In This Episode
- The CDC issued new guidance yesterday that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks outdoors unless they’re gathering in a large crowd, and they can safely enjoy many indoor activities with masks. Of course, the key phrase here is “fully vaccinated.” Until you’re pumping COVID antibodies, the CDC continues to recommend masking up in any situation where you’re around other unvaccinated people.
- Apple released its latest iOS on Monday, introducing a new tool called App Tracking Transparency that makes apps ask permission before sharing your browsing history with advertisers. This is more than a random act of kindness from Tim Cook, though. We discuss the benefits it might pass on to Apple’s ad business.
- And in headlines: autopsy results show that Andrew Brown Jr. was shot in the back of the head by police in North Carolina, Epicurious won’t tell you how to cook meat, and a Russian guy is the reluctant star of a Chinese reality show singing contest.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Wednesday, April 28th. I’m Gideon Resnick,
Erin Ryan: And I’m Erin Ryan, in for Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: And this is What A Day, where we’re asking the Mars rover to please come back home because we miss it.
Erin Ryan: Yeah, I know it’s selfish and also impossible, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
Gideon Resnick: I think the Mars rover is playing games with my mind. On today’s show, Apple makes some changes to improve privacy, but some say it is about its own ads. Then some headlines. But first, the latest:
[clip of CDC Dir. Rochelle Walensky] If you are fully vaccinated and want to attend a small outdoor gathering with people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated, or dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households, the science shows if you’re vaccinated, you can do so safely unmasked.
Gideon Resnick: Whoo hoo! That was CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky with another update yesterday for those who are vaccinated. So, Erin: boom! We won? It’s all over?
Erin Ryan: It’s not over just yet, but it’s a little close to over. The CDC issued new guidance yesterday that fully-vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks outdoors, unless they’re gathering in a large crowd. That’s because the agency says the chances of catching or passing COVID outdoors when you’re vaccinated is really, really, really slim. CDC also says that fully-vaccinated and masked people can safely enjoy many indoor activities, like going to movie theaters, getting a haircut, singing in a choir, or—Gideon your favorite—participating in a high-impact indoor group exercise class.
Gideon Resnick: That’s right, Zumba, my time has come. I hope you are ready. So this was a big announcement. Why do we think that they actually made this now?
Erin Ryan: I think they made it to remind people that life is better when you’re vaccinated. In fact, when we heard Dr. Walensky speak earlier, notice she kept emphasizing “if you are vaccinated.” And while vaccinations are still being put into arms at a pretty fast clip, the pace of vaccination is slowing down, and if it plateaus at current levels, that’s bad news for, well, everybody. Recent reports have indicated that some people are skipping their second shot. Bad idea. And in some places, mass vaccination sites are shutting down due to lack of interest.
Gideon Resnick: So then more granularly, how are officials trying to get more people vaccinated?
Erin Ryan: Well, officials are trying. Private businesses are trying. Sports teams are trying. Everybody is giving it at old college try. There have been some creative attempts on the local level. West Virginia is going to give some people $100 for getting vaccinated. The Milwaukee Bucks—I think one of the most likable franchises in the NBA—are offering shots to fans 16 or older who attend Sunday’s game. I’m fully vaccinated, but if I were attending the game, I would demand that Giannis vaccinate me personally.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, he would have to, I think, go like, fully horizontal to get to your shoulder, but it would work.
Erin Ryan: He’s got such a light touch, I bet he would be great at mass vaccinations. Some places are bribing the vaccinated with promises of free food, free donuts, free beer. And colleges like the University of California system are going a little harder: they’re mandating vaccines for people who want to attend in-person classes in the fall. Along those lines, the CDC guidelines are waiving post-vaccine freedom in front of the fence-sitting masses in hopes it will sway people.
Gideon Resnick: So I get, you know, showing the rewards of being vaccinated rather than emphasizing the bad things that could happen if people do not get vaccinated. But how was that message received?
Erin Ryan: Well, initial reactions seemed more focused on the “you don’t need to wear a mask any more” part of the message rather than the “IF YOU ARE VACCINATED” part of the message. A lot of people worried that removing outdoor mask requirements would lead to people who are unvaccinated to lie about being vaccinated so that they can go outdoors maskless also—which doesn’t really make sense because I don’t think those people were really listening to CDC guidelines anyway. There is also concern about people using these guidelines as an excuse to not wear masks in crowds outdoors, which vaccinated or not, the CDC still recommends for everybody. And again, the CDC still says that everybody should mask up indoors. It seems pretty straightforward, but thanks to COVID guideline whiplash, some people are a little wary of public health measures being relaxed.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I mean, it’s been a big evolution from early 2020 when the mask guidance was “don’t buy them” and then it got muddied, and there was Trump, and now here we are. And the messaging is just tough because the country that we live in is huge and people are in different pockets of belief systems, to say the least.
