Good Morning. Here’s what you need to know to start the day, along with perspective from both sides for calmer coffee conversations with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers. Plus, a bit of good news: Need an escape? Here are the winners of the 2020 BigPicture Natural World Photography competition.
📰 TOP STORY
ObamaGate, Explained: The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released over 50 transcripts of closed-door interviews conducted in the course of its probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Stay with us here, because even the release of the transcripts was covered differently by both sides.
On the right, Lee Smith of the New York Post blames Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff for the delayed release. Lee writes that, “acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell forced Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff’s hand. If the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee didn’t release the transcripts of 53 interviews from the committee’s Russia collusion investigations, then he’d do it himself. The transcripts, many of them from nearly three years ago, were declassified and ready for public viewing since June.”
On the left, reporting from Molly Finnegan of PBS News claims it was the other way around. Finnegan reports that it was actually Schiff who sent a letter to Grenell blaming him and the ODNI for the “excessive delay” and that it was stalled by “improper political inference by the White House.”
Before we go any further, let’s just pause and think about how ridiculous this is: two different outlets are reporting two different stories about how… transcripts were released? No wonder the American public is confused, angry, and fed up with Washington and the reporters who cover The Hill. Regardless, these transcripts include interviews with names that have been plastered all over cable TV stations during the past four years. There are key members of the Trump team and President Donald Trump’s family, including Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, Brad Parscale and Carter Page. The panel also interviewed top officials from the Obama administration including James Clapper, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Andrew McCabe and Loretta Lynch. Interviews from the second group, gave rise to what President Trump has since called ObamaGate. Confused yet? It’s a lot, but here is what both sides are saying.
On the Right: Conservative outlets and voices say that the transcripts “show exactly what you’d expect them to show: None of the former Obama administration officials who took to the airwaves immediately after Trump’s election to claim collusion had any evidence of it,” Lee Smith continues in his piece for the New York Post. For example, Obama’s director of national intelligence, and CNN analyst, James Clapper said, “I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting/conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election.” Lee and others argue that “once-prestigious press organizations, including CNN as well as MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post, weren’t fooled by the collusion hoax. They were an essential part of it.” In summary, ObamaGate, from the right’s perspective, highlights how even though all we’ve heard about over the past four years is that Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, there was no “direct empirical evidence” in the words of James Clapper, and worse yet, the media helped fan the flames.
On the Left: Democrats and left-leaning outlets focus their reporting more on interviews from President Trump’s inner circle. CNN writes about Hope Hicks, who left her White House job the day after her House interview, saying that, “while she hadn’t lied about matters related to the Russia investigation she did tell ‘white lies’ for the President.” CNN also emphasizes that, “the committee voted almost two years ago, in September 2018, to release the interview transcripts that were made public Thursday,” but that they have been held up by Grenell and the White House before being released. Another major talking point from the left is that “Trump is peddling ‘Obamagate,’ [but] struggles to explain what it is,” as Steve Benen of MSNBC writes. Benen says that Trump’s unhealthy obsession with his predecessor is certainly part of the problem. It’s also likely that this is part of a 2020 electoral strategy: Trump is running against Obama’s former vice president, so he has an added incentive to try to smear the former Democratic administration.
Flag This: No normal American has time to sift through everything above. We only do it because we’re so fed up with mainstream media outlets, that we feel like someone has to attempt to untangle the mess. Here’s the thing, the business model thrives off confusion. When people are confused, what do they do? Keep clicking. More clicks, equals more page views. Clicks and views, equals revenue. It’s a shameful display by the right and left leaning outlets, both of which have dragged our country through the mud over the past four years in order to disorient, distract, and demoralize. If you’re as fed up with the coverage as we are here’s a challenge for you. Reach out to someone who disagrees with you about any topic–maybe even this one. Make no mention of politics or the specific story, just let them know you’re thinking of them during these turbulent times. While the media attempts to pull us apart, the only way to push back is by banding together, even with those who hold opposing views. If not the divide will grow, along with the media company’s bottom lines.
🦅 US NEWS
Fauci warns against ‘prematurely’ opening U.S. states in coronavirus pandemic
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, warned on Tuesday that “the consequences could be really serious” if cities and states reopen the U.S. economy too quickly with the coronavirus still spreading. In fact, he said opening too soon “could turn the clock back,” and that not only would cause “some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery.” Getting Schooled: In terms of the fall semester, Fauci said that a return to school in the fall “would be a bit of a bridge too far,” during the hearing. How it’s playing:
- On the Right: Dr. Anthony Fauci needs to get off the national stage Cheryl K. Chumley, The Washington Times
- On the Left: Fauci testifies pandemic is not ‘under control’ in America Joanna Walters, The Guardian
House Democrats unveil $3 trillion coronavirus relief package
House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled their latest round of legislation to provide Americans with economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic. What’s Next: The House is expected to pass the $3 trillion bill on Friday along party lines as Democrats seek to put pressure on Republicans to start negotiations for additional measures to contain the impact on workers.
- What’s Included: $500 billion for state governments, $375 billion for local governments, $20 billion for tribal relief and $20 billion for relief for territories. $3.6 billion for “contingency planning, preparation, and resilience of elections for Federal office.” $1.5 billion for broadband hot spots. $10 billion for small businesses, $25 billion for the Postal Service. Keep reading.
🌎 WORLD NEWS
The Chinese city of Wuhan will begin what it is calling “10 days of mass battle” to test all 11 million residents after the discovery of a new cluster of coronavirus cases. After easing restrictions, authorities found at least six new cases, the first to be confirmed in Hubei province in more than a month.
- From the Right: Locals Describe Severe Virus Outbreak in Wuhan Nicole Hao, The Epoch Times
- From the Left: Wuhan Plans To Test All 11 Million Residents After Six New Coronavirus Cases Were Reported Megha Rajagopalan, BuzzFeed News
In Israel, coronavirus crisis improves Jewish-Arab relations
The COVID-19 crisis seems to have helped improve Arab-Jewish relations in Israel, Afif Abu Much writes for Al-Monitor. “The fact that the virus did not distinguish between Arabs and Jews played an important role in reconciling them. So did images of Arab doctors and nurses (some 20% of Israeli medical staff are Arab) fighting relentlessly on the front lines in the battle against the virus.” Additionally, according to recent study, 77% of Arabs feel that they are a part of the State of Israel, by far the highest results seen in a decade.
- Flag This: Nevertheless, the big question remains: What will happen the day after the coronavirus crisis is over? Is this the start of a real romance and a turning point in Arab-Jewish relationship, or is it just a temporary fling that will vanish together with the coronavirus?
🗞️ BIZ, SPORTS, & TECH
PNC Financial Services announced that it plans to sell its 22% stake in BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. PNC originally acquired BlackRock in 1995 for $240 million, later spinning it off as an initial public offering in 1999. According to Business Insider, PNC’s sale represents a return on investment of more than 7000%.
China TV still not planning to air NBA games
In its first statement on the matter in months, China’s CCTV said Tuesday it has no intention of resuming the airing of NBA games as the relationship between the sides remains icy in the wake of Daryl Morey’s Hong Kong tweet last fall. Context: The NBA on Monday named Michael Ma as the new CEO of NBA China. Ma comes from an influential Chinese media family — his father, Ma Guoli, is regarded as the father of CCTV Sports, having run it for 16 years. So far, the hire hasn’t helped.
Uber Might Eat Grub Hub
Uber is reportedly in talks to buy GrubHub in an all-stock deal. If completed, it would combine two of the most dominant players in the meal-delivery market. The coronavirus has caused an increase in popularity for on-demand food delivery services as consumers hunker down and abide by social distancing measures.
📢 PRESENTED BY VINCERO
🗳️ FLAG POLLS
Results From Last Week’s Flag Poll
If the federal government created a contact-tracing app to help eliminate the coronavirus and it meant the US could open its economy faster, would you download it? 36% said Yes, 64% said No. Final results and comments.
This Week’s Flag Poll
If there is a “second wave” of coronavirus infections, do you think the United States should implement the same lock down measures? Click here to vote.
On This Day in 1846, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly votes in favor of President James K. Polk’s request to declare war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas.
People With Extreme Political Views Have Trouble Thinking About Their Own Thinking (PopSci)
Who Owns a Home in America, in 12 Charts (City Lab)
How to Disagree with Someone More Powerful than You (Harvard Business Review)