Uncle Joe’s calculations
We start you off today with a little scoop from Axios’s Mike Allen, Joe Biden advisers are debating Stacey Abrams as an out-of-the-gate V.P. choice for his 2020 run. They want to be able to show voters that Joe isn’t “just another old white guy,” but then again, they’re pretty sure voters are going to see it as a gimmick. Uh, also? This is “Written as if Stacey Abrams is a passive bystander to this whole debate!” tweets Madhulika Sikka.
Meanwhile, according to the new piece by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns at The New York Times, Biden is also weighing some unique steps to reassure voters concerned about his age, and Ryan Kearney says, “I hope one of these steps involves a Corvette. And shirtlessness.” As far as we can tell, they do not, but they do include an early VP selection and a one-term pledge (something he’s strongly resistant to). Edward-Isaac Dovere reminds us that “A year ago, Biden and his team were at the same place worrying about his age and trying to mitigate it.” The point is, “Biden has gone from mulling to weighing,” as Glenn Thrush says.
And then there are these calculations
Astead Herndon of The New York Times interviewed Andrew Gillum, who is not running (at least so far), but wants to help Democrats win in 2020. Gillum told Herndon, ‘Florida Is Tired of Being a Cheap Date.’ Make sure you read that Q&A all the way through, because, as Aman Batheja tweets, “This @AsteadWesley interview with @AndrewGillum ends on a great question and an even better answer.”
But the Dems may have their work cut out for them. POLITICO’s Ben White tweets, “Moody’s Analytics has run 12 different models combining economic and political data. @realDonaldTrump win re-election in all of them. Mostly by a lot.” For the details, read his piece with Steven Shepard explaining How Trump is on track for a 2020 landslide. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: “It’s the economy, stupid,” as Marc Caputo tweets. Amy Walter says it’s “A good reality check here by @morningmoneyben & @POLITICO_Steve. Trump defies conventional wisdom, yet trad'l CW models give him a win. So, which is right? And, why do we assume that norm breaking only benefits Trump instead of breaking against him?” Adds Charles Lane, “Economistic views of how people vote produce Trump landslide 2020 forecasts. Read with a chunk of salt, but read.”
Another totally normal development
“For actual investigative journalism that is advancing the Yang saga, check out the @miamiherald’s scoop today,” urges Daniel Schulman. That’s because Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas and Caitlin Ostroff of the Miami Herald found out that Cindy Yang helped Chinese tech stars get $50K photos with Trump. The question is, who donated the money? Judd Legum’s take: “This is an absolutely MASSIVE scandal. It strongly suggests that significant amounts of foreign money was laundered into the Trump campaign through straw donors. A woman listed as a 25K donor to Trump doesn’t remember making a donation.” And just so we’re clear: “Funnelling foreign money through a straw donor is illegal,” tweets Ray Locker.
And now, “Oh good we are going to sort this out this way,” as David Freedlander says. POLITICO’s Daniel Lippman got Kellyanne Conway on the phone, and she defended Trump after he attacked her husband, which is “Another totally normal development,” tweets Paul Owen. Billy Hallowell speaks for all of us: “This is just absolutely bizarre. It must be strategic. Truly weird.” We’ll leave the last word to Kara Swisher and her grandmother: “Good lord, the layers of marital dysfunction here are DEEP. (Not that I am a marriage expert, Kels, because I ain’t. Still, Jesus Mary and Joseph, as my grandmother would say).”
Speaking of totally normal developments, Jared Kushner was discussing American policy with the rulers of Saudi Arabia at virtually the same time that his brother Josh was talking business with their top aides. At The New York Times, David D. Kirkpatrick writes about The Kingdom and the Kushners: Jared Went to Riyadh. So Did His Brother.
They think it’s all a big joke
A joint New York Times/ProPublica investigation by Sharon Otterman and Hannah Dreyfus reveals, Michael Steinhardt, a Leading Jewish Philanthropist, Is Accused of a Pattern of Sexual Harassment. In interviews with The Times and ProPublica, six women said that the 78-year-old founder of Birthright Israel “asked them to have sex with him, or made sexual requests of them, while they were relying on or seeking his support. He also regularly made comments to women about their bodies and their fertility, according to the seven women and 16 other people who said they were present when Mr. Steinhardt made such comments,” they write.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg calls it a “Really important story about the kind of abuse women are forced to endure from men - in this case a prominent Jewish philanthropist — who think it is all a big joke.” And Virginia Heffernan is having a “Flashback to that time *very* recently that Michael Steinhardt told me I wasn’t Jewish enough, male enough or right-wing enough. He sucks, but he definitely nailed the story of my life in 10 words.”