Erin Ryan: Oh, yeah. I’m sure in some parts of the country, people are going to in-person foam parties and just breathing on each other’s faces. And I’m sure that if you looked hard enough, you would also find people who are still wiping down their groceries with Clorox, like wipes. Well, to help our listeners out, I want you to tell me some scenarios and I will tell you, based on the new CDC guidelines, whether or not you must wear a mask for that activity to be considered safe. Does that sound good?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it sounds amazing. I have a few. OK, so what if I’m fully vaccinated, I’m going to the park to, you know, frolic through a field of wildflowers with several people from a few other households and I’m not quite sure if everybody else there will be vaccinated.
Erin Ryan: So the CDC says when you’re gathering in a small group outdoors with other households and you are vaccinated, you don’t need to wear a mask. You can wear one, though, if it keeps the bees from stinging you or if you don’t want your friends to smell your bad breath, or for any other reason.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, always the bad breath. How about if I’m not vaccinated and I’m riding my bike?
Erin Ryan: CDC says that you don’t need to wear a mask for that ride as long as you’re not in close contact with people who don’t live in your household. But exercising outdoors alone or with people you live with is the only situation in which the CDC says unvaccinated people can go maskless outside.
Gideon Resnick: OK, so last one here. How about if I’m vaccinated and I’m going to meet my best friend, Grover Norquist at Burning Man?
Erin Ryan: You can’t do that, but only because Burning Man announced yesterday that it’s canceled this year. And also Grover Norquist seems like he wouldn’t be a very good friend. But if you decided to attend a Dodgers game with Grover instead, you can safely attend, provided both of you wear masks. We’ll post in our show notes, the CDC guidelines, so you can see them yourself. But if you still want to wear your mask in a place where the CDC says you don’t have to, nobody’s stopping you. OK, that’s the pandemic news for the day. But let’s get into something new in the tech world.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So this is all about privacy and who is tracking you on that phone of yours. So on Monday, Apple released their latest iOS and beyond the possible emoji updates and whatnot that typically come with these, there was a pretty important new tool. So if you are, in fact, listening to this on an iPhone right now, I will not be offended if you pause and actually turn this on. It could help you. It is a new tool called App Tracking Transparency, and it works basically how it sounds: when an app wants to follow what you do and share info with advertisers, it will ask you if you want to do that. Permission! What a concept. Amazing stuff. But from what we know at this point, if you opt out, the app would have to stop tracking and sharing your data. And this has made one company in particular steaming mad about all of it, and it is Facebook—you guessed it. Think of it like this: if you were looking for some masks or a coat rack or tickets to a concert and you had opted out of tracking, then you ideally would not have that eerie sensation of opening Facebook or Instagram and seeing that very coatrack appear as an ad there.
Erin Ryan: You know what? I would really love for Facebook and Instagram to stop advertising things to me that I’ve already purchased. Would you like to buy this pair of glasses that just came in the mail to your house? No, I already bought it! I mean, all of this sounds like a good thing. Am I missing something here?
Gideon Resnick: No. I mean, in theory it is. And privacy groups have seemed mostly enthused by it, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation calling it, quote “one more step in the right direction.” But this doesn’t seem like just a random act of kindness from Tim Cook. Advertisers who buy ad space directly from Apple could get more data about users than if they bought those ads from third parties. And that could, in turn, help Apple’s own ad business and give it a competitive advantage here.
Erin Ryan: Honestly, this sort of reminds me, the Apple versus Facebook thing kind of reminds me of like Godzilla versus Kong. And in that fight between monsters that could destroy me, I’m cheering for Kong, a.k.a. Apple.
Gideon Resnick: Apple spokesperson denied that the move is helping their own products. That makes sense. But already this seems to be sparking anti-trust issues in Europe. The company was hit by a complaint in Germany just on Monday. And in France, Apple got an initial win last month when a group of advertisers and publishers actually failed to block the tracking restrictions. But there is going to be a longer investigation into whether Apple is giving itself preferential treatment.
