It’s meta meta
The big question: Do You Still Have A Job At BuzzFeed? Lucky you, there’s a BuzzFeed quiz for that. BuzzFeed’s Jason Sweeten tweets, “I made a quiz for all my friends in BuzzFeed Creative who don't know if they have a job still,” and, as Jack Crosbie puts it, “holy shit asdfjhkl.” Steve Silberman says, “The @BuzzFeed quiz to discover if you've been laid off at @BuzzFeed is the most @BuzzFeed thing ever. It’s meta meta.” Also, “yes I’d like to report one of the top ten most brutal online murders of all time,” tweets Patrick Blanchfield.
Matthew Perpetua, who was laid off from BuzzFeed after serving as Director of Quizzes, asks a different question at FluxBlog: How Laid Off Are You? Quizzes would seem to be big business for BuzzFeed, so how did Perpetua end up on the chopping block? It turns out, BuzzFeed probably isn’t too motivated to pay staff to create quizzes when the community is offering them up for free. Writes Perpetua, “It’s kinda amazing how much revenue-generating traffic the site gets from unpaid community volunteers. So, in a ruthless capitalist way, it makes sense for the company to pivot to having community users create almost all of the quizzes going forward. “
At The New York Times, Brian Feldman writes about BuzzFeed’s Expansion, Contraction, and Layoffs, and Matt Pearce tweets, “Something that got a bit lost in the BuzzFeed layoffs — BuzzFeed is apparently cutting 15% of its *budget,* not 15% of its staff, which is even worse.”
There are still some paying jobs in journalism, though, and The Marshall Project has just announced that it’s hiring two regional reporters. Tweets Geraldine Sealey, “@MarshallProj is hiring two regional reporters to cover criminal justice in high incarceration states especially in the South. Great jobs covering vital issues in areas often underserved by news. Apply!”
The shutdown’s costs
At CNBC, Ylan Q. Mui looks at the damage from the longest federal government shutdown ever: The shutdown cost the economy $11 billion – including a permanent $3 billion loss, government says (35,000+ shares). The Congressional Budget Office is also projecting that economic growth will slow to 2.3% this year as the benefits of the new tax law begin to fade.
Meanwhile, The lowest-paid shutdown workers aren’t getting back pay, reports The Washington Post’s Danielle Paquette. Contracted cooks, janitors, cleaners, security guards and other laborers — ”Those who need it most - and are least able to fight back - aren't getting any back pay from the #shutdown,” tweets Paul Brandus.
In other economic news, Phil Kuntz has a question for “#BikersForTrump, is #TrumpForBikers?” Bloomberg’s Gabrielle Coppola writes that all of Harley-Davidson’s profits in the most recent quarter were wiped out by President Trump’s tariffs.
Welcome to 2020
In her analysis, Welcome to 2020: Obstacles for Trump and a wide-open Democratic race, Sofi Sinozich of ABC News breaks down the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, which finds a third of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents oppose Trump for the party’s nomination to a second term, and 56% of all adults say they wouldn’t consider voting for him.
Astead Herndon and Susan Chira of The New York Times ask, Can Kamala Harris Repeat Obama’s Success With Black Voters? It’s Complicated. Here’s one quote from that piece: “She’s a woman,” said Nathaniel Stewart, a 58-year-old barber. “And we need strong backs right now. I don’t know if she can pull off that type of strength to take on Trump. I’d rather Cory.” Tweets Cecil Harris, “The answer should be an emphatic ‘Yes!’ But it was disappointing to learn that about 10% of Black male voters chose @staceyabrams opponent in the Georgia governor's race. That is unconscionable. Support Black women!”
Reading the story, Khalid Salaam wonders, “How are we defining black voters? Am I a black voter? I don’t really know what that term means so can anyone assist me with this? (I also look at these 2020 discussions and wonder if we’re even going to have a true & free Prez election, but whatever).”
Meanwhile, several billionaires are talking about 2020, and you may have heard one of them get heckled in a Barnes & Noble yesterday. Another one, Mike Bloomberg, agrees with that heckler, writing in his Statement on Independent Run that “the great likelihood is that an independent would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the President.” David Gura offers a “Shorter @MikeBloomberg: @HowardSchultz, don't run.” For Larry Dignan, the whole thing leaves a bitter taste: “There is something truly sad about Mike Bloomberg's post on independent's winning the White House. Not that he's wrong mind you, but it's sad that we're in a two party, arguably crazy system.”