Meanwhile, The Old Daytime-Drinking, Sexual-Harassing Ways Are Thriving at Lloyd’s. That’s according to Gavin Finch’s latest piece for Bloomberg Businessweek “on the endemic sexual harassment in @LloydsofLondon boozy culture. It’s like taking a time machine back to the 1980s, and then some.” As Robert Hutton says, “Had enough of reading about the absolute horror show that is Westminster? Why not read about the absolute horror show that is Lloyds of London.”
Trolls, conspiracy theories and attacks
Here’s something you may not be aware of. Instagram Is the Internet’s New Home for Hate. At The Atlantic, Taylor Lorenz explains that it’s not just Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. In fact, as these other social networks wage a public war against misinformation, it’s thriving on Instagram. “5 videos of the Christchurch shooting were in my feed on Monday, another on Tuesday. ALL were claiming the attack was a false flag,” she tweets.
And one more Atlantic piece you should check out today: Adam Serwer writes that The Christchurch Shooter Is a Troll, Like the Original Nazis. As Matt Steinglass says, “This piece by @AdamSerwer is pretty dang apt at the moment, in lots of contexts.”
Meanwhile, tweets Jim Waterson, “This is a pretty extraordinary attack on mainstream British newspapers by the UK's counter-terrorism chief.” As he explains in his new piece for The Guardian, “Britain’s counter-terrorism chief has said far-right terrorists are being radicalised by mainstream newspaper coverage, while also criticising the hypocrisy of outlets such as Mail Online, which uploaded the ‘manifesto’ of the gunman in the Christchurch terror attack.” Steve Ladurantaye tweets, “Ok, but there is a difference between ‘promoting’ terrorist propaganda and reporting on its existence…” And Patricia Sauthoff points out, “Right-wing British papers sold the population Brexit and look how that’s going.”
Joke’s on us
OK, let’s switch gears. About this next one, Waterson says, “I love this story: Lorraine Kelly has won a massive legal case over unpaid tax by arguing she does not appear on TV as herself, but is instead an actor playing a cheery upbeat character called ‘Lorraine Kelly.’” And really, who among us? Hilary Osborne has the details at The Guardian, Lorraine Kelly is a theatrical artist, tax tribunal judge rules. Tweets Rob Minto, “Fuck me. All this time Lorraine Kelly has basically been doing an Alan Partridge style show crossed with an HBO series where she plays herself and the joke is on us.”
If you’re having trouble putting on your cheery upbeat persona at work today, maybe a little poetry will help. Today is World Poetry Day, so take a moment out and head over to The Independent for 28 of the most powerful lines ever written, as curated by Clarisse Loughrey.
More Thursday reads
As Peter Khoury (and many others) are saying, “That was fast.” Damien Cave reports at The New York Times that, six days after the deadly attack in Christchurch, New Zealand will ban military-style weapons — proving that, apparently, “You can offer more than thoughts and prayers,” tweets Rebecca Leber.
New reporting by Hiroko Tabuchi and David Gelles at The New York Times reveals that the pilots of the doomed Boeing jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia were missing two notable safety features in their cockpits. One reason? Boeing charged extra for them. As Stephanie Strom puts it, “Some 300 people died so Boeing could meet its numbers.” Ben Taub adds, “Read the whole NYT piece. But in summary, Boeing’s attitude seems to be: nice passengers u got there...it would be a shame if something were to happen to them.” Jim Roberts calls the revelations “Jawdropping.”
Andrew MacDougall tweets some eyeballs on this one: In an exclusive interview with Paul Wells of Maclean’s, former Treasury Board president Jane Philpott says, ‘There’s much more to the story that needs to be told.’ Tweets Shannon Proudfoot, “Here’s our Paul Wells with a deeply compelling exclusive interview that, it seems safe to say, will be the talker in town today.”
“This is a very big deal, and very sad,” says Jason Ukman. Adam Feuerstein of STAT reports, Biogen has halted its study of Alzheimer’s drug, a blow to hopes for new treatment.
AOC gets the cover of TIME this week, where Charlotte Alter takes us Inside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Unlikely Rise. Tweets Alter, “.@aoc represents a new fusion of movement and electoral politics, more concerned with winning hearts and minds than with winning seats and votes. She’s political dynamite: both powerful and dangerous. I profiled America’s latest human Rorschach test.”