May 21, 2019

Trump bullies the refs

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump has a penchant for ganging up on the "mainstream media," but lately his attacks have spread to ganging up on any information gatekeeper — from Big Tech platforms to newscasters on his favorite network.

Why it matters: Trump has spent years shooting the messenger, but as his presidency rolls on, so do his grievances against any information platform that may, at some point, work against his interests.

  • Sunday shows: The president has always disliked "the mainstream media," but his ire lately has turned toward Sunday political shows, specifically. Last weekend he tweeted multiple times about the "Fake News Sunday Political Shows," even calling out Fox's own Chris Wallace for interviewing Pete Buttigieg.
  • Technology platforms: The White House launched a new tool last week that will allow any U.S. citizen to submit a complaint if they think they were unfairly censored on social media platforms. This attitude demonstrates a reversal of the president's stance toward free speech on social media platforms since he was inaugurated in 2017.
  • Legal processes: In the past few weeks, the president has become emboldened in defying Congressional subpoenas to have information come out regarding his 2016 campaign, his tax returns and information around his business dealings.

Between the lines: The administration has pushed to undermine key White House press traditions that are meant to bring more information to the public.

  • The White House hasn't held a press briefing in weeks.
  • The administration has taken away press passes from journalists and barred certain reporters from events and briefings.
  • The president has faced lawsuits from civic groups that complain he is violating the First Amendment by blocking people on Twitter.

Be smart: As CNN's Oliver Darcy explains on CNN's Reliable Sources show with Brian Stelter, part of the strategy is to make Americans in the middle of the country think that they're under attack by elitist institutions. "They're out to censor your ideas, you're under attack, and they're using that, effectively, fear mongering."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 12 mins ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."