Should a Gusher of Donations Calm Democrats?


President Biden’s campaign just announced that it raised $127 million in June, the best month yet for this cycle. It’s the latest effort by the president’s camp to allay Democratic fears about his ability to win, following last week’s debate debacle.

But donors remain wary, even after a call with top Biden campaign aides on Monday that was meant to shore up their support. That leaves Democrats in a state of protracted anxiety, as a Supreme Court ruling heightened their fears about a second Trump administration.

“Everyone just needs to breathe through the nose for a minute,” Chris Korge, the Democratic National Committee’s finance chair, told more than 500 donors on Monday’s call, according to The Times.

Rufus Gifford, a Biden finance chair, promised that the June fund-raising numbers would be strong, setting up Tuesday’s announcement.

Campaign officials played down any erosion in support. “The media has spent a lot of time blowing this out of proportion,” one said, and others cited internal polling showing no change post-debate. (A Morning Consult poll released Monday showed the race remaining tight.)

But some who dialed in told The Times they felt it was almost facile and rudimentary. One unnamed fund-raiser told The Washington Post that unless Biden shook up his campaign, “it’s going to be a really, really tough time with money.”

Some Democratic officials are publicly worrying, too. “I was pretty horrified,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island told WPRI about the debate, urging Biden and his team “to be candid about his condition.”

One Democratic official has publicly defended Biden is Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who has been floated as his potential replacement. “I am behind him 100 percent in the fight to defeat Donald Trump,” she told Politico, denying that she had said Michigan was now unwinnable.

Biden isn’t budging. The path to replacing Biden was always highly unlikely, given his determination to stay atop the ticket, especially with the encouragement of his wife, Jill.

Reports indicate another major obstacle for getting a new candidate: The D.N.C. is considering nominating Biden by Aug. 5, according to The Post. That would leave little time to find a Plan B and virtually foreclose the possibility of an open convention.

Democratic supporters are contemplating another plausible outcome: Donald Trump being re-elected and feeling emboldened by the Supreme Court decision that bestowed legal immunity for presidents over official actions. Biden sought to capitalize on the ruling, calling on voters to prevent Trump from returning to office and seizing on that expanded power. Trump, who has been on a roll in recent months, is set to be sentenced in his Manhattan criminal case next week but moved to overturn that conviction after the Supreme Court ruling.

“It is a mistake for Americans to lose sight of the larger issue,” Ken Frazier, the former C.E.O. of Merck, told The Financial Times. “Returning President Trump to the White House will threaten our democracy and severely weaken our economy.”

The Supreme Court sidesteps a ruling on Big Tech’s power to police content. The justices sent back to lower courts a pair of legal challenges to moves by Florida and Texas to regulate how social media companies moderate content. The case is seen as instrumental to how free speech operates on social media.

Salesforce shareholders reject its pay plan for Marc Benioff and other executives. Investors voted against the tech company’s compensation plan after shareholder advisory firms questioned the equity provisions for Benioff. Glass Lewis said a long-term award of $20 million was unwarranted because the C.E.O.’s interests were already aligned with the company’s.

A former Moelis executive who was filmed punching a woman is arrested. Jonathan Kaye was arraigned Monday in Brooklyn criminal court on assault and harassment charges. The former Moelis managing director resigned last week after a video circulated widely online showing him in an altercation at a Brooklyn Pride event. Moelis said he was acting in self-defense.

The drawn-out saga over the future of Paramount has taken another turn. Barry Diller is weighing a bid to take control of the media group after Shari Redstone, its controlling shareholder, ended deal talks with Skydance last month at the eleventh hour, write DealBook’s Lauren Hirsch and The Times’s Ben Mullin.

The two parties have signed nondisclosure agreements to allow both sides to share confidential information. Discussions between Diller’s IAC and National Amusements — the holding company through which Redstone controls Paramount, the parent company of CBS, MTV and Nickelodeon — are at an early stage and may not result in a deal.

Other suitors have been weighing a move, including Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Steven Paul, the Hollywood executive best known for the “Baby Geniuses” franchise.

Diller will have come full circle if his bid succeeds. Diller was named head of Paramount Pictures in 1974 at age 32, and is credited with reinvigorating the studio. Several of his key lieutenants went on to establish themselves in Hollywood, including Michael Eisner, a future Disney C.E.O., and Jeffrey Katzenberg. The group became known as the “Killer Dillers.”

