The Last Judgment, Wassily Kandinsky, 1912
‘The Last Judgment’ by Wassily Kandinsky, 1912. Photo credit: Wassily Kandinsky / WikiArt

And we haven’t even reached the Ides of March yet. What next?

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Now, almost one month later, what may or may not be the whole story, comes out. And it’s what police surely knew all along, making it strange that they were supposedly investigating the possibility of foul play:

Angela Chao had just left a dinner celebrating the Chinese New Year in a guest house on her ranch, and was on her way home to the main house in her Tesla. Soon after, she called a friend in a panic. She said that, while making a K-turn, she had put the car in reverse — a mistake she had made before. The car went backwards over an embankment into a pond, and she was sinking fast. Help did not arrive in time. 

The detailed Chao story was unknown until it was broken this Friday evening by The Wall Street Journal. It’s owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, on whose board Elaine Chao, the victim’s sister and McConnell’s wife, served until she joined the Trump administration in 2016. The Journal story itself, which has four reporter bylines, is peculiar and contains many curious elements and implications, and a reader comes away with a raft of unanswered questions. 

Of course, the Journal has excellent reporters and presumably developed the story on their own, although Murdoch is famous for suggesting stories to his reporters and plugging them into sources. 

In any case, the odd way in which the details — of what we now learn may have been a simple accident — were seemingly suppressed and only just coming to light do invite curiosity.

The incident occurred two weeks before McConnell’s announcement, on February 28, that he will step down from party leadership in November. He began by saying, “As some of you may know, this has been a particularly difficult time for my family. We tragically lost Elaine’s younger sister, Angela, just a few weeks ago.” 

Strange rumors floated about, as they so often do (and are usually wrong); for instance, the Chinese Communists did it to send a message to McConnell: Don’t give money to Taiwan.

Background on Chao: The Chao sisters and their father own Foremost Group, a shipping company that carries goods between the US and China. And they have received low-interest loans from the Chinese government to buy ships. 

And we know that Elaine Chao — who held influence at high levels in the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Trump administrations — has been accused of exploiting her position to benefit her family’s business.  


President Joe Biden’s feisty State of the Union address was the defining drama of the week for him — and for many. But the New York Times/Siena College poll conducted some days earlier, showing Trump beating Biden and doing surprisingly well even among traditional Democratic constituencies, generated plenty of heat and will continue to dog him.

One thing worth pondering is that the pollsters asked respondents whether they think Biden is too old to be president, but did not ask whether Trump is too old — or too crazy or too criminal. 

With the influence polls have on the public discourse and on news coverage, it’s worth taking a closer look at the kinds of angles pollsters explore, and considering how the choices of questions may in themselves create a certain inevitability.


I don’t think the media does nearly enough to cover Vladmir Putin’s murderous ways beyond Ukraine (or even in Ukraine), but I was glad to see The Wall Street Journal noting how many of Putin’s Russian foes and colleagues keep showing up as corpses. 

Assuming most folks can’t get past the paywall, here’s the crux: A Russian flew his Mi-8 attack helicopter into Ukraine, turned over his gunship, collected a $500,000 reward, and, soon after, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense posted a video of the defector encouraging his countrymen to do the same thing. He ended up in Spain, in a condo overlooking the beach. 

Six months later, as he was returning home, an assassin shot him several times, jumped in his car, and ran over his victim. Moscow called the defector a “traitor” and has not denied having him killed. For decades Russian dissidents have been murdered, but the more recent killings are related to the invasion of Ukraine. 

From the Journal:

Since the invasion of Ukraine, prominent Russians have died in unusual circumstances on three continents. Some were thought to harbor politically subversive ideas, while others may have been caught up in run-of-the-mill criminal warfare. Some may have actually died of natural causes. But there are enough of them that Wikipedia publishes a running list, at 51 names, entitled “Suspicious deaths of Russian business people (2022–2024).”


Speaking of which, in the closest call yet, a Russian missile exploded in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa this week, just hundreds of feet from where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. How is that not a bigger story? What if the Russians deliberately tried to kill Zelenskyy? What if they had succeeded? 


More and more people are realizing the extent to which OpenAI is related to a play by Microsoft, the world’s most valuable company, to dominate Artificial Intelligence


Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the GOP response to the State of the Union address by photogenic young TV mom and new Alabama Sen. Katie Britt, broadcasting from her kitchen like a latter-day Betty Crocker. Her scenery-chewing performance featured a rapidly shifting cycle of feigned emotions, from cutesy charm to on-the-verge-of-tears to steely killer attacks on Biden, all punctuated by the prominent cross she wore — which frankly mesmerized me. For some reason, I found myself thinking about The Handmaid’s Tale.

Like everyone watching, I was struck by a disturbing account of Britt meeting with a woman who had been sex trafficked and repeatedly raped by Mexican cartels. The impression conveyed was that these crimes had occurred in Texas — under the Democrats. Britt was placing the blame for these horrors at Biden’s feet. 

But a journalist thought it didn’t sound right and checked it out. We now learn that Britt lied regarding almost every aspect of the story. The crimes happened in Mexico, not the US, as Britt implied. While George W. Bush was president. And, contrary to the impression Britt tried to create, this woman did not have a private meeting with her during which she confided these things. Britt was one of several people at a press conference, where the woman spoke. 

Her name is Karla Jacinto Romero, and Britt was careful to not reveal it. Had she done so, one had only to Google it to learn that Jacinto Romero is an activist who for some time has been describing her experiences publicly, and had testified before Congress in 2015. One would also have learned where and when she had been victimized — and it wasn’t on Biden’s watch. It now appears that Britt has been telling this tall tale publicly for quite some time. 

Her lack of qualms about lying are certainly shocking — but somehow not surprising. Under normal circumstances, she would have to resign, and the party’s likely standard bearer would denounce the fraud. But these are not normal times. 


  • Russ Baker

    Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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