Posts tagged with "The Wall Street Journal"

Hundreds of companies, CEOs band together to defend and protect voting access

April 15, 2021

Hundreds of business leaders and companies—including Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, General Motors,. and Netflix—have signed on to a statement promising to “defend the right to vote and oppose any discriminatory legislation” in the latest corporate response to a wave of Republican-led voting suppression bills being advanced in dozens of states.

Among the executive signatories are BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet, and Bloomberg CEO Michael Bloomberg.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, more than 300 companies, CEOs, and other executives signed the statement, which appeared as a full-page advertisement in The New York Times and other publications on March 14.

It was organized by Kenneth Chenault, the former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck.

“There is overwhelming support in corporate America for this principle of voting rights,” Chenault said. “The right to vote is fundamental to America. It is not a partisan issue.”

According to the Journal, the statement doesn’t directly address specific voting legislation, nor does it call on companies to take business action or halt political donations to lawmakers supporting such bills.

“Clearly, we’re not being prescriptive about how people manifest their opposition,” Chenault said. “Who in their right mind would say that they want legislation that will limit people’s ability to vote?”

Research contact: @WSJ

The new pandemic shortage: Ketchup can’t catch up

April  9, 2021

After enduring a year of closures, employee safety fears, and start-stop openings; now, many American restaurants are now facing a nationwide supply chain shortage of one of their customers’ favorite condiments: ketchup.

More specifically, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal, ketchup packets are being grabbed up by the handful—as toilet paper was earlier in the year—depleting restaurant supplies.

To meet the demand, managers are using generic versions, pouring out bulk ketchup into individual cups, and hitting the aisles of Costco for substitutes.

“We’ve been hunting high and low,” Chris Fuselier, owner of the Denver-based Blake Street Tavern told the Journal, saying he has struggled to keep ketchup in stock for much of this year.

The pandemic turned many sit-down restaurants into takeout specialists, making individual ketchup packets the primary condiment currency for both national chains and mom-and-pop restaurants. Packet prices are up 13% since January 2020, and their market share has exploded at the expense of tabletop bottles, according to restaurant-business platform Plate IQ.

Even fast-food giants are pleading for packets. Long John Silver’s—a nearly 700-unit chain—had to seek ketchup from secondary suppliers because of the rush in demand. The industry’s pandemic shift to packets has pushed up prices, costing the Louisville, Kentucky-based company an extra half-million dollars, executives said, since single-serve is pricier than bulk.

“Everyone out there is grabbing for ketchup,” Chief Marketing Officer Stephanie Mattingly told the business news outlet.

The ketchup conundrum strikes at a cornerstone of American diets. The tomato spread is the most-consumed table sauce at U.S. restaurants, with around 300,000 tons sold to food-service last year, according to research firm Euromonitor. Even more is eaten at home, and the pandemic helped push retail ketchup sales in the U.S. over $1 billion in 2020, around 15% higher than 2019, Euromonitor data showed.

Kraft Heinz Co. is ketchup’s king, with the research firm saying Heinz holds nearly 70% of the U.S. retail market for the condiment. But the more than 150-year-old brand wasn’t prepared for the pandemic.

Kraft Heinz couldn’t keep up with orders for its sachets––the industry term for ketchup packets.

Steve Cornell, Kraft Heinz’s president of Enhancers, Specialty and Away from Home Business Unit, said restaurants need patience while it ramps up supply. The company plans to open two new manufacturing lines in April, and more after that— increasing production by about 25% for a total of more than 12 billion packets a year. Kraft Heinz already is running extra shifts at plants, and cut back on some varieties to focus on making more single-serve packets.

The company also invented a no-touch ketchup dispenser to help meet demand for COVID-safe alternatives to shared bottles.

“We’re busy doing everything we can,” Cornell said.

