Axios AM

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October 26, 2017

Good Thursday morning! Situational awareness: The FCC "is planning to make sweeping changes to media-ownership rules next month, eliminating or scaling back longstanding limits on local ownership of TV stations and newspapers," Chairman Ajit Pai told Congress. Why it matters, from Wall Street Journal: "Since ... Trump tapped Mr. Pai, ... the pace of consolidation has accelerated."

If you're in downtown D.C. ... Please join me at 8 a.m. for an Axios breakfast (oatmeal and French toast with bipartisan red and blue berries) and "Party Wars" conversation with NBC's Kasie Hunt; Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.); Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), on millennials; Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus; and Axios' Sara Fischer. RSVP and location.

1 big thing: Harassment revolution

It was just three weeks ago that the N.Y. Times punctured film mogul Harvey Weinstein after decades of creepy sexual harassment and assault, usually targeting aspiring, vulnerable young women in the industry — the open secret that had long been hinted at but never properly exposed.

Past culture-rattling revolutions took decades to come to fruition. This one, befitting an era when everything is sped up, took days:

  • A cascade of women have come forward to tell their stories — more than 50, in the case of Weinstein (most on the record), and 200-plus in the case of filmmaker James Toback.
  • Investigations of harassment in state capitols are just beginning: AP reports that "hundreds of lawmakers, lobbyists and consultants [are] coming forward to say the problem is pervasive."
  • Overnight, CNN's Oliver Darcy reported: "Veteran journalist Mark Halperin sexually harassed women while he was in a powerful position at ABC News, according to five women."
  • Halperin, now an NBC political analyst, told CNN: "During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me ... I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. ... I'm going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation."

Among others accused post-Weinstein:

  • Roy Price resigned as head of Amazon Studios.
  • Lockhart Steele was fired as editorial director of Vox Media.
  • Ben Affleck apologized for groping an actress.
  • Leon Wieseltier, former New Republic editor, apologizes for "offenses against some of my colleagues in the past."
  • Chris Savino, "The Loud House" showrunner, fired from Nickelodeon.
  • John Besh, high-profile New Orleans chef, steps down from company he founded..

Why it matters: Harvey Weinstein will go down as an historic figure, just not for the reasons he assumed. His outing as a sexist, dangerous pig triggered an uprising rarely seen: Abused women feel liberated to bring down powerful men in government, media, tech, politics, business and pop culture. It's spreading by the day.

  • Sound smart: Every sexual predator in every walk of professional life is — and should be — nervous that they will be exposed by this uprising. The courage of these women to speak out is humbling, inspiring and contagious. A long list of bad "Media Men" is circulating among journos, with lots of potential future targets.
  • We all need to do better about speaking up when we see/know something.
  • Go deeper ... See our card deck from Haley Britzky and Lazaro Gamio, "Men Behaving Badly."

2. GOP at war: "Retaliatory crusade" targets Bannon

A super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (the Senate Leadership Fund) revealed plans to attack Steve Bannon personally "as it works to protect GOP incumbents facing uphill primary fights," the WashPost reports in its print-edition lead story, "Republicans target Bannon":

  • The group plans to spend millions boosting candidates with traditional GOP profiles and excoriating those tied to Bannon, highlighting his hard-line populism and attempting "to link him to white nationalism to discredit him and the candidates he will support."
  • Why it matters: "The turbulence presents a danger to Republicans' narrow 52-seat majority in the Senate, with seasoned GOP lawmakers deciding against seeking reelection amid the political storm — and with many GOP voters cheering the rancor that Bannon has stoked."

The N.Y. Times lead story sees a potentially "existential threat to traditional Republicans": "The Grand Old Party risks a longer-term transformation into the Party of Trump."

  • Flashback ... Lead of yesterday's Axios AM: "Trump's grand old party ... Virtually every Republican now a Trump Republican."
  • N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Tom Coburn, a former Republican senator from Oklahoma, explaining why no prominent party members on the ballot next year have publicly broken with President Trump: "We have a leader who has a personality disorder, but he's done what he actually told the people he was going to do, and they're not going to abandon him."

3. Data du jour

Go deeper: Axios' Sam Baker on "What to expect from Trump's first ACA enrollment season," beginning six days from now.

Bonus: Life in America

L.A.'s Dodger Stadium, "one of the true cathedrals of baseball," is seen during the fourth inning of Game 2 of the best-of-seven World Series — now even 1-1 between the Dodgers and the Houston Astros.

