Rational Security: The 'Low Down Dirty Shane' Edition

By Jen Patja Howell
Thursday, May 18, 2023, 12:01 PM

This week, Alan and Scott were joined by co-host emeritus (and Washington Post star reporter) Shane Harris to talk over the week's news! Including:

  • “Flight of the Valkyries.” Recently leaked U.S. intelligence reports allege that Wagner Group owner Yevgeniy Prighozin—who has privately and publicly feuded with the Russian military leadership in recent weeks and even threatened to pull his mercenary troops from the conflict—has been in contact with Ukrainian intelligence and offered to share Russian troop positions in exchange for concessions around the disputed city of Bakhmut. Is Prighozin trying to find a path to retreat? What do his actions tell us about the conflict?
  • “Jerkiye Boy.” Twitter owner Elon Musk has come under criticism for the company’s latest bad call: censoring certain content at the request of the Erdogan government in Türkiye, just prior to national elections there. How should Twitter have responded to the demands of Turkish officials? And how has Musk’s erratic leadership affected the company’s approach to such issues?
  • “BootLichter.” CNN and its CEO Chris Licht are experiencing blowback from the decision to host a town hall with former President Donald Trump before an audience of his supporters, at which he repeated an array of lies about the 2020 election results, the recent judgment finding him liable for sexual battery, and his potential legal exposure for retaining classified documents, among other items. Was CNN in the wrong? How should it handle Trump (and other candidates)?

For object lessons, Alan recommended his annual reading on the Eurovision contest, Anthony Lane's 2010 New Yorker essay, "Only Mr. God Knows Why." Scott passed along some favorites from his reading-heavy vacation, including Arkady Martine's fantastic "A Memory Called Empire." And Shane, in true Shane fashion, gave his wholehearted endorsement to a new spy thriller coming to Showtime this week: "Ghosts of Beirut," about the hunt for terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh.