July 11, 2019

President Trump on Thursday touted a "very important" social media summit at the White House, which will not feature anyone from Facebook or Twitter but instead numerous far-right figures.

Those who have been invited to the summit on Thursday afternoon include conservative radio host Bill Mitchell, a promoter of the QAnon conspiracy, as well as Ali Alexander, the activist who recently attacked Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Twitter by claiming she is "not an American black," Politico reports. This claim about Harris that Democrats quickly condemned as racist was shared in a tweet by Donald Trump Jr., although he subsequently deleted it.

Other invitees include a troll who won a meme contest held by Alex Jones' InfoWars and James O'Keefe, known for his deceptively-edited undercover videos, CNN reports.

Trump said on Thursday that this summit will be focused on alleged "dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression" by social media companies, threatening that "we will not let them get away with it much longer."The Daily Beast notes that the White House does not seem to have actually invited anyone who has been banned by Facebook or Twitter, much to the chagrin of even more extremist personalities who have been. Referencing the conspiracy theorist who has been banned from Twitter, an administration official told the Beast, "What benefit would it be to anyone if Laura Loomer were in the same room with the president? Why on earth would we do that? We aren’t that stupid. Come on.”

Still, this summit, CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy writes, is "perhaps the clearest example yet of President Trump legitimizing fringe political allies." Brendan Morrow

4:49 p.m.

At eight movies, one spinoff, and counting, the Fast & Furious franchise shows no sign of slowing down; like the Blob, it won't stop growing until it has absorbed literally every actor in Hollywood. And for a series that has already successfully wrangled such luminaries as Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, and Dame Helen Mirren, rapper Cardi B might be the biggest get yet.

Vin Diesel posted a brief video from the set of the upcoming Fast & Furious 9 teasing Cardi B's role in the movie. "I ain't gonna front, I think this is going to be the best one," said Cardi, setting a bar that won't exactly require a high jump to clear. Read more at Entertainment Weekly. Scott Meslow

4:47 p.m.

Your jack-o'-lantern may be freshly carved, but too bad, says the Hallmark Channel: October is now Kris Kringle territory.

This Friday, the network will launch its Countdown to Christmas programming, with no fewer than 40 Christmas-themed made-for-TV movies set to air between October and December. Titles include The Mistletoe Secret, Christmas at Graceland, and Cherished Memories: A Gift to Remember 2, because we all had so many unanswered questions after the first one. Read more at USA Today. Scott Meslow

4:47 p.m.

Did you look at the two hour and 41 minute runtime of Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and think, "Hmmm… seems a little too short?"

Then you'll be thrilled to hear that the movie is getting an extended re-release on Friday, with 10 minutes of previously deleted scenes. Here's hoping it's just another 10 minutes of Brad Pitt cruising around Los Angeles listening to Paul Revere & The Raiders, because come on, who could ever get enough of that? Read more at Variety. Scott Meslow

4:37 p.m.

Congress' impeachment hearings have been pretty darn congressional.

Yet Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and a slew of other Republicans seemed to think the hearings involving three bipartisan committees just weren't welcoming enough. So ignoring the fact that 48 Republicans were already allowed into what Gaetz described as "secret interviews" to investigate President Trump, he and a few dozen other GOP congressmembers stormed into a secure room Wednesday and delayed a hearing for five hours.

The stunt began Wednesday when Gaetz marched his Republican battalion into the basement of the Capitol and gave remarks decrying what he called "secret interviews" led by House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (R-Calif.). Gaetz and company then charged into the House's Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, delaying an impeachment interview with Wednesday's testimony with Laura Miller, who oversees Ukraine policy for the Defense Department. Republicans proceeded to complain that Schiff "up and left" the room when the Republicans walked in carrying banned electronic devices.

It's true Gaetz and many of the Republicans with him weren't allowed into Miller's hearings. But that's because they're not on the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, or Oversight committees conducting impeachment interviews into President Trump. If they'd wanted more information on the hearings, they could've asked Republicans on those committees, like House Oversight Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) or perhaps Vice President Mike Pence's brother Greg Pence (D-Ind.), who's on foreign affairs. Or maybe not, because Jordan himself — along with several other committee members — helped lead the apparent "storming" of the hearing he was undoubtedly welcome to be at. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:59 p.m.

