Jun 9, 2020

Axios AM

Good Tuesday morning.

🇺🇳 Situational awareness: No UNGA! The United Nations said that because of COVID-19, world leaders won't go to New York for their annual gathering in late September, for the first time in the UN's 75-year history. AP

💻 Today at 12:30 p.m. ET, Axios will host a live virtual event on ways business leaders are responding in this period of social and economic unrest:

  • Dan Primack and markets reporter Courtenay Brown talk with NYSE President Stacey Cunningham and Sweetgreen co-founder and CEO Jonathan Neman.
  • Register here.
1 big thing: The mayor, the cap gun, and her fear for her 12-year-old

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told Alexi McCammond in an interview for last night's "Axios on HBO" that she doesn't feel she or her four black children are safe from the possibility of dying at the hands of the police.

  • Why it matters: Bottoms, a top possibility as running mate for Joe Biden, has been interviewed many times about her role as Atlanta mayor and her professional handling of the protests. This interview was different: She showed raw emotion as she confronted her personal fears of how police racism and brutality could threaten her own family.

The mayor paused and her voice broke as she talked about her son's purchase of a cap gun — which she didn't know about until he had bought it.

  • "I just saw my 12-year-old who's running around the house with a cap gun, a black cap gun," Bottoms said. "And I thought about Tamir Rice," the 12-year-old African American shot to death in 2014 by a Cleveland police officer who saw him playing with a toy gun in a park.

When asked if she still lets her son play with toys like that, the mayor replied: "My son went into my Amazon account and he ordered it. And I didn't know he had ordered it."

  • "You know, in the same way I saw my son with it," she continued, "did Tamir's mother know that perhaps he had ordered a cap gun on Amazon and was outside playing with it?"

Alexi's thought bubble: Watching Bottoms try to hold back tears as she openly talked, with remarkable calm, about fears of her son being killed by police solidified for me that this is so much bigger than any one person.

  • It’s difficult not to be personally affected by that kind of authentic pain.

Bottoms said she has had to have difficult conversations with her oldest son about how to avoid trouble with the police. Normally, she tells him to "be confident and speak up for yourself, and don't ever shrink, and own who you are."

  • But she has told him that if he encounters police: "You need to fade back. You need to not be a threat. ... You need to be compliant."

See a clip.

2. Axios-Ipsos poll: Protesters fear spread
Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.3% margin of error ; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Eight in 10 Americans worry that mass demonstrations around George Floyd's killing, police brutality and structural racism could trigger new coronavirus infections, White House editor Margaret Talev writes from Week 12 of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

  • Why it matters: More than one in 10 people surveyed has an immediate family member or close friend who's participated in protests — and 2% say they've taken part themselves. That puts tens of millions of people in close contact with protesters.

It may be weeks before we fully understand the impacts of the protests on infections. But they're not the only example of Americans easing up on social distancing: 45% of respondents say they've visited in person with friends or relatives in the last week.

  • Even as protesters decide the stakes are worth the risks, they're taking steps to avoid spread: 87% say they wore masks, 35% wore gloves and one-third say they maintained a six-foot distance.

In the poll of 1,006 Americans, 86% of respondents said protesting poses a large or moderate risk.

  • Democrats (60%) were more likely than independents (51%) or Republicans (37%) to be extremely or very worried about an increase in cases. Women and older people also were more likely to worry.

Share this graphic.

3. Violence gives way to street-fair vibe

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

The massive new fence around Lafayette Square (seen here at 16th and H) has become a do-it-yourself gallery of protest art, AP's Ashraf Khalil reports:

  • Messages, posters and portraits, ranging from loving to enraged, almost blot out the view of the White House across the way.
  • A block away at the corner of 16th and I — a constant flash point for most of last week — the calliope version of "La Cucaracha" rang out from an ice cream truck parked just outside the police roadblock.

🎥 The first documentary on the fracas preceding President Trump's St. John's Church photo op:

  • The Washington Post reconstructs the violent clearing of the area, drawing on "footage captured from dozens of cameras, as well as police radio communications and other records."

At 6:22 p.m., "a voice on a loudspeaker briefly cuts through the [crowd] noise." All that can be heard is: "Attention! This is Major [inaudible]."

  • "Even on the front lines of the protest, in footage reviewed by the Post, the words are drowned out. Protesters turn to one another in confusion."
  • One says: "They said warning. ... They said warning, something."

"Four minutes later, a D.C. police official tells officers [on the radio] that some type of police action is about to take place."

  • As police move in, demonstrators can be heard chanting: "Hands up, don't shoot! Hands up, don't shoot!"
  • Meanwhile, a graphic in the corner of CNN's screen says, "ANY MOMENT: TRUMP TO SPEAK IN ROSE GARDEN."

See the 12-minute video.