Research contact: @WSJ

President Biden comes out in favor of changing Senate filibuster rules

March 18, 2021

President Biden said this week that he supports bringing back a requirement that senators must be present and talking on the floor to block bills, as Democrats explore ways to smooth the path for their policy agenda by revising the legislative filibuster rule, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The comments—made on Tuesday, March 16— marked a shift for Biden, who represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for 36 years and previously had said he would prefer to preserve the filibuster rather than get rid of it, as some Democrats have advocated.

“I don’t think you have to eliminate the filibuster, you have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days,” President Biden said in an ABC News interview. You had to stand up and command the floor, you had to keep talking.”

Asked if that meant he is supporting bringing back the talking filibuster, an idea backed by a growing number of Democratic senators, Biden responded: “I am. That’s what it was supposed to be.”

The president’s remarks came the same day on which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) threatened to grind the Senate to a halt if Democrats make any changes to the filibuster, the Journal reports.

“This chaos would not open up an express lane to liberal change. It would not open up an express lane for the Biden presidency to speed into the history books,” McConnell said in a speech Tuesday. “The Senate would be more like a hundred-car pileup. Nothing moving.”

Democrats are at least two votes shy of the 51 needed to kill off the legislative filibuster—a step that would clear the way for them to pass sweeping legislation on voting rights, immigration, gun regulations and other measures unlikely to attract bipartisan support.

As an alternative, Senate Democrats are exploring a return to traditional talking filibusters, like the one famously depicted by Jimmy Stewart in the 1939 film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” The idea was floated recently by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a centrist Democrat, who, like President Biden, has said he is adverse to abolishing the filibuster entirely but open to revisions.

Today, senators can filibuster a bill without talking at all. They don’t even have to show up in the chamber. Now momentum is building to tweak the rules, at least, to make filibustering harder.

Senators don’t have to stand for even one minute to shut down the Senate,” said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, in a speech on the Senate floor Monday. “All they have to do is threaten it, phone it in, catch a plane, go home from Washington, and come back Monday to see how their filibuster’s doing. ‘Mr. Smith phones it in.’ That wouldn’t have been much of a movie, would it?”

Democrats blame a 1975 rule change that allowed absent senators to count against the 60 votes needed to end debate on a bill and proceed to final passage. They say it made filibusters less costly to the minority.

“What’s the pain?” asked Manchin on Fox News last week.

Manchin’s support for reinstating the talking filibuster isn’t new. In 2011, he was one of 46 Democrats who voted in favor of a proposal by Senator Jeff Merkley (D., Oregon) that would have required senators to take the floor and make remarks to block legislation. No Republicans voted for it, and the measure failed.

Had it passed, it would have allowed the Senate to enter a period of extended debate if a simple majority of senators voted to end debate on a bill. Senators who wanted to block legislation would have had to ensure that at least one of them was on the floor presenting arguments or the majority could move on to final passage with 51 votes.

Merkley said he isn’t wedded to his 2011 approach. “There are many nuances of different ways that it could be done,” he said. “And I’m not ready to say any one way.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Merrick Garland is confirmed as U.S. attorney general

March 12, 2021

The U.S. Senate voted 70-30 on March 11 to confirm Merrick Garland as the Biden Administration’s attorney general—putting a respected jurist and experienced former prosecutor in charge of a Justice Department poised to confront a rising threat of domestic extremism amid a nationwide reckoning on race and policing, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Mr. Garland, 68 years old, was hailed by both Democrats and Republicans as uniquely equipped to restore morale, stability and institutional integrity to a Justice Department roiled by political storms during the Trump Administration.

Twenty Republicans—led by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)—joined all 50 Senate Democrats in confirming Garland. As majority leader just before Trump’s term in office, McConnell had blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016.

Now minority leader, McConnell said in a statement before the vote: “I’m voting to confirm Judge Garland because of his long reputation as a straight shooter and legal expert. His left-of-center perspective has been within the legal mainstream.”

