Feb 6, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Situational awareness: Nine of the 10 warmest years on record since reliable data began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. Go deeper.

1 big thing: The past resurfaces with a vengeance

High-profile business leaders are being warned to run an opposition-research scan on themselves, as if they were political candidates, to search for problematic yearbook and other images from the past.

  • That advice, reported by the Wall Street Journal (subscription), reflects a sudden surge in attention to racism and #MeToo accusations, some going back decades.

This afternoon, Virginia's attorney general admitted to wearing blackface in the past, while an accuser detailed her sexual assault allegations against the state's lieutenant governor.

Expand chart
Diagram: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The big picture: In decades past, these allegations might not have ever become public. Now, they're impossible to dismiss. And that's not just true for public officials.

Be smart: In corporations, this new scrutiny is expected to extend to new hires of senior talent, a PR executive told the WSJ.

  • "As a best practice, companies should be doing background checks on all senior level and board hires, digging in 25 years or more. 'You have to go back both virtually and physically,' [the exec] said, identifying 'high school and college activities, fraternities, nicknames, everything.'"

Why it matters: "Nowadays, 'I was in my youth' is no longer an explanation," D.C.-based crisis consultant Eric Dezenhall told the Journal. "And racism is the cyanide pill of scandals. There’s no way to get out of it."

The bottom line: This isn't just a problem from the past, and it's not just confined to the old south.

  • Jan. 24, 2019: "Florida secretary of state resigns after photos reveal he wore blackface" (Axios)
  • Jan. 22, 2019: "University of Oklahoma says students involved in blackface video 'will not return to campus'" (CNN)
  • April 11, 2018: "Blackface Leads to Fraternity Suspension at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo" (NYT)
  • Oct. 3, 2016: "Pennsylvania College Students Suspended Over Blackface Video" (Reuters)

P.S. Fallout over blackface isn't just limited to those who wear the offensive garb. NBC host Megyn Kelly's show was canceled last year after she said she didn't know why wearing blackface was seen as racist.

Go deeper: Virginia's 3 highest ranking state officials all land in hot water

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) kisses the hand of Andrea Chamblee, wife of Capitol Gazette Newspapers shooting victim John McNamara, before a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building.

2. What you missed
  1. VP Mike Pence doesn't believe the partial government shutdown was a mistake, saying Americans find it admirable that President Trump "says what he means and he means what he says." Go deeper.
  2. Adobe is considering whether it wants to design its own chips. Go deeper.
  3. Trump has officially nominated David Malpass, a top Treasury official, for president of the World Bank in an effort to shake up the international institution. Go deeper.
  4. The House Intelligence Committee has voted to release all witness transcripts related to the Russia investigation to the Department of Justice and special counsel Robert Mueller. Go deeper.
3. 1 bobblehead thing

Photo: Carrie Antlfinger/AP

"A new museum in Milwaukee may well hold the largest collection of bobbleheads anyone has ever seen, displaying more than 6,500 figures of athletes, mascots, celebrities, animals, cartoon characters, politicians and more," the AP notes.

Bobbleheads at the museum include:

  • A "Pat Hughes bobblehead calling the World Series title for the Cubs."
  • "Bobbleheads of characters from 'The Wizard of Oz' and the 'Star Wars' franchise."
  • "The first football and baseball bobbleheads from the early 1960s."
  • "They even have one of Donald Trump from 'The Apprentice' that says 'You’re fired' upon the push of a button."
Mike Allen