5 p.m. ET: The future of Twitter, Taylor Swift, federal student debt relief, and more

Anna Sturla (host)


Hello from CNN. I’m Anna Sturla with the five things you need to know for Friday, November 18.

The Biden administration has formally asked the Supreme Court to intervene on its student debt relief package. The White House is asking the High Court to let the scheme go into effect while legal challenges unfold across the country. Debt relief was suspended after lower courts blocked the program, preventing the administration from canceling up to $20,000 in debt per borrower for millions of Americans. Before a federal judge froze it on Nov. 10, about 26 million applied for the program. The government then stopped taking requests and no debt has been canceled so far.

It’s been ten days since Election Day, but we’re still feeling the aftershocks and some important races are still up in the air. A big question for Congress: who will succeed Nancy Pelosi as House leader of the Democrats? We already have a candidate. New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries put his hat on in the ring today. California Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier spoke to CNN about the new generation ready to take the leadership of her party in Congress.

Rep. Jackie Speier (sound extract)


They are very representative of our caucus. Our caucus is very diverse. They are very talented people. They will serve us well.

Anna Sturla (host)


Meanwhile, in the race for Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, Democrat Adam Frisch conceded to GOP Congresswoman Lauren Boebert today. The district had been safely considered Republican, but this morning Boebert led Frisch by just 551 votes. CNN is also predicting that Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter will win re-election in her California district in another tougher-than-expected race. Still, the two results don’t change CNN’s projection that Republicans will control the chamber in January.

American basketball star Brittney Griner has been moved to a penal colony in western Russia to begin her sentence, ending days of speculation over her fate. That’s according to Griner’s attorneys, who said Thursday they visited him earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Russia has said it quote-unquote hopes for a positive outcome in prisoner swap talks over a convicted Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year sentence in the United States. Multiple sources told CNN that the Biden administration offered to trade the trafficker for Griner and Paul Whelan, another American detained by Russia. But Russian officials have requested that another Russian national be added to the potential swap.

It’s been a roller coaster ride for Twitter since billionaire Elon Musk bid for the social media platform. After already laying off about half of his workforce earlier this month, Musk this week gave remaining Twitter employees less than 24 hours to engage in an extremely difficult work environment. After Thursday’s deadline expired at 5 p.m. EST, an internal Twitter Slack channel was filled with employees displaying the hello emoji indicating they had decided to leave the company. The site is a major communication tool for politicians, brands, dissidents… and journalists like me. And this second exodus raises questions about the future of Twitter and whether the platform will continue to operate. CNN’s Clare Duffy provides some insight into the impact Twitter’s uncertain future could have on users.

Clare Duffy (sound extract)


I don’t think we’ll see Twitter go down all of a sudden. You know, we might start to see some of these issues and these kind of platform failures. As you know, some of those really crucial employees are gone. And there’s not the kind of support the platform needs to function.

Anna Sturla (host)


Then, a ticketing debacle ahead of Taylor Swift’s tour catches the attention of Congress.

Speaking of Twitter, you may have seen a lot of social media chatter about Ticketmaster this week. Ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s upcoming “The Eras” tour began on Tuesday. Fans grabbed over 2 million tickets, setting the record for the most sold by an artist in a single day. But the high demand overloaded the seller, Ticketmaster, and many fans were unable to purchase tickets. The site then announced yesterday that it would cancel today’s scheduled ticket sales to the general public, blaming high demand and low inventory. Today, Swift spoke out in an Instagram post blaming Ticketmaster for the snafu. Live Nation, the nation’s largest concert promoter, merged with Ticketmaster about a decade ago. And this week’s debacle means the merger is garnering renewed congressional attention, with critics calling it a monopoly. Senator Amy Klobuchar chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights. After this week’s delays and cancellation, she sent an open letter to the CEO of Ticketmaster saying the company was unfairly profiting from its grip on the ticketing industry.

That’s all for the moment. I am Anna Sturla. And if you listen to CNN 5 Things to hear the news, leave us a rating and review in Apple Podcasts.

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