Sep 14, 2020

Axios AM

🗳️ Good Monday morning. It's 50 days to Election Day ... 15 days to the first debate.

🎬 On tonight’s "Axios on HBO": Dion Rabouin goes on a virtual date with Match Group CEO Shar Dubey, who talks about finding love in lockdown ... 🚨 Exclusive! Ina Fried talks to Melinda Gates about global setbacks from the virus (See a clip) ... and we take you to Lake of the Ozarks to see the Trump lifestyle — the flags, the boats, the trucks, the signs.

  • Join us at 11 p.m. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.
1 big thing: 6 months that changed everything

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

This week marks six months since President Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus.

  • If those six months feel like a blur, you’re not alone.

The big picture: The sheer scale of what the U.S. has been through since March can not only be hard to process, but even to keep track of, Sam Baker notes:

  • A death toll equivalent to 65 Sept. 11 attacks, millions out of work, everyday life upended, with roiling protests and a presidential election to top it all off.

Here, from the Axios Visuals team's Danielle Alberti, Sarah Grillo and Andrew Witherspoon, is a (partial) timeline to help make sense of these past six months, correlated to the rising death toll (orange):

Data: CSSE at Johns Hopkins. Photos: Getty Images. Graphic: Danielle Alberti, Sarah Grillo, Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

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2. Harris poll: Gen Z willing to make virus sacrifices
Data: The Harris Poll. Graphic: Axios

Members of Gen Z say they're willing to make short-term sacrifices in order to help safely resume some parts of pre-pandemic life, health care editor Sam Baker writes from a Harris poll shared with Axios.

  • Why it matters: These findings are a stark contrast with the college-town outbreaks and scenes of crowded bars that have helped create a narrative of careless young people spreading the virus.
  • "We’ve dramatically underestimated this generation’s anxiety and resolve," Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema said.

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3. Why Biden went big on climate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Joe Biden is pushing by far the most aggressive plan to address climate change in U.S. presidential history, Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" column.

  • His path reflects the convergence of science, energy and activism trends.

Why it matters: This culmination shows the new permanence the problem has gained on the campaign trail despite President Trump’s dismissal of climate science.

  • Biden has embraced aggressive goals also pushed by the progressive side of his party, including a $2 trillion spending plan. But when it comes to specific technologies, he has actually staked out a more centrist position.

Keep reading.

4. Trump's last Woodward chat
Photo: Eric Kerchner/CBS News

On "60 Minutes," Scott Pelley narrated the remarkable story of Bob Woodward's last conversation with President Trump for "Rage," out tomorrow:

The president's final call came too late. He asked Woodward to include the August peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. But "Rage" was already off to the press. Woodward took the opportunity to level with the president. 

Bob Woodward: "And I said, 'It's a tough book. There are going to be things that you are not gonna like, judgments that I made.'"

Audio of President Trump during Aug. 14 call with Woodward: "[I]t looks like I don't have it on this book, but we'll get you sometime later, I guess."

  • Audio of Woodward: "It's tough, sir. Thank you very much."

Woodward: "An hour and a half later, he tweeted out that the Bob Woodward book is gonna be fake."

  • Tick-tick-tick-tick!
  • Video.
5. TikTok picks Oracle over Microsoft

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Beijing-based ByteDance abandoned the sale of TikTok in the U.S. "to pursue a partnership with Oracle Corp. that it hopes will spare it a U.S. ban while appeasing China," Reuters reports.

  • Shortly before the Oracle news broke last night, Microsoft announced that ByteDance had rejected its offer, Axios' Dan Primack reports.

The context: Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison is unusual among tech executives for his public support for President Trump, AP notes.

6. 📦 Amazon to hire 100,000, open 100 buildings

Amazon announced today that it will hire 100,000 new full- and part-time operations employees in the U.S. and Canada, and will open 100 new buildings this month, including fulfillment centers, delivery stations and sorting centers.

  • The jobs pay at least $15 per hour. Go deeper.
7. Trump "car cruise"
Photo: Emily Elconin/Reuters

Trump fans drove pickups, Mustangs and motorcycles in a classic-car cruise in Frankenmuth, Mich., yesterday.

  • 🎥 We go inside the Trump-paraphernalia phenomenon tonight on "Axios on HBO" (11 p.m. ET/PT), when Jim VandeHei asks Margaret Talev: "In your lifetime, do you ever remember a Ronald Reagan flag as big as the American flag in somebody's front yard?" Then we go on a field trip.
Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Defying Nevada regulations, President Trump yesterday hosted his first indoor rally since June, telling a packed, nearly mask-less crowd in a warehouse in Henderson that the nation is "making the last turn" in defeating the virus. AP

8. Prosecutors could pounce when Trump leaves

Courtesy New York

"The law is coming" whenever President Trump leaves office, Jonathan Chait writes in the cover story of the forthcoming New York magazine:

Trump is reportedly the subject of three investigations. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., New York State attorney general Letitia James, and Southern District of New York acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss are all probing reported crimes by the Trump administration, ranging from tax fraud to embezzling funds at his suspiciously expensive inauguration.

Keep reading.

9. Sneak peek: The book on Biden

Cover: Simon & Schuster

The New Yorker's Evan Osnos will be out Oct. 27 (maybe sooner for preorders) with "Joe Biden," drawing on big profiles Evan wrote in 2014 and last month + shorter online pieces, all in this inviting frame from the prologue:

The circumstances of a life in full and a country in peril conspired to put Joe Biden at the center of an American reckoning ...
At the very moment that his country was lying spread-eagled before the eyes of the world, Biden had arrived at his season of history.

I asked Evan — a perceptive, mischievous writer — how it came together:

I first wrote about him when he visited Beijing in 2011. ... Biden made a point to eat at a local working-class restaurant near my house, throwing shade at Chinese leaders who were dealing with scandals about official privilege and corruption. As soon as Biden left town, Xi Jinping scrambled to go to a local dumpling place to show he was a man of the people.
That episode really piqued my interest, because Biden took an unusually personal approach to foreign affairs, as he does to domestic politics; he's always talking about trying to hear how the other side really thinks, not out of some gauzy belief that he can charm them, but out of a pragmatic desire to calculate their interests.

Osnos says he kept returning to Biden "simply because of the range and intensity of his experiences. I interviewed him four times between April 2014 and July 2020 — on Air Force Two, in the White House, and at his home during the pandemic."

10. America's winning sports day
Tom Brady leaves the field at the Superdome after losing to New Orleans. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Sunday in the parks: The playoffs, NFL, a no-hitter and more ...

  • In a year when good days are in short supply, sports had a little something for everyone yesterday, AP's Tim Reynolds writes:

The NFL roared back to life — even if the roar was recorded, from fans who weren't in the stadiums. Baseball saw a no-hitter. (Alec Mills for the Chicago Cubs in Milwaukee, blanking the Brewers 12-0).

  • The NBA and NHL playoffs continued. Men's tennis and women's golf got first-time major champions. And one school (the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns) reached the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1943.

There were 12 NFL games, including a winning debut for the now-Vegas Raiders.

  • For the first time since Jan. 1, 2000 — when he was a senior at Michigan — Tom Brady played a football game in something other than a New England Patriots helmet, debuting for Tampa Bay. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints prevailed 34-23 in the GOAT matchup of over-40s.

The reigning WNBA champion Washington Mystics got a last-day-of-the-season win to clinch the last remaining playoff spot in their league, meaning they'll have the chance at back-to-back titles.

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