May 23, 2023 - Podcasts

Civil rights groups warn travelers away from Florida

The NAACP issued a formal travel advisory for Florida, warning people against going there, alongside the LGBTQ advocacy group, Equality Florida. A number of Pride events across the state have also been canceled.

  • Plus, Americans are flocking to stable, patriotic brands.
  • And, a deal to dramatically cut water usage from the Colorado River.

Guests: Axios' Margaret Talev and Sara Fischer; and The Washington Post's Hannah Sampson.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Alexandra Botti, Fonda Mwangi, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Robin Linn and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go Deeper:


NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today! It’s Tuesday, May 23rd. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re covering today: Americans are flocking to stable, patriotic brands, over foreign companies. Plus, a deal to dramatically cut water usage from the Colorado river.

But first: civil rights groups warn travelers about Florida. That’s today’s One Big Thing.

Civil rights groups warn travelers away from Florida

NIALA: The NAACP has issued a formal travel advisory for Florida. Its President, Derrick Johnson, says this is in response to Florida becoming openly hostile towards African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals. The LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida issued a similar travel advisory last month, and a number of pride events in Florida cities have also been canceled. Hannah Sampson reports on travel for the Washington Post. She's also one of my former colleagues from the Miami Herald and a native Floridian. Hi Hannah.


NIALA: What does the NAACP advisory specifically warn travelers about here?

HANNAH: They're referencing some of the policies that the state has put into place, things that the Governor Ron DeSantis has championed in his efforts to make Florida what he calls “anti-woke” regarding teaching of black history and the abolition of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. They're saying, as you mentioned, that this is an openly hostile position toward black people and people of color, and that it's not safe to go to the state, or at least that they should consider this kind of background if they're planning to visit.

NIALA: They're not the only group to issue a travel advisory, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and I mentioned Equality Florida, have also released statements in some cases. This is also around immigration reform?

HANNAH: The Florida Immigrant Coalition flat out called Florida “dangerous” for people who are immigrants or who even appear like they could be immigrants, because of policies and laws in the state that target people who are undocumented. Equality Florida called the state “a serious risk for people who are part of the LGBTQ community.” And that's because of laws and policies passed in Florida around bathroom bills and treatment of trans minors, gender-affirming care. They also mention abortion laws and, in some cases, weapons ownership.

NIALA: And is it about physical safety? Is it fair to say these groups don't believe it's physically safe to go to Florida versus where you should invest your money?

HANNAH: I think it's a whole gamut of taking a stand and not giving your money to a place that has policies that are opposed to your existence, but also not wanting people to come and be harassed, disrespected, or made physically unsafe.

NIALA: Hannah, how has the State of Florida and Governor DeSantis responded to all of these statements?

HANNAH: They have consistently called these kinds of travel advisories political stunts.They also like to point at their record tourism. And it seems like they're very dismissive of it.

NIALA: Disney, of course, is also in an ongoing feud with Governor Ron DeSantis, the latest that the company canceled a $1 billion plan to build a new campus in the state. Do we have a sense of how these travel advisories or this fight with Disney is going to affect the largest industry in Florida economically?

HANNAH: It's important to remember that some of these battles have been going on since last year, and Florida had record tourism last year. They had over 137 million visitors. It was a big increase from the previous year. You know, people wanna go on vacation to a warm place and Florida will always have that going for them, but they definitely risk losing specific groups of people and putting a really bad taste in the mouth of others.

NIALA: Hannah Sampson covers travel for the Washington Post. Thanks Hannah.

HANNAH: Thanks, Niala.

A deal to dramatically cut water usage from the Colorado River.

Niala: A few other stories we’re watching today:

Arizona, California and Nevada have reached a deal with the Biden administration to conserve an unprecedented amount of water from the Colorado River Basin in exchange for $1.2 billion in federal funding. The Colorado River is a key source of water in the American west and has been facing dangerous levels of drought. The deal, which the Department of the Interior will now review, is meant to keep the country’s largest reservoirs — Lake Powell and Lake Meade — from dropping to catastrophically low levels over the next three years.

The European Union has fined Facebook’s parent company Meta a record $1.3 billion dollars for data privacy violations. Meta broke European privacy laws by transferring user data from the EU to the U.S. The conflict represents the long-standing political struggle to reconcile American data laws with European ones — which are more protective of consumer data.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has issued an official warning about the dangers of social media for kids. And he’s calling for immediate action by policy makers, companies, and parents to create safe limits.

Spending more than three hours on these apps a day doubles the risk of anxiety and depression, says research…and the average for teens in the U.S. today is 3.5 hours a day.

In a moment, the companies Americans trust most…and least.

Americans are flocking to stable, patriotic brands.

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo.

FTX and Tesla took two of the biggest hits in this year's Axios Harris Poll 100, which gauges the reputation of the most visible brands in America. But overall trust in American companies foreign firms soared. Axios’ Sarah Fischer and Margaret Talev are here with what we can learn from the latest rankings.

Sara, catch us up quick. How is this survey done?

SARA FISCHER: Every year Axios teams with Harris Poll, this year we surveyed over 16,000 Americans. The first thing we ask is for them to identify the most visible brands in America. We then ask these survey respondents to rank those brands, we pull the top 100 most visible in terms of a number of attributes. And we come up with one reputation score based off of the cumulative averaging of those different attributes and that score is ranked one through a hundred. So number one, meaning you're the top rated brand amongst Americans this year, in this case it was Patagonia. And number 100, meaning you are ranked the lowest of the 100 most visible brands by Americans we pulled this year, in this case it was the Trump organization.

NIALA: Margaret, what did people say they liked about Patagonia?

MARGARET TALEV: Patagonia is a company ideologically that has a center left appeal. And yet you have many Republicans who like Patagonia as well. What consumers have been saying consistently in this survey is that they like a company that knows what it stands for and isn't just chasing consumers with marketing employees, but that sticks to its message. Patagonia last year made the decision to transfer its ownership. And the structure of this puts all of the profits at Patagonia back into conservation. So it's a combination of consistency, of having a message and sticking with it, but also of ramping up that commitment a notch in the past year.

NIALA: So Sara, why did we see such big drops in the reputation for Tesla and FTX this year.

SARA: Well for Tesla, I definitely think it has to do with its Founder Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter for a few reasons. One, he's had to dump a lot of Tesla's stock. Two, he's been charged by shareholders, a sort of neglect of the company. They've pushed him to bring on a new CEO for Twitter, so that he can focus more of his attention towards Tesla. And then three, you have a bunch of American auto companies who have been started to invest in electric vehicles. And so as a result, I don't think Tesla is this shiny new object there.

And then with FTX, of course, that company, you know, filed for bankruptcy after it was found out that it essentially was running on like a pyramid scheme. The founder of FTX, Sam Bankman Fried, has been indicted, and so the collapse of FTX has just taken down the entire crypto economy with it.

MARGARET: There's one more trend that we saw which is really interesting. As you know, inflation has totally freaked everybody out. Number of companies that did well this year did well because part of their brand is affordability or they can be used to counter inflation. One of the most popular overall is Costco.

SARA: I think Americans are flocking towards brands that feel secure, stable, familiar and patriotic. When we first started doing this poll with Harris, you know, six, seven years ago, where Americans were really flocking towards the new shiny unknown things. I think a lot of those types of big idea companies and big tech moguls have let Americans down and as a result, they really are focusing on brands that hit close to the heart in the heartland: John Deere, which is headquartered in Illinois, Kohls, which is headquartered in Wisconsin, USSA, which is based in Texas. These companies are seeing really big reputation gains over companies like Shein, which is a Chinese e-commerce company, or TikTok. And another thing to know is that, these companies tend to have a tie to traditional manufacturing and retail. Consumers are really flocking towards tangible goods, things that they understand.

NIALA: Sarah Fischer is Axios Media reporter. Margaret Talev is the senior contributor for Axios and Director of the Syracuse University Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship. Thank you both.

MARGARET: Thanks, Niala.

SARA: Thank you.

NIALA: That’s it for us today! I’m Niala Boodhoo, thanks for listening, stay safe, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

If you love diving deep into the stories shaping our lives, you’ll love TED Talks Daily, with a new TED talk every day to help you go beyond the headlines and explore the big ideas shaping our future. This summer, they delve into the ethics of AI, transforming the foster care system, building mental fitness, and more. Make your daily routine a little more curious. Find TED Talks Daily wherever you get your podcasts.

Go deeper