Posts tagged with "Axios"

Senate Democrats warn of G.O.P. effort to restrict abortion nationwide

May 10, 2022

Democrats rang alarm bells on Sunday, May 8, about the likelihood that Republicans would try to restrict abortion nationwide, two days after an interview was published in which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said a ban was “possible” if his party gained control in Washington, D.C., reports The New York Times.

On the Sunday talk shows and in other public statements, Democratic senators said Republicans would not stop at letting the states decide the issue, but would most likely push for federal restrictions. That made it paramount, they said, that the Democratic Party maintain control of the Senate as it tries to codify abortion rights into federal law.

“We need to make sure that every single voter understands that the Republican Party and Mitch McConnell does not believe that their daughters, that their mothers, that their sisters have rights to make fundamental life and death decisions,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We are half-citizens under this ruling. And if this is put into law, it changes the foundation of America.”

After a leaked draft decision indicated that the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that established a constitutional right to abortion, McConnell said in an interview with USA Today that a national abortion ban was “possible” if that draft document became an official opinion of the court.

“If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies—not only at the state level but at the federal level—certainly could legislate in that area,” McConnell said when asked if a national abortion ban was “worthy of debate.”

McConnell argued that the discussion about a federal ban was premature, but that it was clear that the Republican Party has long been opposed to abortion.

Discussions already are underway among some Republican senators about pushing to ban abortion after a certain number of weeks, ranging from six to 20, depending on the proposal.

“If and when the court makes a final decision, I expect everybody will be more definitive,” McConnell said. “But I don’t think it’s much secret where Senate Republicans stand on that issue.”

Indeed, the Times reports, a document circulated by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and obtained by Axios urged candidates to be low key about abortion, casting themselves as “compassionate consensus builders” with a post-Roe America looming as early as next month.

“States should have the flexibility to implement reasonable restrictions,” the document states.

Research contact: @nytimes

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki plans to leave for an on-air role at MSNBC

April 4, 2022

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, is planning to leave her post to take an on-air role at MSNBC, a source familiar with the matter told CNBC on April 1.

Psaki, who is still fleshing out details with the company, is expected to leave the White House around May, Axios reported earlier Friday.

Psaki will host a show for NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, Peacock, Axios reported. She had reportedly also been in talks with CNN and other networks.

Psaki did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

“We don’t have anything to confirm about Jen’s length of planned service or any consideration about future plans,” a White House official told CNBC in an email. “Jen is here and working hard every day on behalf of the president to get you the answers to the questions that you have, and that’s where her focus is.”

News networks have long looked to recruit spokespeople and other high-profile Beltway figures for their day-to-day political coverage, both as anchors and regular contributors.

Longtime ABC News host George Stephanopoulos, for instance, was formerly the White House communications director under President Bill Clinton. MSNBC political analyst and host Nicolle Wallace was a senior spokesperson for the George W. Bush administration and a spokesperson for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Last March, former President Donald Trump’s final Press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, joined Fox News as a commentator. More recently, CBS News signed ex-Trump official Mick Mulvaney as a paid contributor.

Research contact: @CNBC

Trump’s White House toilet was ‘repeatedly clogged’ by torn wads of wet printed paper

Febraury 11, 2022

It’s no surprise, with his notorious diet of Big Macs and Diet Coke, that Donald Trump’s toilet is often the worse for wear. However, according to an upcoming book from  The New York Times  reporter and Trump expert Maggie Haberman, it’s not the fast food that’s to blame, reports The Daily Beast.

In an excerpt from Haberman’s new book, Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America (Penguin Press, to be released October 4)—first reported by Axios on Thursday morning, February 9—the author claims that White House staff would often find Trump’s toilet clogged up with shredded documents.

Indeed, staffers believed that the papers were destroyed and flushed by the president himself. Haberman reports that workmen had to fix the toilet on more than one occasion.

She appeared on CNN’s New Day to discuss the revelation later on Thursday morning. Maggie, we start with the toilet,” host Brianna Keilar said to open the interview, in a sentence that has perhaps never before, and will likely never again, be heard on a national broadcast news.

As I was reporting out this book, I learned that staff in the White House residence would periodically find the toilet clogged,” said Haberman. “The engineer would have to come and fix it, and what the engineer would find would be wads of, you know, clumped up printed wet paper.”

The reporter went on to clarify: “[This was] not toilet paper. This was either notes or some other piece of paper that they believe he had thrown down the toilet. What it could be, Brianna, it could be anybody’s guess. It could be Post-Its, it could be notes he wrote to himself, it could be other things, we don’t know. But it certainly does add… another dimension to what we know about how he handled material in the White House.”

CNN’s John Berman clearly wanted to know more. He went on to ask Haberman if she knows whether the clogging happened more than once, and if we know for sure if it was Trump’s toilet that had been blocked.

