April 3rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

WWE Joins UFC, The Circus Comes to NYC

The fighting and outcome may be fake, but the action is real, and so is the money. The WWE just body-slammed a massive deal into the turnbuckles by merging with another brand where the fighting is very real, but the spectacle is similar. “WWE and the company that runs Ultimate Fighting Championship will combine to create a $21.4 billion sports entertainment company … The new business, which does not yet have a name, will be lead by Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel. Vince McMahon, executive chairman at WWE, will serve in the same role at the new company. Dana White will continue as president of UFC.”

+ There is a bit of a Succession angle to this story. “No longer will the WWE be the family-run business that WWE and its predecessors have been since McMahon’s father and grandfather began promoting professional wrestling in New York in 1953. As such, it marks the end of an era for TV’s dominant pro wrestling franchise.” Endeavor-WWE Acquisition Deal Reached on Night 1 of WrestleMania 39.

+ “Is wrestling real? Is it fake? The answer to both questions is, paradoxically, yes.” In other words, it’s pretty much like American politics (a great newsletter auteur eloquently made this connection back in 2020). The Atlantic: How Wrestling Explains America. “In 1988, then-businessman Donald Trump ‘hosted’ WrestleMania at the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. That word is in quotes because, as with so much involving Trump, it was a con—the actual event took place across the street, at the Atlantic City Convention Center. (TV audiences were none the wiser, Riesman notes, and this helped Trump build his brand.) Two years earlier, the lawyer G. Gordon Liddy, of Watergate fame, served as a WrestleMania celebrity guest judge.” The connection between our two American spectacles is only going to increase when Trump Trial 1 kicks off in NYC. (In between rounds, don’t forget to score some merch.) This seems like a good moment to whack my laptop with a folding chair before spinning it over my head and sending it into a dumpster with a flying heel kick.


School of Hard Stocks

“The mantra for making it into America’s top schools rings from New York City to Kentucky: Whatever it takes.” Bloomberg (Gift Article) on a process that can start as early as 7th grade: Parents Are Paying Consultants $750,000 to Get Kids Into Ivy League Schools.

+ As with every American economic story, there’s a divide. Community colleges are reeling. ‘The reckoning is here.’


Taking Stock

“While people praised Finland’s strong social safety net and spoke glowingly of the psychological benefits of nature and the personal joys of sports or music, they also talked about guilt, anxiety and loneliness. Rather than ‘happy,’ they were more likely to characterize Finns as ‘quite gloomy,’ ‘a little moody’ or not given to unnecessary smiling. Many also shared concerns about threats to their way of life, including possible gains by a far-right party in the country’s elections, the war in Ukraine and a tense relationship with Russia, which could worsen now that Finland is set to join NATO. It turns out even the happiest people in the world aren’t that happy. But they are something more like content.” (Maybe they just misread the poll question?) NYT (Gift Article): The Finnish Secret to Happiness? Knowing When You Have Enough.

+ Have the Finns had enough of Prime Minister Sanna Marin? Her party just suffered an election defeat. In her concession speech, Marin said, “Democracy has spoken, the Finnish people have cast their vote, and the celebration of democracy is always a wonderful thing.” (Wait, nothing about fake electors, voting machines, or George Soros? No wonder they’re happy.)


Stock Piling

What do you do if you’re a major consumer packaged goods player and you see a recession on the horizon? You remind yourself that in these divided times, the recession won’t impact buying trends in the upper portion of the market. $90 cream and $10 toothpaste: Companies target big spenders. “Many companies that normally cater to middle-income shoppers are unleashing a bevy of premium items in an attempt to grab consumers with more money to spare. But that could leave fewer options for consumers with less money to spare.”


Extra, Extra

Spies Like Us: “If the veiled nature of the deal was unusual– it was signed for the front company by a businessperson using a fake name – the timing was extraordinary. Only five days earlier, the Biden administration had announced it was taking action against NSO, whose hacking tools for years had been abused by governments around the world to spy on political dissidents, human rights activists and journalists.” Amazing reporting. Once tech is out there, it’s gonna be used. How the U.S. came to use the spyware it was trying to kill.

+ Arrested Journalist: “On Wednesday, the Russian state security service, the F.S.B., arrested my friend Evan. Evan Gershkovich, a thirty-one-year-old reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the son of Soviet-born émigrés who came to the U.S. in the late seventies, was detained while on a reporting trip to Yekaterinburg, a city more than a thousand miles east of Moscow.” Joshua Yaffa in The New Yorker: The Unimaginable Horror of a Friend’s Arrest in Moscow. (It would be really nice if some of our more rabid politicians and media personalities could break with recent tradition and side with the American Jewish journalist and not Putin.)

+ Hand Grenade: Backed by an incredible shooting performance, LSU beat Iowa and its phenom Caitlyn Clark to take home the NCAA women’s college hoops championship. Axios has a good roundup of the action. Meanwhile, everyone is talking about the hand.

+ Higher Court: The most important election of 2023 is for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Why the Wisconsin Supreme Court election could have huge national implications. (There will never again be an election that isn’t insanely close and remarkably important.)

+ Tornadoes Strike: “Residents across a wide swath of the U.S. raced Sunday to assess the destruction from fierce storms that spawned possibly dozens of tornadoes from the South and the Midwest into the Northeast, killing at least 32 people.”

+ New York Post Facto: New York, city of Trump’s dreams, delivers his comeuppance. This has been the angle most absent from the narrative for years, and especially now. Donald Trump spent his entire life trying to be the king of New York. You cannot overstate this part of his personal journey. He plastered his name everywhere in the city. He is now deeply hated by the city he loves. He once planned to govern from Trump Tower. Now, NYC is a place where he only goes to face a judge. It’s a key part of what makes him a tragic figure (in addition to being an evil one). Of course, his legal issues won’t be limited to one jurisdiction. WaPo (Gift Article): Justice Dept. said to have more evidence of possible Trump obstruction at Mar-a-Lago.

+ Who’s on First? “A case of mistaken identity is sparking a selloff in Republic First Bancorp Inc., which had fallen by more than 40% this month because investors have it confused with embattled First Republic Bank.”


Bottom of the News

For April Fool’s Day, Michael Che told the SNL audience not to laugh at any of the jokes delivered by Colin Jost. My wife and kids have been pulling that same gag on me for more than a decade.

+ “Catering to the overworked, the introverted and the way-too-baked, a new barbershop in San Francisco offers silent haircuts so that you no longer have to talk to your barber as they line you up.”

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