The Truth About Joe Manchin’s Floating Mansion

Before corporate media began framing the senator’s houseboat as a homey hideaway, they described the vessel very differently.
The Truth About Joe Manchin’s Floating Mansion

West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin’s Washington boat, the Almost Heaven, has become a media darling, a place that corporate news outlets describe as a folksy political hideaway filled with pizza, beer, and unpretentious vibes. As a recent Washington Post puff piece put it, the vessel, which has become a key meeting place of beltway VIPs, is “somewhere between a trawler and a yacht” and “a place for Hawaiian shirts and shorts… instead of suits and ties.”

But before Manchin purchased it in 2013, the Post described this vessel very differently.

Find out how it did so and much more in today’s Midday Poster below.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“A catastrophic failure of U.S. journalism and politics is that something like Biden's 10-year, $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill is not called a $350 billion annual bill… but the Pentagon's budget, which will exceed $7.5 trillion over a decade, is called a $750 billion annual bill” —  Northwestern University Journalism Professor Steven Thrasher

TODAY’S READS:

  1. Newsom Slammed for Issuing 138 Oil Permits as California Cleanup Continues
  2. For-Profit Charter Schools Help Private Investors Exploit Public Education
  3. The Corporate State Of Delaware
  4. Major Unions Are Undermining The Progressive Strategy On Reconciliation
  5. Why Energy Companies See Riches In The California Desert
  6. Looming Restart of Student Loan Repayment Infuriates Borrowers

TODAY’S STAT:

A new Public Citizen report found that Americans spent $101 billion on the 20 top-selling drugs in 2020, roughly twice what the rest of the world spent on the same medicines. “The U.S. is one of the only high-income countries not to negotiate the price of drugs,” noted the report. “Granting Medicare the authority to push back against pharmaceutical company profiteering would mean an end to decades of overpaying for medicines and would save the U.S. billions of dollars.”

TODAY’S SCOOP:

As corporate West Virginian Democrat Joe Manchin leans into his role as one of his party’s most craven spoilers, Almost Heaven, the 65-by-20-foot boat he lives in on the Potomac when he’s in Washington has become a star.

A recent Washington Post puff piece declared, “Washington’s hottest club is Joe Manchin’s houseboat,” and went on to describe it as “a crucial destination for members of Official Washington” and the site of core group dealings on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tested positive for COVID-19 after a weekend cruise on the vessel, and a recent video captured Manchin lecturing on the importance of fiscal responsibility to a group of protesters who had kayaked up to the boat to demand he support a reconciliation bill that makes a transformative investment in the lives of most Americans.

Recent corporate media descriptions of Almost Heaven have framed it as a quirky, homey houseboat. The Washington Post story described it as “somewhere between a trawler and a yacht” and “a place for Hawaiian shirts and shorts (Manchin’s go-to boat attire) instead of suits and ties, where senators dine on pizza from Harris Teeter or pasta platters from Nostra Cocina.” A 2014 Time magazine piece agreed, depicting it as an informal space of pizza, beer, and the occasional merlot. And a June New Yorker Manchin profile said “it resembles a small ferry” that “provides an offshore venue for the kind of casual evening that Manchin considers vital to politics.”

Most of these articles mention that while a 2018 Republican attack ad called the vessel a “$700,000 D.C. luxury yacht,” Manchin’s office reported he bought it used for $220,000.

But before Manchin purchased the vessel in 2013, corporate media described it very differently. According to a 2004 Washington Post article on the boat, then called the Jennifer Anne, “You could call it a houseboat, but that would be like calling Air Force One a plane.”

The rest of the piece reads like a Robin Leach voiceover from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: “The 1,500 square feet of interior living space embrace 3 1/2 bedrooms (including a 14-by-20-foot master suite), 3 1/2 bathrooms, and a bright and open living/dining area (complete with a granite dining table) where the DeLanceys have comfortably entertained as many as 50 people to watch a Blue Angels air show or the colorful start of major yacht races on the bay.”

