Jun 27, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

⚡ Situational awareness: OSAKA, Japan (AP) — President Trump arrives for high-stakes meetings with Putin, Xi at Group of 20 summit.

🌞 Good Thursday morning. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,187 words ... < 5 minutes!

  • Was this email forwarded to you? Get your own! Sign up here.
1 big thing: Zuckerberg tries offense
Photo: Ian Wagreich/Aspen Ideas Festival

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose public posture since the 2016 election has been defensive, is making a deliberate effort to show more of himself, and to be proactive about calling for Congress to regulate privacy and data.

  • Zuckerberg faced 40 minutes of onstage questions yesterday at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, in a detailed conversation with Harvard's Cass Sunstein, who noted he has twice been a Facebook consultant.

I'm at Aspen Ideas and thought Zuckerberg tried to show a human side to the influential, elite audience — with a lack of defensiveness and a dash of humor. He still struck some as robotic, but that wouldn't surprise him. 

  • Zuckerberg has been getting clobbered by politicians and the media for two years for everything from election manipulation to fake news unfolding on his platform. He knows the pummeling may only intensify with 2020 heating up.

Why it matters: With the techlash gaining momentum around the world, and 2020 Democrats targeting Big Tech, Zuckerberg is trying to get out in front of the inevitable by calling for regulation that Facebook can live with.

Zuckerberg called for the U.S. government to take the lead on election security, saying Facebook doesn't "have the tools to make the Russian government stop," Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.

  • On election security: "It's a little above our pay grade."
  • On self-regulation: "We’re past the point where it makes sense for Facebook to unilaterally make decisions." Zuckerberg cited an appeal process Facebook is building for those who disagree with decisions on removing content.
  • On breaking up Facebook: "You would have [the same] issues, you'd just be much less equipped to deal with them."

Zuckerberg also said Facebook is rethinking its handling of deepfake videos, and said it might make sense to treat them differently from other "false news," as Facebook calls fake news. (AP)

  • Zuckerberg said it's worth asking whether deepfakes are a "completely different category," and said developing a policy on these videos is "really important" as AI grows more sophisticated.
  • Our thought bubble from Axios chief tech correspondent Ina Fried in S.F: Now is the time to establish a clear policy against altered video. It’s not going to get easier.

See more highlights.

2. First debate's 8 takeaways
Screenshot via MSNBC

In the moment above from the first debate of the 2020 campaign, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren were the only two among the 10 Democrats to raise their hands when NBC co-moderator Lester Holt asked:

  • "Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan?"

Seven more Axios takeaways from the first of two Miami nights, by Alexi McCammond at the debate, managing editor David Nather and Zach Basu:

  1. The biggest winner was punchy Julián Castro of Texas, the HUD secretary under President Obama, who dominated the immigration exchange and had the best quote about the border: He said the photo of the drowned father and daughter, Oscar and Valeria Ramirez, "is heartbreaking. It should also piss us all off."
  2. The biggest loser was Beto O'Rourke, who got no new traction, was often interrupted, and was much more demure and less jovial than he is on the trail. 
  3. Three candidates spoke Spanish.
  4. Transgender rights were brought to the national stage.
  5. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey owned the gun debate. Ron Brownstein said on CNN that Booker could get a second look after his strong night.
  6. New York Mayor de Blasio was an attack dog, positioning himself to the left of most of the pack.
  7. No one laid a glove on the field's top three: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who kept up her populist jabs; Joe Biden (never mentioned); or Bernie Sanders.

The big picture: "There were no personal attacks or criticisms of character, and nothing resembling the Trump-style personal taunts that came to define the last crowded presidential primary, waged among Republicans in 2016." (N.Y. Times)

See the highlights.

3. The problems they want to own
Post-debate, Sen. Cory Booker hugs Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren hugs Julián Castro, with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio behind them. Photo: Wilfredo Lee/AP

Viewers got a stark snapshot of the world in turmoil when NBC co-moderator Chuck Todd asked for a one-word answer to the biggest geopolitical threat to the United States:

  • John Delaney: "[T]he biggest geopolitical challenge is China. But the biggest geopolitical threat remains nuclear weapons."
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee: "Donald Trump."
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: "[W]e're at a greater risk of nuclear war today than ever before in history."
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar: "Two threats. Economic threat, China. But our major threat right now is what's going on in the Mideast with Iran."
  • Beto O'Rourke: "Our existential threat is climate change."
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren: "Climate change."
  • Sen. Cory Booker: "Nuclear proliferation and climate change."
  • Julián Castro: "China and climate change."
  • Rep. Tim Ryan: "China, without a question. They're wiping us around the world, economically."
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio: "Russia, because they're trying to undermine our democracy and they've been doing a pretty damn good job of it. And we need to stop them."
4. Record number of women
Sen. Amy Klobuchar greets NBC's Chuck Todd after the debate. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Gender dynamics were part of last night's drama, as more women than ever challenge assumptions about what presidential leadership looks like: Six women are among the 20 Democrats in this week's back-to-back debates.

  • Each debate lineup is made up of three women and seven men, AP's Juana Summers points out.
  • Last night was the first time more than one woman candidate was on a U.S. presidential debate stage, Vox reports.

When Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said last night that he was "the only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman’s right of reproductive health," Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota drew applause by shooting back:

  • "I just want to say, there's three women up here that have fought pretty hard for a woman's right to choose."

In the historic lineups, Sens. Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, plus Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, were on last night's schedule.

  • Tonight includes Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and author Marianne Williamson.
Courtesy N.Y. Post
5. Amazon, the new king of shipping
Expand chart
Data: Rakuten Intelligence; Chart: Axios Visuals

Less than a decade after Amazon broke into the logistics industry, it has become its own biggest shipper, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.

  • Why it matters: While the world has fixated on Amazon's moves into books, groceries and cloud computing, perhaps most formidable of all has been its swift break into a different business — package delivery.
  • In a relatively short time, Amazon has built up a logistics arm that is already turning this industry worth many billions on its head.

Keep reading.

6. 1 fun thing
Alex Honnold summits Yosemite's 3,200-foot El Capitan, without rope, in "Free Solo." Photo: Jimmy Chin, courtesy National Geographic

In the aftermath of the Academy Award-winning documentary "Free Solo," Alex Honnold, 33, is now recognized everywhere when he climbs, AP's Pat Graham reports:

While hiking in the [Yosemite] area, Honnold overheard a group in front of him actually discussing the movie. Then, he sped right by them.
"They’re like, 'That’s the guy!'" Honnold recounted. "As I’m hiking by, they’re like, 'Did you get him on the GoPro?'"
Mike Allen

📱 Thanks for reading Axios AM. Invite your friends, relatives, co-workers to sign up here.