4. George Floyd to be laid to rest next to mother

Joshua Broussard kneels in front of a memorial mural honoring George Floyd at Scott Food Mart in Houston's Third Ward, where Floyd grew up. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Beginning at noon ET, the networks will break in with live coverage of a memorial service for George Floyd, with ABC's David Muir, CBS' Norah O'Donnell and NBC's Lester Holt all in Houston.

  • George Floyd, whose death energized a global movement, will be buried next to his mother in Houston today, borne to his final resting place in a horse-drawn carriage.

See photos from yesterday's public viewing, via the Houston Chronicle.

5. Top editors booted as newsrooms grapple with race

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A slew of high-level resignations by top editors over the past three days shows how much pressure the protests are putting on media companies to confront shortcomings on diversity and on covering race issues, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.

  • Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport resigned yesterday after a picture surfaced showing him wearing brownface. He also faced pressure from staffers who spoke out on social media about a culture of discrimination against people of color.
  • Refinery29's co-founder and editor-in-chief Christene Barberich announced yesterday that she's stepping down as editor-in-chief, following allegations from former employees of workplace discrimination against black women.
  • N.Y. Times editorial page editor James Bennet resigned Sunday amid internal and external criticism for the publication of an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer's longtime top editor, Stan Wischnowski, stepped down Saturday, soon after the company was slammed for publishing an article with the headline "Buildings Matter, Too" prompting dozens to stage a virtual walkout at the company.

Why it matters: The last time the industry faced such a reckoning was the #MeToo era, which saw the departures of dozens of top bosses.

6. Biden's ad splurge
Data: Advertising Analytics. Chart: Axios Visuals

Joe Biden has poured money into digital advertising over the past two weeks — mostly on Facebook — in an attempt to capitalize on President Trump's response to protests about police violence, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

  • Why it matters: The Trump campaign attributes much of its 2016 success to its Facebook strategy. Until now, the Biden campaign has been outspent by the Trump campaign online, and especially on Facebook.
  • Biden's ads often focus on Trump's leadership during crisis.

For the week of May 31, Biden's Facebook spend was five times his usual expenditure, according to data provided to Axios by Advertising Analytics.

  • A Biden campaign official says the campaign has spent $1 million on Google since June 1, and $5.5 million on Facebook. The advertising has helped to drive 1.2 million new sign ups on the campaign's email list.

Still, the Trump campaign has a head start, having spent millions on Facebook ads since the beginning of 2019.

📱 Sign up for Sara Fischer's weekly newsletter, Axios Media Trends, out later this morning.

7. Biden promises police changes without defunding

Joe Biden socially distances from Norah O'Donnell, anchor of the "CBS Evening News," during an interview in Houston yesterday. Photo: CBS News

Joe Biden's campaign said yesterday that he does not support defunding police, but is pushing for police reform and more spending on community, school, health and social programs, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • Why it matters: It directly takes on the Trump campaign's plan to put the former vice president on the spot about the idea, which has been at the heart of activist demands and is a potential wedge issue between moderate and progressive Democrats.
  • Biden told CBS' Norah O'Donnell that he supports "conditioning federal aid to police, based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness." (Watch.)
Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

On Capitol Hill, congressional Democrats proposed their Justice in Policing Act of 2020, which would be the most drastic overhaul of federal policing laws in decades.

  • It aims to broaden police accountability, track "problematic" officers through a national misconduct registry and restrict "qualified immunity" for officers over actions in the field. It would also reform police training, make lynching a federal crime, and ban chokeholds and the use of no-knock warrants in drug cases.

Go deeper: Key provisions of Democrats' police plan.

8. Recession is official
Graphic: AP. Interactive version.

The record U.S. expansion ended in February, Bloomberg writes, citing the academic panel that serves as the arbiter of recessions — the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee:

The committee has determined that a peak in monthly economic activity occurred in the U.S. economy in February 2020. The peak marks the end of the expansion that began in June 2009 and the beginning of a recession.
The expansion lasted 128 months, the longest in the history of U.S. business cycles dating back to 1854. The previous record was held by the business expansion that lasted for 120 months from March 1991 to March 2001.

Read the statement.

9. Cover du jour
N.Y. Post
10. 1 smile to go: Trading stocks as a sport

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While professional investors have largely abandoned the stock market amid the coronavirus pandemic, sports bettors and bored millennials have jumped into retail trading with both feet, Dion Rabouin and Kendall Baker write in an Axios Markets/Axios Sports team-up.

  • Sports betting and stock trading aren't all that different. In fact, most online betting platforms are modeled on stock exchanges, and Nasdaq itself provides sportsbooks with technology that was born in the financial markets.

Why it matters: This trend may be a driving force pushing U.S. stocks to their recent highs — and potentially send them even higher.

📬 Thanks for reading Axios AM. Please invite your friends to sign up here.