Mike Allen

Today's Trump Top 5: Hits, misses from Month 1

Happy Presidents Day or, as we used to say, Washington's Birthday. Thanks for stopping by to catch up, and thanks to our friends at Apple News for working today. Get our early-morning blast, seven days a week, by signing up here for Axios AM: Mike's Top 10.

1. Hits, misses from Month 1

The president salutes First Lady Melania Trump at his weekend rally in Florida / AP's Chris O'Meara

The Trump presidency is a month old — 47 (or 95!) months to go. So what has President Trump gotten most right and most wrong? After talking to dozens of officials in and out of the White House, Jim VandeHei and I came up with this scorecard:

Most right:

  1. Creating a fairly strong climate for economic growth.
  2. Forcing U.S. companies to think harder about creating U.S. jobs.
  3. Keeping his promises. Trump has done precisely what he said he would do in terms of pulling out of trade deals, clamping down on illegal immigration, and moving ahead with a "great wall."
Most wrong:
  1. Scaring off talent: Trump's paranoid, chaotic way of leading has spooked some of the smartest, most capable Republicans who wanted or were willing to work for him.
  2. Delegitimizing people he will one day need: The moment will come when Trump needs the public or world to believe something "fake news" journalists are reporting, or needs judges to give his idea a fair hearing, or needs the intelligence community to have his back in a tense moment, or needs allies such as Germany or Australia to support him, or needs establishment Republicans to take a tough vote.
  3. Being consumed with small-ball grievances. He allows petty slights to preoccupy his mind, his team and decision-making.

More from the Jim/Mike report card: Why Trump will need friends in the days ahead.

2. Ivanka is the "one constant"

Ivanka Trump walks to Air Force One on Friday with husband Jared Kushner (left); their two children, Arabella and Joseph; strategist Steve Bannon; and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (far right) / AP's Andrew Harnik

"Ivanka Trump is front and center at the White House," says today's USA Today Life section cover story, by Maria Puente: "It was expected the first daughter would be at her father's side more than first lady Melania Trump; what's unexpected is she's been there almost as much as her husband, senior adviser Jared Kushner, who's actually working there."

"Ivanka has said ... she wants to make empowering more women in business her signature issue during the Trump administration, and she's already started: She's been at two White House conferences with business leaders, plus she and Kushner hosted a dinner last month with a group of CEOs at her new home in ... Washington, to talk about working women and issues like paid maternity leave."

Here's her Instagram page.

3. A working holiday

Trump and McMaster at today's announcement / AP's Susan Walsh

At his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida before flying back to Washington, Trump today named his new national security adviser: Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, 54, replacing his first choice, Michael Flynn, who resigned.

Some bio: "McMaster served in the first Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq. Considered a scholarly officer, he holds a Ph.D. in military history, and has authored a book called 'Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam.' He has also written articles questioning the planning for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Tom Ricks of Foreign Policy, who's known McMaster since he was a major, wrote before the announcement that he's "smart, energetic, and tough" and has good combat experience.

A White House official sent word to reporters that the president "gave full authority for McMaster to hire whatever staff he sees fit" -- a question that came up as he was considering other candidates.

Read McMaster's official bio here.

4. To tell your kids: Trump's fave president (besides himself)

Trump's Oval Office has a portrait of Andrew Jackson / AP's Alex Brandon

A Presidents' Day special ... Trump's aides enjoy playing up the parallels in both the campaign and personal style of the 7th president -- Andrew Jackson, "Old Hickory" (served 1829-1837) -- and the 45th, their boss.

AP's Jonathan Lemire notes that Trump's chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, said after Trump's inaugural address: "I don't think we've had a speech like that since Andrew Jackson came to the White House."

True of both of them: "An unvarnished celebrity outsider who pledged to represent the forgotten laborer took on an intellectual member of the Washington establishment looking to extend a political dynasty."

Just before the inauguration, Trump said admirers tell him: "There hasn't been anything like this since Andrew Jackson."

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley: "In American political lore, Jackson represents the forgotten rural America while Trump won by bringing out that rural vote and the blue collar vote."

5. Trump tweet du jour

The president explains -- and, of course, doubles down on -- the claim he made at Saturday's rally while discussing terrorism: "You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?"

No one did: There was no attack in Sweden Friday night. But now we know what he meant.

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Adios, Milo

After Breitbart provocateur Milo was announced Saturday (the day after his bro-out with Bill Maher) as a speaker at CPAC — the Conservative Political Action Conference, which opens Wednesday — the self-described "virtuous troll" got hit with fatal oppo on the Twitter feed of the Reagan Battalion:

Milo replies on Facebook: "A note for idiots (UPDATED): I do not support pedophilia. Period. ... If it somehow comes across (through my own sloppy phrasing or through deceptive editing) that I meant any of the ugly things alleged, let me set the record straight ... I am completely disgusted by the abuse of children. "

The board of the American Conservative Union, which stages CPAC, includes Kellyanne Conway, John Bolton, Grover Norquist, Becky Norton Dunlap, Ron Christie, José Cárdenas, etc.

Chances Milo speaks at CPAC, with hundreds of young attendees: next to zero.


Axios AM

1 big thing: Wins and losses

Tourists at Washington Monument at sunset last night / AP's J. David Ake

The Trump presidency is one month old — 47 (or 95) more months to go. So what has President Trump gotten most right and most wrong? After talking to dozens of officials inside and out of the White House, VandeHei and I came up with this list:

Most right:

  1. In policy promises and rhetoric, he has created a fairly strong climate for economic growth, an essential ingredient for first-term success. Voters are more forgiving when they have jobs, wage growth and optimism. Business hates uncertainty, but stock prices are rising and consumer confidence is growing. Hard to see tax cuts, lighter regulations and infrastructure spending doing anything but helping.
  2. Forcing U.S. companies to think harder about creating U.S. jobs. We can argue all day whether most big jobs announcements — starting with Carrier — were overhyped. But you can't dispute that CEOs are looking anew for ways to showcase job creation in America, a good short-term trend for U.S. workers. And very good long-term politics for Trump.
  3. Keeping his promises. Trump, for better or worse, has done precisely what he said he would do in terms of pulling out of trade deals, clamping down on illegal immigration and banning travel from Muslim-majority nations. While it's been sloppy, it has been similar to what was promised. And his Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, was on the list Trump shared as a candidate, and looks like a virtual lock to win approval. This has kept Republicans solidly in his corner.

