2023 Year in Review
2023 was a year of indictments for Trump, convictions for insurrectionists, and voters once again telling the MAGA right they’re fed up
Hello, and welcome to the last newsletter of 2023. Let’s stroll down memory lane this week as I share my favorite posts from the last 11 months.
It’s always interesting to go back and look through the events of a particular year and what I wrote about them. Some things, such as Kevin McCarthy’s short-lived Speakership or Tucker Carlson’s text messages, were amusing to revisit. Others, like the continued attempts to normalize Donald Trump and recast the January 6 insurrection as a peaceful protest, remain infuriating. Mostly, it was a hopeful exercise. 2023 was a year of indictments for Trump, convictions for insurrectionists, and voters once again telling the MAGA right they’re fed up. It’s good to be reminded of our progress, especially when the world feels bleak.
My preview of the new Congress under newly elected Speaker Kevin McCarthy (it only took 15 tries!) turned out to be pretty accurate. Favorite quote: “Expect hearings and “investigations” on pressing topics such as Hunter Biden, gas stoves, covid vaccines, Hunter Biden, children using litter boxes in school, critical race theory, Hunter Biden, pronouns, Democratic members of Congress, the IRS, the DOJ, and oh yes, Hunter Biden.”
If I had a thesis statement for 2023 this post was probably it. I used pieces of it every time I did a talk or training and in multiple interviews. I still can’t quite move on from using the term “disinformation” myself, but I’m making the effort to no longer use it as a catchall term. And I’m trying to expand on what it means and what we’re really up against online and off.
This newsletter was published on my birthday, which made me laugh because I can’t think of a better birthday gift than the discovery from the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News. Everything from Tucker Carlson’s badmouthing Trump to Fox’s own board members knowing that they’re lying to viewers about the results of the election on the air and doing nothing to stop it. The lawsuit would eventually settle out of court, and Tucker Carlson would be out of a job.
Months later, I still get emotional thinking about Janet Protasiewicz’s victory in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race and the ramifications it has already had for folks living there. So much of the good news coming from Wisconsin these days is because of this particular win, and as I wrote at the time, it was more than a decade in the making for Wisconsin activists and advocates.
I celebrated the guilty verdicts from both the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers sedition trials. When I wrote this, Trump hadn’t yet been indicted for anything related to January 6, and I wrote, “Two years ago, it seemed impossible for Trump ever to face prosecution for his crimes. Now I’d be surprised if Trump wasn’t indicted at least once more this year.” I have to laugh at once more.
For some reason everyone and their mother emailed me or had press questions about AI and disinformation in June. This newsletter outlined my thinking and why I’m not yet panicked over using AI to spread disinformation.
I had a lot of fun writing this piece. There’s just something so fitting about Alabama Republicans attempting to defy a Supreme Court majority that their party bought and paid for. I’m relieved that it didn’t work in the end. I also stand by my prediction that we’ll see attack ads against SCOTUS and the conservative majority justices next year. Running against those guys seems like a smart strategy.
The most popular thing I wrote this year by far. I still don’t quite know why other than that it came out right as everyone and their mother were talking about Oliver Anthony’s song and his sudden virality. I still can’t believe Billy Bragg bothered to write a song in response to Anthony’s song, but that happened.
I don’t write about Democrats or elected officials often, but I do enjoy writing about Fetterman. Favorite quote: “Like many of us, Fetterman has little patience for the concern trolling and political theater that so many of his critics love to engage in. He’s offered to wear a suit if House Republicans can reach a deal that would avoid a government shutdown (He also called them jagoffs.) Referring to Rep. Lauren Boebert’s own recent scandal, Fetterman remarked, “I figure if I take up vaping and grabbing the hog during a live musical, they’ll make me a folk hero.””
October/November: Five Scary Things in this Email & Opportunity Knocks Once in a Lifetime. Over two newsletters I offered my framework for the 2024 elections. I put together five challenges and five opportunities for pro-democracy advocates (and those working to elect pro-democracy candidates) in 2024. It’s a framework I expect we’ll revisit often in various forms over the next 12 months.
I’m crap at predictions, so I won’t bother with telling you what’s going to happen in 2024. But I’m optimistic. Obviously, a lot can happen in a year; we’ve learned that the hard way multiple times now. But strangely that’s part of what gives me hope. Beating Trump and the MAGA coalition again isn’t a foregone conclusion, nor is losing. But I know we can beat him again because we’ve done it before.
Goodbye to All That Harassment (The Verge)
Writer Sarah Jeong penned an essay about the targeted harassment campaign against her when she was hired by the New York Times and the impact it’s had on her life for the first time. Longtime readers will remember that I covered Jeong’s story at the time. I’ve missed Sarah’s work, and while I’m glad to see her byline again, I hate to learn that everything she’s been through is why we haven’t heard much from her since she was targeted.
The Cable News Kayfabe is Dead (Nieman Lab)
I read this essay from Ben Collins and all I could think was “Damn I wish I wrote that.” It gets at the heart of what bothers me about where our media and political discourse is right now.
CNN turned a Twitter thread from Congressman Jamie Raskin into an op-ed. I’m relieved that more people are calling Stefanik this week on her disingenuousness. You’ll be shocked to learn that Stefanik when asked for comment, chose not to answer any of her colleague’s questions.
Sometimes Government Works. The Media Must Say So. (Stop the Presses)
From my COURIER colleague, Mark Jacob. “Politicians will be politicians, but the mainstream media needn’t go along with reflexive negativity toward the federal government. They need to be appropriately critical when the government screws up, but they also need to note its achievements.
I couldn’t let 2023 end without sharing one more piece of good news: A Georgia Jury ordered awarded elections workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a total of $148 million in their defamation suit against Rudy Giuliani. We’ve followed Freeman and Moss since their testimony during the January 6 hearings, and I’m thrilled about their win. Hopefully, it will make Trump’s cronies think twice before threatening and harassing election workers next year.
I’m pretty amused that Giuliani’s lawyer conceded during closing arguments that his client had “committed wrongful conduct” that harmed Freeman and Moss but asked the jury to send Giuliani a message with their verdict that said, “You should have been better, but you’re not as bad as the plaintiffs are making you out to be.” Sure, Jan.
That’s a wrap on 2023. Thanks so much for reading and supporting Ctrl Alt-Right Delete. I hope you have a restful holiday break and take time to rest, recharge, and regroup. You surely need it, and we all deserve it.
Publication will resume on January 7, 2024.