Jul 8, 2020

Axios AM

Chief Justice John Roberts, 65, fell at the Chevy Chase Club in Maryland last month and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he got sutures and stayed overnight, the WashPost's Bob Barnes reports.

  • "Roberts did not publicly disclose the matter, and the court’s confirmation came in response to an inquiry from The Washington Post, which received a tip."

🏖️ Virtual California ... Axios' Alexi McCammond and Dion Rabouin will host a virtual event about California's small-business recovery, tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET. Register here.

1 big thing: Trump's policy trap
Data: Newswhip. Graphic: Axios Visuals

President Trump gets a lot more online news attention than Joe Biden — but it's on topics that don't help him with most voters.

The three topics generating the most intense interest online are all working against Trump: the virus, racial injustice and foreign policy, Neal Rothschild writes from NewsWhip data provided exclusively to Axios.

  • Why it matters: Storylines in Trump's populist sweet spot that carried the news cycle for much of his presidency — immigration, trade, a strong economy — have fallen away during the pandemic.

What's happening:

  • On the coronavirus, Trump's hopes for a swift return to normal have been thwarted by a ferocious surge across the country.
  • On race, Trump finds himself fighting against the current on public opinion as he stresses "law and order" rather than empathy in the wake of the George Floyd protests.
  • On foreign relations, Trump continues to be criticized for not acting against Russia over reported intelligence that it offered bounties to the Taliban to kill coalition troops in Afghanistan. The single Trump story with the most social media interactions (likes, comments, shares) last week was Iran issuing a warrant for Trump's arrest over the January killing of Qasem Soleimani.

Between the lines: Topics in Trump's wheelhouse that dominated headlines for much of his presidency have begun to work against him, or become less relevant.

  • Economy: Recent outbreaks of the virus have diminished hope of a sharp V-shaped recovery.
  • Immigration: An issue that ranked No. 1 on social media for much of 2019, and a big motivator for Trump's base, is now far down the list of issues on voters' minds.

Share this graphic.

2. Deaths rising in hotspots
Data: The COVID Tracking Project. (The U.S. daily count had an anomalous spike on June 25, when New Jersey recorded a large number of probable deaths.) Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Coronavirus deaths are ticking up in the new hotspots of Florida, Texas and Arizona, even as they continue to trend down nationally, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.

  • Why it matters: "It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death," Anthony Fauci said yesterday.

A key point about the national death rate: We’ve learned more about how to treat the virus since March, making hospitalizations less likely to result in death.

The latest:

  • Arizona reported a record 117 deaths yesterday, and hospitalizations are skyrocketing there and in other hotspots.
  • Texas reported a record 60 new deaths and 10,000 new cases.
  • Florida reported 63 new deaths.

The big picture: The U.S. mortality rate declined from around 7% in mid-April to around 2% by early July, and is now significantly lower than many other wealthy countries.

3. Hotspot hospitalizations also up
Screenshot via MSNBC

A widely cited model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) now projects that U.S. deaths could pass 200,000 by Nov. 1, with the outbreak expected to gain new momentum in the fall, per Reuters:

Screenshot via CNN
4. Pic du jour: Another Confederate falls
Photo: Steve Helber/AP

Crews attach straps to the statue of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue in Richmond yesterday.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch notes that it's the third Confederate statue — after Stonewall Jackson and Matthew Fontaine Maury (plus two Confederate cannons) — to be taken down in the former Confederate capital since July 1.

  • That's when a state law took effect granting Richmond control of the statues — except the Robert E. Lee monument, which is owned by the state.

Video of Stuart going down.

5. Facebook auditors pan civil rights record

Facebook HQ in Menlo Park. Photo: John Green/Bay Area News Group via Reuters

A civil rights audit commissioned by Facebook, to be released today, found that the platform repeatedly failed to address hatred, bigotry and manipulation, according to excerpts obtained by the N.Y. Times editorial board (subscription).

  • "Unfortunately, in our view Facebook’s approach to civil rights remains too reactive and piecemeal," write the auditors, from the law firm Relman Colfax.
  • "The Auditors do not believe that Facebook is sufficiently attuned to the depth of concern on the issue of polarization and the way that the algorithms used by Facebook inadvertently fuel extreme and polarizing content."

Why it matters, from Axios' Sara Fischer: The report is likely to exacerbate tensions with civil rights leaders who, after a tense virtual meeting yesterday, blasted Facebook for "failing to meet the moment."

  • Our thought bubble: It's unlikely that the boycotts have a material impact on Facebook's bottom line. But they'll continue to put pressure on it — and other social media giants — to moderate their content more heavily.
  • That could have a long-term impact on what social media looks like.

🎧 Listen ... "Axios Re:cap" podcast: Dan Primack talks to boycott organizers.

6. Trump might ban TikTok
A street vendor in New Delhi. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump, speaking to Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren, confirmed SecState Mike Pompeo's comment that the administration is looking at a U.S. ban on the popular app TikTok — owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance.

  • "It's something we're looking at. Yes," Trump said.

Van Susteren: "Why would you ban it?"

  • Trump: "Well, it's a big business. Look what happened with China with this virus — what they've done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful. And we are looking at numerous different things. TikTok's one of them — one of many."
7. Data du jour

Jobless claims vs. the market:

Courtesy Barron's
8. Republican PAC invites donors to Disney World
Invitation: Scalise Leadership Fund

The PAC of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is inviting lobbyists to a $10,000, four-day "Summer Meeting" at Disney World's Polynesian Village in Florida in early August — daring donors to swallow their concern about coronavirus, according to an invitation obtained by Axios' Hans Nichols.

  • Why it matters: Scalise appears to be the first House lawmaker to host an in-person destination fundraiser since the severity of pandemic became clear.

The gathering includes two private evening events, a "Hoop Dee Hoo Musical Revue" and final "character breakfast" on Aug. 3.

9. Networks fear NFL-less fall
Inside an "NFL on Fox" production truck. Photo: Michael Abdella/Detroit Free Press via Reuters

While all major sports scramble to rescue their seasons, the networks are fixated on the NFL, which accounted for 41 of the 50 top-rated telecasts of any kind in 2019, the WashPost's Ben Strauss writes.

  • Why it matters: The NFL accounted for 39% of all ad revenue for Fox last year, 24% for CBS, 21% for NBC and 17% for ESPN (including ABC playoff simulcasts).

"It’s practically the only thing on the minds of the networks," John Kosner, a former ESPN executive who is an industry consultant, told the Post.

  • "If you lost an NFL season, you’re looking at a financial hemorrhage."
10. 1 smile to go: Rare gorillas caught on camera
Photo: Wildlife Conservation Society Nigeria via AP

This photo, taken by a camera trap in Nigeria's Mbe Mountains, shows a group of rare Cross River gorillas with multiple babies — proof that the subspecies once feared to be extinct is reproducing amid protection efforts.

  • Conservationists set up 50 cameras in 2012.
  • But Cross River gorillas are notoriously difficult to capture together on camera, and no images had captured multiple infants, AP reports.

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