Let’s TikTok About It | Crooked Media
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March 23, 2023
What A Day
Let’s TikTok About It

In This Episode

  • TikTok CEO Shou Chew testified before Congress Thursday. Lawmakers grilled him for more than five hours over their concerns about the app’s safety, and its ties to China.
  • The Michigan state appeals court ruled that the parents of the Oxford High School shooter can face trial for involuntary manslaughter. They’re accused of ignoring warning signs before the attack, and could be the first parents to be held accountable for a mass shooting committed by their own child.
  • And in headlines: President Biden made his first presidential trip to Canada, a new report found that reported antisemitic incidents and hate crimes in the U.S. hit an all-time high in 2022, and a Wyoming judge temporarily blocked the state’s near-total abortion ban.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, March 24th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is what A Day coming to you the morning after the season ten Vanderpump Rules reunion taping where Raquel and Tom were spotted on a smoke break, y’all. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, this isn’t drama that I typically partake in, Juanita, but you all have made it so interesting for me to witness on Twitter. [music break]


Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show, the Donald Trump indictment waiting game continues. Plus, Brandy is once again putting on her glass slippers to play the Black Cinderella. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The only one that matters, of course. But first, TikTok has gone to Congress. Yesterday, the viral video app’s CEO Shou Chew sat for a roughly five hour hearing that some reports are saying was perhaps more intense than most other tech CEOs who sat down before lawmakers. As a reminder, the reason why this hearing even happened is because of the host of concerns elected officials have about the app. That includes everything from the quote unquote “deadly challenges” on the app like NyQuil Chicken. Remember that one, Juanita? 


Juanita Tolliver: Yikes. Ugh.


Tre’vell Anderson: Exactly. Exactly. The right response, so they’re concerned about the NyQuil chicken of it all. They’re concerned about child safety. They’re concerned about misinformation on the platform. But the biggest concern of all, one that has both the Republicans and the Democrats united in this inquisition on the app is about TikTok being a potential national security threat because the app is owned by the Chinese Internet giant Bytedance, they’re basically worried that China is using or could use TikTok to spy on the 150 million users on the platform in the U.S. and spread propaganda. 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean, when we see Chinese President Xi yucking it up with Vladimir Putin, I think the concerns are warranted here. So what exactly did TikTok’s CEO have to say? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, you know, he did his best to present the app as an independent private company that is not influenced by the Chinese government. He also repeatedly pointed to efforts the app has taken to protect the data of Americans, including a plan called Project Texas that involves storing the data of American users on domestic servers run by the Texas based software giant Oracle. He said, quote, “The bottom line is this, American data is stored on American soil by an American company overseen by American personnel.” But of course, lawmakers didn’t really buy it. For example, you know, one of the potential solutions to this issue that have been floated by the Biden administration is that TikTok should be sold to another company. Side note, Trump tried to do the same thing unsuccessfully when he was president fyi. But just hours before the hearing, China’s Commerce Ministry had said that it opposed such an idea which American lawmakers basically said was, you know, proof that the Chinese government has influence over the app. Other elected officials also cited reports that TikTok parent company Bytedance, has surveilled some American journalists in the past as evidence of their abuse of power, as well as issues with user security. Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers who was the chair of the House Energy Committee, said, quote, “We do not trust TikTok will ever embrace American values. TikTok has repeatedly chosen the path for more control, more surveillance, and more manipulation. Your platform should be banned.” 


Juanita Tolliver: So is TikTok getting banned or nah? 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, unclear. Too soon to tell. You know, all of those things we often have to say when we’re talking– 


Juanita Tolliver: Okay. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –about, you know, the folks over in D.C.. What we do know is that the app has been already banned, right, from government devices federally, as well as in many states already. And we also know that the hearing didn’t do anything to improve TikTok’s potential future in the U.S.. But interestingly enough, one of the CEO’s talking points was that a ban would be a strike against free expression, which advocates here in the States have largely agreed to. The executive director at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, for example, said, quote, “Banning or restricting access to social media is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes, and we should be very wary about giving the U.S. government that kind of power.” 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean, I get it. Protecting our freedoms is a big deal. Also, protecting our national security is a factor here. So I’m going to keep an eye on this, how it pans out. But let’s move from Washington, D.C. to Michigan, where yesterday the state appeals court ruled that the parents of the teenager who shot and killed four students and wounded seven other people at Oxford High School in 2021 can face trial for involuntary manslaughter. This ruling is being described as groundbreaking, as these are reportedly the first parents to be held accountable for a mass shooting committed by their child. And the court noted in its ruling that, quote, “the murders would not have happened if the parents hadn’t purchased a gun for the shooter or if they had taken him home from school on the day of the shooting.” The unanimous ruling demonstrates that the appeals court heard enough evidence to allow a trial to proceed, but they made it clear that the legal threshold for evidence at this stage was fairly low under state law. And that quote, “whether a jury actually finds that causation has been proven after a full trial is an issue separate from what we decide.” 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. So explain this for me. How exactly did these charges against the parents come about? 


Juanita Tolliver: Look, it all goes back to Black Friday in 2021, when James and Jennifer Crumbly purchased a gun for their son. Based on their social media posts, they were all very excited about the purchase, but they bought him a gun in spite of the fact that they knew their son was struggling with his mental health. According to Oakland County assistant prosecutor Joseph Shada. A few days after the purchase, a teacher caught the shooter searching for ammunition on his phone and contacted his mother, who then texted him, quote, “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.” 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yikes. 