“They would periodically find this to be the case,” Haberman explained. “The exact number, John, I’m not certain of, but it was not just once… It was in the pipes… it was in the pipes. This was his bathroom.”

Trump, as he so often does, dismissed the claims as “fake” news.In a statement on Thursday morning, the twice-impeached-former-president said: “Also, another fake story, that I flushed papers and documents down a White House toilet, is categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book.”

Trump’s mishandling of official documents has come under closer scrutiny since 15 boxes of papers were taken away from Mar-a-Lago last month. The boxes were previously reported to have contained Kim Jong Un’s “love letters” to Trump, as well as the handover note left for the incoming president when Barack Obama left the White House in 2017.

However, reports this week have suggested that the documents swiped from the White House by Trump’s team were perhaps even more sensitive than previously realized. Late Wednesday, The New York Times reported that National Archives officials found what they believed to be “classified information” when searching through the seized boxes.

Earlier Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that the National Archives had gone so far as to ask the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s handling of the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Mark Meadows knuckles under; agrees to cooperate with House January 6 Select Committee

December 1, 2021

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has agreed to cooperate with the House Select Committee in charge of investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection, the panel said on November 30, according to a report by Axios.

Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson confirmed the news with the following statement: “Mr. Meadows has been engaging with the Select Committee through his attorney. He has produced records to the committee and will soon appear for an initial deposition. The Select Committee expects all witnesses, including Mr. Meadows, to provide all information requested and that the Select Committee is lawfully entitled to receive. The committee will continue to assess his degree of compliance with our subpoena after the deposition.”

With the capitulation of Meadows, the committee has achieved a major win; and Meadows, himself, has possibly staved off prosecution. After rejecting a subpoena to appear for a deposition before the panel, it was believed that Meadows could face contempt charges.

Meadows, who failed to appear before the panel earlier this month, is believed to have insight into former President Donald Trump’s role in efforts to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election win.

According to Axios, Meadows became the second person to defy the committee’s subpoena, following former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was taken into custody on November 15 on charges of contempt of Congress.

Research contact: @axios

Federal judge blocks Arkansas’ near-total abortion ban

July 22, 2021

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker has issued a preliminary injunction to put a halt to an Arkansas law banning nearly all abortions in the state, as she considers a lawsuit disputing its constitutionality, Axios reports. The measure was set to take effect on July 28.

The law—passed by the Republican legislature and signed by Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) signed in March—would have banned nearly all abortions in Arkansas—with no exceptions for rape or incest. The only variance to the law would be made if a pregnant person’s life were danger.

Baker said in her ruling that the law was “categorically unconstitutional” as it would ban abortions when the fetus is not considered viable, according to the Associated Press.

“Since the record at this stage of the proceedings indicates that women seeking abortions in Arkansas face an imminent threat to their constitutional rights, the Court concludes that they will suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief,” she wrote.

 “We’re relieved that the court has blocked another cruel and harmful attempt to criminalize abortion care and intrude on Arkansans’ deeply personal medical decisions,” said Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, which filed the suit with Planned Parenthood.

Research contact: @Axios

Latest buzz: Genetically modified mosquito startup raises $6.8 million in venture capital

April 26, 2021

Oxitec— a U.S.-owned startup with headquarters and R&D facilities in the U.K., just a few miles from Oxford University—has raised US$6.8 million in venture capital from the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest chqritable foundations, Axios reports.

The company is generating buzz worldwide for its insect-based biological solutions for controlling pests that transmit disease, destroy crops, and harm livestock.

In its latest headline-making news, Oxitec will start releasing a total of 12,000 genetically modified,  non-biting male mosquitos from boxes into the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District to mate with the local biting female mosquitoes over  a period of 12 weeks.

The female offspring of these encounters cannot survive, the company says—making it possible to control the local population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The Aedes aegypti mosquito makes up about 4 percent of the mosquito population in the Florida Keys—but is responsible for virtually all mosquito-borne diseases transmitted to humans. This species of mosquito transmits dengue, Zika, yellow fever, and other human diseases; and can transmit heartworm and other potentially deadly diseases to pets and animals.

According to Axios, Oxitec is one of the world’s most controversial startup—even though everyone applauds its mission of reducing instances of mosquito-borne diseases.

Oxitec already has released more than a billion bugs, including in Brazil and the Cayman Islands—and, last year, the EPA and state officials approved field tests in the Florida Keys.

In the the Brazilian city of Indaiatuba, Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquito suppressed disease-carrying Aedes aegypti by up to 95%* in urban, dengue-prone environments following just 13 weeks of treatment, as compared to untreated control sites in the same city.

It’s a novel solution to human disease spread—particularly where native mosquitoes are increasingly resistant to insecticides—but many locals are concerned about how this will impact the broader ecosystem.

Research contact: @axios

Facebook explores paid deals for new publishing platform

March 17, 2021

Facebook will soon begin testing partnerships with a small group of independent writers for its new publishing platform, sources have told Axios.

