Ticketmaster Faces the Music

Happy Wednesday! If pulling off a near-impossible mission to destroy an unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant isn’t worth a Best Actor nomination, we don’t know what is.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • A lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence found classified documents at Pence’s home in Indiana last week, CNN first reported Tuesday. In the wake of President Joe Biden’s classified documents scandal, Pence had hired outside counsel “out of an abundance of caution” to search for any such material of his own. FBI agents collected the material from Pence’s residence on January 19. Greg Jacob, a representative for Pence, wrote to the National Archives on January 18 that the documents must have been “inadvertently boxed and transported” when the former vice president left Washington, and that Pence was “unaware of the existence of sensitive or classified documents at his personal residence.”
  • House Speaker Kevin McCarthy appointed Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Freedom Caucus members Reps. Chip Roy of Texas, and Ralph Norman of South Carolina to the powerful House Rules Committee, fulfilling one reportedly key promise to Republican holdouts who opposed his speakership.* The Rules Committee is usually stacked with members loyal to the speaker, but McCarthy’s appointments give anti-establishment lawmakers significant influence over which bills come to the floor and, in turn, the ability to drive the chamber’s agenda. “It’s not my goal to be on the Rules Committee and to stop everything that I don’t like,” Massie told The Dispatch’s Haley Byrd Wilt in an interview included in Uphill yesterday. “For me, I don’t think it would be productive or sustainable for me to do that every week.” Meanwhile, McCarthy on Tuesday blocked Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from reprising their roles on the House Intelligence Committee, citing Schiff’s alleged dishonesty and Swalwell’s alleged involvement with a Chinese spy. Both Democrats dismissed the move as “political payback.”
  • After much back and forth, Germany will reportedly relent and send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine—and allow other countries to follow suit—after the United States reportedly agreed to send as many as 30 of its M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine despite previous concerns that training and maintenance requirements would render them impractical. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had reportedly refused to authorize transfer of the easier to maintain Leopard 2 tanks unless the U.S. also sent Abrams.
  • Walmart—the largest private employer in the U.S.—will raise its starting hourly wages from $12 to $14 an hour. The figure is still lower than the $15 an hour offered by rivals Amazon and Target, but the announcement in an internal company memo comes as companies are struggling to attract and retain employees in a tight labor market.
  • The Justice Department announced Tuesday two Florida residents had been indicted for allegedly vandalizing at least three pro-life pregnancy centers in Florida, spray-painting threats like “if abortions aren’t safe than niether [sic] are you,” “WE’RE COMING for U,” and “YOUR TIME IS UP!!” on the sides of the buildings. If convicted of the charges—which also included violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act—each defendant could face a maximum of 12 years in prison and fines up to $350,000. A number of crisis pregnancy centers around the country faced threats or violent attacks in the months leading up to and following last year’s Dobbs decision.
  • The Justice Department sued Google on Tuesday for allegedly violating antitrust law. The suit—joined by eight state attorneys general—claims the search giant eliminated rivals in the online ad industry and the company should be forced to sell off advertising technology products. This federal suit follows one filed by the Trump administration and nearly 40 states which alleged that Google manipulated its search results to give its own products preferential positions. 

Sparks Fly Over Ticketmaster

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 24: Demonstrators rally against the live entertainment ticket industry outside the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Taylor Swift may not have snagged an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song yesterday, but the songwriter did receive a much rarer—and more peculiar—form of cultural recognition: A bunch of gleeful senators quoting her lyrics into the official record.

As fans of both Swift and C-SPAN—a small but mighty Venn diagram overlap—your Morning Dispatchers had a great time rolling our eyes as senators carefully quoted one lyric after another. But the bad blood against Ticketmaster long precedes the platform’s meltdown last year when tickets to Swift’s upcoming tour went on sale. For three hours on Tuesday, a panel of music industry and antitrust types told the Senate Judiciary Committee it’s time to take action against the ticket sales titan—though some analysts argue policymakers’ recent enthusiasm for aggressive antitrust enforcement may be misplaced.

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