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Right Back Where We Started From

A wild few days at OpenAI exposed fault lines in the world of tech.

Happy Wednesday! The White House’s National Christmas Tree toppled over on the Ellipse yesterday, and the National Park Service is blaming strong winds—the same gusts responsible for lifting a 15-foot-tall George Santos balloon into both the air and our nightmares.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • In the fifth such exchange since a temporary ceasefire was instituted late last week, Hamas freed 12 more hostages on Tuesday—10 Israelis and two Thai nationals—and Israel released 30 Palestinian prisoners in return. Fighting between Hamas and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) briefly flared in northern Gaza on Tuesday afternoon, however, with the IDF saying Hamas fighters had targeted Israeli troops with explosives and gunfire and that Israeli forces responded but stayed within the bounds of the truce. A Hamas spokesperson claimed it was the IDF that first violated the ceasefire, but the skirmish has not yet threatened plans for an additional exchange today. The 48-hour extension to the ceasefire expires after today, though U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials met in Qatar yesterday to discuss plans for another potential extension. In a tweet posted Tuesday night, President Joe Biden seemed to waver in his support for Israel’s continued offensive into Gaza. “Hamas unleashed a terrorist attack because they fear nothing more than Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace,” the president said. “To continue down the path of terror, violence, killing, and war is to give Hamas what they seek. We can’t do that.”
  • Armed attackers in Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown assaulted a military base and two prisons on Sunday, releasing hundreds of inmates, in what government officials on Tuesday labeled an attempted coup. “The incident was a failed attempted coup,” Chernoh Bah, the country’s Information Minister, said yesterday. “The intention was to illegally subvert and overthrow a democratically elected government.” At least 19 people were killed in the fighting, and 13 military officers and one civilian have thus far been arrested in connection to the plot. Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio was re-elected this summer in a tight contest, but the results were disputed by the main opposition candidate and more than a dozen soldiers were arrested in August on charges of “subversion.”
  • Rescuers on Tuesday freed all 41 construction workers trapped in a Himalayan tunnel in India after a landslide blocked the exit on November 12. Teams of rescue workers laid pipes through 200 feet of rubble and debris—much of it excavated by hand after drilling machines broke down—to create an escape passage for the trapped men. Experts investigating what happened reportedly discovered that the tunnel was constructed without an emergency exit, leading the Indian government to order a safety audit of all tunnels currently under construction. 
  • Hunter Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said Tuesday in a letter shared with the House Oversight Committee that the president’s son is willing to testify publicly in a hearing before the committee. “We have seen you use closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort the facts and misinform the public,” Lowell wrote. “We therefore propose opening the door.” The Oversight Committee subpoenaed Hunter earlier this month to appear for a closed-door deposition, and Tuesday quashed the Biden legal team’s request. “Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else,” Committee Chair James Comer said in a statement rejecting Hunter’s request for an open hearing, though he noted the younger Biden may be given the “opportunity to testify in a public setting at a future date.” 
  • Charles Munger, the billionaire former Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman, died yesterday at age 99. Munger worked as a close partner to Warren Buffett as the pair built Berkshire into an investing giant—Buffett credited him with developing the company’s investing blueprint. “Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom and participation,” Buffett said in a statement.

Altman is Out Altman is In

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during the OpenAI DevDay event on November 6, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during the OpenAI DevDay event on November 6, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

We’d be lying if we said we weren’t a little tired of comparing developments in artificial intelligence (AI) to movies. But the events of the last few weeks at OpenAI—an AI startup responsible for the now-ubiquitous generative AI, ChatGPT—have all the makings of a great Aaron Sorkin film, assuming AI doesn’t put him out of a job first. 

The five-day showdown between OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman and the company’s board of directors was dramatic—Altman was abruptly terminated and then reinstated, and all but one of the members of the board who had engineered his firing were themselves let go. The saga is still shrouded in mystery, but at its core, the battle for OpenAI might illustrate how …

As a non-paying reader, you are receiving a truncated version of The Morning Dispatch. Our full 1,958-word story on the recent turmoil at OpenAI and the future of artificial intelligence development is available in the members-only version of TMD.

Worth Your Time

  •  The Atlantic published the first excerpt of Tim Alberta’s latest book—The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism—in which Alberta recounted the stark awakening he experienced upon returning to his hometown church for his father’s funeral in 2019. “People from the church—people I’d known my entire life—were greeting me, not primarily with condolences or encouragement or mourning, but with commentary about [Rush] Limbaugh and Trump,” Alberta wrote. “Some of it was playful, guys remarking about how I was the same mischief-maker they’d known since kindergarten. But some of it wasn’t playful. Some of it was angry; some of it was cold and confrontational. One man questioned whether I was truly a Christian. Another asked if I was still on ‘the right side.’ All while Dad was in a box a hundred feet away.” Alberta’s father served as senior pastor at the church for 26 years. “Here, in our house of worship, people were taunting me about politics as I tried to mourn my father,” he wrote. “I was in the company of certain friends that day who would not claim to know Jesus, yet they shrouded me in peace and comfort. Some of these card-carrying evangelical Christians? Not so much. They didn’t see a hurting son; they saw a vulnerable adversary.”

Presented Without Comment 

CNN: Sports Illustrated Deletes Articles Published Under Fake Author Names and AI-Generated Profile Photos

Also Presented Without Comment

C-SPAN: In describing the support the Education Department could offer states earlier this month, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona reached for a familiar quote: “I think it was President Reagan [who] said, ‘We’re from the government, we’re here to help.’”

Also Also Presented Without Comment 

The Jewish News of Northern California: Oakland City Council Oks Cease-Fire Measure After Hours of Vitriol

Toeing the Company Line

  • Unrest in Ireland, 2024 polling numbers, and the latest developments in Trump’s legal cases. Kevin was joined by Adaam, James, Drucker, and Sarah to discuss all that and more on last night’s Dispatch Live (🔒). Members who missed the conversation can catch a rerun—either video or audio-only—by clicking here.
  • Alex pulled double duty on Tuesday, fact checking still more Pizzagate claims and analyzing an assertion by Kevin McCarthy that the U.S. never asked for land after winning a war.
  • In the newsletters: Nick assessed how the 2024 GOP field is kinda, sorta coalescing—unlike in 2016.
  • On the podcasts: Jonah is joined by his fellow American Enterprise Institute scholar Danielle Pletka on The Remnant to discuss the ongoing wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. 
  • On the site: Kevin asserts that both parties are alienating the folks we used to call yuppies, while Jonah argues that Democrats have alienated the working class in their swing toward identity politics.

James Scimecca works on editorial partnerships for The Dispatch, and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he served as the director of communications at the Empire Center for Public Policy. When James is not promoting the work of his Dispatch colleagues, he can usually be found running along the Potomac River, cooking up a new recipe, or rooting for a beleaguered New York sports team.

Mary Trimble is the editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, she interned at The Dispatch, in the political archives at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), and at Voice of America, where she produced content for their French-language service to Africa. When not helping write The Morning Dispatch, she is probably watching classic movies, going on weekend road trips, or enjoying live music with friends.

Grayson Logue is the deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in political risk consulting, helping advise Fortune 50 companies. He was also an assistant editor at Providence Magazine and is a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, pursuing a Master’s degree in history. When Grayson is not helping write The Morning Dispatch, he is probably working hard to reduce the number of balls he loses on the golf course.