  • In "one of the wildest nights in postseason history," the Astros won a World Series game for the first time in their 56 seasons, 7-6 in an 11-inning thriller.

4. Trump promising to spend big on opioid crisis

Trump speaks at 2 p.m. in the East Room on "combatting drug demand and the opioid crisis."

Shot ... "Trump will order his health secretary to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency [today] — but will stop short of declaring a more sweeping state of national emergency," USA Today reports on the front page.

  • "Trump will also try to rally the nation to a growing epidemic that claimed 64,000 American lives last year, and will advocate for a sustained national effort to end to the addiction crisis."

Chaser ... Trump to Lou Dobbs of Fox Business, yesterday: "Next week, I'm going to declaring an emergency, national emergency on drugs. The opioid is a tremendous emergency, what's going on there. The drugs pouring into the country have gotten -- and I tell you what, we've made a big impact. But still, we need the wall. You know, part of the reason we need the wall is for drugs."

5. JFK files out today

"The collection includes more than 3,100 documents -- comprising hundreds of thousands of pages," per AP.

  • "The National Archives is planning to post the files on its website."

6. Inside the Cabinet

TIME's Massimo Calabresi says the Cabinet is part of a Trump "D.C. demolition project."

7 First look: Sessions says IRS should apologize

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions will announce today that the Justice Department has entered into settlements, pending approval by the district courts, in two cases brought by groups whose tax-exempt status was significantly delayed by the Internal Revenue Service based on inappropriate criteria."

  • "The first case, Linchpins of Liberty v. United States, comprised claims brought by 41 plaintiffs, and the second case, NorCal Tea Party Patriots v. Internal Revenue Service, was a class action suit that included 428 members."
  • Sessions: "[I]t is now clear that during the last Administration, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to screen applications for 501(c) status. ... Hundreds of organizations were affected by these actions, and they deserve an apology from the IRS."

Be smart: Justice officials say this is a strong rebuke of the Obama administration. Matt Miller, former Obama Justice official, tells me this is "one of the most political statements I have ever seen from an AG."

8. Poll du jour

9. Tracking power

First look ... MPAA names Republican to top lobby job in face of growing competition: "Motion Picture Association of America ... CEO Charles H. Rivkin today [will announce] the appointment of Gail MacKinnon as Executive Vice President for Government Affairs."

  • MacKinnon was "Executive Vice President and Chief Government Relations Officer for Time Warner Cable, [and she's an alumn of] Turner Broadcasting, TCI, CBS, Viacom, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), and Time Warner, ... and is a board member of the Shakespeare Theater."
  • "MacKinnon succeeds Joanna McIntosh, [now] Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at NCTA."

First look ... Michael Dubin, the Dollar Shave Club CEO known for disrupting the global razor market with a viral YouTube, helps start ACRONYM, a nonprofit, "digital-first political organization focused on electing progressives [using] cutting-edge online creative media and marketing campaigns."

  • ACRONYM CEO is Tara McGowan ...Also: Hannah Linkenhoker, senior political strategist at ICM Partners, giant talent and literary agent ... Jamie Kantrowitz, digital innovator, investor and entrepreneur.

Edelman names Lisa Osborne Ross president of its Washington office. Ross, a Clinton administration alumn who was managing director of APCO Worldwide's D.C. office, succeeds Rob Rehg (who's now chair of Edelman's U.S. Public Affairs practice), and reports to Russell Dubner, Edelman's U.S. CEO.

10. 1 food thing: Traceable turkeys

"Just in time for Thanksgiving dinner: traceable turkeys," by AP's Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kansas:

  • What's new: "Turkey buyers in select Texas markets will be able to either text or enter on the Honeysuckle White website the code found on the tag on the packaged bird to find out where it was raised and get information about the farm's location, view farm photos and read the farmer's message."
  • How it works: "The traceable turkeys in the pilot project won't cost more than untagged birds ...[A]fter the test, the Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc. and its Honeysuckle White brand ... will assess ... further implementation of the digital technology and any price adjustments."
  • Why it matters: "The pilot project marks the agribusiness giant's entry into a burgeoning farm-to-table movement driven by people who want to know where their food comes from and how it was produced."
  • "It is also a sign of the success driven by sustainable food advocates who have been promoting such connections as a way for farmers to market locally grown and raised foods."