Monday, March 4th, 2019


Zero Fox Given

Yeah, the Russians had an impact. Sure, Wikileaks was a factor. And absolutely, we need to rein in the rampant spread of fake news on Facebook. But none of these factors come close to the consistent impact of Fox News. And no network has ever worked as closely with a president of the United States. Former Fox employees have key White House positions (White House communications director Bill Shine is currently on the payroll of both organizations). Sean Hannity is effectively a part of the administration. "It's the closest we've come to having state TV." And the relationship between Rupert and Don goes way back. "Trump became famous, in no small part, because of Rupert Murdoch. After Murdoch bought the New York Post, in 1976, he was introduced to Trump through a mutual acquaintance, Roy Cohn, the infamous legal fixer, who, as a young man, was Senator Joseph McCarthy's chief counsel. Cohn saw the potential for tabloid synergy: Trump could attain celebrity in the pages of the Post as a playboy mogul, and Murdoch could sell papers by chronicling Trump's exploits." The excellent Jane Mayer in The New Yorker: The Making of the Fox News White House.

+ Related: "The president averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. He hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year. So far in 2019, he's averaging nearly 22 claims a day." WaPo: President Trump has made 9,014 false or misleading claims over 773 days.


Fire Sale

"Each piece of unsold inventory requires raw materials and human labor to make, plus transportation to ship it around the world, which produces emissions. Every piece that ends up being burned produces greenhouse gases, too. Incinerating clothes releases 2,988 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, which is even more than burning coal." FastCo: We have to fix fashion if we want to survive the climate crisis. "In 2015, the fashion industry churned out 100 billion articles of clothing, doubling production from 2000, far outpacing global population growth." (You can't blame me on this one. I wear the same thing pretty much every day, and while both my wife and daughter have tried several times, no one has ever set my favorite windbreaker on fire.)

+ "The conscientious citizens of Philadelphia continue to put their pizza boxes, plastic bottles, yogurt containers and other items into recycling bins. But in the past three months, half of these recyclables have been loaded on to trucks, taken to a hulking incineration facility and burned." The Guardian: US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports.


Political Hack

"The vast majority were in the United States, with the most frequent marks in Houston, an oil and gas hub, and New York, a finance hub. Other major targets included London, Madrid, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Rome, Bangkok, Taipei, Seoul and Hong Kong. Russia and mainland China, two countries that have maintained cordial relations with North Korea, were relatively untouched." Nicole Perlroth in the NYT: As Trump and Kim Met, North Korean Hackers Hit Over 100 Targets in U.S. and Ally Nations. (This can't be true because Kim denies it and Trump believes him.)


Letter Press

"The letters from Mr. Nadler, dated March 4, went to 81 agencies, individuals and other entities tied to the president, including the Trump Organization, the Trump campaign, the Trump Foundation, the presidential inaugural committee, the White House, the Justice Department, the F.B.I. and dozens of the president's closest aides who counseled him as he launched attacks against federal investigations into him and his associates, the press, and the federal judiciary." NYT: With Sweeping Document Request, Democrats Launch Broad Trump Corruption Inquiry.

+ The 80 people and orgs that received House Judiciary Committee letters.

+ In other words, bring me EVERYONE.


Vax Americana

"Why would people who care about their children's health choose to ignore the solid, evidence-based recommendations of the government and the health-care system? The simple answer is because they don't trust the government or the health-care system." Masha Gessen with an interesting take in The New Yorker: Why Measles Is a Quintessential Political Issue of Our Time.

+ NYT: "There's a new war raging in health care, with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake and thousands of lives in the balance. The battle, pitting drug companies against doctors and patient advocates, is being fought over the unlikeliest of substances: human excrement."


Alabama Tornado

"From the time we got the warning on our phones to the time the tornado was about 4-5 minutes, my wife grabbed our pets and ran for our laundry room, I could literally hear the tornado coming, sounded like a freight train." A least 23 people were killed in a single county as a devastating series of tornadoes ripped through Alabama. Here's the latest from CNN.


13, Reasons Why

"In WhatsApp groups, police officers have begun discussing the possibility of a migrant caravan composed entirely of Salvadoran police — a caravana policial, the officers call it." WaPo: It's so dangerous to police MS-13 in El Salvador that officers are fleeing the country.

+ "We exported the gang–and its one-time ally turned bitter rival Calle 18– back to El Salvador by deporting undocumented ex-cons back to their home country. They took their gang affiliation with them and spread it through the barrios. The insatiable American appetite for drugs made the gang powerful." Don Winslow: MS-13 Was Born in the USA.


Forever Young

"Luke Perry, who found heartthrob fame in the 1990s as the brooding Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210, has died after suffering a massive stroke. He was 52."

+ "It feels wrong to be remembering him. He was just here — because pop-culture beloveds are always here — with that defiant hip tilt, daring you to think he could ever be ordinary." NPR: Remembering Luke Perry, Who Made An Unreal Fantasy Boyfriend Real Enough.


Social Studies

"Social capital is, in many ways, a leading indicator of financial capital, and so its nature bears greater scrutiny. Not only is it good investment or business practice, but analyzing social capital dynamics can help to explain all sorts of online behavior that would otherwise seem irrational." Wherein Eugene Wei analyzes social capital and helps explain to my kids why daddy is always checking his computer. Status as a Service (StaaS).


Bottom of the News

"Stern's first move as president was to ask a Virginia judge to find the organization culpable of conspiring to commit violence at the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017. The group has been accused of wrongdoing in a lawsuit but had previously denied any responsibility. Next, he plans to transform the hate group's website, visited by millions of white supremacists each year, into a space for Holocaust history lessons." (Even after reading the article, I still not quite sure what happened. But I'm pretty sure it was awesome.) WaPo: How a black man says he ‘outsmarted' a neo-Nazi group and became their new leader.

+ Beginning with (what I find to be a very rare occurence of) a great cold open that took on everyone at the Michael Cohen hearing, and John Mulaney's solid monologue, SNL turned its best episode of the season.