This piece was originally published in the October 28, 2020 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.
“This is baloney, folks.”
— Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) giving a perfect assessment of today’s Senate hearing with big tech CEOs
New daily COVID cases are projected to double in the U.S. over the next few weeks.
IN THE NEWS
- In an interview with Bob Woodward at the height of the pandemic’s spring surge, White House adviser Jared Kushner bragged that Trump was “getting the country back from the doctors.” Kushner proudly described how his father-in-law was intentionally excluding health experts and medical professionals from his pandemic response team. At the time of the interview, 40,000 Americans had already died from the virus. The interview paints a picture of a White House focused on pushing a premature reopening for their political benefit rather than listening to the science and saving lives.
- Trump is doubling down on his propagation of misleading information about the coronavirus. This week, the Trump administration quietly included “ending the COVID-19 pandemic” on an official list of major accomplishments. When asked about this blatantly misleading move, Trump campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley refused to budge. A different spokesperson eventually conceded that the document was “poorly worded,” but not without falsely suggesting we’re “rounding the corner” on COVID-19.
- Trump’s campaign spokesperson also brushed off the state of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, which health officials describe as a “nightmare scenario.” Asked about the state’s hospitals reaching capacity, Gidley told CNN that it doesn’t give him pause and assured them that Mike Pence — who is visiting the state today — would be perfectly safe. Wisconsin reported 64 deaths and 5,262 cases Tuesday, shattering previous records and marking the highest single-day climb since the pandemic began.
- The pandemic might be trivial to the Trump campaign. For the rest of us, it’s terrifying — and getting worse every day. More than half of U.S. states experienced their highest daily new COVID case count of the entire pandemic this month. Hospitals are beginning to reach capacity as the number of people hospitalized with COVID across the U.S. has increased by 46% in the last month. And again: This is only expected to get worse as temperatures drop and we spend more time indoors. Trump’s denial of this crisis is costing lives.
- Trump is endangering his supporters in more ways than one. After his already unsafe rally in Omaha, Nebraska last night, hundreds of his supporters were left stranded outside the venue as they waited for the parking shuttle to pick them up. As a result, at least 30 people required medical attention and seven were taken to the hospital.
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- The New York Times reported that corporate lenders have forgiven $287 million in debt that Trump failed to repay over the last decade.
- Senate Republicans convened a sham hearing today where they blasted the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and Google for supposed “anti-conservative” bias. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) kicked things off with a dramatic monologue in which he claimed social media platforms are “the greatest threat to free speech in America.” As this report explains, the idea that these platforms are biased against conservatives couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s break down what the real problems are here, shall we?
- Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes right-wing posts — even when their content is misleading. According to several current and former employees, favoring Republicans is better for Facebook’s business. Just this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that conservative figures inform Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s perspective on politics. What Facebook touts as “objectivity” and “free speech” is really just a cover for their refusal to hold right-wing pages to their usual content standards out of fear of criticism from the right.
- It’s clear that today’s Senate hearing was never intended to get serious answers out of these companies. And boy, do we need answers — on the necessary steps they have yet to take to curb the spread of Trump’s pandemic disinformation, how they plan to handle election night content, and more.
- But this was simply a venue for Republicans to try to scare these CEOs into continuing to let them spread false information online six days before an election. “This is bullying,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). “Don’t let the Senate bully you into carrying water for those who want to advance misinformation.”
With just six days left in the election, social media platforms with the power to sway the political discourse aren’t doing enough to curb the spread of online disinformation. And that starts with Trump. Add your name now to demand Facebook take immediate action to stop Trump’s lies from reaching millions.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Working Moms Shouldn’t Have to Clean Up the Government’s Mess by Katie Porter (Jezebel)
- Voting during the 19th Amendment’s centennial wasn’t supposed to be this way by Errin Haines (The 19th)
- 7 Lives in Donald Trump’s America (The Atlantic)
- The Trump Administration Has Set Up Students To Be Harmed by Unscrupulous Colleges During This Recession by Ben Miller (CAP)
- This Is the Coronavirus Election by Ed Yong (The Atlantic)