Most wrong:

  1. Scaring off talent. Others will argue for what they see as greater sins. But Trump's paranoid, chaotic way of leading has spooked some of the smartest, most capable Republicans who wanted or were willing to work for him (especially in intelligence and defense positions). We know: We've talked to them. We have heard from scores of talented officials who took a pass after watching how outsiders are treated by the existing team — and witnessing the far reach of Steve Bannon and the White House oligarchy. You can't run a great business with mediocrity — or retreads or yes-men. This is a big, long-term risk on many fronts.
  2. Delegitimizing people he will one day need. Mark our word: The moment will come when Trump needs the public or world to believe something "fake news" journalists are reporting, or needs "so-called" judges to give his idea a fair hearing, or needs the intelligence community to have his back in a tense moment, or needs allies such as Germany or Australia to support him, or needs establishment Republicans to take a tough vote. All five groups could hurt him badly on the Russia investigation (a topic that could easily be #1 on this entire list). Revenge is a human instinct not confined to Trump.
  3. Being consumed with small-ball grievances. This has been a hallmark of Trump going back decades. He allows petty slights and distractions -- town-hall questions! -- to preoccupy his mind, his team and decision-making. This has slowed action on Capitol Hill and obscured the genuine accomplishments listed above.

2. For your radar ...

N.Y. Times 2-col. lead, "Trump Associates Push Backdoor Ukraine Plan," by Megan Twohey and Scott Shane: "A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia. ... Michael D. Cohen, the president's personal lawyer, ... delivered the document."

  • "At a time when Mr. Trump's ties to Russia, and the people connected to him, are under heightened scrutiny ... some of his associates remain willing and eager to wade into Russia-related efforts behind the scenes.
  • "While there is nothing illegal about such unofficial efforts, a proposal that seems to tip toward Russian interests may set off alarms."

3. The click graveyard

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

For a decade, everything in online media was about clicks. But Sara Fischer, Axios' media-trends reporter, says the click referral is becoming an idea of the past. The new-new thing: "content exposure," which drives you to click something, instead of the click itself.

  • The future: Two key formats increase content exposure: video and passive scrolling. Google and Facebook are investing heavily in products that embody these formats: YouTube and Instagram.
  • The past: Most publishers designed their websites to measure user interaction through clicks, not scroll rates or time spent on stories. As the industry moves away from click-through rates (CTR's) as the most meaningful marketing metric, those publishers will have a difficult time justifying the effectiveness of their platforms for marketers.
  • Who's to blame? Click referrals as the most successful marketing metric was driven by a free click referral measuring tool created in 2005 ... Google Analytics.

4. Tops in tech: An explosive blog post

Another tale of sexism and unacceptable workplace behavior in Silicon Valley, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva writes. This time it's at Uber, according to an explosive blog post yesterday by former company engine Susan Fowler Riggetti, who accuses Uber of ignoring multiple complaints of sexual harassment. Her attempts to use emails to document bad behavior were turned against her, she says.

Reached for comment, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told Axios first: "I have just read Susan Fowler's blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It's the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations."

Uber board member Arianna Huffington tweeted: "Just talked w/ Travis & as a representative of Uber's Board I will work w/Liane to conduct a full independent investigation starting now."

5. Bill Gates' robot tax

Financial Times second front, "Bill Gates calls for income tax on robots: Microsoft co-founder suggests money should be used to retrain people replaced by robots," by Richard Waters in S.F.: "It is an idea that until now has been associated more with European socialists than tech industry leaders, and puts him in the unusual position of explicitly arguing for taxes to slow the adoption of new technology."

Gates told Quartz: "It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm ... That means they won't shape it for the positive things it can do. And, you know, taxation is certainly a better way to handle it than just banning some elements of it."

6. Now you know

Although today is widely known as Presidents Day, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management kicks it old-school: "This holiday is designated as 'Washington's Birthday' in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law."

7. Adios, Milo

After Breitbart provocateur Milo was announced Saturday (the day after his bro-out with Bill Maher) as a speaker at CPAC -- the Conservative Political Action Conference, which opens Wednesday -- the self-described "virtuous troll" got hit with fatal oppo on the Twitter feed of the Reagan Battalion:

"Video surfaces of Milo Yiannopoulos defending pedophilia, ACU board reportedly not consulted on CPAC invite," by The Blaze's Chris Enloe: "'We get hung up on this sort of child abuse stuff,' Yiannopoulos is heard saying in a video ... 'In the homosexual world, particularly, some of those relationships between younger boys and older men — the sort of "coming of age" relationship — those relationships in which those older men help those young boys discover who they are and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable, sort of rock, where they can't speak to their parents.'"

"'It sounds like molestation to me,' an unnamed person tells Yiannopoulos in reply, likely an interviewer."

Milo replies on Facebook: "A note for idiots (UPDATED): I do not support pedophilia. Period. ... If it somehow comes across (through my own sloppy phrasing or through deceptive editing) that I meant any of the ugly things alleged, let me set the record straight ... "

The board of the American Conservative Union, which stages CPAC, includes Kellyanne Conway, John Bolton, Grover Norquist, Becky Norton Dunlap, Ron Christie, José Cárdenas, etc.

Chances Milo speaks at CPAC, with hundreds of young attendees: zero.

Also today ... WashPost Style cover story, "Breitbart: A new force in the Trump era? Stephen Bannon is now a White House power. What's next for the website he used to help elect a president?" by Manuel Roig-Franzia and Paul Farhi: "Already there have been indications that Bannon's former organization might enjoy something akin to most-favored media status, even as the White House wages a very public verbal war with mainstream media outlets."

"In the hours after the president announced financing plans for an expanded U.S.-Mexico border wall, Breitbart.com was offering to sell a special product to its readers on its homepage: a 'Breitbart Border Construction Co.' T-shirt."

8. The New Yorker goes inside DNC race

New Yorker staff writer Vinson Cunningham profiles Rep. Keith Ellison in his progressive bid to beat the establishment candidate, Tom Perez, for DNC chair: "The race for the chair has often echoed the acrimony and confusion of the Presidential primaries."

