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June 27, 2018

Lots of people were shocked when 28-year-old first-time candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseated the No. 4 House Democrat, Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), in Tuesday's Democratic primary in New York's 14th congressional district — Crowley, House Democrats, pollsters, and, it appears, Ocasio-Cortez herself.

Crowley, who has held the safely Democratic seat representing the Bronx and Queens since 1999, had a war chest 10 times larger than Ocasio-Cortez's, and he took his loss with uncommonly good grace and fairly impressive Springsteen chops. Ocasio-Cortez, now the presumptive frontrunner for the general election, is about to become the subject of several dozen giant-slayer profiles — you can read Joel Dodge's at The Week — but she appears ready for her close-up. Peter Weber

12:26 p.m. ET

R&B legend Aretha Franklin died Thursday at 76, following a long bout with pancreatic cancer. The "Queen of Soul" leaves behind a nearly 60-year career dotted with chart-topping hits, Grammy wins, and a performance at a presidential inauguration. Here are some of the best photos of Franklin's incredible life. Kathryn Krawczyk

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12:04 p.m. ET
JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump keeps calling media "the enemy of the people," and journalists have had enough. On Thursday, hundreds of news outlets answered a call from The Boston Globe to join forces and reaffirm the importance of the Fourth Estate. The theme was consistent, with more than 350 news organizations large and small banding together to defend the press against denigrations of "fake news."

"Unable to carry on in the light, the president attempts to drag us all into a dark labyrinth where rules don't apply and some vacant concept of winning seems attainable," said the Record-Journal in Meriden, Connecticut. "But news organizations do not play in that dark playground. They perform in the light."

"Our country's leader shouldn't be making it easier for dictators to harass and silence journalists in places where freedom of the press remains a dream," wrote the Sun Sentinel, a Florida paper just down the coast from Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

"The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger," said the Des Moines Register in Iowa. "The response to that cannot be silence."

"We are the watchdogs, the questioners, the annoying voice that refuses to accept this moment in time as the best we can do," wrote the Capital Gazette, the Maryland newspaper that suffered an attack from a gunman in June. The publication opted not to coordinate with national outlets, citing its focus on more local issues.

"We are not the enemy," the Longview News Journal in Texas wrote. "We, like you, are the American people."

Trump responded by tweeting Thursday morning that "THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY." Read more of the most arresting excerpts, and check to see if your local paper published an editorial, at The Boston Globe. Summer Meza

10:34 a.m. ET

While much of the Northeast has been battling weeks of storms and flooding, the American West is drying up.

The National Drought Mitigation Center, housed at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, released a stark map Thursday that shows that fully one-third of the country is battling drought. Not only that, but in parts of Missouri and Kansas, areas suffering "exceptional drought" are expanding:

"Exceptional drought" is the most severe classification of drought conditions that exists, describing "widespread crop/pasture losses" and "shortages of water in reservours, streams, and wells, creating water emergencies," per the U.S. Drought Monitor.

While the country boomerangs between extreme weather conditions, President Trump has systematically sought to dismantle his predecessor's signature achievements — and that includes legislation related to climate change. Politico reported Thursday that in an effort to unwind the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which imposed emissions limits on power plants, the Trump administration is prepared to tweak the federal calculations of money saved by the rule. "They are cooking the books on technical analysis to try to justify preconceived conclusions that these regulations are bad," one climate expert told Politico.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is shirking its climate change duties too, Ryan Cooper argues here at The Week. Read his indictment of DNC Chairman Tom Perez's acceptance of fossil fuel money here. Kimberly Alters

10:19 a.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

President Trump's supporters are under attack. Or at least, that's the impression Stephen Bannon's forthcoming film is trying to make.

The Breitbart- and White House-ousted conservative has returned to his documentary roots to create Trump @ War, and he shared the dramatic trailer for the film with Axios on Thursday. The full-length feature will premiere Sept. 9 — the two-year anniversary of Hillary Clinton labeling Trump supporters "deplorables."

In an intense two minutes, Trump supporters are violently knocked to the ground. CNN's Don Lemon goes on an anti-Trump tirade. A clip of Trump walking with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May plays while someone praises Trump's foreign policy, cutting off right before the moment Trump awkwardly grabs May's hand.

