Aug 30, 2018

Axios PM

Situational awareness: President Trump is threatening to exit the World Trade Organization... “If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO,” Trump told Bloomberg today.

  • Trump added that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is safe until after the elections.
1 big thing: A conservative social network would fail

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Twitter and Facebook CEOs Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg, in their wildest dreams, would love the Donald Trump Jr. notion of "one of the two Silicon Valley conservatives" to start up a conservative social network, Axios' Felix Salmon writes.

  • Don Jr. tweeted Thursday: "Heck, I’d even support an unbiased version of any of them. I’m not looking for an echo chamber, I’m just looking for a level playing field. No more bias! No more BS!" [Update]

The bottom line: You can't create a Fox News for social. Snap stock is flat because it's struggling to grow, with just 188 million daily active users. "Hannity," by contrast, the most-watched show on Fox News, attracts a mere 3 million viewers. For a conservative social network to succeed, it would need orders of magnitude more reach than Fox News. Which isn't going to happen.

  • Between the lines: Twitter's single biggest problem is harassment, much of which is driven by right-wing trolls. Dorsey would be elated were the likes of Mike Cernovich to voluntarily join the already-exiled Milo somewhere (anywhere!) else.

The big picture: Here are the four main reasons a Facebook for conservatives (or liberals) is not going to happen.

  1. Most people are not primarily political animals, not even now, in the age of Trump. Instagram has become a runaway success precisely because it contains almost zero political content. Almost nobody wants to join an explicitly political social network.
  2. There's no sport in spreading right-wing memes without triggering the libs. That's the whole point!
  3. If the right abandoned Twitter and Facebook, it would lose its ability to complain about censorship. It would be much easier, then, for the platforms to say "if you don't like it here, why don't you just leave."
  4. Financially, a new political social network is a non-starter. Many people have tried to create alternatives to Twitter and Facebook (remember Ello? Peach? Mastodon?); none of them have got off the ground, because they can't reach the necessary scale. That includes Gab, a Twitter for conservatives which has failed to create traction.

As Axios's Dan Primack says: "It's one thing to change the channel from CNN to Fox, but quite another to leave the platform where friends/family post their baby pictures, plan events, etc. Some of us may live our real lives within partisan echo chambers, but most don't."

2. What you missed
  1. San Francisco officials are leaving Bird, Lime, Lyft and Uber out in the cold, choosing to only grant permits to Scoot and Skip for a one-year electric scooter pilot program. Updates.
  2. Stocks fell sharply this afternoon following a Bloomberg report that Trump will move forward with his plan for $200 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods.
  3. Trump targeted "fake" news, books, Google searches and social media in a morning tweetstorm for the ages. Go deeper.
  4. A majority of civilian federal employees won't get pay increases next year, undoing the original 2.1% pay increase that was set to take effect in 2019, Trump announced today.
  5. The Justice Department is supporting claims that Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American applicants in its use of a "personal rating."
  6. Microsoft will require U.S.-based suppliers and vendors with 50+ employees to offer paid parental leave. Go deeper.
3: 1 bipartisan thing
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Three noteworthy quotes from former Vice President Joe Biden's emotional tribute to Sen. John McCain at his service in Phoenix:

  1. "He didn’t believe that America's fate rested on heroes… Heroes didn’t run this country, ordinary people given half a chance are capable of doing extraordinary things."
  2. "John was a hero. His character, courage, honor, and integrity. His optimism. That’s what made John special. It made John a giant among all of us."
  3. "His belief — and it was deep — that Americans can do anything, withstand anything, achieve anything, was both unflagging and utterly reassuring."

Go deeper: More photos and quotes