  • "The turmoil of Trump's first month as President has alternately panicked and emboldened the Democratic base. The activist surge on the left ... has stoked a conviction that the Party must be more forceful in combatting Trump."
  • "Democrats in the Senate have been conspicuously more strident in their opposition to his Cabinet nominees."
  • "The rhetoric of the marches has seeped into the D.N.C. race as well, though to less certain effect. There seems to be a mismatch in expectations between the lofty hopes of the marchers and the more mundane work that awaits on South Capitol Street, where the D.N.C. is headquartered."

9. "Shakeup at the Oscars"

"#OscarsNotSoWhite," by Eric Drooker

Ahead of Sunday's ceremony, Michael Schulman goes inside the Academy for The New Yorker, finding angst and pushback over the "plan to diversify the voting body quickly by aggressively recruiting new members while shifting others to 'emeritus status'":

  • "Like Hollywood's best sagas—'Star Wars,' 'The Godfather'—the Oscars often play out as a drama of generational conflict."
  • "Daniel Smith-Rowsey, a film historian, has referred to the latest shakeup as 'the third purge,' following two previous industry-wide talent overhauls. The first occurred in the twenties, as the rise of talkies swept scores of mugging mustache-twirlers and big-eyed ingénues to the sidelines. ... The second purge came in the late sixties, as the studio system was grappling with its own decline and the rise of a youth culture with which it seemed hopelessly out of touch."
  • "Today, Hollywood is again trying to appeal to a fractured, anxious country, polarized not by hippies but by identity politics."

"Cover Story" (love that!) about Eric Drooker's "#OscarsNotSoWhite," plus a slide show of The New Yorker's past Oscars covers.

10. 1 fun thing

"Can 2 fried chicken festivals coexist in North Carolina?" -- Front page of today's Raleigh News & Observer, by Chris Cioffi: "Legislation to recognize a Fayetteville celebration as the state's official fried chicken festival has caused some involved with Rose Hill's longstanding North Carolina Poultry Jubilee [73 miles away] to cry foul. Both eastern North Carolina towns have deep ties to the state's large poultry industry."

"Bill McMillan said he suggested the Fayetteville festival as a fun event and fundraiser. He said he did not know that Rose Hill had a poultry-themed festival dating to the 1960s and wasn't trying to cause trouble."


What Trump gets most right and most wrong

Andrew Harnik / AP

The Trump presidency is one month old — 47 (or 95) more months to go. So what has President Trump gotten most right and most wrong? After talking to dozens of officials inside and out of the WH, we came up with this list:


Christie in running for Trump drug task force

AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

White House officials are shooting down a N.Y. Post story, spreading on Twitter this morning, saying Chris Christie has told his staff he's taking a White House job.

Mike DuHaime, a Christie adviser, told us: "Absolutely not true." A Trump aide said: "100% wrong. The Christie chatter is as always generated by Christieland."

But in checking out that report, we learned that Trump's White House lunch with the governor this week included conversation about a possible drug task force, aimed at a big scourge in Trump country.

"There is some preliminary talk of [Christie] participating in [and perhaps chairing] an independent outside 'opioids task force' along with many others while he remains governor," the aide said.


Axios AM

Tonight, Jonathan Swan debuts a new weekly newsletter, Axios Sneak Peek -- our lookahead for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus the best moments from the Sunday shows. For launch, Jonathan has a cool scoop on a surprising behind-the-scenes debate inside the GOP.

1 big thing: 2020 begins

White House officials are shooting down a N.Y. Post story, spreading on Twitter this morning, saying Chris Christie has told his staff he's taking a White House job.

Mike DuHaime, a Christie adviser, told us: "Absolutely not true." A Trump aide said: "100% wrong. The Christie chatter is as always generated by Christieland."

But in checking out that report, we learned that Trump's White House lunch with the governor this week included conversation about a possible drug task force, aimed at a big scourge in Trump country.

"There is some preliminary talk of [Christie] participating in [and perhaps chairing] an independent outside 'opioids task force' along with many others while he remains governor," the aide said.

The Christie flurry comes with Trump spending the holiday weekend at Mar-a-Lago, refreshed after his first campaign rally of 2020.

A Trump adviser tells us the president is experiencing acute "cabin fever" in the White House -- hemmed in by headaches, unable to easily pop out to a restaurant the way he could in New York. So yesterday's campaign rally in Florida was partly about Trump management -- a victory lap after a turbulent month, and a chance to bask in the adulation of 9,000 supporters who won't pester or question him.

"Revived by rally, Trump turns back to governing," AP writes. "Trump hits reset with friendlier audience," says the WashPost front page. The N.Y. Times gave Trump his "reset" on Friday, after a Boeing rally in South Carolina.

Trump had said on Air Force One that he planned a message of unity -- but that didn't come till the very end: "[W]e have the chance now, working together, to deliver change for the ages."

But mostly, it was waves of triumphant, scolding riffs. Trump hadn't even gotten past his intro when he went after "fake news ... [t]he dishonest media, which has published one false story after another, with no sources, even though they pretend they have them -- they make them up in many cases."

"And by the way, do you think that ... one network will show this crowd? Not one. Not one," Trump said, inciting boos. "They won't show the crowd."

Later, he repeated the same charge. CNN and MSNBC both showed the crowd during their live coverage.

Get used to it. Trump's media assaults used to be more of an aside or applause line. Now, it's a specific strategy, with the White House increasingly using press bias as the answer to almost any challenge.

On "Fox News Sunday," a flustered Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, said that Chris Wallace was "going bananas" with his aggressive questioning on Russia, enemy of the state, etc.

Priebus, taping "Face the Nation" with CBS' John Dickerson yesterday, retreated to "bogus stories" so often that Dickerson said: "So in every answer, you've turned it back to the media. So I guess the question is: Is the strategy now to answer any question by just turning it back on the media and using a fight with the media as a way to try to control the storyline?"


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA's historic moonshot pad is back in business. A SpaceX Falcon rocket blasted off Sunday morning from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. It's carrying a load of supplies for the International Space Station. SpaceX is leasing the pad from NASA for 20 years.

2. Huge deal

This story is an ominous turn for the White House, presaging at a best -- a long distraction ... "Senators want materials saved for Russia probe," by AP's Deb Riechmann and Eileen Sullivan: "The Senate intelligence committee has sent formal requests to more than a dozen organizations, agencies and individuals, asking them to preserve all materials related to a probe the panel is conducting on Russian interference in the 2016 election."

