Was there some kind of Worst Human Alive competition?

Muck Rack Daily

Was there some kind of Worst Human Alive competition?
May 15th, 2019 View in browser
Muck Rack Daily

We read a lot about the power of emotions and storytelling in marketing today. So it makes sense that public relations pros would want to leverage the allure of stories in their work. But it’s not that simple. On the Muck Rack Blog today, Michelle Garrett explores the power of emotions and storytelling—for better or worse.


This is sickening

Your headline of headlines today, courtesy of Erin Durkin and Max Benwell at The Guardian: These 25 white men—all Republicans—just voted to ban abortion in Alabama (175,000+ shares). As Ruth David says, “Sometimes a headline tells you everything you need to know,” but just in case, Richard Godwin points out, “This is absolutely sickening.” The obvious question: “Why are men still making decisions about women's bodies in TWENTY NINETEEN?!” tweets Melanie Tait.

As Timothy Williams and Alan Blinder write at The New York Times, the legislation bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison (291,000+ shares). It also includes no exceptions for victims of rape and incest. They note that the ban’s architects hope the Supreme Court will use the case to reconsider the central holding in Roe v. Wade and allow the measure to take effect.

Douglas Blackmon points out, “Alabama never believes US Supreme Court rulings apply to it. It resurrected slavery after the Civil War, then passed laws doing again after 1903 ruling struck down involuntary servitude. Then again in 1911. And again in 1914. It never ends. #UnAmerican.” Adds Claire Howorth, “The white south perpetually hurls its whole body against the doors to the past. Alabama’s made a mighty large crack. Thinking tonight of the doctors who risk so much to provide women with their right to healthcare.”

You can read local coverage by Jeremy Gray, Leada Gore, Mike Cason and Kenneth Faulk at AL.com. Like Ned Petrie, we can’t help but wonder, “Was there some kind of Worst Human Alive competition going on with a billion dollar prize that I didn't know about?”

Big Brother, denied

In another world, or across the country, San Francisco just became the first major U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition technology by police and other agencies, report Kate Conger, Richard Fausset and Serge Kovaleski of The New York Times. Rob Cox is calling it, “Big Brother, Denied.” Although...Amy Maxmen notes, “SF bans facial recognition surveillance, but not without debate. Some groups want police to still use it since they’re mad about their cars being broken into. Surveillance debates reveal a lot about people's true concerns.”

Buckle your seatbelts

Louisa Loveluck links to the Security Alert - U. S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq, tweeting, “US State Department notice that it is pulling non-emergency staff from Baghdad & Erbil. Statement comes against background of soaring tensions between US & Iran, ambiguous US claims that Iranian proxies planning to target US interests somewhere in region.”

About that, “We’re living in a time when US officials tell the NY Times that they hope Trump acts as a restraint on Bolton when it comes to war with Iran,” tweets Edward Wong. He reports with Helene Cooper at The New York Times that skeptical U.S. allies are resisting Trump’s new claims of threats from Iran. In other words, “Bolton’s #Iran story has already fallen apart — that was quick,” tweets Max Abrahms.

Scott Peterson’s advice: “Buckle your seatbelts: ‘Intelligence & military officials in Europe & the US said that over the past year, most aggressive moves have originated not in Tehran, but in Washington — where John R. Bolton has prodded Trump into backing #Iran into a corner.’” And Greg Sargent says, “This seems worrisome. An American official is now leaking to the NYT that the intelligence does *not* merit the current war planning against Iran, and says the Trump administration is actively working to draw Iran into war.”

After the frenzy...nothing

Another strategy used by U.S. officials: Ignoring Trump’s Orders, Hoping He’ll Forget, as Elaina Plott writes at The Atlantic. She tweets, “I’d always wondered what happened after the president issued a fly-by directive, whether at a press conference or on Twitter, once the initial frenzy died down. Turns out, in a lot of instances, nothing.” Tweets Karen Travers, “This is a great piece from @elainaplott: ‘By impulsively announcing a policy, Trump often harms his chances of actually seeing it brought to life, given a directive’s typical lack of vetting.’ (That may not matter to his supporters who believe he acted).”

Border update

Scoop from CNN’s Rene Marsh and Gregory Wallace, according to an internal email obtained by the network, the Transportation Security Administration plans to send hundreds of officials to help with efforts to deal with migrant inflows on the southern border just as the busy summer travel season begins. It won’t include airport screeners (“at least initially”), but the TSA acknowledges that the move “comes with the acceptance of ‘some risk’ of depleted resources in aviation security.” So that’s comforting.

