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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Last night I watched a screener copy of The Inventor, an upcoming HBO documentary from Alex Gibney on the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her blood-testing company, Theranos.

The bottom line: It's a smart summary of what happened, but it doesn't present much new information for those who've followed the saga (let alone those who read the brilliant "Bad Blood" by John Carreyrou, who appears in the doc). Still worth a watch, particularly for some of the previously-unheard audio.

  • Gibney is the real deal, having previously done well-received docs on Enron and Scientology. Last night he participated in a panel discussion with Axios' Ina Fried, and you can find highlights here.

A few things that jumped out:

  • A reminder that Thomas Edison, for whom Theranos' blood-testing machine was named, was Silicon Valley's original "fake it 'til you make it" entrepreneur.
  • James Mattis, the former Theranos director who later served as President Trump's secretary of Defense, was asked by The New Yorker's Ken Auletta to describe Elizabeth Holmes. The first word he used was "integrity."
    • More from Auletta, who also spoke to Theranos directors like Henry Kissinger and George Schultz: "They were talking about her as if she were Beethoven."
  • Tim Draper makes a brief appearance, highlighted by his purple tie with gold Bitcoin logos.
  • The widow of Ian Gibbons, a Theranos biochemist who killed himself before testifying at a trial that would have threatened Holmes' claim to key patents, said that she never heard from Holmes or the company, save for a request to return confidential documents (which she did).
  • Carreyrou provided audio of his initial meeting with Theranos attorneys, including David Boies and Heather King. Boies comes off as a hysterical bully.
  • The documentary's star may be Roger Parloff, my former Fortune colleague who wrote the first major magazine cover story on Holmes.
    • After reading the first WSJ story, Parloff thought: "All of the 'trade secret' stuff suddenly made sense. It wasn't a trade secret. It was a different type of secret."
    • Parloff later wrote a mea culpa titled How Theranos Misled Me. Holmes called to complain, specifically requesting that Parloff remove a line about being misled "intentionally." She then allegedly told him that she had never realized he would be writing a long profile in the first place, let alone a cover (even though he spent several days with her, and she sat for an extensive photo shoot).
    • "This was real lunacy. I realized there was something wrong with her mind."

Go deeper: Theranos documentary debut draws blood in Silicon Valley

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.

Jan. 6 committee recommends contempt charges against Bannon

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night recommending that former Trump aide Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

Why it matters: The resolution sets up a House vote to refer Bannon for potential criminal prosecution, signaling that the committee will not tolerate attempts by former President Trump and his associates to stymie the investigation.