Let’s just say this story has everything
Ellen Mayer shares, “wow so pleased i was awake to witness the sunrise and also um... this?” She links to the big scoop by Jon Seidel, Fran Spielman, Mark Brown and Tim Novak of the Chicago Sun-Times about Viagra, sex acts, use of a luxury farm: Feds detail investigation of Ald. Solis. Tweets Shia Kapos, “Let's just say this story has everything: Sex, drugs, Oprah's farm AND politics.” Which isn’t great news for Scott Simon, who points out, “I wrote a comic novel about the Chicago City Council and can't compete with real life. Discouraging…”
And while we’re at it, Mayer notices, “also... this?” The Sun-Times’ Seidel, Spielman and Tina Sfondeles drop another bombshell: FBI secretly recorded Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan at his law office pitching firm’s services. As Mayer says, “this story feels like a computer-generated chicago corruption mad-lib but it appears to be real life.”
Elsewhere in the U.S.
“The Wall Street Journal, whose story started Steve Wynn’s precipitous fall, just posted its account of the state’s complaint against the company.” Jon Ralston links to the reporting by Alexandra Berzon and Micah Maidenberg of The Wall Street Journal, Wynn Resorts to Settle Nevada Regulator’s Probe. Tweets Kate O’Keeffe, “NEW: Nevada regulators confirm WSJ’s bombshell reports that ex RNC finance chair Steve Wynn was accused of raping, assaulting & harassing Wynn Resorts employees for years while company execs turned a blind eye.”
At The New York Times, William Neuman reveals that Kevin O’Brien, the De Blasio Aide Who Was Forced to Resign, Had Been Fired Over Sexual Harassment Before. Tweets Nolan Hicks “It’s never the first time: Top City Hall aide granted quiet exit after confirmed allegations of sexual harassment was previously sacked for misconduct — and it was hushed up too.” Adds Bill Ritter, “this is why potential employees are vetted. who vetted this former chief of staff for @NYCMayor ???”
Meanwhile, St. John Barned-Smith and Nicole Hensley of the Houston Chronicle have the latest on the police officer shooting in Houston: 4 Houston police officers shot in southeast Houston narcotics operation, a fifth injured. The veteran narcotics officers, who had a warrant and were hoping to arrest heroin dealers, “were met by a hail of gunfire, instead, as one of the suspects inside unleashed a barrage of bullets that wounded four officers, two critically.”
Crazy, important story
Turning to the business of legal drugs, America’s Love Affair With Cheap Drugs Has a Hidden Cost, reports Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, who spent a year investigating the FDA’s oversight of the generic-drug industry. Zachary Tracer calls it a “Crazy, important story from @annaedney that cuts to the heart of worries about generic drugs.” On Twitter, Edney shares this tidbit: “In my story today, FDA inspectors alleged Mylan attempted to keep failures of some of its drugs to meet U.S. standards from coming to light by using obscure file names, including one that ended in the acronym ‘LMFAO’ (Laughing My F*cking Ass Off).”
As Jonathan Allen reports for NBC News, John Bolton says ‘All options are on the table’ for Trump in Venezuela. But a lot of people are also pointing out that the notepad he was holding during that briefing said, “Afghanistan -> Welcome the Talks. 5,000 troops to Colombia.” NBC Politics later tweeted, “No US troops or assets are heading to Colombia or Venezuela, three Defense officials tell @NBCNews, despite the notes seen on NSA Bolton's notepad today.”
Hours after acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker suggested that the Special Counsel investigation was wrapping up, Mueller team signals to Stone associate another indictment may be in the works, report Sara Murray and Katelyn Polantz of CNN. Meanwhile, Karoun Demirjian of The Washington Post reports that the Senate panel has postponed William Barr’s confirmation vote amid Democrats’ concerns.
It may be obvious, but just so we’re clear: “Facebook is no friend of transparency,” tweets Charles Ornstein. In a new piece for ProPublica, Jeremy Merrill and Ariana Tobin explain how Facebook Moves to Block Ad Transparency Tools — Including Ours. “I swear Facebook must be trying to be the mustache-twirling villain,” says Shira Ovide.
“We identified the bumbling spy who came to NYC posing as a wealthy investor. Be careful who invites you to lunch....” warns Scott Shane of The New York Times, who links to his story with Ronen Bergman, Spy vs. Spy: Watchdog Group Turns the Tables on an Undercover Agent.
At 9 to 5 Mac, Benjamin Mayo noticed that a major FaceTime bug lets you hear the audio of the person you are calling, before they pick up. A fix is coming, but stop what you’re doing right now and disable FaceTime in your settings.
Fahim Abed and Fatima Faizi, Afghan reporters for The New York Times in Kabul, write about Our Dreams of Peace: Envisioning an End to War in Afghanistan. Tweets Fernanda Santos, “One of the most beautiful stories I’ve read in some time, on 2 Afghan reporters’ simple to-do list for once the war ends in Afghanistan: ride a horse, hike, light a fire on snow-covered lands, jog, dance.”