Absolutely bonkers (in a good way)
Why not start your Wednesday off with a “Great and weird story about GOP megadonor Robert Mercer's (recent) time as a volunteer policeman in New Mexico,” as Josh Keefe describes it. At Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Zachary Mider takes us behind the scenes of Cambridge Analytica billionaire Robert Mercer’s Secret Adventure as a New Mexico Cop. Heidi Moore calls it an “Absolutely bonkers (in a good way) story on the Mercers as gun nuts (in a bad way).”
Or maybe you’d rather check out Christopher Steele’s Other Report: A Murder In Washington, which Jason Leopold, Anthony Cormier, Heidi Blake, Tom Warren, Jane Bradley, Alex Campbell and Richard Holmes reveal in an exclusive for BuzzFeed News. The gist, tweets JM Rieger, “Christopher Steele gave the FBI a secret report that the founder of RT was bludgeoned to death in Washington, DC by hired thugs. Three sources independently told the FBI the same thing. In 2016, the U.S. said the man died from a series of drunken falls.” In other words, as Kate Cox points out, “Gosh this sure is a thing.”
But back to billionaires and Cambridge Analytica. Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg of The New York Times are reporting that at least one Peter Thiel Employee Helped Cambridge Analytica Before It Harvested Data. Aha, “What if billionaires are bad,” tweets Glenn Fleishman. Dell Cameron observes, “All of these companies—intelligence firms supposedly, though that feels like a misnomer today—are terrible liars.”
So let’s talk about Facebook. Now that scandal is spilling out all over the place and the GDPR implementation is nearing, Facebook has decided that It’s Time to Make Our Privacy Tools Easier to Find. That’s the announcement by Erin Egan, Facebook’s VP and Chief Privacy Officer, Policy. To which Shira Ovide says, “Great. Also Facebook has made 100,000 previous changes to its privacy settings to make them ‘better’ for users.” Also, “Yeah but your business model is still selling our data, so,” says Xavier Harding.
Meanwhile, brace yourself. At The Guardian, Dylan Curran asks, Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you. As Alice Ross explains it, “This falls under the heading of things you sort of knew but preferred not to think about.”
Zeke Faux of Bloomberg BusinessWeek reveals something else you won’t want to think about: How Facebook Helps Shady Advertisers Pollute the Internet. “cool cool. Facebook luvs 2 party at Stack that Money, a conference for the web's shadiest advertisers,” tweets Caleb Melby. Jennifer Surane elaborates, “At the Davos for digital hucksters, Facebook executives would cozy up to disreputable advertisers who bragged the company would ‘go out and find the morons for me.’ @ZekeFaux's latest is fascinating, y'all.” “Come for the lucid explanation of how Facebook has revolutionized affiliate marketing, stay for the many perfect details about (and quotes from) Robert Gryn,” adds Jillian D'Onfro.
Like Megan Hess, you may “need a chart of how many times ‘Facebook’ and ‘crisis’ have appeared in headlines together over the past 2 weeks.” Bloomberg Technology’s Sarah Frier delivers the scoop that Facebook Is Said to Delay Home-Speaker Unveil Amid Data Crisis. “The Russian language setting still needs some work,” tweets Tom Simonite.
For the record, Trump hates Amazon, not Facebook, according to what Axios’s Jonathan Swan is hearing. To which Mark Gongloff says, “Hey Trump, stop making me sympathize with Jeff Bezos.”
Perhaps not a surprise
Checking in with the Trump administration, Josh Dawsey and Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post report that Trump privately presses for military to pay for border wall (69,000+ shares). Jake Lowary suggests, “I mean, I guess they could pile up a bunch of hescos, but that likely wouldn't meet the beauty parameters.” “DONDE MEXICO?!!” wonders Paula Froelich. Stan Collender sees it as “Yet another indication that Trump is perfectly willing to ignore or doesn't feel required to follow any federal budget laws.”
In a new feature for Mother Jones, Ari Berman takes a look at Hidden Figures: How Donald Trump Is Rigging the Census. He tweets, “How Trump rigging 2020 Census: 1. Massively suppress immigrant participation 2. Deny representation to Dems & minorities 3. Perfect storm of budget cuts, cyber hacks, partisan interference.”
And this is “Perhaps not a surprise, but nevertheless important: Trump has assembled the most male government in years, decades by some measures,” tweets Annie Lowrey, who links to her piece in The Atlantic with Steven Johnson, The Very Male Trump Administration.
In an exclusive for NPR this morning, Chris Arnold and Cory Turner report on the Dept. Of Education Fail: Teachers Lose Grants, Forced To Repay Thousands In Loans (33,000+ shares). “Enticing great teachers with grant $ and then yanking it back? Really?!?! Sigh,” tweets Michelle Charlesworth.
And at The Wall Street Journal, Timothy Puko reports that Sheldon Adelson Facilitated EPA Connection for Israeli Firm, but quite a few people are a little distracted by the great correction in this piece: “An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Benjamin Netanyahu said Moses brought water from Iraq. He said the water was brought from a rock.”
