Jun 25, 2021

Axios AM

Happy Friday! Smart Brevity™ count: 1,487 words ... 5½ minutes. Edited by Zachary Basu.

1 big thing ... Exclusive poll: Socialism gains in U.S.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Half of younger Americans hold a positive view of capitalism — and socialism's appeal in the U.S. is growing, driven by Black Americans and women, Felix Salmon writes from a poll by Axios and Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey).

  • Why it matters: The pandemic has caused millions of Americans — including many younger Republicans — to re-evaluate their political and economic worldview.

The online poll (2,309 adults; margin of error ± 3 points) also found shifts on the right:

  • Just 66% of Republicans and GOP-leaners ages 18-34 have a positive view of capitalism, down from 81% in January 2019, when we first polled on these questions.
  • 56% of younger Republicans say the government should pursue policies that reduce the wealth gap, up from just 40% two years ago.

In 2019, 58% of Americans ages 18-34 reacted positively to the word "capitalism." That's fallen to 49% today.

  • Socialism has positive connotations for 60% of Black Americans, 45% of American women and 33% of non-white Republicans.

The bottom line: Politicians looking to attack opponents to their left can no longer use "socialist" as an all-purpose pejorative. Increasingly, it's worn as a badge of pride.

2. Cop crisis: Thousands quit

Screenshot: CNN

As crime spikes, cops are quitting nationwide, often blaming the constant harassment and stress of ordinary people and powerful politicians turning against their profession.

  • Why it matters: The killings by police in 2020 turned many Americans — including liberal activists and many in the media — into harsh critics of law enforcement, with loud calls to defund the police. A year later, there’s a cop shortage, and Democrats are scrambling to reverse their rhetoric and some policies.

An eye-opening front-page New York Times story today, "Why Police Have Been Quitting in Droves in the Last Year" (subscription), found that Asheville, N.C., has lost 80 of 238 cops:

  • "Chief David Zack, 58, said that officers were pushed to quit because the protests were directed at them. 'They said that we have become the bad guys, and we did not get into this to become the bad guys.'"

A survey of 194 police agencies, released this month by the Police Executive Research Forum, found that for the year ending in April, retirements were up 45% — and resignations up 18% — from the previous year.

3. Surfside's agony

Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Rescue crews worked through the night, in the rain, to search for as many as 99 people who were unaccounted for after a 12-story oceanfront condo tower partially collapsed in Surfside, just north of Miami Beach.

  • About half of the 130 units collapsed. The Champlain Towers South Condo is 40 years old, completed in 1981, the Miami Herald reported.

Much of the Champlain’s beach side sheared off for unknown reasons, pancaking into a pile of concrete and metal 30 feet high.

  • One person was confirmed dead, but officials feared that number could skyrocket, AP reported.
Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CNN's Don Lemon: "We've got hundreds of people at our community center. If this is like a missing airplane, they want to know where their loved ones are."

  • "We have no problem with resources. We just have a problem with some luck — we need a little more luck."
  • "We've got guys that ran into the building, just like in 9/11. ... They grabbed a few people ... that couldn’t walk out on their own."

The latest.

4. Infrastructure fight could last into fall
President Biden talks to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

As President Biden announced his $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal in the White House driveway yesterday, surrounded by senators of both parties, he held a card (above) that said: "Welcome to infrastructure week."

  • Why it matters: I'm told Biden was prepared to pull the plug on talks with Republicans by July 4. Now, even though he has no guarantee of passage in either chamber, he has extended his bipartisan window.

What we're hearing: Biden and congressional leaders will now attempt a legislative feat that will likely require Congress to work through August recess — and potentially well into the fall, Axios' Hans Nichols reports.

The catch: Passage hinges on additions of other Democratic priorities, including Biden's $4 trillion proposals on child care and other "human infrastructure."

  • Speaker Pelosi said: "There ain't going to be an infrastructure bill unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate."

🚧 Go deeper: Hans Nichols on the remaining potholes ... Snapshot of the package ... White House fact sheet.

5. 2024 watch: Pence calls on GOP to respect Constitution

Mike Pence speaks to the Faith & Freedom Coalition convention in Kissimmee, Fla., last week. Photo: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP

Former Vice President Pence, in a significant speech at the Reagan Library in California last evening, declared that the Constitution "affords the vice president no authority to reject or return electoral votes submitted to the Congress by the states."