Lizzo has apparently decided that a British singer 100 percent deserves some credit for her most popular lyric.

Singer Mina Lioness tweeted Wednesday that she's getting a writing credit on Lizzo's hit song "Truth Hurts" after claiming her tweet was plagiarized. Lizzo's song, released in September 2017, features the lyric "I just took a DNA test, turns out I'm 100 percent that bitch." Before those words would spawn thousands of memes, in February 2017, Lioness tweeted, "I did a DNA test and found out I'm 100 percent that bitch."

Lizzo has maintained that she never saw Lioness' tweet and that she was instead inspired by a meme, The Washington Post reports. But Lizzo said Wednesday she later learned that this meme was apparently inspired by Lioness' tweet, and so "the creator of the tweet is the person I am sharing my success with."

This case is separate from another plagiarism claim made against Lizzo by Justin and Jeremiah Raisen, who worked with her on an unreleased song that also featured a version of the DNA test line, as well as what they say is a similar beat, but didn't receive credit for "Truth Hurts." Jeremiah Raisen claims he was the one who suggested using the "100 percent" line after another writer shared the Instagram meme in a session, The New York Times reports.

But Lizzo said Wednesday that "the men who now claim a piece of 'Truth Hurts' did not help me write any part of the song" and had "nothing to do with the line." She's now suing the songwriters, saying they "expressly withdrew any claim to 'Truth Hurts,'" Variety reports.

Lioness thanked Lizzo by celebrating the line she has now been credited for, writing, "I just took a DNA Test, turns out I'm a credited writer for the number one song on Billboard." Brendan Morrow

3:40 p.m.

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) has a few questions about Facebook's lesser-known employees.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the House Financial Services Committee to discuss his company's stake in the Libra cryptocurrency on Tuesday. And yet most of the committee's time didn't revolve around that development, namely a particularly tough few minutes of questioning from Porter.

Porter, a freshman Democrat, started her questioning by describing how Facebook's content monitoring employees are paid a minimum hourly wage to watch "murders, stabbings, suicides, and other gruesome, disgusting videos." Zuckerberg agreed with that characterization. Porter then mentioned how those workers don't receive health care benefits to treat the PTSD these jobs can saddle them with, and brought up a report saying those employees got "nine minutes of supervised wellness time" each day to "cry in the stairwell while someone watches them."

With that, Porter asked if Zuckerberg would be "willing to commit to spending one hour a day for a year" doing the job of content monitors. When Zuckerberg said he "wasn't sure" if that would be the best use of time, Porter took that to mean he's "not willing" to do the job. Watch the whole exchange below. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:18 p.m.

Ukraine's president reportedly knew more than he — and President Trump — are letting on.

After diplomat William Taylor testified Tuesday he was told aid for Ukraine was "dependent" on the country investigating Joe and Hunter Biden, Trump modified his "no quid pro quo" defense to suggest there could be no "quo" if Ukraine didn't know about the aid holdup. But as interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times reveal, senior Ukrainian officials knew about the holdup weeks before White House officials have admitted.

About two months into Volodymyr Zelensky's presidency and days after his infamous July 25 call with Trump, Ukrainian officials reportedly found out the $391 million in aid wouldn't be coming. They were told it wasn't a "bureaucratic glitch" and that they should talk to Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney about it, per the Times. And while the communications surrounding the freeze didn't explicitly tie it to Trump's Biden pressure, they did mention arranging a meeting between Zelensky and the senior aide who'd been "dealing with" Rudy Giuliani, who was backing a Biden probe, the Times continues.

Also fighting against Trump's innocence insistence is a Washington Post report saying Zelensky felt "pressure" from Trump to probe the Bidens even before he was inaugurated. Zelensky met with a group of advisers May 7 and discussed "how to navigate the insistence from Trump" and Giuliani "and how to avoid becoming entangled in the American elections," three people familiar with the meeting say. That happened about two weeks after Trump called to congratulate Zelensky on his victory. The report does counter Zelensky's own words that there was "no pressure" from Trump to investigate the Bidens. Kathryn Krawczyk

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