In This Episode
- Former Capitol security officials appeared before the Senate yesterday, citing communications failures for their inadequate response to the January 6th attack on the Capitol. The Senate also confirmed two more members of Biden’s cabinet: Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador and Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary.
- Facebook has now un-banned news on its platform in Australia, after blocking it there in protest of a proposed law that would have required Facebook to pay the outlets that give the platform its content. Now, Australia has backed off, and will only require Facebook to negotiate with media partners.
- And in headlines: the police officers who killed Daniel Prude will not face criminal charges, the Biden administration opened its first facility to house migrant children in Texas, and McDonald’s releases its new crispy chicken sandwich.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Wednesday, February 24th. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day where we’ve been working from home for so long that we no longer recognize ourselves without our Zoom blemish filter.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, I don’t know who this lady is with all of the wrinkles in the mirror, but I would like to see myself please.
Gideon Resnick: I have been disturbed that there’s been an old man in my house for weeks now. On today’s show, Australia re-friends Facebook, then some headlines.
Akilah Hughes: But first, the latest.
[voice clip of Steven Sund] The events I witnessed on January 6th was the worst attack on law enforcement in our democracy that I’ve seen in my entire career. I witnessed insurgents beating police officers with fists, pipes, sticks, bats, metal barricades and flagpoles. These criminals came prepared for war.
Akilah Hughes: That was former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testifying in a hearing yesterday about the January 6th attack at the Capitol. He was joined by the former House and Senate Sergeant at Arms who were there to address how and why this happened. The day had a lot of finger pointing about what went wrong. So Gideon, what were your main takeaways?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, finger pointing was definitely one of them. And, you know, another is that all of these former chiefs were saying that there were intelligence and communication failures leading up to this. And at certain times it got into the various former heads trying to actually absolve themselves in different ways. So on the communications and intelligence front, all three said they hadn’t seen a report from an FBI field office that warned how bad this could get. That FBI report was first brought to light by The Washington Post actually after the riot. And Sund said that it was forwarded to Capitol Police but not to him directly, that it ended with the department’s intelligence division. Does it make a lot of sense? And then the D.C. Police Chief, Robert Contee, said the report was received, but that get this, it was, quote “just an email,” which kind of seems like the opposite of this meeting could have been an email energy like, needed to be more urgent. He seemed shocked that a warning like that would come in that form.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, I don’t know if he was expecting Paul Revere or what, but the emails are—should be read. [laughs] Well, they also talked about why it took the National Guard so long to respond. So what was their explanation for that?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so they said the Pentagon was slow to get the National Guard out as backup. Here’s a clip of D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee talking about that.
[clip of Robert Contee] At 2:22 p.m., a call was convened with, among others myself, leadership of the U.S. Capitol Police, the National Guard and the Department of the Army. I was surprised at the reluctance to immediately send the National Guard to the Capitol grounds.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So he’s saying there that there was some reluctance around the 2 p.m. hour. And then just for reference here, the National Guard showed up at around 5:40, which was after most of the violence had subsided and a lot of the rioters just walked away. According to Politico, as a result of Contee’s testimony, there are Senators—Peters and Klobuchar are calling federal officials to a hearing next week to answer more questions about what went wrong.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and you also mentioned that there was some absolving going on. So can we explain that part a little bit more?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, there is this one chunk of the hearing that was kind of confusing, but it gets at this. So senators were trying to figure out some of the timeline questions of the day. And this part centers around conversations between Capitol Police Chief Sund and Paul Irving, who is the former House sergeant at arms. So Sund testified that they spoke on the phone at 1:09 p.m., which was after rioters had broken through the Capitol security perimeter, and Sund claims that was when he asked Irving for the National Guard assistance. So that early in the day. Here’s Senator Blunt asking Irving about that:
[clip of Senator Blunt] Mr. Irving, you said in your testimony that when asked for National Guard assistance, you approved it. Mr. Sund stated that he asked for the National Guard assistance at 1:09 and you approved, it was approved at 2:10. Why would it take an hour to approve National Guard assistance on your part in that moment of crisis, Mr. Irving?