  • "The committee chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and its vice chairman, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., sent letters out on Friday — the same day committee members received a classified briefing from FBI Director James Comey."
  • "Schumer ... said Thursday on the Senate floor: 'There is real concern that some in the administration may try to cover up its ties to Russia by deleting emails, texts and other records ... These records are likely to be the subject of executive branch as well as congressional investigations and must be preserved."

3. Trump watches "Tucker"

At yesterday's rally, Trump said: "We've got to keep our country safe. (CHEERS) You look at what's happening in Germany. You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible."

Sweden!? Well, it turns out nothing big happened Friday night in Sweden.

Business Insider figured out what DID happen: "Fox News host Tucker Carlson ran an interview on Friday night's broadcast of 'Tucker Carlson Tonight' with documentarian and media personality Ami Horowitz, who presented a clip from a new film documenting alleged violence committed by refugees in Sweden."

"The segment went on extensively about a supposed crime surge in Sweden and its links to immigrant populations. Crime rates in Sweden have stayed relatively stable, with some fluctuations, over the last decade, according to the 2016 Swedish Crime Survey." See both clips.

4. Coming attractions

"Memos signed by DHS secretary describe sweeping new guidelines for deporting illegal immigrants," WashPost lead story by Dave Nakamura: "plans for the agency to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants who are prioritized for removal, speed up deportation hearings and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests."

See the 2 memos.

"Popular Domestic Programs Face Ax Under First Trump Budget," per N.Y. Times: "The White House budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that President Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending, including longstanding conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities."

5. Top-eds

John Podesta in Washington Post, "Trump's hall of mirrors": "Trump is deploying a strategy, used by autocrats, designed to completely disorient public perception. He's not just trying to spin the bad news of the day; all politicians do that. He seeks nothing less than to undermine the public's belief that any news can be trusted, that any news is true, that there is any fixed reality."

"Trump is attempting to build a hall of mirrors where even our most basic sensory perceptions are shrouded in confusion. He is emulating the successful strategy of Vladimir Putin."

A good question from Maureen Dowd, "Trapped in Trump's Brain": "Why didn't Trump himself tell Pence when the White House counsel told him?"

Frank Bruni, "Donald Trump Will Numb You": "[H]is means of survival: the warp speed and whirl of it all. He forces you to process and react to so many different outrages at such a dizzying velocity that no one of them has the staying power that it ought to or gets the scrutiny it deserves."

6. A month of Trump

Trump at end of yesterday's rally / AP's Chris O'Meara

Today is Day 31 of the Trump presidency. AP recaps the wild month, by the numbers:

  • 24: Executive orders and memoranda signed. That includes orders to withdraw the United States from Trans-Pacific trade deal, impose a federal hiring freeze and reduce regulations related to the health care law enacted under former President Barack Obama.
  • 1: Executive orders blocked. An order to ban travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations was blocked by federal judges. Trump is expected to issue a new order next week.
  • 4: Bills signed into law. They include a bill to halt regulation blocking coal mining debris from being dumped in nearby streams.
  • 6: The average number of tweets per day from personal account @realDonaldTrump.
  • 25.1 million: Twitter followers for @realDonaldTrump.
  • 15.5 million: Twitter followers for official account @POTUS.
  • 4: Visits from foreign leaders. (Britain, Japan, Canada, Israel.)
  • 1: Cancelled visit from foreign leader. (Mexico.)
  • 1: Supreme Court nomination. Judge Neil Gorsuch.
  • 2: Failed personnel choices. Andrew Puzder withdrew as the nominee for labor secretary; Michael Flynn was ousted as national security adviser.
  • 14: Cabinet-level nominations approved, out of 24 total.
  • 39: Percent of respondents who approve of Trump's job performance in Pew Research Center poll conducted Feb. 7-12.
  • 3: Weekend trips to Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

7. Disrupting Hollywood

"Amazon goes to the Oscars: Digital disrupters are closing in," by Financial Times global media editor Matthew Garrahan: "Silicon Valley is not just straying into traditional Hollywood territory. It is launching a full-on incursion as the digital disruptive forces that have revolutionised the music industry now threaten the mighty movie business."

  • The players: "Netflix will spend approximately $1bn on producing and acquiring original movies over the next three years, while Amazon is releasing around 15 a year, with budgets ranging from $5m to $40m. Google is commissioning original series for its YouTube Red subscription service, while Apple is having ongoing discussions with Hollywood executives about original film and TV productions."
  • The strategy: "Instead of handing over their money to the studios, as some naive international players have done before them, the streaming services have set themselves up as competitors. They are buying scripts, developing material and outbidding the studios and their subsidiaries for the most hotly anticipated independent films at festivals such as Sundance and Toronto."
  • A twist: "Some Netflix films have been released in cinemas in order to qualify for Academy Award consideration."
  • Studio survival plan: "[S]tudios and their subsidiaries hoping to buy finished films need to start developing and producing more of their own material if they are to stay relevant."

8. Andrew Ross Sorkin on "Billions"


Andrew Ross Sorkin (who turns 4-0 today) -- the N.Y. Times columnist and CNBC "Squawk Box" co-anchor, who in his spare time is co-creator and executive producer of "Billions" -- gives us his take on Season 2, which debuts tonight at 10 on Showtime:

"In the age of Trump, the culture of money and power -- and trying to understand the cross-currents that motivate these men (and some women) to seemingly always drive for 'more' -- has become central to our national conversation. And those themes have always been central to the show."

CNN's Brian Lowry review: "'Billions' was co-created by ... Sorkin, who wanted to provide a deep dive into the world of hedge funds and New York finance. On that level, the show continues to deliver, even if its inherent conflict -- about big money, and the ability of government to curb that influence -- takes on a different hue amid so many reminders that those forces are in alignment at least as often as they find themselves at odds."

Trailer for "Billions" Season 2 (2:25): "Nothing is more personal than business."

9. The sports page: NBA All-Star night

The 66th NBA All-Star Game is tonight at 8 on TNT, from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans -- but is All-Star weekend getting too long? Matt Moore, NBA writer for CBS Sports, gave a thumbs-down to last night's State Farm All-Star Saturday Night, which showcases individual stars:

"Two guys go in the skills contest? COMMERCIAL BREAK. A guy goes through a 3-point rack? COMMERCIAL BREAK. Over and over. The musical guests and segments are necessary, but in part because of the drawn-out, forced nature of the event, and partly because of the crowd, which is priced out and made up mostly of corporate sponsors, the crowd was dead.

