If you were beginning to think that unaccountability and high-end thievery in the U.S. were starting to resemble Russia’s after the fall of the Soviet Union, you wouldn’t be alone. It has just seemed that miscreants of all stripes have gone unpunished. A conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones is allowed to declare bankruptcy rather than pay the court-ordered settlement to the families of the children slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Connecticut, whom he so willfully maligned. Nepo-baby-in-law Jared Kushner, who had been a White House adviser to Trump, and his pal, former Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, line their pockets with investments from the Saudis, whom they trolled while in office when they were supposed to be working in service to the country.

Amid this era of grift and corruption, some glimmers of hope came this month in the cases of two organizations that have histories of grubbing in the gutter for nickels—and which along the way created vast divisions in the country. Fox News was in the dock for its relentless, inaccurate attacks against Dominion voting machines following the 2020 presidential election. The courtroom reckoning promised to be a highlight of the Twitterati/media season. Instead, the Fox-Dominion case ended like a sexual liaison with Trump—with gasps, an abrupt ending, and a check being written.

The Trump Organization is still in the dock, courtesy of New York attorney general Letitia James, who has accused the company of “staggering” fraud, inflating assets by billions of dollars when applying for bank loans. The charges are against not only the former president but his sons Qusay and Uday.

Two weeks ago, Trump spent eight hours being interrogated by James in her office in Lower Manhattan. This testimony is for a civil fraud case, not to be confused with all the other filed complaints on the horizon, including the criminal case brought by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg. That one involves almost three dozen separate felony counts of falsifying business records. The D.A.’s charge that gets all the ink, not surprisingly, is the one over the $130,000 paid to hush up porn star Stormy Daniels, just prior to the 2016 election. I’m not the first to say it, but of all the ironies, it must drive Trump nuts that, with the Daniels case, the one time he pays full price for a service, he gets nailed for it.

For Trump, who is used to running his mouth without interruption, his appointment with Letitia James must have been humbling. And for someone who, with his father, refused to rent to minorities when he was an apartment landlord and who has a documented history of gross misogyny, it must have been especially discomforting, in that James is not only Black but a woman. That’s a humbling twofer.

Trump valiantly raised a tiny fist when he left his apartment building on his way downtown. And gave his practiced squint—something he might have picked up from Zoolander. Or he just borrowed it from his wife. I know he thinks that making his eyes all steely and thin signals strength and resolve. But to me, it just screams constipation.

This week, the case ended like a sexual liaison with Trump—with gasps, an abrupt ending, and a check being written.

Lies were at the heart of the Fox-Dominion case. As they were throughout the Trump administration, and continue to be in his current re-run for the presidency. After Trump was elected, the respectable press went into conniptions trying to avoid the actual word “lie” after he said anything beyond “good morning.” “Baseless insinuations,” “inaccurate claims,” and “falsehoods” being just a few euphemisms for saying what Trump’s statements actually were. The papers tried everything, and then they just gave up. Lies they were.

Pretty much the same thing with Ms. Daniels. She was an “adult-film star” until news organizations just collapsed under the weight of the lingua franca of the Internet and began calling her a “porn star.”

With regards to the $1.6 billion Dominion v. Fox News case, the First Amendment makes libel charges notoriously difficult to prove. It’s why they’re so rare. In 2017, only three cases made it to a jury in the U.S. Despite the odds being in its favor—but with a mountain of evidence demonstrating its guilt—Fox decided to settle just as opening arguments were set to begin in the trial, for an amount just under half of what Dominion was shooting for.

Given the reams of texts and e-mails from Fox’s nighttime talking heads—Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and others—Fox was wise to settle. All were expected to take the witness stand, along with Fox News overlords Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch. They all might be advised to keep their court suits pressed. Smartmatic, the other voting-machine company suing Fox, says it’s pressing ahead with its $2.7 billion suit against the network. And there are more to come.

We had the great Mark Bowden covering the Fox-Dominion drama for Air Mail. As the author of Black Hawk Down, Mark knows a thing or two about American catastrophes and their aftermath. His dispatch from the courtroom follows further down in this issue. We would have reporters covering the myriad Trump cases as well, but we are a small outfit, and, given the volume of litigation trailing him, quite frankly we just don’t have the staff.

The week before Trump’s testimony and two weeks before the first day of the Fox-Dominion trial, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas loomed into view when he was exposed by ProPublica as being a lapdog to Harlan Crow, a billionaire Texas developer with a penchant for ultra-conservative causes, dictator statuary, and Nazi knickknacks. Thomas, who voted with the Court’s majority to ban abortion in the U.S., and who on Friday, alongside Justice Samuel Alito, was in a nonsensical two-man minority opposing the decision to allow the abortion pill mifepristone to remain widely available, is fine with meddling in the lives of others. But he saw no need to declare decades of expensive gifts, private flights, and lavish vacations given to him by Crow.

Nor did Thomas think the fact that Crow bought his mother’s house and is now her landlord was anyone’s business but his own. He had previously failed to report that his rabidly pro-Trump wife, Ginni, received almost $700,000 from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation. And like Thomas has done during his 32 largely silent years on the bench, when queried by news organizations over the various Crow arrangements, he had no comment.

While this is all going on, Succession winds its way toward its Season Four conclusion. For the Trumps it must seem unfair that the Murdochs get the gleaming, sophisticated, “quiet luxury” HBO treatment for the dramas surrounding their family. Succession, for all its indictment of the Roys/Murdochs, is classy. Trump’s tragic domestic opera is more likely to get the reality-show treatment, alongside Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Bridalplasty, MILF Manor, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

Actually, scratch that last one. The Kardashians demonstrate a far more admirable example of business acumen, clannish dynamics, and civility than the Trumps ever have.

Graydon Carter is a Co-Editor of AIR MAIL