[clip of Paul Irving] Senator, from my recollection, I did not receive a request for approval for National Guard until shortly after 2:00 p.m. when I was in Michael Stenger’s office—
[clip of Senator Blunt] All right, let’s, let me get that straightened out. Mr. Sund, do you know when you asked for National Guard assistance, was it 1:09 or was it 2 p.m.?
[voice clip of Steven Sund] It was 1:09, sir.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So a lot of confusion there about an hour of time that was important. And as we can hear, Irving doesn’t agree with the Sund testimony. He went on to claim that the request would have been approved right away if it had been made at that time. They were also then asked to provide phone records to try to resolve this. But this really felt like the Spider-Man pointing at each other meme at this point.
Akilah Hughes: Totally. Goodness gracious. Well, it still feels like there’s a lot to resolve and pin down.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, but a couple of things were made clear throughout the day. This testimony was speaking to the fact that these folks who testify believe that the attack was coordinated and not just random people getting too rowdy, as some Republicans have tried to portray. Also, Ron Johnson went further by reading a federalist conspiracy theory but I won’t waste our time like he wasted theirs. And the second takeaway, that the threat of domestic extremism has to be taken more seriously. Also, overall, the day was just another reminder of how serious the insurrection situation got.
Akilah Hughes: Just harrowing stuff. So a lot more questions going forward. Congress also had a bunch of other business yesterday: hearings on vaccines—which we’ll get to in the headlines—and some Biden cabinet appointments. So let’s do a quick update on those.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. So the Senate confirmed Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.N. ambassador and Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary. There was some controversy before all this around Vilsack for his recent work for big agriculture and concern from groups like the Independent Black Farmers Coalition, according to Vox. But he went through. So that’s two more cabinet officials in place. Then there were also hearings for Deb Haaland, Biden’s nominee for secretary of the interior, and Xavier Becerra, who has been appointed to HHS. There’s more to say on those two. Republicans tried to make the hearings contentious. So we’ll come back to that another day as hearings continue. But let’s turn to an international story that has to do with our favorite social media company, Facebook.
Akilah Hughes: Oh, just kidding. So, yeah, you’ll remember that Australia is proposing a law that would make it so that Facebook and Google would have to compensate some of the news outlets that give the platform content, for, you know, doing that. You’ll also remember Facebook blocked all news content from appearing on their site in Australia in response to that proposal, because in the year 2021, Zuck thinks paying people in exposure is enough. Well, the update is that Facebook has now un-banned news on its platform in Australia. And it’s not out of the goodness of Marky Mark’s heart, but rather that Australia made some hefty concessions because they just can’t quit The Book.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, Down Under, it’s the same here in that sense. [laughs] This is nutty story that we’ve been watching. The news feed in Australia was just blank for days because of this. So, yeah, let’s talk about these concessions.
Akilah Hughes: Well, at the 11th hour, Australia’s government basically said that if Facebook could prove that it has signed a substantial number of deals with media outlets to pay them for the content, then they would no longer be subject to the law. Basically, Facebook just has to negotiate in good faith and in turn, they won’t be forced to pay outlets any sort of standard rate. Facebook also will now have a month’s notice to comply when the law is passed. So a lot could happen in that month, which is good for Facebook. And the company’s global VP of Partnerships said that Facebook will reserve the right to simply stop allowing news if they don’t like something the government’s doing, which is a lot of power for a site that was created to rate the hotness of college age women, but I digress.