"There was no life to the event, no energy. That's part of a trend over the last few years. It needs to feel like the room is buzzing, and with players lazing through the skills competition, missing dunks, and lounging in chairs courtside, it feels like anything but that. ... Saturday felt forced."

NBA.com's "Best viral moments from All-StarSaturday Night."

10. 1 fun thing: Cynical cookies

Coming soon in U.S.: MISfortune cookies ("It bites back!"), from Germany's Pechkeks: "The black cookies are filled with a bit of dark humor, similar to ... Cards Against Humanity ... [T]he carbon-dyed cookies have been a hit in Europe and Australia since 2013." Samples:

  • "Life is a symphony – and you're playing the kazoo."
  • "At least I believe in you. Me, a piece of paper."
  • "Things will get better. Sometimes. Maybe."


Trump's dangerous game

Andrew Harnik / AP

Today is Day 30 of the Trump presidency. Understandably, there's a lot of hyperventilating about Trump's incendiary (but, in its way, Groundhog Day) tweet yesterday:

An earlier version of the tweet ended in: "SICK!"


Axios AM

Tomorrow evening, Jonathan Swan a handy new of offering from Axios -- the Sneak Peek newsletter, with a look ahead to the week at the Capitol Hill and the White House, plus the best nuggets from the Sunday shows.

1 big thing: The game

Today is Day 30 of the Trump presidency. Understandably, there's a lot of hyperventilating about Trump's incendiary (but, in its way, Groundhog Day) tweet yesterday: "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" An earlier version of the tweet ended in: "SICK!"

Jon Lovett -- the Obama alumnus, co-founder of Crooked Media and co-host of the hot Pod Save America podcast -- called it a "[n]ew and dangerous low."

Brian Stelter, in his Reliable Sources newsletter, rounds up elite-media Twitter reaction ... NPR's Steve Inskeep: "A journalist is a citizen. Who informs other citizens, as free citizens need. Some are killed doing it ... NYT's Maggie Haberman: "He is fighting very low approval ratings. Gonna be interesting to see how congressional Rs respond to this tweet" ... Joe Scarborough: "Conservatives, feel free to speak up for the Constitution anytime the mood strikes. It is time" ... NBC's Chuck Todd: "I would hope that our leaders would never believe that any American desires to make another American an enemy. Let's dial it back."

At the same time, understand that this is partly a game to Trump. His confidants tell us he intentionally exploits the media's inclination to take the bait and chase our tails.

Axios' Jonathan Swan points out that yesterday's tweet was partly designed "to make these same media outlets repeat this attack for next three days." And it worked: The tweet was the lead story of ABC's "World News Tonight."

Same deal with Trump's inaccurate statement at MacDill Air Force base in Tampa earlier this month that radical Islamic terrorism has "gotten to a point where it's not even being reported." As Trump foresaw, CNN and other networks then played footage of themselves covering attacks the White House said were being ignored.

The upshot: We were talking about terrorism, which serves his purposes. And we were talking about Donald Trump.

But it IS a very dangerous game.

Bonus: Just posted

"Hillary Clinton's staffers are keeping up the fight," by CNN's Eric Bradner: "

  • "[M]any of her former staffers -- especially mid-level Brooklyn veterans -- are now on the front lines of the left's anti-Trump resistance. Many say they're apoplectic over revelations that top Trump advisers were in constant contact with Russians.
  • "Some ex-Clinton staffers have moved into Democratic organizations that are shifting their focus to opposing Trump -- such as Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon, now a senior adviser to Priorities USA; policy adviser Corey Ciorciari, now helming the Center for American Progress war room's policy and research efforts; and Cristobal Alex, Clinton's national deputy director of voter outreach and mobilization, who is now the president of the Latino Victory Fund.
  • "Others are racing to fill the holes in the Democratic Party exposed by November's results, in an effort to help activists newly energized by Trump's victory strike back in upcoming elections, at congressional town halls."

2. Article of the day

In the forthcoming issue of The New Yorker, "Letter from Washington: GENERAL CHAOS -- What [former national security adviser] Michael Flynn's downfall reveals about the Trump White House," by staff writer Nick Schmidle, has an ominous tone for Republicans who hope to move on:

  • "Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, ... expressed concern to me about evidence preservation."
  • "A former C.I.A. official raised ... concerns about how long Flynn was allowed to stay in his job. 'We've now got a guy briefed on our most closely guarded secrets about a whole host of issues—including Russia—who has been canned ... We don't have something from the movies where you can put an eraser on someone's head and it all goes away. We've got to rely on Mike Flynn to keep those secrets.'"
  • "White House officials portrayed Flynn as having had his conversations with the Russian Ambassador on his own. But Schiff and others are doubtful."
  • "Some of Flynn's former military colleagues, even those from whom he's drifted apart in recent years, told me they were skeptical that Flynn would have conducted shadow diplomacy on his own. Despite his reputation as an agitator, he was, in the end, a soldier who followed orders, they said."

3. CEOs v. Trump

The cover of tomorrow's WashPost Business section is "The cost of silence: Why more CEOs are speaking out in the Trump era," by Jena McGregor and Elizabeth Dworkin, showing CEOs as unlikely new activists:

  • "[C]onsumers and employees are ... expecting the companies they buy from or work for to take a stand on social issues. And increasingly, CEOs are responding. American companies have emerged as a force for social change in recent years and are among the most vocal critics of the new president's executive order."
  • "Although Silicon Valley has led the opposition, companies as diverse as Chobani, Nike, Ford, Goldman Sachs and MasterCard all said they were against the immigration order or expressed concerns about it. More than 160 biotech executives blasted it in a letter published last week. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he planned to hire 10,000 refugees in 75 countries over five years."
  • "'There's just nothing,' in scale or swiftness, that has compared to the corporate response to Trump's entry ban, said Nancy Koehn, a historian at Harvard Business School."

Post-tweet make-up ... "Trump, With Praise for Boeing CEO, Hints at Big Fighter-Jet Deal," by Bloomberg's Margaret Talev and Julie Johnsson: "Reporters ... spotted White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus holding a brochure for the F/A-18 XT, a proposed Super Hornet upgrade that could serve as a stand-in as Lockheed ramps up production of the F-35, the Pentagon's costliest weapons system."