The platform—which includes tools that  journalists can use to build actual websites, in addition to newsletters—will be tested with a small group of writers, some of whom Facebook plans to pay to help get the tools off the ground.

Yet to be officially named, the platform is designed to be free-to-use, and will be integrated with Facebook Pages, sources say.

Overall, according to Axios, the platform will comprise the following features:

  • The Pages integration will allow writers, journalists, and other types of professional experts to publish content outside of text, such as live videos and “Stories” status updates;
  • In time, Facebook plans to build tools within the platform that enable writers to monetize their websites and newsletters with subscriptions, and possibly other forms of revenue down the line; and
  • The platform is meant to help writers create an audience community that is loyal and engaged. Facebook will allow writers to create Groups for their products on the Facebook, and will provide writers with metrics about how content is performing.

The seeds of the new platform were planted at Facebook about four yeqrs ago, and have been nurtured since then. Facebook began investing in incubator programs, products and events  geared to help news companies—especially at the local level—build sustainable revenue streams.

The company also created a separate feature called the “News Tab” as a dedicated space for news on Faceboo—where it has paid partnerships with many established news companies.

The next step: Trying to help find ways individual journalists can thrive as creators.

The big picture, according to Axios: The pandemic has prompted many high-profile journalists to leaving newsrooms to launch their own newsletters or websites. Now, tech companies are getting in on the trend.

  • Twitter acquired Revue, a newsletter platform for writers and publishers, in January, and already has begun integrating its newsletter platform into its main product. It recently announced a new feature that allows users to charge their followers for more content via a payment tool called “Super Follows.”
  • LinkedIn, which is home to one of the largest communities of professionals on the Internet, also plans to launch a creator program, that would work closely with the company’s editorial arm, made up of many former journalists.

Research contact: @axios

Subscription podcast provider Quake launches with political content

October 27, 2020

Quake, a subscription podcast company founded by media veterans, launched on October 26 with $2.5 million in seed funding, executives told Axios. It debuts with exclusive political shows—and intentions to expand into religion, sports, and possibly Hispanic media.

Quake founders include Mike Morrell, former ESPN journalist and Bleacher Report executive; and Doug Rosenberg, a former political executive who launched one of the first Spanish-language syndicated radio shows in 2012.

The company is launching with six exclusive shows from big-name personalities in politics and media, including Laura Ingraham, Soledad O’Brien, Gretchen Carlson, Mike Huckabee, Andrew Gillum, Marc Lamont Hill, and Buck Sexton. (Hill and Sexton will launch a podcast together.)

“All of the talent we signed has significant media experience,” says Rosenberg. “We’re not training newbie political stars to do something like this.”

With such compelling talent and coverage, the founders hope to lure subscribers to the platform for a monthly fee of $4.99 or an annual fee of $49.99. All shows are ad free.

Investors include Wndrco, a holding company founded by media veterans—among them, Ann Daly and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The outlook is promising: News and politics podcasts have increased in downloads by 98% from this same period last year, according to data from podcast analytics company Podtrac.

The company hopes to have locked down at least 50 shows by next year. “We’re having those conversations now,” says Rosenberg.

The app is available on Apple and Android, and content is accessible at QuakeMedia.com.

Research contact: @axios

Michelle Obama’s podcast debuts on Spotify on July 29

July 17, 2020

Spotify has announced that “The Michelle Obama Podcast“—the first podcast to be released as part of the platform’s partnership with the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground—will debut on July 29 and will be available for both free and paid subscribers, Axios reports.

Following the success of her biography, Becoming, and the subsequent documentary; the podcast represents the latest big media project from the former first lady. Her stated goal, alongside former President Barack Obama, is to use media platforms like podcasts, film, and social media to help Americans achieve a greater understanding of the world and to inspire young people.

Among the key need-to-know information about the podcast is the following:

  • The podcast, hosted by Obama, will focus on the relationships that shape people, like those with parents, siblings, friends, mentors and partners.
  • It will feature guests who have helped shape Obama’s life, including her mother and brother—Marian and Craig Robinson—and family confidant Valerie Jarrett.
  • Salesforce and Procter & Gamble brands Dawn and Tide will serve as the first season’s presenting sponsors.

“What I love about these conversations is they’re topics and issues we’re all dealing with no matter what’s going on, whether its a global pandemic or a nationwide reckoning with race,” Obama said in a promotional video about the podcast.

According to Axios,Because young consumers are spending more time on their phones with apps like Spotify and Netflix, former politicians are increasingly targeting that space to reach them —instead of eyeing more traditional paths, such as cable news.

A case in point: Hillary and Chelsea Clinton were in talks last year about creating a similar production company of their own.

The podcast is only the first from the Spotify-Higher Ground partnership, so expect more to come

Research contact: @axios