Diller tried to buy Paramount Pictures in the 1990s, but lost out to Sumner Redstone. “They won,” Diller said after being outbid. “We lost. Next.”

Diller then started IAC, using a series of deals to build his own digital media empire.

Would Diller deploy his typical playbook at Paramount? In April, Diller called Paramount “the perfect candidate for actually turning itself around.” Diller has historically bought digital media businesses, such as the online dating site and the travel colossus Expedia, before restructuring them and spinning them out.

One thing Diller wouldn’t do: Try to turn Paramount into Netflix. Diller has told The Times that he believes modern entertainment companies can succeed if they stop trying to mimic the streaming giant. Instead, they should focus on making “a program, a movie — a something — that people want to see.”

  • In other media deal news: Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are exploring a sale of Imagine Entertainment, the Hollywood studio behind “Apollo 13” and “A Beautiful Mind,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Tesla shares are on a tear, gaining nearly 20 percent in the past month despite signs of slowing demand for electric vehicles and Chinese rivals eating into the company’s market share.

That rally could be tested on Tuesday, with Tesla set to report quarterly deliveries that analysts expect to show a deepening sales slump. It comes as BYD again looks set to challenge Tesla as the world’s biggest E.V. maker after it reported another strong sales quarter.

Tuesday’s report could reveal a lot about the strength of the overall E.V. market. Rivals like Ford and General Motors have said recently that interest in hybrid and cheaper gasoline-powered vehicles has outstripped demand for all-electric ones.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s C.E.O., warned in January that sales growth would be “notably lower” this year and in April, the company laid off roughly 14,000 workers.

That’s set off alarms that the wider transition to electric vehicles is stalling, despite abundant government subsidies and automakers’ expensive bets on building these new models.

The Biden administration and the E.U. have slapped massive tariffs on less expensive Chinese imports to protect local carmakers.

Here’s what analysts expect from Tesla on Tuesday:

  • The company shipped 438,019 new cars in the second quarter, down from 466,140 in the same quarter a year ago, according to Reuters, which cites a survey of a dozen analysts polled by LSEG, the market data provider.

  • Tom Narayan, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, foresees a bigger decline. In a report published last week, he penciled in 410,000 second-quarter deliveries and a year-on-year decline as softness in Europe and the U.S. weigh on growth.

Even some Tesla bulls are antsy. Ross Gerber, an outspoken Tesla investor who has repeatedly questioned whether Musk is too distracted running his other companies, signaled he’s looking to the company’s earnings call later this month. On X Monday, he expressed concern about the effect of price cuts on Tesla’s bottom line. “We know they moved a lot of cars with the low financing deal, but at what cost,” he wrote.

Weeks after clinching the N.B.A. championship, the Boston Celtics are up for sale — and the price tag will certainly be high.

The big question: Who can afford to buy into one of the most storied franchises in pro basketball, as sports teams’ valuations keep soaring?

The Celtics’ controlling family is set for a windfall. Wyc Grousbeck (and his father, Irving) led the investment consortium that bought the franchise in 2002 for $360 million. That price now looks unbelievably low: Forbes estimated last fall that the Celtics were worth about $4.7 billion, which would make them the league’s fourth most expensive team.

Here are the top five N.B.A. teams by valuation, according to Forbes:

  • Golden State Warriors: $7.7 billion

  • New York Knicks: $6.6 billion

  • Los Angeles Lakers: $6.4 billion

  • Boston Celtics: $4.7 billion

  • Los Angeles Clippers: $4.65 billion

The Celtics cited “estate and family planning considerations,” though The Athletic also notes that the team is set to pay significantly more N.B.A. taxes because of its sky-high payroll. (The team has reportedly re-signed Jayson Tatum, its star forward, to a record-breaking $314 million extension.)

Still, there has been no better time to sell, given how much sports franchise valuations have been soaring. Wealthy individuals have long sought teams as trophy assets. But they’re increasingly seen as good businesses as well, given the huge broadcast deals that leagues are striking. The N.B.A. is negotiating a package worth $76 billion over 11 years, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.

Who could buy the Celtics? One obvious candidate is Steve Pagliuca, the former co-chairman of Bain Capital who’s already a co-owner of the team. “I hope to be part of the Celtics moving forward and will be a proud participant in the bidding process,” he posted on X.

Private equity firms, which have been allowed to buy stakes since 2021, and sovereign wealth funds, which started investing in teams last year, are likely to be in the mix as minority partners.


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