August 13, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday accused The Washington Post of writing biased articles about him due to his criticism of the newspaper's owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

While Sanders did not mention any specific articles, the Post published a piece last month about an internal conflict between his 2020 presidential campaign's management and unionized campaign workers. Sanders has been a vocal critic of Amazon's labor practices, pressuring the company to bump its minimum wage up to $15 per hour, and was outraged over reports that Amazon may not have paid any taxes in 2018.

During a town hall in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, Sanders brought up the tax issue, and said, "See, I talk about that all of the time. And then I wonder why The Washington Post — which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon — doesn't write particularly good articles about me. I don't know why. But I guess maybe there's a connection. Maybe we helped raise the minimum wage at Amazon to $15 an hour as well." The Post reports he said the same thing later in the day during a town hall in North Conway, New Hampshire.


In a statement, the Post's executive editor, Martin Baron, said Sanders is "a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage. Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest." Catherine Garcia

10:05 p.m.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Wednesday evening said Texans who lost power for several days last week during a severe winter storm "deserve answers" and will "get those answers" soon.

The nonprofit Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) operates the state's electrical grid, and when almost half the power usually available to the grid went offline amid the storm, millions of homes and businesses found themselves in the dark. "The fact is, power generation from all sources buckled under the harsh, freezing winter weather," Abbott said. "That includes natural gas, coal, nuclear, as well as wind and solar." Last week, Abbott said there were just wind and solar failures, but then walked back his comments.

Abbott is putting the blame for the power outages squarely on ERCOT, saying the agency falsely claimed the grid was prepared for the winter. Abbott wants state lawmakers to reform ERCOT and complete the winterization of the power system during this legislative session, and said it "will not end until we fix these problems." The Texas Tribune reports that energy experts say it will be expensive and difficult to retrofit plants in Texas to handle the cold. Abbott has said the state should fund winterizaton efforts, but it's not clear how much that would cost. Catherine Garcia

8:32 p.m.

Articles of impeachment have been filed against South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R), after new evidence emerged in a fatal car crash he was involved in last September.

The accident took place at around 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 12, as Ravnsborg drove home from a Republican fundraiser. Ravnsborg initially told investigators he thought he hit an animal, but after returning to the scene the next day, he found the body of 55-year-old Joseph Boever. Ravnsborg was charged with three misdemeanors last week — careless driving, driving out of his lane, and operating a motor vehicle while on his phone — and faces up to 90 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

On Tuesday, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety released video of two three-hour interviews between Ravnsborg and investigators, recorded on Sept. 14 and 30. During the Sept. 30 interview, Ravnsborg is told that detectives found a pair of broken reading glasses inside his vehicle that had belonged to Boever. "His face was in your windshield, Jason," one investigator told him. "Think about that." Ravnsborg denied seeing the glasses and a flashlight Boever was carrying; the light was still on when detectives arrived at the accident scene on Sept. 13.

After the interviews were made public, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) called on Ravnsborg to resign, and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers filed two articles of impeachment against him. "This is not political and it is not personal," state Rep. Will Mortenson (R) told the Argus Leader. "Again, I do not believe Attorney General Ravnsborg belongs in prison, but I know he does not belong in the Office of the Attorney General anymore." A private spokesman for Ravnsborg said he will not step down.

Nick Nemec, Boever's cousin, told The Washington Post the videos are proof that Ravnsborg "knew there was a dead man in that ditch. He knew what he hit and he lied." Nemec doesn't understand why Ravnsborg was charged with misdemeanors, and had been "hoping he would be charged with involuntary manslaughter, but that didn't happen. He's grossly undercharged." Catherine Garcia

7:34 p.m.

Frasier Crane is headed back on the air.

A revival of the hit sitcom Frasier has been officially announced at Paramount+, with star Kelsey Grammer set to return. The news was unveiled during a ViacomCBS presentation on Wednesday focused on Paramount+, the rebranded version of CBS All Access that's launching in March.

"Having spent over 20 years of my creative life on the Paramount lot, both producing shows and performing in several, I'd like to congratulate Paramount+ on its entry into the streaming world," Grammer said. "I gleefully anticipate sharing the next chapter in the continuing journey of Dr. Frasier Crane."

