March 12, 2024

๐Ÿ‘‹ Hello, Tuesday!ย Smart Brevityโ„ข count: 1,385 words ... 5 mins. Thanks to Noah Bressner for orchestrating. Copy edited by Bryan McBournie.

๐Ÿ›๏ธ Situational awareness: Robert Hur โ€” the special counsel who investigated President Biden's handling of documents, and said he has "a poor memory" โ€” has left the Justice Department and will appear as a private citizen when he testifies today at 10 a.m. ET today before the House Judiciary Committee. (CNN)

1 big thing: Blue cities go red on crime

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

From coast to coast, American cities known for liberal policies are taking more aggressive, conservative approaches to fighting crime.

  • Why it matters: It's a surprising and stark reversal for Democrats who pushed for significant criminal justice reforms four years ago, Axios' Erica Pandey and Russell Contreras write.

๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ The big picture: The rightward shift comes after many liberal cities and states limited police powers and cut law enforcement budgets following George Floyd's killing.

  • The changes expose intense pressure on Democrats to adopt tougher anti-crime laws and policies they once ridiculed โ€” and reflect rising fears about violent crime among voters on both ends of the political spectrum.

State of play: San Francisco voters approved two ballot measures to expand police surveillance and impose drug screenings for those receiving welfare benefits.

  • In New York City, Gov. Kathy Hochul recently ordered hundreds of National Guard troops to cut crime in the subways.
  • Oregon is recriminalizing possession of drugs โ€” including heroin, cocaine and fentanyl โ€” three years after becoming the first state to decriminalize possession and personal use of all drugs.
  • D.C. just passed a sweeping new crime bill that raises penalties for thefts and gun crimes.
  • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), in a state with one of the highest rates for killings by police, is threatening to call a special legislative session for more anti-crime measures.

Reality check: Violent crime has fallen back to 2019 levels in the U.S. after spiking during the pandemic, though not in all cities.

๐Ÿ”Ž Between the lines: The perception of crime remains high. 63% of Americans say crime in the U.S. is very or extremely serious, according to Gallup.

  • That's the highest share in decades โ€” and up from 48% in 2018.

Share this story ... Tomorrow in AM: A racial reset in U.S. politics.

2. ๐ŸฅŠ Biden's blitz

President Biden speaks yesterday at a YMCA in Goffstown, N.H.
President Biden speaks yesterday at a YMCA in Goffstown, N.H. Photo: Sophie Park/Getty Images

President Biden often goes days without a public event. This week, he's trying to capitalize on the good vibes surrounding his State of the Union address with a zesty schedule of speeches in swing states, Axios' Alex Thompson writes.

  • Why it matters: After months of resisting, the 81-year-old Biden is confronting voter concerns that he's too old to serve until 2029.

Since his State of the Union last week, Biden has visited Pennsylvania, Georgia and New Hampshire. He has events in Wisconsin tomorrow and Michigan on Thursday.

  • On Saturday, he'll speak at the Gridiron dinner โ€” a white-tie classic for D.C. journalists, lawmakers and power brokers.

Keep reading.

3. ๐Ÿ›๏ธ TikTok eyes Senate salvation

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

TikTok is focusing intense lobbying efforts on the Senate as it scrambles to fend off a bill that would force its Chinese owners to sell the platform or risk a ban, Axios Pro's Ashley Gold writes.

  • Why it matters: The bill could face a serious roadblock if it reaches the Senate, where lawmakers are iffier about the legislation than their counterparts in the House.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew โ€”ย who's heading to Capitol Hill today or tomorrow โ€”ย will be "more focused on the Senate side" than the House, Punchbowl reports.

A screenshot of former President Trump dialing into CNBC.
Screenshot: CNBC

During a marathon interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box" yesterday morning, former President Trump attempted to explain his reversal on a TikTok ban while conceding it's a national security threat:

"We have that problem with Facebook and lots of other companies too. They get plenty of information ... and they'll do whatever China wants."

Go deeper: TikTok fires back ... Get Axios Pro Tech Policy โ€” smart, quick intel for your job.

4. ๐Ÿค– Charted: Asia more optimistic about AI

Views on how AI has impacted workplace productivity, by region
Data: YouGov. ("Europe" group includes Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Poland, UK and Sweden.) Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

New data from 17 countries shows workers in Asia are embracing generative AI tools for creativity and productivity faster than Western workers โ€”ย with Americans among the least positive about AI's workplace uses.

