17 letter from Dole to Taiwan's former top representative in Washington, Lyu-shun Shen, stated that "through close coordination with your staff, we are also prepared to undertake other special assignments on your behalf, provided that they are mutually agreed to by both parties."

The letter also includes Dole's assurance that "this year, we agree that our activities will continue to focus specially [sic] on assisting you with [your] agenda as it relates to the U.S. administration and Congress." Jeva Lange

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