And that anecdote about how Manchin only spent $220,000 on the vessel? He clearly knew he had scored a good deal on the ship, since he has it insured at a market value of $700,000.

Such misleading descriptions of Manchin’s floating mansion are par for the course for the corporate media, which has long mischaracterized the coal baron from West Virginia. Take how the Time piece on the Almost Heaven described the senator, who has now stalled the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion social safety net legislation amid false platitudes about the risks of “moving towards an entitlement mentality.” According to that article, Manchin has “a bias toward action rather than rhetoric.”

TODAY’S FLASHBACK:

In 1995, the United States government dropped a requirement for pharmaceutical companies to set “reasonable” prices for new drugs they create with the help of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. The clause’s elimination recently allowed COVID vaccine manufacturers that received upwards of $10 billion in taxpayer funding to avoid offering fair prices for their drugs.

Now Merck is charging the U.S. government $712 per five-day course for a promising new COVID-19 treatment that costs only $17.74 to make. The company used NIH and Department of Defense funding to create Molnupiravir, the drug that is now being sold at 40 times the price of production. As soon as the medication receives FDA emergency use authorization, Merck will receive $1.2 billion from the government to supply 1.7 million courses of the drug at the $712 price.

TODAY’S CLICKS:

  • ULTRAWEALTHY DODGED ESTATE TAX THROUGH SPECIAL TRUSTS: A new ProPublica report shows more than half of the Forbes 100 members, including the Koch Brothers and former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, have used special trusts to pass down their fortunes to heirs without paying estate taxes. These tax loopholes, created by Congress decades ago, have potentially cost the U.S. Treasury $100 billion over the past 13 years.
  • TV AND FILM CREW MEMBERS GET GREEN LIGHT TO STRIKE: The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents film, TV, and other entertainment workers, voted overwhelmingly on Monday to authorize a strike, marking the first potential nationwide industry strike in the 150,000-member union’s 128-year history. “This vote is about the quality of life as well as the health and safety of those who work in the film and television industry,” said IATSE International President Matthew Loeb. The move towards a strike is a response to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ failure to work with the union to address excessive working hours and unlivable wages, issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER STEVEN DONZIGER FACES PRISON TIME: Human rights and environmental justice attorney Steven Donziger was sentenced on Friday to six months in federal prison for “criminal contempt” as part of Chevron’s long legal vendetta against him. Donziger had spent decades fighting, and in 2013, winning, a landmark case against Chevron for polluting the Ecuadorian rainforest. “I have been attacked and demonized for years by Chevron in retaliation for helping Indigenous peoples in Ecuador try to do something to save their cultures, their lives, and our planet in the face of massive oil pollution,” said Donziger during his sentencing hearing. A day later, the same judge who charged him ordered Indigenous Amazonians to pay Chevron’s steep legal fees.
  • STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL QUITS OVER BIDEN IMMIGRATION POLICY: Harold Koh, a top State Department official, is leaving the Biden administration over the president’s use of Title 42, a public health policy implemented by Trump, to expel migrants from the southern border. “I believe this Administration’s current implementation of the Title 42 authority continues to violate our legal obligation not to expel or return (“refouler”) individuals who fear persecution, death, or torture, especially migrants fleeing from Haiti,” noted Koh in his exit memo. Last month, U.S. Special Envoy to Haiti Daniel Foote also left the administration in response to its decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and undocumented immigrants.
  • MOST PENTAGON SPENDING WENT TO PRIVATE CONTRACTORS: Security Policy Reform Institute co-founder Stephen Semler found that over half (54 percent) of the $15 trillion Congress gave the Pentagon since 2001 made its way to the private sector. The analysis, which builds upon a Costs of War Project report, further found that the top five military contractors received $2.2 trillion of the $8 trillion the Pentagon spent on private sector contracts between 2001 and 2021.

TODAY’S OWN:


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