Meanwhile, CNN has obtained exclusive photos that show children sleeping on the ground at Border Patrol station. Vanessa Yurkevich and Priscilla Alvarez report that the photos came from “a source who has access to the facility and was disturbed by the conditions over the weekend. Customs and Border Protection has confirmed the images are of the McAllen border station.”

Tough crowd

The good news is, Jared Kushner is going to solve all this. Right? Well...“Waiting for Jared’s immigration deal? Read this ice bucket from ⁦@rachaelmbade⁩ ⁦@mikedebonis⁩,” suggests Nick Miroff. The Washington Post’s Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis report as Kushner struggles to answer GOP senators’ questions on his immigration plan. On Twitter, DeBonis puts it this way: “Jared Kushner & friends went to the GOP Senate lunch today to sell an immigration plan. He did not exactly find an enthusiastic market.” “Incredibly, Jared Kushner's ‘immigration plan’ literally doesn't address DACA & the Dreamers,” Matt Katz points out.

A hack for every need, every greed

Which Florida counties had election hacks? Russians, FBI and now Gov. Ron DeSantis all know, but we don’t, writes Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times. As Michael Van Sickler tweets, “Ron DeSantis said today that the FBI worked with the two counties that had the breach and that they knew about it before the 2016 election. That's BIG NEWS and contradicts Marco Rubio and other officials the @TB_Times has contacted.” Adds Steve Silberman, “Seriously? Florida GOP governor says Russian hackers penetrated two counties' election systems, but he can't tell us which, because he ‘signed an NDA.’ They're not even trying to come up with credible bullshit anymore.”

Next, “This is Renee Dudley’s remarkable ProPublica debut--eye-opening reporting on two U.S. ‘data recovery’ firms that paid ransoms to hackers, often without telling clients. Ransomware is often blamed on foreigners, but Renee’s findings bring it close to home.” Daniel Golden links to the ProPublica feature by Renee Dudley and Jeff Kao, The Trade Secret: Firms That Promised High-Tech Ransomware Solutions Almost Always Just Pay the Hackers. As Tracy Weber says, “This is one of those stories that takes you inside an industry--one of those that spring up to make $$ off crises--you knew nothing about and reveals all manner of crazy, disturbing behavior. FBI doesn’t look too good either.”

Of course, “There is a hack for every need, every greed. How can WhatsApp be different,” tweets Anirban Roy, who links to the report by Munsif Vengattil, Aditya Kalra and Sankalp Phartiyal of Reuters, In India election, a $14 software tool helps overcome WhatsApp controls. Want to get around the anti-spam restrictions? Vengattil counts the ways: “We found three ways in which WhatsApp restrictions were being circumvented: clone apps; a $14 software that automates message delivery; websites offering bulk WhatsApp messaging services.”

What could possibly go wrong?

We think Joe Weisenthal sets up this next one pretty well: “@ellenhuet Excuse me, I need to pick up my eyeballs off the floor, because they rolled so far back they just fell out.” He’s referring to Ellen Huet’s cover for Bloomberg Businessweek, WeWork Wants to Be Its Own Landlord (It Also Wants $2.8 Billion), which reveals, “[t]he cash-burning startup is turning to financial gymnastics to keep expanding.” And “What could possibly go wrong?” as Tim Logan tweets.

But be careful, because Mark Bergen “Read this ending and died dead.” And that’s not all. Amy Thomson highlights, “Everyone's lifting gems out of @ellenhuet’s excellent WeWork feature this morning. ‘I haven’t broken my fast yet,’ the 40-year-old CEO says apologetically, instead of using the word ‘breakfast.’” And Tom Braithwaite says, “Amazingly, this isn’t Donald Trump speaking. ‘I start to ask another question, and he cuts me off. 'I’m a great real estate buyer, so if I bought for $100, it’s probably worth $300. I’ll still sell it for $100.’”

Pick your excuse

With that helpful segue, we turn to the latest from David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell at The Washington Post, who’ve discovered that Trump’s prized Doral resort is in steep decline, according to company documents, showing his business problems are mounting. Fahrenthold tweets, “Chicago folks, you might think this is interesting. @realDonaldTrump's company says its hotel -- the big luxury tower on the river downtown -- is suffering. But not because of Trump's name. Because of ‘the perceived threat of gun violence.’” Also, tweets Rachel Siegel, “‘To explain the declines @ Doral, the Trump Org. issued a statement to the @washingtonpost that contradicted its own tax consultant & blamed factors that had nothing to do w/ Trump’s name,’ like the Zika virus & hurricanes.” Read Fahrenthold’s full Twitter thread for more details and for info on how to send tips his way.