Another brilliant kid
Andrea Grimes has a radical suggestion: “stop telling girls to be nicer to the boys who abuse them.” In an op-ed for The New York Times, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Isabelle Robinson writes, I Was Kind to Nikolas Cruz. He Still Killed My Friends (430,000+ shares). Erica Meltzer calls it “An important corrective to the idea that students can stop school shootings by being nicer to each other.” And worth pointing out: “Damn, another brilliant kid from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” as Erik Eckholm tweets.
A tour de force
Matt Ford says “This is such a great, merciless use of good faith,” referring to Sam Harris, Charles Murray, and the allure of race science, by Ezra Klein of Vox. Molly Ball calls it “an excellent & necessary piece,” and David Shariatmadari says, “This is truly a tour de force on ‘PC culture,’ race, genes and environment.” Put simply, “.@ezraklein does the damn thing,” tweets Jane Coaston.
“As reader and public cheerleader of The Atlantic: this would be easier to stomach if Williamson had ever acknowledged the fact that the racist stuff he wrote was, in fact, racist and apologized. ‘Second chances’ start with apologies,” tweets Wesley Lowery. He links to The Atlantic’s Justifications for Hiring Conservative Troll Kevin Williamson Ring Awfully Hollow, Jordan Weissmann’s piece for Slate. Adds Maya Kosoff, “think of all the people who never even get first chances in this industry!” As for those who would argue otherwise, Jessica Valenti points out, “The condescension here is unconscionable. Those furious at @TheAtlantic for hiring someone who argued for genocidal-level executions of women didn't do so because we were *unfamiliar* with the rest of his writing. The entirety of his writing is how we knew he was serious.”
At The Wire, Karnika Kohli exposes Media Group Caught in Self-Censorship Vice. Cutting to the chase, Amish Raj Mulmi tweets, “.@VICE's India ops are a mess. Should be a case study on how not to open a new media outlet.” “That virtually everyone foresaw what was going to happen to the @VICE experiment in India doesn't make it any less troubling,” adds Shashank Bengali.
But here’s some good news for students, courtesy of ProPublica, which tweets, “We’re giving students 20 scholarships to attend journalism conferences. Apply!” Lena Groeger has the details: Students! ProPublica Wants to Pay For You to Attend NAHJ, NABJ, AAJA, NAJA or NLGJA.
A thing that somehow exists
“If you're feeling a little imposter-ish today or perhaps insecure about your writing, read @ClaireEFallon's evisceration of sean penn and instantly feel reassured,” offers Emily Peck. That’s Claire Fallon’s HuffPost piece, Sean Penn The Novelist Must Be Stopped. Yes, “sean penn wrote a very literary, very garbage book,” Fallon tweets, and, as Marina Fang notes, “@claireefallon is a hero and read Sean Penn's novel, which is a thing that somehow exists.” Also, “anyone who ever gave sean penn a compliment is complicit in this and should be in prison,” tweets Ashley Feinberg.
Aaaand we’ll just close it out today with this: SEEKING LEAD ATTORNEY FOR DIFFICULT CLIENT.
A Cyberattack Hobbles Atlanta, and Security Experts Shudder. Alan Blinder and Nicole Perlroth of The New York Times report on the ransomware attack, which “brought [the municipal government] to its knees since Thursday morning” in “one of the most sustained and consequential cyberattacks ever mounted against a major American city.”
NRA Says It Receives Foreign Funds, But None Goes To Election Work (39,000+ shares). That’s Tim Mak’s latest for NPR.
CNN’s Devan Cole reports that Anderson Cooper will interview James Comey in an hour-long town hall at Comey’s alma mater, William & Mary, on April 25.
Bethan Mckernan of The Independent got hold of a leaked itinerary of Mohammad Bin Salman’s US visit, which shows Saudi Crown Prince to meet Oprah, politicians and media bosses.
Alexandra Berzon of The Wall Street Journal found out that Casino Managers Enabled Wynn’s Alleged Misconduct for Decades, Workers Say. Tweets Brad Reagan, “Just dropped, new WSJ investigation on Steve Wynn and the company he ran. ‘You need to keep your mouth shut,’ one victim was told.”
At the Financial Times, Aleksandra Wisniewska and Billy Ehrenberg-Shannon look at the numbers behind the UK’s Gender pay gap: how women are short-changed in the UK.
Nikos Chrysoloras links to “A work of art from Bloomberg's @Brexit team.” That’s What People Really Think of Brexit, With One Year to Go, by Kitty Donaldson, Andre Tartar, Alex Morales and Charlotte Ryan of Bloomberg.
From Tim Stack of Entertainment Weekly, ‘Dawson’s Creek’ cast reunites for its 20th anniversary on this week's EW cover, and “i'm screaming. this is extremely my brand,” Ilana Kaplan tells us.