Gideon Resnick: That is . . . brutal, uh, to remind us—
Akilah Hughes: [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: —that that’s where we are. Oh, God. Yeah. So Google was also targeted by this law and has also been negotiating deals to pay media companies. So a little notch for media companies but yeah, Google and Facebook still seem to have all the power and the money.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, it’s always going to be the case. It is horrific. Well, similar laws are being considered around the globe, including in France and Canada and even in the EU. But considering that Australia didn’t get what they wanted, it’ll be interesting to see who can strong-arm Zuck into paying for content. We’ll keep following the story, but that’s the latest.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Wednesday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we’re talking about lunch policies in France. Last week, the Green Party mayor of Lyon introduced a measure to serve only meat-free lunches to primary school students as a way to make things simpler during the pandemic. The policy was slammed by members of France’s government, including the ministers of agriculture and the interior, who described the move as, quote “elitist” and, quote “putting ideology on a plate.” This isn’t the only French lunch scandal that we’ve seen. Earlier this month, the government relaxed a policy that banned French employees from eating lunch at their desks. The law always served to ensure workers got real breaks during the day but in the context of the pandemic, it interfered with social distancing. So Giddy, my question for you: do you have any lunch laws or policies you abide by in your own personal life?
Gideon Resnick: None recently. I mean, only, because I, are we eating lunch with people?
Akilah Hughes: No. [laughs] No. The big answer is not quite.
Gideon Resnick: When, when was the last time I had to have any modicum of decency or decorum at a lunch? [laughs] Not, not in ages.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: So the recent laws and policies have been: is it fast and accessible in my kitchen? And, in some cases, is it possible to stand and eat it, even before we choose what we’re going to stream while we eat? Those have been the strict codes.
Akilah Hughes: So you’ve been sharing your lunch with like streaming platforms? Like that’s, that’s been your lunch partner these days?
Gideon Resnick: Yes. You know, if we’re right in the middle of an episode from the previous night, we may have gotten tired, we’re like: oh, what exactly happened there? Easy to finish over, over a—
Akilah Hughes: That’s really cute.
Gideon Resnick: —a BP sandwich.
Akilah Hughes: I like for you, that’s like a really good little thing you all do. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s a, it’s a—well, I mean, you know, I mostly like kicking it at home alone [laughs] during these moments. So it’s not, it’s not very uh, it’s not very exciting or inspiring, but that’s the way it is.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. Well, you know, I like that. I like that you’re making time for lunch and not sitting at your desk. You’re sitting somewhere else.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. To be clear, this is all happening—like the stream would continue after the food is eaten. I am a remarkably fast eater.
Akilah Hughes: Oh, I remember [laughs] we used to work together to the office. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: Correct. Correct. No further details will be explained until they are run through my lawyer at this time. So same question Akilah: what lunch laws or policies are you trying to abide by?
Akilah Hughes: OK, so the truth is I eat breakfast really late, so I don’t think that I eat lunch. Like I just don’t think that, like I usually have a big old bowl of Magic Spoon —they did not pay for this placement, it’s just the food that’s in the house. And yeah, I feel like I typically end up eating that around 11:30 or 12. So it’s like, what, I’m going to eat five minutes later? It’s like [laughs] I don’t know what to do. But in the times that I have like been up early enough to have an actual lunch, similarly it is just like the leftovers of the food from the night before.
Gideon Resnick: Yes.
Akilah Hughes: Like I do a lot of ordering dinner. Not proud to say, but I do it. And so I order enough that there’s like leftovers for another day. You know, I try to stretch it. And so that’s, that’s my vibes. I guess my only policy is order enough the food the day before [laughs] so that you can have leftovers the next day. If lunch is your thing, I’m much more of a eat-all-your-calories-at-night-and-then-like-have-heartburn kind of girl. That’s, that’s my vibe.
Gideon Resnick: 100% agree with everything that was just said. Yeah. I, I feel like I always get to 6 or 7 and I’m like I’m so hungry, what have I done? And it’s like that happens every day and yet like I will not change any habits that I have . . . as a result.
Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Right. Yeah. Everyone gets the worst of my personality. I’m like the first part of a Snickers commercial until around 8:30 p.m. and then I’m like: all right, let’s, we’re good, you know, I’m a likable person. I just can’t eat during the day. It’s a, it’s a real problem, but we make up for it. I got a lot of ice cream and a lot of, you know, ordered food.
Gideon Resnick: It’ll do it.
Akilah Hughes: Well, you know, it’s all edible. And just like that, we’ve checked our temps. Stay safe, maybe have better lunch habits than me. We’ll be back after some ads.
Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: The police officers responsible for Daniel Prude’s death last winter will not face criminal charges. A grand jury in Rochester, New York, made the decision yesterday. Last year the officers were shown on body camera pinning Prude onto the ground until he stopped breathing. At the time, Prude was experiencing a mental health crisis. A separate investigation found that police officers and the city worked together to delay the release of that video by six months. New York Attorney General Letitia James said she was disappointed by the decision and that she will push to reform the state’s use of force laws and mandatory de-escalation techniques. Yesterday was also the tragic anniversary of the death of Ahmaud Arbury, a black man who was killed by a group of white men while jogging in Georgia. Arbury’s mother filed a civil lawsuit yesterday against all the men responsible.
Akilah Hughes: The Bush administration opened its first facility to house migrant children yesterday. White House officials claim the emergency facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, is needed to house an influx of children crossing the border and so there can be social distancing in the broader network of Health and Human Services facilities. Immigration lawyers and human rights groups criticized the decision, arguing that temporary facilities like this one have been known to offer subpar living conditions and lack transparency about how they operate. This isn’t the first piece of disappointing immigration news under the Biden administration. Just last week, Biden’s Department of Homeland Security released new guidelines governing who the agency should consider a priority for deportation and immigration enforcement. The ACLU responded that the policy gives too much discretion to ICE officers and is a step back from Biden’s earlier commitments to fully end harmful deportation practices.
Gideon Resnick: There is a new way to eat a hundred different animals at the same time. It is called McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich and it comes out today at locations nationwide. What a preview. The sandwich is McDonald’s entry in a fight for the best Southern-style fried chicken sandwich that began in summer 2019. That it when Popeye’s released its sandwich, which became a viral hit and sold out within two weeks. I think we can all remember packing into a car with our ten best friends and passing around one single sandwich back when this behavior was normal and acceptable. Popeye’s success clearly influenced McDonald’s. And by summer of last year, their new chicken and pickle sandwiches were ready to launch until the notoriously sandwich-negative pandemic led them to delay release. Burger King is working on their own crispy chicken sandwich release later this year. And Taco Bell is also stepping up by trying to convince us all that a thick tortilla wrapped around creamy fried chicken is not the exact type of thing that will cause alien societies to blow us up with no mercy. It is a risk I am willing to take. Taco Bell’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco will be tested in Tennessee and North Carolina in March before its national release.
Akilah Hughes: Creamy fried chicken is just the worst. [laughs] Well, that is the cream? Also in major product releases: yesterday, drug companies Pfizer and Moderna told lawmakers that they expect to deliver 140 million vaccine doses by the end of March, which would be a huge step up from the rate they’ve been going at so far. The drug companies said their investments in manufacturing have allowed them to shorten their production time. An FDA decision to recognize overfill in Pfizer’s vials as a sixth dose has also led to higher output. Drug companies failing to meet delivery schedules has been a huge obstacle to the vaccination effort so far. It would be nice if we could just inject ourselves with positivity. But sadly, that treatment isn’t FDA approved yet. The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to be authorized for emergency use as soon as this weekend, which will also speed things up. Though only two million doses will be available immediately, putting the company behind on its commitment to deliver 12 million doses to the U.S. by the end of February. One way to catch up is to start raiding private islands to see where hedge fund managers and CEOs are hiding their doses. I’m going to start lapping up the pool of water from Jeff Bezos’s house because there’s got to be a vaccine in there. I just know it.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah.
Akilah Hughes: I’m ready to drink it. And those are the headlines.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, spare us if you are aliens, and tell your friends listen.
Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading and not just vegetarian children’s lunch menus in France like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out. Subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And we’ll save you some Bezos’s pool water.
Akilah Hughes: I mean, I’m sure it tastes very expensive.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, little gold flakes in there, I’ve heard.
Akilah Hughes: [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: I’m gonna Super Soak it out the window if you walk down the street in front of my house.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. I hear you come out younger. He’s never been in the pool. [laughs]
Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.
Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.
Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon is our assistant producer.
Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producers are Katie Long, Akilah Hughes and me.
Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.