Weekend Picks: Hasty Reopening, Media Woes
It’s been an eventful week. We hit the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring Covid-19 a pandemic. Biden signed an extremely belated $1.9 trillion relief bill that will, among other things, significantly reduce child poverty, supply states with desperately needed funds, and beef up vaccine production and distribution. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s numerous scandals keep getting worse, and more and more state and federal politicians are calling for his resignation. The ghouls at Buzzfeed laid off nearly 30% of the unionized staff of HuffPost, which it bought from Verizon in February.
Every time a giant media company backed by Wall Street lays off workers, I’m grateful that I’m part of this project. When Walker and I dreamed this thing up, we had two main goals: to create a corporate narrative-free news experience and to help independent outlets survive, grow, and flourish.
Our goals remain the same. We’re hopeful that—with your help spreading the word and, if you can, pitching in small contributions so we can hire staff, enhance the app, and advertise—the OptOut app will get big enough to drive numbers of new readers, listeners, and viewers to our participating outlets and grow their subscriber bases.
The volunteers at OptOut have been working on a news app for exclusively independent media since last summer, and we’re getting closer and closer to a beta launch. We’re very excited to roll this out in the coming months.
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And now, let’s see what our participating outlets were up to this week.
The Daily Poster: America’s Deadly Obsession With Reopening
OptOut co-founder Walker Bragman writes,
The country’s approach to the pandemic has been one of suppression over elimination, of acceptable losses and acceptable spread. While other countries have been able to better control the spread of the virus through ambitious zero-COVID strategies, the United States has never once seriously considered far-reaching responses like a national lockdown or a universal basic income that would allow people to shelter in place. For both Donald Trump and now Biden, the political risks of such moves were too great, despite the arguments of scientific experts, the pleas of many of those on the front lines.
Counterspin: ‘Raising the Minimum Wage Has Direct Implications for Black Families’
Janine Jackson interviews economist, John Jay College professor, and author Michelle Holder on FAIR’s podcast, Counterspin.
Sludge: Alaska Senator Mum on Haaland Vote Has Financial Conflict of Interest
Sludge’s Donald Shaw and I report that Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) has up to $5 million invested in a family business that makes petroleum-derived products, some of which it sells to the fossil fuels industry. He’s still undecided on how he’ll vote on Rep. Deb Haaland’s (D-N.M.) historic nomination to lead the Interior.
Jewish Currents: Progressives Are Losing Patience with Biden’s Iran Policy
On issues ranging from re-entering the Iran deal to re-evaluating Washington’s relationship with regional allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, many on the left now believe that Biden’s team risks falling short of expectations set during and after last year’s presidential election. After a brief honeymoon period, it is rapidly becoming clear to this cohort that its efforts are better spent pressuring Biden from the outside rather than working in lockstep with the White House on foreign policy.
Jacobin: Lula’s Return Could Save Brazilian Democracy
With former Brazilian president Lula da Silva now eligible to run in next year’s election, Jair Bolsonaro’s grip on power is looking weaker than ever before. Amid the tide of reaction, Lula’s return means there is finally some hope for democracy and social justice in Brazil.
The American Prospect: Union Bargaining at a Podcasting Giant
Sarah Jaffe details workers’ two-year struggle at Gimlet Media, which is owned by Spotify, to get a union contract. (The union finally got a deal late Thursday night.)
Gimlet’s union drive, Eddings tweeted, was a way for him and other workers of color to change power dynamics at the company, and bring diversity to the bargaining table—a position echoed by the workers the Prospect spoke with. The Reply All team, Eddings tweeted, “used their weight as a cudgel against our efforts at voluntary recognition.”