Frasier, a spin-off of Cheers, originally ran for 11 seasons from 1993 through 2004, and a potential return has been discussed for years. Chris Harris and Joe Cristalli will write and produce the revival, which Paramount+ promised "will have everything you love about the original: coziness, great writing, and of course, a cast led by" Grammer. Stars David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves, and Peri Gilpin aren't currently attached to the revival, according to Variety.

This was just one of a number of Paramount+ reboots and revivals discussed on Wednesday, with others including Rugrats and Criminal Minds, as ViacomCBS reaches into its catalog in hopes of gaining an upper hand in the continuing streaming wars. Brendan Morrow

7:03 p.m.

Moderna announced on Wednesday it will begin testing a new version of its COVID-19 vaccine designed to target the coronavirus variant first reported in South Africa.

The pharmaceutical company said it has sent doses of the booster shot to the U.S. National Institutes of Health for clinical trials. In a statement, CEO Stéphane Bancel said Moderna is "committed to making as many updates to our vaccine as necessary until the pandemic is under control."

Moderna previously revealed that preliminary studies showed the vaccine still made neutralizing antibodies above protective levels for the South African variant, but because it was a reduced level, it prompted the company to begin tweaking the vaccine against the strain, as well as variants that first spread in the United Kingdom and Brazil.

Moderna is already conducting tests involving giving a third dose of its original vaccine as a booster to people who have received two doses, and the new clinical trials will evaluate the safety of the variant-specific booster and a "multivalent booster candidate" that is one dose of the variant-specific booster and original vaccine, NBC News reports. Catherine Garcia

5:18 p.m.

Reps. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced Wednesday that they're reintroducing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which, if passed, would lead to a series of federal police reforms, including a ban on chokeholds and measures to alter qualified immunity. The House is expected to vote on it next week.

The lower chamber did pass the bill last June, but it was dead on arrival in the Senate, which was still controlled by the GOP at the time. It remains unclear if it will pass now that the Democrats have a narrow majority since there, but Bass said there's "renewed hope" it will become law. Tim O'Donnell

5:11 p.m.

No charges are expected to be brought after Tiger Woods' serious car crash, which was "purely an accident," Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says.

The L.A. sheriff provided this update Wednesday after Woods was injured in a solo car accident in California, explaining that reckless driving charges for the golf legend aren't under consideration.

"We don't contemplate any charges whatsoever in this crash," Villanueva said. "This remains an accident. An accident is not a crime. They do happen, unfortunately."

This update was "critical amid speculation there may have been some sort of impairment," CNN's Omar Jimenez noted. But Villanueva shot down such speculation, saying Woods "was not drunk" and reiterating there was "no evidence of any impairment whatsoever." The sheriff also pointed out that there have been "quite a few accidents over the years" on the stretch of road where Woods' crash occurred.

Woods' car rolled over several times in the accident, and wearing a seatbelt likely helped safe his life, officials previously said. He was brought to a nearby hospital and underwent surgery for "significant orthopedic injuries," and he's "currently awake, responsive, and recovering," a statement posted to his Twitter account said Wednesday. Ultimately, Villanueva told CNN that after he saw the wreckage, it was "nothing short of a miracle" that Woods survived, as "we have seen accidents with far less obvious [damage] that are fatalities." Brendan Morrow

4:59 p.m.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is once again the swing vote President Biden needs to secure a narrow win — and he's coming through for his party.

On Wednesday, Manchin affirmed he'd support the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to be Biden's interior secretary. Manchin has often opposed measures and candidates that put his state's fossil fuel industry at risk, and Haaland is clear in her intent to move the U.S. past reliance on fossil fuels. But "while we do not agree on every issue," Manchin said in a statement that Haaland's "strong commitment to bipartisanship" and some of Manchin's own priorities won him over.

Manchin has gained influence in this Congress as the most moderate member of the Democratic Senate's narrow 50-50 majority, potentially sinking the Democrats' inclusion of a $15 minimum wage in Biden's COVID-19 relief bill.

It's possible that another Democrat could split from the coalition and cost Haaland the confirmation. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has recently been a party spoiler after her opposition to the $15 minimum wage, but The Washington Post's Dave Weigel doesn't think she'll be a hangup this time around. Kathryn Krawczyk

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