According to the Journal, Garland, who spent 24 years on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was sworn in on Thursday. He has said he would combat extremist violence and make a first priority of an extensive federal investigation into the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

He has cited his own experience overseeing prosecutions into several major acts of domestic terrorism, including the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people. A senior Justice Department official at the time, Garland was personally involved in the investigation, which he has said solidified for him the urgency and complexity of the domestic terror threat.

While the investigation into the January 6 attack is expected to continue largely unchanged under new leadership, Garland will oversee what is expected to be a dramatic shift in the Justice Department’s approach to a series of other issues—from civil-rights enforcement and police reform, to the use of the federal death penalty,and the level of discretion prosecutors have in charging crimes.

Garland said during his confirmation hearing that he would pursue strong enforcement of civil-rights laws—focusing on hate-crimes prosecutions, voting rights, and the equitable treatment of minorities in the criminal-justice system after last year’s nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.

He said he planned to address “the problem of mass incarceration” and signaled that his Justice Department would show leniency for some lower-level drug offenders, reversing Trump administration policy.

Garland also expressed deep skepticism about the use of the federal death penalty, which Trump officials revived after a nearly 20-year hiatus and President Joe Biden has said he would end.

Research contact: @WSJ

What does your dog really think? A pet psychic might be able to tell you

March 11, 2021

Once or twice a year, Terri O’Hara visits a ranch in Littleton, Colorado, to talk with the animals. O’Hara strolls through the barn, mingles with the herd, and hunkers down with the poultry. She says that, in doing so, she absorbs in telepathic images that reveal animals’ inner thoughts—from the profound to the mundane, The Wall Street Journal reports.

On a typical visit,. O’Hara will report that a gelding is concerned that human staff members get dangerously underfoot around the feeding stations. The miniature steer is miffed that the male pig has a female companion and he doesn’t. The alpacas divulge that cliques are forming among the volunteer ranch hands. The hens complain that the rooster is abusive.

Ranch owner Bernadette Spillane takes these reports seriously when managing the 53-acre property. The ranch is a sanctuary for rescued horses, and Spillane says they line up to unburden themselves on O’Hara’s visits. “There were horses we didn’t realize were having an issue,” says Spillane, 65 years old. “Or they knew other horses were having an issue, and they wanted to talk about it.”

And Spillane is far from alone.

“Just because I don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s not real,” says former Manhattan restaurateur Alex von Bidder, whose daughter brought an animal communicator to her horse farm in Aiken, South Carolina.

O’Hara, who lives in Eugene, Oregon, has a three-week waiting list for appointments and counts more than 10,000 animals among her clients. Last month, she gave a woman the hard news that the family dog preferred to live with her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

She has even held telepathic sessions with guinea pigs. “On average, they have less to say,” she acknowledges.

O’Hara, 61, recently told the Journal that she began hearing animals as a child. She stopped admitting it in her teens. Her parents died when she was in her late 20s, and—overwhelmed by the prospect of three deaths in short succession—she turned to an animal communicator to talk to her terminally ill dog. She immediately recognized that same ability in herself.

“I’ve heard them in a way that doesn’t involve the ears,” she says. “I’ve heard them in the heart.”

She started conducting sessions with friends’ pets, but took several years to make a career out of it. “I got into it kicking and screaming,” she says. “I was still shy. I was still embarrassed. The more I did it, the more I realized it was a bit of a calling.”

Like O’Hara, animal communicator Anna Twinney usually holds sessions over the phone, while looking at a photograph of the animal. Twinney says she has talked to horses in Dubai from her home in North Carolina. She has done in-person work with sloths in Costa Rica. Sloths, she says, talk faster than they move.

The British-born Twinney, age 50, specialized in rape and child-abuse victims while she was a police officer in the U.K. She says she earned her U.S. residency for her expertise in horse whispering, which she describes as a behavior-modification technique that involves touching the animal. She says she also uses telepathy with animals, their thoughts flickering past her like a colorful silent movie.