Discourse Blog: Please, Fuck Off: BuzzFeed Sociopath Jonah Peretti
Jack Crosbie writes,
There is one CEO who for years has utterly failed to both run a profitable company and treat his employees with even a modicum of human dignity when he is forced to throw their lives in the trash on a yearly basis. That man is Jonah Peretti, the CEO and founder of BuzzFeed. Today, Peretti laid off 47 people from HuffPost’s U.S. newsroom, which he had recently merged with BuzzFeed. (He also laid off additional staffers overseas, including a complete shutdown of HuffPost’s Canadian sites.)
Gravel Institute: David Cross on Why America Sucks at Everything
America: the greatest, richest, freest country in the world – or is it? David Cross, of Mr. Show, Arrested Development, and The Dark Divide, joins us to discuss why Americans, despite living in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, have a much worse standard of living than people who live in poorer countries. The "American Dream" isn't just dying: it's dead and buried. Cross tells us why.
This Machine Kills: King of SPACs v. Hindenburg
What the frack is a SPAC? After an explainer on this cool new financial innovation, we dive into a juicy story of a SPAC in action—Clover Health. This hot new insurtech company is being taken public by a SPAC sponsored by Chamath Palihapitiya, famed venture capitalist, wannabe California governor, so-called King of SPACs. But as a long, in-depth report by Hindenburg Research details, could Clover Health be riddled with the kind of corporate malfeasance, deception, and fraud that might lead shrewd entrepreneurs to avoid the disclosures and scrutiny that come with going public the old fashioned way? Are things like "public disclosure" and "business fundamentals" actually socialist plots to destroy capitalism?
The Humanist Report: Tulsi Gabbard Takes Cancel Culture Hysteria to a Whole New Level
As Tulsi Gabbard continues her conversion into a Republican Fox News personality, she weighs into the right’s favorite grievance these days: “cancel culture.” Gabbard, who ended her time in Congress by sponsoring anti-trans and anti-abortion bills, warns Fox viewers that the end result of cancel culture is ISIS beheadings. Yep, she went there in her conversation with fellow House retiree Trey Gowdy.
ALSO: The Majority Report on Andrew Cuomo playing the victim and blaming…cancel culture.
Champagne Sharks: The Content Glut feat. Adam Lederer
Today we have Adam Lederer on the show to talk about the current inflation of streaming services plus discuss the ins and outs of how they market to the viewer and what kind of content they make. Adam Lederer is a current writer for Netflix working on the upcoming show "Inside Job".
Ring of Fire: Florida Diverted Vaccines From Hospitals and Gave Them to Governor's Wealthy Donors
It’s hard to get grosser than this.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis needs to be investigated, and that might actually be the understatement of the century. A new report claims that the embattled Florida governor and state officials actually ordered Baptist Healthcare to give up the vaccines that they had secured for their facilities and instead give them to DeSantis's wealthy friends and donors.
The Rational National: Cuomo Gets Weird As AOC Calls For His Resignation
David Doel breaks down Cuomogate.
Arts & Culture
Yes, some OptOut participants focus on arts, culture, and comedy! Here is some of their latest content.
Triple Canopy: i have too much to hide
“i have too much to hide” was published as part of Triple Canopy’s Immaterial Literature project area, which receives support from the Stolbun Collection, Agnes Gund, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Podside Picnic: Willow (Ft. Kurt and Chris from PJDU)
Pete and Karlo are joined by Kurt and Chris from Parents Just Don't Understand Podcast to talk about the 80s-tastic fantasy film, Willow. Listen to find out Evil Queen Bavmorda's tragic backstory (not really).
Office Hours Live: "Weird" Al Pacino, Andrew Bird & Jimbo Mathus
Comedian Tim Heidecker, DJ Douggpound, and Vic Berger’s call-in show is like everything else these guys do: unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Another jam-packed hot one for you with in-studio guest "Weird" Al Pacino (aka Chris Bagnall), on-zoom guests Andrew Bird & Jimbo Mathus (48:30) celebrating their new album "These 13," and the debut of the Hothead Hotline!
I hope everyone is safe and healthy. Have a great weekend, and see you next time!