Trump, speaking at the of unveiling of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircraft, in North Charleston, S.C.: "[I]n the old days, when I made this speech I got paid a lot of money. Now I have to do it for nothing. (Laughter and applause.) Not a good deal, but that's okay. We love it."

4. Stat of the week

Dennis Berman (@dkberman), financial editor of the Wall Street Journal, tweets, based on this Journal story: "In one chart, you can see the standard-of-living for America's senior citizens slowly withering away."

5. Mike Pence in Europe

Pence and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet for bilateral talks in Munich today /AP's Matthias Schrader

The Vice President channels Reagan in remarks at the Munich Security Conference, via Ashley Parker's pool report: "Peace only comes through strength. President Trump believes we must be strong in our military might, able to confront any and all who would threaten our freedom and our way of life."

Trying to reassure an increasingly skeptical continent, Pence said: "Today, on behalf of President Trump, I bring you this assurance. The United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to this transatlantic alliance."

6. Every Republican should read this quote

In Sunday's N.Y. Times, L.A. Bureau Chief Adam Nagourney, profiles House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the #2 House leader, focusing on the early, steady allegiance that makes McCarthy "one of Mr. Trump's closest allies on Capitol Hill." A memorable passage:

"[P]art of his success is what seems, in this contentious time in Washington, the almost throwback style of glad-hand politicking that Mr. McCarthy embraces as he moves across the Capitol. A portrait of Ronald Reagan, a wide grin on his face, fills most of the west wall of his office. 'Everybody today wants to be a Reagan Republican, but how many walk around with that smile?' Mr. McCarthy said."

7. A worthy essay

In the March issue of Harper's, professor and author Calvin Baker looks back at Obama in light of his successor, "Black Like Who? How Obama negotiated America's racial tightrope":

"Obama's legacy, which his Republican successor has promised to erase down to the very last executive order, seems assured. As one of the last black firsts, he bore their special burden, and he bore it with sterling integrity, self-knowledge, and extraordinary grace. He renewed the faith of many in the secular American belief that we are capable of overcoming any limitation, including the flaw of our founding."

"However unknowable the future, it seems reasonable to think that Obama will ultimately be joined in the historical record with Lincoln, Douglass, Du Bois, Shabazz, King, and Marshall: beacons of the best path forward."

8. Could Trump even help Oscar ratings?

That's the suggestion in an L.A. Times article, "ABC sells all its Oscar ad time; advertisers brace for political speeches," by Meg James: "Some Oscar advertisers, who bought their spots months ago, might be bracing for a furor over politics [during the ceremony, a week from tomorrow], particularly if conservatives decide to tune out. But if the Grammys were any indication, this year's Oscar ratings could be higher than last year when the Academy Awards broadcast attracted 34.4 million viewers, an eight-year low.

  • Ashwin Navin, chief executive of Samba TV, a data and analytics firm: "Trump has been very good for television ... The politically charged environment has been good for television, including these award shows."
  • Samba analyzed the Grammys audience for the Grammys and found that about half the 26 million viewers who tuned in didn't watch the show last year. Most of the new viewers were younger.
  • Gavin: "There is a replacement of the audience going on, and this new base of viewers is paying attention to these issues ... People really care about what Meryl Streep says."

9. Sports page: NBA All-Star Weekend

The NBA All-Star Game tips off tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, but the partying has begun: The confluence of pre-Mardi Gras (Feb. 28) festivities and the basketball showcase means floats and street parties are converging with slam-dunks and buzzer-beaters. Pics here from last night's NBA All-Star Celebrity Game: "7 moments we loved in New Orleans."

But there's a serious political, business and social backdrop playing out here ...

Too bad for Charlotte ... "There are rooms available, a dark arena, and sparse crowds at sports bars have replaced the planned parties, celebrations and events around Charlotte after the NBA moved its All-Star festivities to New Orleans because of ... North Carolina's [anti-transgender bathroom] law that restricts the rights of the LGBT community."

... But the Big Easy is taking advantage ... "New Orleans has often enjoyed a reputation in the South as a welcoming place for the lesbian and gay community — Cafe Latiffe in Exile is one of the oldest gay bars in the country and Ellen DeGeneres got her start as the emcee of the 1981 Mr. and Ms. Gay Pride contest."

10. 1 fun thing: Inside Bitmojis

My Bitmjoi, created by my niece Grace on Snapchat in just a couple of minutes while we were at breakfast in Scottsdale over Christmas.

The first Bitmjoi I ever saw was from Nick Johnston, editor of Axios (@AxiosNick). When Nick was a managing editor in Bloomberg's Washington bureau, Al Hunt had left an item in an Uber, and somehow it was the affable Nick's sacred duty to retrieve said item. Nick sent me a Bitmoji, a little cartoon version of an even-more-youthful Nick, collapsing in a heap with the lettering: "I CAN'T EVEN." It was such a funny rendering, and the message was so perfect for the moment. It's now Nick's Slack avatar.

Blain Rethmeier, a Bush 43 and Hill alumnus who's an Edelman managing director, also has a strong Bitmoji game: Yesterday he sent a text-message group a "Cheerio!" with a sunny drawing of himself, doffing a derby. A few weeks ago, I sent him a Bitmoji high five in response to his compliment about an Axios video, and he sent back a doodle of himself, hand on heart, saying: "LET FREEDOM RING!"

The Wall Street Journal's front-page A-Hed today's goes inside Bitmojis in, "The Pajama-Clad Bitmoji and the 'Creepy Boss': Cartoon-message fad tests office etiquette; 'I embarrassed myself'," by Sarah Needleman, who covers the video game industry: "Bitmojis are personalized cartoon images that can be pasted into text messages and emails. Using an app from Bitstrips Inc., people craft avatars of themselves—hairstyles, body types, clothing—that the app plops into quirky scenes."

"After winning over teens and young adults on mobile devices, bitmojis are seeping into corporate emails, messaging apps and texts. Now, eager and befuddled workers are figuring out how to use the social tool without breaching professional courtesy." See more Bitmojis in the Journal's article, "Sending Bitmojis to Co-Workers—What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"


Trump says he's killing it; GOP wants intervention

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Top Republicans tell us they're as rattled as ever by President Trump and his White House — and want an intervention. Their gravest long-term concern (beyond the Russia scandal): Trump's devil-may-care effort to run the free world in the same improvisational, family-focused style that worked so well with for his campaign and business.