“With telepathy you can go to the horse’s mouth to find out what they need to feel safe,” Twinney informed the Journal.

Twinney recently conducted a session with Walks with Indelible Courage, a Spanish mustang boarding on the Spillanes’ Colorado ranch. The horse grew up untamed on a 7,000-acre property in Wyoming and was so wild that ranch hands struggled to get a halter on him, much less persuade him to get into a trailer.

Twinney reported that Walks With wanted to change pens, a step Spillane says helped calm him.

Predictably, The Wall Street Journal reports, animal communicators run into their share of skeptics.

Kyle Huwaldt’s father  has engaged Ms. O’Hara on and off for nearly two decades, spanning three generations of family dogs. But Huwaldt, a 21-year-old finance student at the University of Denver, just doesn’t find it plausible that someone three states away can have a two-way conversation with a dog by looking at its photo.

That said, he finds it harmless enough. His father, retired structural engineer Michael Huwaldt, 72, is very attached to his dogs, and heartbroken when they die. A session with O’Hara makes the passage of time and dogs less painful, “even if it’s not scientific whatsoever,” the younger Huwaldt says. “Why question a good thing?”

Then there was an incident years ago with Muddy, an aged chocolate Lab who, O’Hara conveyed, wanted his ashes spread in the mountains he saw from the yard. The elder Huwaldt didn’t think the mountains were visible from Muddy’s favorite spot, so he squatted down to get a dog’s-eye-view. Sure enough, he could see the mountains through the trees.

 “So I became a believer,” he says. “There’s no way she could have made that up or known that.”

Siblings Julie and Jeremy Vogel hired animal communicator Brenda Cunliffe earlier this year for a session with their parents’ Lab-pit bull mix, Charlie. Charlie struck Vogel as unusually needy and she wondered if he was happy.

Jeremy Vogel, 24, was hesitant, but his sister egged him on. “We should just try it,” she recalls saying.

They wanted to keep the session secret from their parents. “We didn’t really want to freak them out,” Julie Vogel told the Journal.

So they closeted themselves in a bedroom in the family home in Valhalla, New York,  gave Charlie a bone with some peanut butter, and put Cunliffe on speaker phone.

Cunliffe reported that Charlie said he’s a “happy boy” and everyone thinks he’s human, according to the Vogels. She asked him if people talk to him and Cunliffe said he responded, “Yep, all the time.” As he chewed his bone loudly, Ms. Cunliffe noted he said his teeth weren’t giving him any problems.

Cunliffe also conveyed that Charlie gets bored when everyone stares at their phones. “Really? You’re going to look at that again?” she relayed him saying. “Come on, let’s go back outside, Dad.”

Vogel, 27, found the session entertaining and comforting. “I don’t understand how it works,” she said afterward. “But I also understand that there are many things that we can never understand.”

Cunliffe, based in Vero Beach, Florida, didn’t return calls or emails from the Journal requesting comment. Her website advertises 30-minute sessions for $65.

Jacqui Feinstix , age 37, of New Paltz, New York, was impressed when Cunliffe passed along the news that her deceased dog Woody was upset that his ashes were under the sink. Jacqui had scattered his remains in his favorite park, but the urn itself was—unbeknown to Feinstix—indeed under the sink.

“You can’t Google that,” says Feinstix.

Research contact: @WSJ

Amazon in talks to carry many Thursday NFL games exclusively on Prime Video

March 8, 2021

The National Football League is ready to sign new rights deals with media partners that could see Amazon.com carrying many games exclusively—and TV networks paying as much as double their current rate, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal late last week.

New agreements could be in place within the next few days, the sources said—but some things won’t change immediately. The television deals for the league’s Sunday and Monday franchises with Fox, CBS, NBC, and ESPN are likely to run for as long as 11 years, they said.

ESPN’s deal would go into effect after the 2021-22 season; while the Fox, CBS and NBC agreements would kick in after the 2022-23 season.