  • Why it matters: Pessimism about AI in the West could reduce the competitiveness of the U.S. and allied countries, Axios' Ryan Heath writes.

Keep reading ... Get Axios AI+.

5. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Biden, Bibi on collision course

Packages fall towards northern Gaza, after being dropped from a military aircraft, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, as seen from Israel's border with Gaza, in southern Israel, March 11, 2024.
Packages fall toward northern Gaza after being dropped from a military aircraft yesterday. Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are laying out contradictory "red lines" about the war in Gaza that could reshape relations between the two countries, Axios' Barak Ravid writes.

Why it matters: U.S. officials say an Israeli military operation in the city of Rafah would likely lead to a significant shift in U.S. policy โ€”ย including an end to the defense of Israel at the UN and restrictions on the use of American weapons.

  • Netanyahu has effectively said his red line is that Israel must go into Rafah.

๐Ÿ”Ž Behind the scenes: Biden and Netanyahu haven't spoken since Feb. 15. In their last call, Biden expressed concern about a possible Israeli operation in the southern Gaza city, the White House said.

  • There have been several discussions inside the administration about a possible Israeli military operation in Rafah. The bottom line was that it can't be allowed to happen, U.S. officials told Axios.
  • The administration doesn't believe Israel can implement an evacuation plan for Palestinians from Rafah in a way that will prevent mass civilian casualties.

Keep reading.

6. ๐Ÿ“š Frank McCourt's web warning

Cover: Crown. Photo: McCourt Global

Frank McCourt Jr. โ€” an infrastructure billionaire and former L.A. Dodgers owner โ€” argues in "Our Biggest Fight," out today, that the internet as it currently functions "is the primary cause of a pervasive sense of unease in the United States and other democratic societies."

  • Why it matters: While ringing an alarm, McCourt is an optimist with a big platform in an age when hope is scarce in the public arena.

"We can't solve the other big issues ... if we can't even agree on facts, if we're destroying the minds and the attitude and the confidence of the next generation," McCourt said at an Axios event at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin this weekend.

  • "So fix the tech, and we have a chance to fix the problems. ... The tech should be part of the solution."

McCourt dedicates the book to his mother, Kay McCourt, who "for over a century never lost her optimism about the future."

7. ๐ŸŒถ๏ธ Axios honored as "Hottest in News"

Award cup with Axios logo

Congratulations and thank you to all my colleagues ... Axios this morning is named "Hottest in News" on Adweek's 2024 Hot List.

  • Why it matters: The award honors companies transforming media. Axios, owned by Cox Enterprises, is being recognized for future-focused editorial excellence.

"Axios stands out because of our commitment to expert, unbiased and trustworthy reporting," Axios editor-in-chief Sara Kehaulani Goo said.

  • Our newsroom includes 200+ journalists to bring you efficient, distinctive coverage of the topics that matter most. We're growing at a time so many media companies are shrinking.

Axios Local has grown to 30 cities across the country โ€” each with journalists on the ground and a morning newsletter to kick off the day's conversation.

  • Axios Live brings our journalism to the world's largest stages, including Davos, SXSW, Cannes and the COP climate summit.
  • Axios Entertainment, a new division dedicated to developing and producing original nonfiction programming, will debut "The Money Game" โ€” a docuseries with exclusive access to LSU athletes โ€” on Prime Video later this year.

It's all possible because of you โ€” the world's most enviable audience. Thank you for believing in Axios, trusting us, and helping save journalism.

8. ๐ŸŽฅ 1 film thing: "Barbenheimer" boost

U.S. viewers of select awards shows
Data: Nielsen. Chart: Axios Visuals

More than 19.5 million people tuned in to watch the Oscars on Sunday โ€” a four-year high, Axios' Sara Fischer writes from Nielsen data.

  • Why it matters: Ratings for the Oscars โ€” and award shows broadly โ€” have increased steadily from pandemic-era lows. But they're still down significantly from pre-streaming era highs.

This year's show saw Christopher Nolan's biographical thriller "Oppenheimer" take home Best Picture, bucking a recent trend of indie films without much consumer appeal winning the top prize.

  • Strong performances โ€” notably Ryan Gosling's reenactment of "I'm Just Ken" from "Barbie" โ€” helped keep the ceremony light and viewer-friendly.

ABC credited an earlier start time (7 p.m. ET instead of the classic 8 p.m.) for the ratings boost.

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