If only we had all the time in the world

“Thank you @KochIndustries, @ALEC_states #ExxonMobil @GOP George W. Bush and all who fell for the big lies from big oil.” Mary Newsom links to the analysis by Jason Samenow of The Washington Post, It was 84 degrees near the Arctic Ocean this weekend as carbon dioxide hit its highest level in human history. “Sobering facts: *Greenland ice sheet’s melt season began about a month early. *Across the Arctic, sea ice has hovered near a record low for weeks. *April was the second warmest on record for the entire planet,” tweets Jim Roberts. And Shaun McKinnon highlights this part: “It was one degree warmer near the northern Russian coast Sunday than it was in Phoenix.”

Meanwhile, at least this is something: “Energy companies are betting on the end of #coal, and at a faster pace than global climate targets indicate.” Rob Verdonck links to David Fickling’s piece for Bloomberg, which finds Coal’s End Foreshadowed in IEA’s Plant Investment Report. Patrick Galey says, “This sounds like good news. And if we had all the time in the world, it would be. But coal plants have a shelf-life of -/+50 yrs. The IPCC says we need to almost entirely phase out coal by 2030. And Asian capacity still rising.”

Icons and legends

We lost a few legends this week. Valerie Nelson has the Los Angeles Times obit for Doris Day, who died on Monday at 97. Meg Farris shares this great story on Twitter: “When my dad was a young man he asked the singer at a dance named ‘Do-Do’ Kappelhoff, to dance with him. Years later that singer became known as #dorisday!” Nardine Saad highlights, “‘Her persona hit a cultural mother lode, tapping into what the average postwar woman was about,’ Drew Casper, a USC film professor, told The Times. She ‘was way ahead of her time, a feminist before there was feminism.’” And Steven Zeitchik says simply, “Icon.”

Carmel Dagan has Variety’s obit for Tim Conway, comedian and ‘Carol Burnett Show’ star, who died on Tuesday at 85. “The world just became a little less funny,” as Joseph F. Kovar tweets. Mike McGranaghan calls it “A monumental loss for comedy fans. Aside from being immensely talented, Tim Conway inspired so many of the popular comedians who came after him. Rest in peace, sir, and thanks for the laughs.”

And on Saturday, Peggy Lipton, star of ‘The Mod Squad’ and ‘Twin Peaks,’ died at age 72Josh Rottenberg writes the obituary for Lipton at the Los Angeles Times. “She was the best, groundbreaker, icon, all that,” tweets Mary McNamara.


Question of the Day

Yesterday, we asked: Working 20-plus hours a day and subsisting mostly on bittersweet chocolate, Danielle Steel has managed to write how many books over the course of her career (so far)?

Answer: She’s written 179 books, and we don’t know what we’ve been doing with our time.

Congrats to…Craig Pittman, first to tweet 179. We’re also giving credit to Margo Howard (“It seems like 1500”), Dan Tynan (“too many”) and Jude Isabella’s conspiracy theory that “maybe Danielle is gone and it's all done with AI?“ because all of those answers are accurate, too.

Your question of the day for today is...What actress/comedian is credited with “discovering” Tim Conway?

As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MuckRack.

Career Updates

New roles for Hatmaker, Fancher, Foster

Taylor Hatmaker is joining The Daily Beast as it senior technology editor. She’s been a writer at TechCrunch since November 2016. She previously worked for the Daily Dot, ReadWrite, Yahoo News and Tecca.

San Francisco Business Times deputy managing editor Emily Fancher has moved on to the San Francisco Chronicle to be its deputy metro editor. Before joining the Business Times in 2014, she worked for the San Francisco Examiner and San Mateo County Times.

And effective May 28, Richard Foster is the new editor in chief of Virginia Business magazine. Foster has worked for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Roanoke Times and Style Weekly. He was also the founding editor of Richmond.com and executive editor at Richmond Magazine. He’s spent 13 years as a freelance writer for Virginia Business. His book, “The Real Bettie Page: The Truth about the Queen of Pinups,” was adapted for a 2006 HBO Films movie, “The Notorious Bettie Page.”

Don’t forget - if you change your job in journalism or move to a different news organization, be sure to email us (hello [at] muckrack [dot] com) so we can reflect your new title. News job changes only, please! Thanks!

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