Erin Ryan: Adding to a gazillion anti-trust efforts against seemingly all these massive tech companies that run the world at this point. On that note, what is the company like Google doing on this issue?
Erin Ryan: Yeah, I mean, there’s a ton of things that you wouldn’t necessarily want somebody that you’re sharing a computer with to know, like medical questions that you might have. But also like, what if you’re somebody who’s going to propose to your boyfriend or girlfriend, and you’re shopping for rings online and you don’t want them to be served up ads for engagement rings because you’re trying to surprise them.
Gideon Resnick: The, you know, the Chrome team reportedly said they are conscious of these types of concerns already. But even on top of that, other advocates have said that this is just going to likely enhance the power of Google overall, which is already the biggest online ad seller. Monopolies are going to monopolize. But that is the latest for now.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Wednesday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we are talking about the ghosts of critics past: Citizen Kane has lost its perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes. Oh no. After an 80-year old negative review from the Chicago Tribune was added to the site. That reviewer called Citizen Kane, quote “a flop.” As some pointed out, “Paddington 2” has held onto its 100% rating, making it the official best movie of all time. Toy Story, Before Sunrise, and a few dozen others also continue to keep it 100. So honestly, Citizen Kane is just getting lapped at this point. Erin, what is your reaction to the shocking news?
Erin Ryan: Honestly, I’ve never seen Citizen Kane, but I think there are movies that you can watch over and over again, and some of them hold up, stand the test of time and some of them really do not. I’ve, two Mike Myers movies is an example of both. “Wayne’s World” for the most part, really holds up, stands the test of time. “So I Married An Axe Murderer” does not. I fell asleep to that movie playing on a DVD so many times in college, and I just watched it again last night. And it was just like: what is this movie about? Same question for you, Gideon.
Gideon Resnick: You know, Citizen Kane, it’s a funny thing to call a flop. [laughs] Like that’s just a really like bold—this guy 80 years ago was like: you know, all of my peers, like, vibing out with their pipes and like newsie caps at the movie theater, they love this, but they’re stupid, like, I’m calling this what it is: it’s a flop. Just that’s a funny bit. Also, the person that added it to the website. Like, what are you trying to take down Citizen Kane?
Erin Ryan: But I do, I think I do need to watch both Citizen Kane and Paddington 2 now and judge for myself which one is the greatest movie of all time.
Gideon Resnick: I think it’s also funny because it’s like, where, the social pressure to give a negative review to the sweet bear movie where he’s in a yellow coat—like you, you’d also have to be a maniac. Like who leaves that and is like: you know what this, this is not for me, I’m sorry, like, I did not get what I was expecting here.
Erin Ryan: You know, I would really pay a lot of money, if I were like, if there was like an adult Make A Wish foundation and I had some kind of rare disease in my life is going to end as a result, my make a wish was that The New York Times’s A.O. Scott would write a scathing review of the next Paddington movie.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: With the headline “Fuck This Bear.” Like a Pete Welles takedown-style review of Paddington. I think that would be great. And I would be able to die a happy woman if that happened.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. A.O., I hope you’re listening and you do this Make A Wish for Erin. [laughs] But just like that, we checked our temps. Stay safe, rate movies appropriately if you like them, and we’ll be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: Attorneys representing the family of Andrew Brown Jr. have released an independent autopsy report showing that North Carolina police fatally shot him in the back of the head as he attempted to drive away last week. This comes a day after Brown’s relatives were shown a redacted version of body camera footage of the shooting. Members of Brown’s family are describing his killing as an execution. And one lawyer who viewed the 20-second portion of the footage said officers opened fire on Brown while he had both hands on the steering wheel of his car. The FBI Charlotte Field Office confirmed yesterday that it has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting. This killing of yet another Black man prompted days of protests and calls for justice in North Carolina, with many decrying the lack of transparency about the incident, what led to Brown’s death, and the fact that the body camera footage has not been made public.