  • "I understand the disappointment many feel about the last election," Pence said. "I can even relate. Remember, I lost re-election too. But there's more at stake than our party or our political fortunes."

Why it matters: This is Pence directly addressing — even leaning into — what he did on Jan. 6 in the context of a speech about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, Jonathan Swan writes.

  • Pence is attaching his actions on Jan. 6 to his vision of the future of the party — drawing a clear line between his vision and former President Trump's.

Watch via C-SPAN.

6. Stock market bets on mental health
Data: Yahoo! Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

Mental health care provider LifeStance Health's stock has soared 57% from its $18 IPO price two weeks ago, giving the company a $10.6 billion valuation, Axios' Bob Herman reports.

  • Why it matters: LifeStance's business rests on the idea that future demand for mental health services will continue to grow in the wake of the pandemic.

The business model is simple: People aren't getting enough care for their mental health conditions. So, build new clinics, attract mental health providers with better-paying, in-network insurance contracts, and then take a cut.

7. L.A.'s new Apple Tower Theatre

Apple SVP of Retail + People Deirdre O'Brien and CEO Tim Cook open the new Apple Tower Theatre store in L.A. yesterday. Photo: JC Olivera/Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook took selfies (and even shook hands!) at yesterday's opening of the Apple Tower Theatre, housed in the historic Tower Theatre in downtown L.A. after a massive restoration project.

  • Apple says the theater has been premiering new tech since 1927, when it became L.A.'s first theater be wired for film with sound.

Then and now:

Courtesy Apple
8. "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" turns 50

A Manhattan mural, seen in 2015, salutes Gil Scott-Heron, who died in 2011. Photo: Bill Tompkins/Getty Images

A spoken-word tune that tackled police brutality, inequality, racism, consumerism, and the shortcomings of the media became an anthem a half-century ago, Axios' Russell Contreras writes.

  • With the 50th anniversary of its release, Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" (YouTube) is being celebrated for its enduring influence on slam poetry, hip hop and modern protests

Why it matters: People in communities of color began mimicking Scott-Heron's spoken-word style to music, helping give birth to modern rap music and earning him the title "Godfather of Rap."

  • Scott-Heron's writing partner, Brian Jackson, recalls in a new Apple TV series, "1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything": "We wanted to write about what it meant to be young, Black men in America."

Keep reading.

9. BuzzFeed's new era
Data: Similarweb. Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

BuzzFeed's announcement that it plans to go public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) marked the end of a long era of uncertainty for the company, which helped pioneer digital media, Axios Media Trends expert Sara Fischer writes.

  • It's targeting a $1.5 billion valuation upon combining with 890 Fifth Avenue Partners, Inc., a blank-check company.

Between the lines: Once known for selling native ads alongside cat memes and quizzes, BuzzFeed is now home to a number of brands and business lines.

  • Earlier this year, it acquired HuffPost, which sits alongside its own robust news operation, BuzzFeed News, as a sister brand. It also owns Tasty, a digital food brand with a strong commerce business.

By the numbers: In an investor deck, BuzzFeed said that it and Complex made a combined $421 million in revenue last year, on a pro-forma basis.

  • It expects to bring in $521 million next year and over $1 billion by 2024.
  • This year, half ($261 million) will come from ads, 32% ($165 million) from content (licensing fees), and 18% ($95 million) from commerce.

What's next: BuzzFeed's CEO Jonah Peretti, a veteran internet and technology executive who co-founded BuzzFeed in 2006 and HuffPost in 2005, said he plans to continue to purchase more companies to give BuzzFeed more scale.

10. Conan's 4,368th episode
Via YouTube

After a 28-year run on NBC and TBS, Conan O’Brien, 58, hosted his late-night finale last night — and now will take a breather before mapping out a weekly HBO Max variety show expected in 2022.

  • O'Brien's run was second only to Johnny Carson's 30 years.

As part of the sendoff, O'Brien's former colleagues at "The Simpsons" whipped up an "exit interview" with Homer from HR (above).

  • When O'Brien said he was a talk-show host, Simpson replied: "Wow, a dying breed. There’s only like 800 of you left."

Watch Homer's exit interview ... Watch finale's last 14 minutes, including Conan's thank-yous.

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