political theater
November 15, 2019

In one day, two different actors have been cast to play two different U.S. presidents in two different TV shows, because yes, the past 20 years of U.S. politics really have been that dramatic.

Deadline reports that Clive Owen will play Bill Clinton on American Crime Story, which will dramatize the sex scandal that led to his impeachment. Meanwhile, Kingsley Ben-Adir will play Barack Obama in A Higher Loyalty, which will dramatize James Comey's memoir about his tenure as FBI director, which ended in a dramatic firing by President Trump.

If you don't feel like waiting for the shows to premiere, you can get all the spoilers from literally any contemporaneous newspaper. Read more at Deadline. Scott Meslow

February 26, 2019

Executives from seven of the world's top drug manufacturers — Merck, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, Sanofi, and Bristol-Myers Squibb — gathered in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to face questioning from the Senate Finance Committee about rising drug prices.

In front of larger-than-normal crowds for a public hearing on Capitol Hill, the bipartisan committee grilled the executives. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), for example, singled out AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez for his company's decision to double the price of Humira, an arthritis medicine, from $18,000 to $39,000 for a 12-month supply.

"Can patients opt for a less expensive alternative?," Wyden asked. "No, they cannot, because AbbVie protects the exclusivity of Humira like Gollum with his ring."

The Tolkien reference was in line with The New York Times' prediction that the hearing would result in "political theater," albeit in theater that "could also be a first step toward legislation to provide some relief from consumers."

The executives, for their part, were on the defensive in prepared testimony, shifting the blame for patients' out-of-pocket payments to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers and touting the money — often received through tax breaks — they have invested into research and development. Watch the hearing on C-SPAN. Tim O'Donnell

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