A deal with Amazon would result in a significant number of Thursday night games running exclusively on its Prime Video platform—and would represent the league’s deepest foray into streaming, some of the sources told the Journal. Those games wouldn’t be available on traditional television outside of the local markets of the two teams playing, they said.

Amazon has become an aggressive bidder for sports rights, both in America and abroad. The company already has a relationship with the NF—as it has held streaming rights for Thursday night football since 2017. Those games also have been televised by the league-owned NFL Network; and, most recently, by the Fox network, whose parent company shares common ownership with News Corp, the parent company of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones.

If completed, an Amazon deal wouldn’t take effect until after the 2022 season, when Fox’s current pact for Thursday night football expires. Fox is now paying $660 million a season for that package, The Wall Street Journal previously reported. If the Thursday games go to Amazon and there is no other video component beyond the local TV markets of the teams playing, that yearly fee Amazon pays could reach $1 billion, people with knowledge of the discussions said.

Amazon currently pays between $75 million and $100 million to stream Thursday games, a person with knowledge of the deal said. As with Fox, that contract still has two seasons on it. The NFL Network would continue to carry a handful of exclusive Saturday and Thursday games; as its contract with distributors requires it to carry at least five games a season, people familiar with the league’s thinking said.

A deal with Amazon for most Thursday night games would solve a potential problem for the NFL. While Thursday games get strong ratings compared with any other programming, the high price tag was making it a tough sell with broadcasters who already carry NFL packages such as Fox, which analysts and industry insiders estimate loses $250 million a season. Prior to Fox’s deal, CBS and NBC shared Thursday games; and their combined losses were more than $200 million, people familiar with those agreements have said.

A move to put a chunk of NFL games—which typically dominate television ratings—exclusively on a streaming platform isn’t without risk. Amazon carried one game exclusively last year and drew an average audience of fewer than five million, much lower than the typical NFL game on broadcast television or ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

The league is trying to strike a balance between embracing new platforms and the revenue they represent while keeping most of its games on traditional television.

Fox’s annual average fee for its Sunday afternoon games is expected to jump to around $2 billion from the current $1.1 billion, the people familiar with those negotiations said. ViacomCBS  likely will see its average fee per season of Sunday afternoon games go from $1 billion to the $2 billion range, the people said.

The new deal for Comcast NBC also is expected to more than double from the average of $960 million it pays per season now to around $2 billion, a person familiar with that pact said.

NBC’s streaming service Peacock also will carry one game exclusively and will simulcast NBC’s Sunday night games, the person said.

The league in addition expects to get a big increase in fees from Walt Disney’s ESPN, people familiar with the matter told the Journal.

The fee increases come after a season in which ratings were down for the regular season, playoffs and Super Bowl. Network executives say they believe that the coronavirus pandemic played a large part in the declines and think numbers will improve once normalcy returns.

In addition, CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN are all facing challenges in holding on to viewers, making live sports ever more important.

Research contact: @WSJ

Reese Witherspoon’s new, free app adds to growing crowd of virtual book clubs

March 4, 2021

“C’mon, get app-y!” the Hello Sunshine website invites us this week. The media company—founded by actress and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon—has introduced a free app for its book club, offering the latest digital meeting place away from the crowds on big social media platforms, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Reese’s Book Club has operated since 2017 on Instagram, where it drew 1.9 million followers. Executives believe it can strengthen its relationship with readers with an app of its own.

“We wanted to build our cozy corner of the internet,” said Cynthia Rupeka, VP at Reese’s Book Club; which is a division of Hello Sunshine, the consumer name for Be Sunshine LLC.

Book club apps are becoming more common, the Journal notes, as people seek to congregate around specific interests in new ways.

Readers have flocked to Amazon’s Goodreads service, which enables users to create groups for a variety of reading interests. The service has more than 120 million members.

Oprah Winfrey has perhaps the most well-known book club, the Journal notes. She revived the club in 2019 with an Apple partnership that includes an Apple TV+ show with author interviews, a dedicated section in Apple’s Books app .and a podcast. The book club also reaches readers via social media and a Goodreads group.

The need is clear: People have felt more isolated during the pandemic, with 34% of U.S. adults saying that social media, video calls, and texting did not help them feel more connected to friends and family, according to data from Forrester Research, a research firm.

Discord, a chat startup popular with gamers that also has channels dedicated to other interests and the audio-only social network Clubhouse each recently raised $100 million from investors.

But users have maintained an appetite for novelty and ways to be entertained, Anjali Lai, senior analyst at Forrester, tells the Journal: “It is a little bit of a perfect storm for this desire to find like-minded consumers in a sort of private space, right behind these digital closed doors, that feels a bit more intimate, and connect with people in that way,” Lai said.

It’s also a profitable niche. Hello Sunshine receives a portion of the revenue from book purchases that result when members click out to e-commerce sites from its app.The company has corporate partnerships as well, such as an in-vehicle app in select Buick models. Drivers can listen to an audiobook via the app as well as podcasts from Hello Sunshine.

Research contact: @WSJ

New chauffeur-hailing service seeks to challenge Uber, Lyft for city rides

March 2, 2021

Berlin-based Blacklane—an upscale ride-hailing company in which  Daimler has invested—rolled out its inner-city services in New York City on March 1—seeking to challenge the black car services of rivals Uber and Lyft as the coronavirus pandemic continues to reshape the industry, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The firm was founded by Jens Wohltorf and Frank Steuer in 2011. As frequent travelers, they saw a need for a single global professional chauffeur service. They had a vision to create “a smarter way to book and manage rides”—something affordable, reliable, and efficient. Blacklane has grown from a two-man operation in Berlin to an international crew of over 400 people with satellite offices in Singapore, Los Angeles, Dubai, and Brisbane.

Indeed, after New York City, the service is slated to expand to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Singapore, Dubai and other locations throughout the month, Wohltorf told Journal.

Blacklane is aiming to serve a narrow part of the ride-hailing market that targets business customers. It uses chauffeur-driven premium or luxury vehicles and offers services such as handling luggage, opening doors for passengers, and other amenities.

The ride-hailing industry was hit hard by the pandemic when lockdowns brought mass transportation to a halt. Uber and Lyft said in February that ride bookings had halved in the fourth quarter, compared with a year earlier.

The industry has adapted the Journal notes: Uber’s food-delivery service helped it weather the trough in its core offering. Blacklane’s new inner-city service is part of a similar effort—using existing drivers who previously only served the airports to offer the same chauffeured service for rides in the cities where they operate.

While Uber and Lyft dominate the broader ride-hailing market, the much-smaller Blacklane initially sought to carve a niche with an app offering chauffeur-driven rides to and from airports, which at latest count was available in 300 cities world-wide.

That business came to a halt when the virus grounded most air travel. So in December, Blacklane started an intercity service in the U.S. to attract business travelers wary of taking crowded trains and short-haul flights. Travelers can book a Blacklane driver for a trip from New York to Boston for $399, about half the cost of an Uber or Lyft ride on the same route.

With the new inner-city service, Blacklane is hoping to attract the same business, safety-conscious audience. It pairs a traditional, luxury limousine service with the convenience of a booking app.

“Being dependent on travel and airports, we were on the front-line of the pandemic,” said Wohltorf, pointing out that a revival of international travel was still on the distant horizon. “But cities are back; they are mobile. There is good recovery of inner-city mobility.”

Mr. Wohltorf and his investors had been targeting a potential initial public offering next year, but they have put off the plan until 2023 at the earliest, he told the Journaln.

“The longer we wait the more valuable we become and the more impact we will have. There is no reason for hectic,” he said.

