Jul 29, 2020

Axios PM

🐪 Happy Wednesday! Today's PM, edited by Shane Savitsky, is 463 words — a 2-minute read.

  • ☀️ Situational awareness: The Middle East is in the midst of a blistering heat wave, with Baghdad reaching 125.2°F yesterday, its highest temperature ever recorded. (WashPost)
1 big thing: Big Tech hearing showcases D.C.'s divide
Photo: Mandel Ngan/Pool/Getty Images

The CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple are still (virtually) in front of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee — and it has so far served to highlight how Washington's partisan gulf touches nearly every issue.

  • Democrats have largely raised concerns of competitive abuses while Republicans have slammed the companies for alleged anti-conservative bias.

Why it matters, via Axios' Kyle Daly and Ashley Gold: The face-off is the culmination of a protracted conflict between Washington and Silicon Valley that has seen members of both parties push antitrust enforcement as a cure for any number of Big Tech ills.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos couldn't guarantee to Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) that its policy against using third-party sellers' data to bolster its own brands had never been violated.

  • And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced a grilling from Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who sought to pin him down on the company's 2012 acquisition of Instagram.
  • "With hindsight, it looks obvious that Instagram would have reached the scale it did today," Zuckerberg responded. "At the time, it was far from obvious."

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Judiciary's top Republican, fully leaned into the right's allegations of bias, stating flatly, "Big Tech is out to get conservatives."

  • Worth noting: Nine of the top 10 performing links on Facebook today came from conservative news sources. (Facebook disputes this measure as it only includes links shared directly from news sites, rather than organically.)

Head to the Axios stream for continued live updates.

Photo: Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
2. Pic du jour
Photo: Erin Scott/Pool/Getty Images

Rep. John Lewis leaves the Capitol for the last time after a 33-year congressional career, with his casket en route to Atlanta ahead of his funeral tomorrow.

3. Catch up quick
  1. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the Trump administration had agreed to a "phased withdrawal" of federal law enforcement agents from Portland. Go deeper.
  2. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who has been a vocal opponent of masks, tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of a trip to Texas with President Trump. Details. His statement.
  3. Anthony Fauci and former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb both forcefully pushed against hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment. Fauci video. Gottlieb video.
  4. President Trump publicly insisted that the next coronavirus stimulus package include funding for a new FBI building, reopening a spat with Senate Republicans. What he said.
4. 1 fun thing

Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images

We can now imprison George R.R. Martin, according to the "Game of Thrones" author's own self-imposed deadline for delivering the sixth volume in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, per a reminder from AV Club.

  • Martin, who was beaten to the finish line by HBO's adaptation, said last May that fans could banish him to a volcanic island if he hadn't delivered "The Winds of Winter" by the start of 2020's World Science Fiction Convention.
  • The convention kicks off today — virtually, of course — and there's still no sign of Martin's new book.

Unsurprisingly, he failed to mention his imminent stint "overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid" in a blog post yesterday.