Axios AM

Coming Sunday evening: the debut of Jonathan Swan's new week-ahead newsletter, Sneak Peek: what's coming on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus Sunday-show keepers.

1 big thing: A Republican intervention

Top Republicans tell us they're as rattled as ever by President Trump and his White House -- and want an intervention. Their gravest long-term concern (beyond the Russia scandal): Trump's devil-may-care effort to run the free world in the same improvisational, family-focused style that worked so well with for his campaign and business.

  • Candidate Trump, with hardly any staff and prep, was agile and authentic. Key Republicans think President Trump, with hardly any staff and prep, seems small or lost. A strategist who works closely with the administration said: "The entire West Wing staff sat in an unplanned press conference in the middle of a Thursday. Every time I turn on cable news, I see literally everybody from the chief of staff on down sitting in the president's press events like interns trying to get into the background of a photo shoot."
  • Candidate Trump electrified crowds and inoculated himself from criticism by blaming the "dishonest" media for every mishap. President Trump seems a little unhinged tweeting his mornings away and whining about "fake news" as his legislative priorities flounder. "These guys have a golden opportunity to make massive change, and they're squandering it with all this silliness," said one of Washington's top lobbyists. "Because at the end of the day, it's all about him."
  • Candidate Trump stoked his base with relentless attacks on establishment Republican like John McCain. Now, the McCains of the world have the power to strike back, rhetorically and substantively. It's no secret Trump has very few authentic admirers among Senate Republicans. This could bite him badly when it comes to the Flynn/Russia investigation.
  • But, but, but ... Like the campaign, Trump has zero interest in changing any of this and firmly believes he's off to a strong, if not stellar, start.

Parallel Universe: winning bigly ... To Trump, this will feel laughably familiar to the Republican establishment whining when he announced, when he won the nomination, when he stumbled in debates, when he surely couldn't win the presidency. He truly believes this had been the best start to a presidency in history, and no one around would ever disagree to his face.

  • The stock market is soaring: You need to go back to LBJ to see a spike like during the first month in office.
  • His polls looks good, some even great, to his eyes. Drudge had Rassmuseen's 55 percent approval rating leading his site yesterday, and several other polls showed Trump near 50. Even the worst polls -- Pew has him at 39 -- show his support with Republicans exceeds Reagan or the Bushes.
  • And he can still sell out The Show. Every network cut in to show his press-bashing press conference, and Floridians will pack an airport hangar in Melbourne with Trump-loving on Saturday at 5 p.m. for his first post-election rally -- 1,354 days before the 2020 election.
  • Why this matters: Why do you think? He won't change.

New communications director, per CNN: Mike Dubke -- a founder of Crossroads Media, a media-placement firm in Alexandria, serving American Crossroads, other Republican groups, and corporations -- is expected to be named White House communications director.

Dubke is a founding partner at the Black Rock Group, a graduate of Hamilton College, and a Buffalo Bills season ticket holder.

2. Trump's 10 beauties

April Ryan follows up.

Choice cuts from yesterday's East Room presser (1 hour, 18 minutes -- 12:55 p.m. to 2:13 p.m. -- transcript runs 14,300 words):

  • "I turn on the TV, open the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos. Chaos! Yet, it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can't get my Cabinet approved, and they're outstanding people."
  • "There's zero chaos. We are running -- this is a fine-tuned machine. And [White House Chief of Staff] Reince [Priebus] happens to be doing a good job. But half of his job is putting out lies by the press. I said to him yesterday: This whole Russia scam that you guys are building so that you don't talk about the real subject, which is illegal leaks. But I watched him yesterday working so hard to try and get that story proper."
  • "[T]he leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake, because so much of the news is fake."
  • "I watched this morning a couple of the networks, and I have to say 'Fox & Friends' in the morning, they're very honorable people. They're very -- not because they're good, because they hit me also when I do something wrong. But they have the most honest morning show. That's all I can say. It's the most honest."
  • When Jon Sopel identifies himself as being from the BBC: "OK. Here's another beauty."
  • To April Ryan, an African American and longtime White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, when she asks if he's going to include the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus in conversations on his urban agenda: "I tell you what: Do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting? ... Are they friends of yours? ... No, go ahead, set up the meeting."
  • "I am having a good time. Tomorrow they will say, 'Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.' I'm not ranting and raving. I'm just telling you, you're dishonest people. But -- but I'm not ranting and raving. I love this. I'm having a good time doing it. But tomorrow the headlines are going to be: 'Donald Trump Rants and Raves.' I'm not ranting and raving."
  • "Now, tomorrow you'll say, 'Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible.' It's not terrible -- it's good."
  • "Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates. Can you imagine -- seriously, can you imagine if I received the questions? It would be the electric chair, OK? 'He should be put in the electric chair.' You would even call for the reinstitution of the death penalty, OK?"
  • "I will say that I never get phone calls from the media. How do they write a story like that in The Wall Street Journal without asking me? Or how do they write a story in The New York Times, put it on front page? That was like that story they wrote about the women and me -- front page. Big massive story. And it was nasty."

3. Truest column words written this morning

Front row of presser, from left: Priebus, Pence, Kushner, Bannon / AP's Pablo Martinez Monsivais

David Brooks column, "What a Failed Trump Administration Looks Like" (in the paper: "When Government Breaks Down"): "Bannon has a coherent worldview, which is a huge advantage when all is chaos. It's interesting how many of Bannon's rivals have woken up with knives in their backs."

  • "Michael Flynn is gone. Reince Priebus has been unmanned by a thousand White House leaks. Rex Tillerson had the potential to be an effective secretary of state, but Bannon neutered him last week by denying him the ability to even select his own deputy."
  • "Bannon looms. With each passing day, Trump talks more like Bannon without the background reading."

Sentence of the day: "Judging by his Thursday press conference, President Trump's mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued."

Runner-up: "We're about to enter a moment in which U.S. economic and military might is strong but U.S. political might is weak. Imagine the Roman Empire governed by Monaco."