Research contact: @WSJ

Liz Cheney retains GOP post; Marjorie Taylor Greene’s committee seats remain under threat

February 5, 2021

House Republicans have voted to keep Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming in party leadership, despite her harsh criticism of former President Donald Trump’s role in inciting the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

However, they have declined to deprive Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) a Trump loyalist, of her committee seats, despite her comments embracing conspiracy theories and political violence—and her one-time threat “to put a bullet in [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi’s head.”

.After a dizzying week of recriminations, both Cheney and Greene remained within the fold of the House GOP, highlighting Republicans’ efforts at stitching together a still-fractious party, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Facing Democrats’ demands that Greene be stripped of her committee assignments, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R- California) condemned her comments but declined to take further steps. With no action from Republicans, Democrats scheduled a full House vote for Thursday, February 4, aiming to remove Greene from the education and budget committees.

“Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference,” McCarthy said, according to the Journal.

He said that he stressed in a private meeting with Greene on Tuesday night that she must now hold herself to a higher standard as an elected official. He also said that she apologized for her comments during Wednesday’s closed-door party meeting.

At that same gathering, Cheney defeated a motion from Trump’s allies to oust her as House GOP conference chairwoman in a 145-61 vote, conducted by secret ballot after hours of intense debate.

Republicans made clear Wednesday night that “we’re not going to be divided and that we’re not going to be in a situation where people can pick off any member of leadership,” Cheney said after the vote.

The two debates highlighted the fierce infighting roiling the party as it seeks to define itself after Trump’s election loss—and the eagerness of  McCarthy to knit

As the Journal reports, Cheney was the only member of GOP leadership—and one of ten House Republicans overall—to vote to impeach Trump last month on allegations that he incited the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol.

During Wednesday’s marathon meeting, Cheney said she wouldn’t apologize and didn’t regret her vote, but sought to give more context for the timing of her statement, which she released the night before the impeachment vote. In that statement, she said of Trump: “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Research contact: @WSJ

A new service seeks to streamline your streaming

January 8, 2021

As the streaming landscape keeps getting more crowded, a new entrant is looking to help declutter it, The Wall Street Journal reports

Struum—a Los Angeles-based streaming service co-founded by former Discovery and Walt Disney  executives—won’t offer its own slate of original programming when it launches this spring. Instead, it will aim to give customers à-la-carte access to all content from hundreds of niche streaming services, offering users a way to stream individual shows and movies from various platforms without having to subscribe to each plan separately.

Co-founder Paul Pastor told the Journal that Struum would give more visibility to lesser-known services—which he said have “fantastic content” but have trouble “being part of someone’s daily habit,” because there is only so much money households will spend on streaming services every month.

The coronavirus pandemic has been a boon for major streaming services, including Netflix., Disney’s Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, whose subscriber base soared last year in the midst of growing demand for content from shut-in customers. Some 95% of U.S. households subscribe to at least one of these three services, according to Parks Associates, a research firm.

Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, whose Tornante is Struum’s main financial backer, told The Wall Street Journal that the decision to invest was a no-brainer.

“When I heard about this idea of an aggregation platform that would pick up smaller streaming services that don’t have brand awareness particularly like Netflix does have, I thought this was a great idea,” he said.

Struum declined to name any of the services whose content would be available on its platform at launch, but said it has already struck deals with nearly three dozen services—accounting for more than 20,000 TV series, movies, and shorts.

Subscribers will get monthly credits that can be used toward watching shows and movies, the company said. Its co-founders—who also include Lauren DeVillier, formerly of Discovery, and Eugene Liew and Thomas Wadsworth, formerly of Disney—said there would be multiple packages to choose from. A likely one, they said, would cost subscribers $9.99 a month for 100 credits, which should allow them to watch about one program a day.

The co-founders said Struum would sort out the economics—for example, how many credits should a hit show or movie be worth compared with more run-of-the-mill programming—on a case-by-case basis with each streaming partner, depending on demand. The company will share subscription revenue with the streaming services.

Research contact: @WSJ