Bannon has grand visions for the film as a potential boon for Republicans this midterm cycle. When the movie is over, he told Axios, every "deplorable" will be "literally standing on your chair with your pitchfork saying: 'I've got to get people out to vote.'"

Bannon consistently wrote, directed, and produced films pushing a far-right agenda before his brief White House stint, including projects like Fire From the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman and Still Point in a Turning World: Ronald Reagan and His Ranch. Like its predecessors, Trump @ War also stars somewhat notable conservatives, including fellow ex-White House staffer Sebastian Gorka.

"How jacked do we think Trump will be when he sees this?" Bannon asked Axios when describing the film — seemingly well over the fact that Trump called him "Sloppy Steve" after his White House departure. Watch the whole trailer at Axios, and perhaps feel as "jacked up" as Bannon hopes Trump will be. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:17 a.m. ET
Rick Diamond/Getty Images for The Fox Theatre

"Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin died Thursday while in hospice care at home in Detroit, her publicist confirmed to The Associated Press. She was 76.

The legendary soul and pop singer was reportedly "ill for a long time" with pancreatic cancer, and her friends and family had been warned that "death is imminent" just days ago. While receiving palliative care, Franklin was surrounded by family who said she was "alert, laughing, teasing, able to recognize people." Her nephew told People that "family is there with her. She's home."

"In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart," Franklin's representative said in a statement following her death. "We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family."

Franklin's singing career goes back to 1960, when she began recording hits like "Respect" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Her last performance was at a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in November 2017. Summer Meza

10:00 a.m. ET
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Don't let the haters and losers fool you — getting impeached is actually a solid strategic move for a shrewd president.

President Trump's loyal followers are ready and willing to back him if he gets impeached, Politico reported Thursday. In fact, many even claim it would guarantee Trump re-election in 2020.

Republican lawmakers and strategists say that if Democrats retake the House in the midterm elections, it would help Trump rally moderates and centrists who aren't won over by increasingly progressive liberals. And if a Democratic majority moved to impeach Trump, some argue, he would become more popular, much in the way that former President Bill Clinton's approval ratings rose after his impeachment proceedings.

Asked if impeachment would hurt Trump politically, a Republican analyst told Politico, "Of course not." Another adviser said the theory was "not crazy," saying that "if you're looking at the politics of it, it's not a terrible thing for 2020." Even though Trump himself has been publicly hoping for a "red wave" and expecting to keep a Republican majority in Congress, GOP operatives are behind the scenes contemplating the possibility of spinning a hypothetical impeachment into a win. His most avid supporters say Trump does best when his back is against the wall, reports Politico, and impeachment would be the ultimate wall to rally his base and garner sympathy. Read more at Politico. Summer Meza

9:48 a.m. ET

Omarosa Manigault Newman's Unhinged publicity tour has spilled a bit of sunlight on President Trump's compulsory use of nondisclosure agreements on his campaign and in the White House. On Tuesday, the Trump re-election campaign filed for arbitration, arguing Manigault Newman breached the NDA she signed when she joined the campaign in 2016. She says she did not sign an apparently unprecedented and likely unconstitutional NDA at the White House, but other White House officials were more coy, including White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

A former White House and Trump campaign staffer tells The Weekly Standard that even lower-level White House recruits "had to sign them when we went into the building," summarizing the NDA as "straight-up 'No talking bad about Trump or his family.'" It was "snuck in with" other "actual forms you had to sign for the legitimate process of being onboarded," the former staffer said, and unusually, "everything got taken away as soon as we signed it."

On MSNBC, Trump campaign spokesman Marc Lotter said he signed NDAs to work at the White House and on both Trump campaigns, and they obligated him to refrain from saying disparaging things about Trump, his family, Vice President Mike Pence and his family, and any Trump or Pence businesses forever. Katy Tur asked the obvious question: "Say something happened while you were there that horrified you or appalled you or you felt was illegal, etc., and you left and you signed an NDA, you can't talk about it. So again, why should we trust anything you say when you're legally bound to say good things about the person you're coming on to talk about?"

The White House NDA is probably unenforceable, but as you watch current and former Trump campaign and White House officials on television, it's probably worth remembering that they all at least nominally signed away their right to criticize Trump in perpetuity — and Trump takes his NDAs seriously. Peter Weber

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