4. Axios interview: Secretary DeVos

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met Jonathan Swan a week into her job:

  • On the federal education budget: "There's clearly an opportunity to slim down the department in some ways. I don't know if that will ultimately significantly reduce the overall expenditure, but it may, it may help incentivize states in other ways."
  • On changes in schools during her tenure: "I expect there will be more public charter schools. I expect there will be more private schools. I expect there will be more virtual schools. I expect there will be more schools of any kind that haven't even been invented yet."
  • In her ideal world, the federal government has any a role in education? "It would be fine with me to have myself worked out of a job, but I'm not sure that — I'm not sure that there will be a champion movement in Congress to do that."

5. Slumping agenda: Which hockey stick?

It's not just health reform that's floundering ...

"Meager Gains for Republicans On Bold Legislative To-Do List" -- N.Y. Times A1, above fold, by Jennifer Steinhauer: "The inactivity stems from a lack of clear policy guidance — and, just as often, contradictory messages — from the Trump administration, which does not appear to have spent the campaign and transition periods forming a legislative wish list."

Chris Krueger of Cowen Washington Research Group, in his D.C. Download, "Tax Reform in Jeopardy": "The legislative year could well be a hockey-stick -- nothing and then everything in late Q4. It could also be an inverted hockey-stick -- nothing and then shutdowns and debt ceiling fights with nothing on taxes."

Fareed Zakaria WashPost column, "A circus with lots of noise, little action": "For many people, the bargain of the Trump presidency was that they would put up with the freak show in order to get tax reform, infrastructure projects and deregulation. That may still happen, but for now at least, reality TV is in overdrive, and not much is happening in the realm of serious policy."

6. The conversation: "The deep state"

The postgame stars are drinking in the new torrent of leaks.

Longtime Washington watchers are talking a lot about the beast Trump is rousing, partly unwittingly -- the bureaucracy, the intelligence services, and all the hidden powers of permanent Washington. A great piece on this in The Times this morning as a "The Interpreter" column by Amanda Taub and Max Fisher, "Echoes of a 'Deep State' as a Culture of Conflict Gains New Intensity."

Using the decapitation of Flynn as a case study, the authors point to "growing reliance on leaks and other tools of bureaucratic resistance":

  • "This risks entrenching a culture of bureaucratic warfare that is adversarial and dysfunctional by default — not quite a Turkish-style deep state, but not a healthy democracy either."
  • "Though the deep state is sometimes discussed as a shadowy conspiracy, it helps to think of it instead as a political conflict between a nation's leader and its governing institutions."
  • "That can be deeply destabilizing, leading both sides to wield state powers like the security services or courts against one another, corrupting those institutions in the process."

7. Zuck's manifesto

Mark Zuckerberg posted a 5,700-word manifesto, "Building Global Community," saying the wo most discussed concerns this past year "were about diversity of viewpoints we see (filter bubbles) and accuracy of information (fake news)."

Recode's Kara Swisher Kurt Wagner call it his "letter addressing fake news and saving the world" -- using Facebook "to help fix everything from polarization to terrorist attacks":

"A number of his visions include the use of artificial intelligence technology to monitor what is happening on Facebook, which should attract some level of scrutiny from privacy advocates. ... Zuckerberg mentioned bullying and harassment and even a suicide that was livestreamed on the Facebook platform — which he said in an interview disturbed him greatly — as the types of things he thinks AI can help prevent.

"'Right now, we're starting to explore ways to use AI to tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and actual terrorist propaganda so we can quickly remove anyone trying to use our services to recruit for a terrorist organization,' he wrote. 'This is technically difficult as it requires building AI that can read and understand news, but we need to work on this to help fight terrorism worldwide.'"

8. Trending ...

Big in business ... "Buy American" is back, per Axios' Chris Matthews: The UAW is resurrecting its "Buy American" campaign, with UAW leader Dennis Williams telling the Detroit Free Press: "No company … can survive without the market of the United States of America."

But the problem of identifying what is exactly "American" is hasn't gotten any easier since the 1980s, during the campaign's heyday. Foreign automakers build much of what they sell in the U.S. here, while American firms are often using Mexican labor for part of their supply chains.

Tops in tech ... "Why [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions scares tech companies," by Axios' Kim Hart: "Sessions has gone after the tech industry for hiring high-skilled foreign workers and resisting law enforcement surveillance requests. Pile on Donald Trump's populist disdain for big companies and suspicion of some dominant tech platforms, and antitrust experts ... say Silicon Valley has reason to be worried."

"Companies are struggling to figure out Snapchat," by Axios' Sara Fischer: "Snap ads could very well be more effective than third-party studies give them credit for, but ad buyers don't have confidence in the data."

9. 1 weird thing

The cover story of the new Economist says we might soon make babies without sex! "The world may soon face the possibility of eggs and sperm made from putative parents' body cells (probably their skin) rather than in their ovaries and testes. Such methods separate sexual intercourse from reproduction."

When I interviewed Walter Isaacson on Monday for Axios' forthcoming "Smarter. Faster" video series, gene editing was one of the first topics he mentioned when I asked the big ideas he's obsessed with Four key points from the Economist cover story on reproductive tech:

  • "The first gene editing will eliminate genetic diseases in a way that now requires embryo selection—an advance many would applaud."
  • "[B]reeding babies with new traits and cloning other people raises questions of equality and of whether it is ever right to use other people's tissues without their consent."
  • "Should bereaved parents be able to clone a lost child? Or a widow her departed husband? Should the wealthy be able to pay for their children to be intelligent and diligent, if nobody else can afford to do so?"
  • "Commissions of experts will need to search for answers; and courts will need to apply the rules—to protect the interests of the unborn. They will be able to draw on precedents, such as identical twins."

10. 1 fun thing

Jeff Lipsky / ABC

Jimmy Kimmel -- hosting the Oscars a week from Sunday (Feb. 26) -- talks to Elizabeth Leonard in the new issue of PEOPLE:

How will you deal with politics?

"I haven't decided exactly how much I will dwell on that. A lot of it depends on what happens that week. There are one, sometimes three, new interesting stories coming out of the White House every day it seems — so who knows what will be happening? ... I just hope whatever is happening is light."

What are you doing after the show?

"I will probably go to a party or two, unless it's some kind of disaster, and then I'll go to the hospital. I'll either go to Vanity Fair or Cedars-Sinai."