Erin Ryan: Terrible, terrible, tragic and horrible thing to have happening once again. Last week, a false story about Joe Biden’s climate plan pushed by conservative media led many Republicans to think their beef was under attack, believing or pretending to believe that the president would restrict red meat consumption to four pounds per person per year. That seems like a lot of red meat. But regardless, they predictably took to social media to brag about their plans to unhinge their jaws like snakes and choke down the most cinder block-ass steaks available, or something along those lines. Why don’t you just swallow a cow hole, you guys, your jaws already unhinged. That all tees-up an announcement yesterday by Condé Nast’s recipe website Epicurious. The site’s editors said they would no longer publish new recipes containing beef, citing environmental concerns like the fact that almost 15% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the world’s livestock. Reactions to the announcement were mixed, with some animal rights groups like PETA applauding it, while others suggested that flattening the discourse to “beef = bad” ignores small-scale producers who are minimizing the environmental impact of their farms. It will not be good once conservatives find out that Joe Biden moonlights as the features editor for Epicurious. He has 24 hours to remove that from his LinkedIn. My solution to this is people should just eat more deer. Venison is good, and deer are everywhere and in many places a menace, and we should be eating them instead of cows. But you know, I’m not the president or the managing editor of Epicurious.
Gideon Resnick: Not yet. I mean, let’s see, let’s see if he removes it from his LinkedIn. We’ll find out. We’re going to have to make a word for the opposite of a vaccine passport, because one private school in Miami, Florida, is flat-out banning teachers who have been vaccinated. The co-founder of the Centner Academy, Leila Centner, cited false claims that vaccinated people can transmit the vaccine to others as if via Bluetooth, or cause people around them to have reproductive issues. She wrote, quote “even among our population, we have at least three women with menstrual cycles impacted after having spent time with a vaccinated person.” Nice to know that the anti-vaxx community is about to become even more isolated. This move ultimately isn’t so surprising from the Centner Academy, which advertises, quote “medical freedom from mandated vaccines” on its website, and welcomed to anti-vax activists like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak earlier this year. Children, I’m sure, went wild for their favorite politician’s son who was banned from Instagram.
Erin Ryan: A Russian man in China was legally obligated to be a big celebrity. He was convinced to appear on a singing reality show called Produce Camp 2021, then spent the last three months begging fans to vote him off because he hated being on the show and couldn’t break his contract. Vlad Ivanov had been working on the show as a translator. His boyish good looks led producers to invite him to compete, which meant training as a performer and eventually joining an 11-member boy band. Ivanov quickly came to regret signing up, and he made his feelings known. His subtle hints to viewers included lines like, quote “I don’t want to be in this group.” Quote “Please don’t make me go to the finals, I’m tired” and quote “while others want to get an A, I want to get an F, as it stands for freedom.” Iconic, iconic. Ivanov’s performances also brought the unmistakable energy of a man trapped in a singing prison. Here he is rapping in Russian:
[singing in Russian]
Gideon Resnick: It’s not bad. It’s honestly not that bad.
Erin Ryan: It sounds just like talking. I don’t know. I’m not a big Russian rap fan. Tragically, Vlad’s attitude made him an unlikely anti-hero with a dedicated fan base that financed billboards of him in a dozen Chinese cities, and pushed him through to the finals. He’s now back in Russia, starring in the terrifying reality show that we call “being alive.” This would be the greatest episode of Black Mirror of all time.
Gideon Resnick: Oh, yeah.
Erin Ryan: Better even than San Junipero, I think.
Gideon Resnick: “Please don’t make me go to the finals, I’m tired” is one of the best lines I’ve ever heard in my life.
Erin Ryan: I want to shirt of that. I want a T-shirt of that.
Gideon Resnick: I will buy the shirt and get him back on the show. But those are the headlines.
Gideon Resnick: Two more things before we go. First, a quick correction on yesterday’s story that the Justice Department launched an investigation into the Louisville, Kentucky Police Department after officers killed Breonna Taylor last year. She was in bed awake when officers raided her apartment, but not asleep, as we had mentioned.
Erin Ryan: Second, join Crooked for a live Group Thread tonight of Biden’s joint address to Congress. Biden is expected to discuss the economic recovery, combating the coronavirus pandemic and addressing global challenges. Don’t miss out on our live reactions. Subscribe to the Crooked YouTube channel today.
Gideon Resnick: That’s all for today, if you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, transmit your vaccine via Bluetooth, and tell your friends to listen.
Erin Ryan: And if you’re into reading, and not just the lyrics to Vlad’s Russian raps like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Erin Ryan.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And congrats, Paddington 2!
Gideon Resnick: You have a lovely coat and a lovely demeanor. And you’re going places
Erin Ryan: And he’s Peruvian.
Gideon Resnick: Three great things!
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 Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes and me.
Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.