Juanita Tolliver: The very next day, the administrators called the Crumbley’s to the school after a teacher found a violent note and disturbing drawings depicting bullets and blood. According to reports, the Crumbley’s were instructed to get their son counseling within the next 48 hours, and they resisted taking him home. After that meeting, the shooter carried out the attack. Judge Michael Riordon said parents shouldn’t be hauled off to court for subpar, odd or eccentric care of their kids. But the evidence against the Crumbley’s is much more serious. Ultimately, their charges stem from failing to secure a gun and ignoring the mental health needs of their son before the shooting. While the Crumbley’s lawyers did not comment after the ruling on Thursday, it’s understood that they will likely appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. After hearing all of that, it definitely seems like the parents should bear some responsibility– 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –here. They continuously ignored any of the flags, right that that– 


Juanita Tolliver: All the flags. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. [laugh] All of the flags that should have signaled that this wasn’t a good idea. Now, we know Michigan Democrats won a trifecta in the 2022 midterms. So what action has been taken at the state level to prevent minors from having this type of access to firearms? 


Juanita Tolliver: So Michigan Democrats have wasted no time in working to address gun violence prevention. And on Wednesday, the Michigan House approved a safe storage bill that would require gun owners to keep weapons locked away from youth. If a minor obtains the firearm and the gun owner is found to have not complied with the safe storage law. The gun owner could face a misdemeanor or a felony charge depending on how the minor uses the weapon. Only five Republicans in the Michigan House voted for the bill. Meanwhile, other Republicans in the state House compared the bill to, you guessed it, “the Holocaust”. I have no idea what mental gymnastics or anti-Semitism led them to that conclusion, but alas. 


Tre’vell Anderson: They are always, you know, making random weird associations that don’t actually– 


Juanita Tolliver: Sickening. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, fit. It’s it’s really absurd. Okay. So should we expect to see more parents held accountable for violent crimes committed by their children? 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean, it’s unclear right now. If more states passed safe storage legislation like what’s making its way through the Michigan legislature, then yes. But what we should all keep an eye on is what precedent will be set in this trial in terms of whether parents will be held liable for crimes committed by their children as a result of gross negligence and whether parents have a legal duty to inform schools when their children have access to a gun. More on all of this soon, but that’s the latest for now. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You can put away the party streamers, the good champagne and your dancing shoes for now, because any indictment that’s coming for Donald Trump won’t happen until at least next week. The New York grand jury investigating whether the former president paid hush money to an adult film star won’t meet again until Monday. A source told The New York Times the panel convenes to discuss the case on Mondays and Wednesdays, takes a break from hearing evidence on Thursdays, but doesn’t meet at all on Fridays. So mark your calendars accordingly. In the meantime, Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg yesterday clapped back at demands from House Republicans to hand over any documents or testimony in the case. In a letter to Representative Jim Jordan and others on the House Judiciary Committee, Bragg called the request, quote, “an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution.” 


Juanita Tolliver: Despite being in the Oval Office for more than two years, President Biden made his very first presidential trip to Canada yesterday. He met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and addressed Canada’s parliament to underscore the relationship between the two neighbors. But just before President Biden arrived in Ottawa, the U.S. and Canada reportedly struck a deal that will allow Canadian officials to turn away asylum seekers at an unofficial crossing point between upstate New York and Quebec. In return, Canada has promised to accept thousands of asylum seekers trying to enter the U.S. from its border with Mexico. Details of the plan are expected to be announced later today. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Anti-Semitic incidents and hate crimes in the U.S. hit an all time high last year. That’s according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League, which found that reported cases surged by 36% in 2022 compared to the year before. It’s the highest number of cases the ADL has recorded since it started keeping track in 1979. The group has warned that anti-Semitic incidents have steadily risen over the past five years, and the latest numbers match data gathered by the federal government. 


Juanita Tolliver: Spotify has given us yet another reason to hit the skip button on their nonsense. It’s been over a year since Spotify’s CEO pledged to spend $100 million dollars for its so-called creator equity fund. But so far, the company has spent less than 10% of that total. Spotify announced the initiative last February after the streaming audio platform inked a reported $200 million dollar deal with podcaster Joe Rogan, who has promoted COVID misinformation and used racial slurs on his show. Just casual, you know. The fund was meant to develop and license more music and content from historically marginalized groups. And according to sources who spoke with Bloomberg, the initiative has been slowed down by hiring delays, layoffs within the company, and, quote, “shifting priorities”. Sounds like their plan to promote the marginalized conveniently got lost in the margins. 


Tre’vell Anderson: As they often do. Okay. 


Juanita Tolliver: Come on. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Abortion will be legal again in Wyoming, at least for the time being. This comes after a judge temporarily blocked the state’s near-total abortion ban, which took effect over the weekend. Reproductive rights groups recently sued over the new law, arguing that individual health care decisions are explicitly protected under Wyoming’s state constitution, even though the language in the abortion ban itself argues the procedure is not a form of health care, which I don’t know how they make sense of that. But here we are. 


Juanita Tolliver: Go figure. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And to make things more complicated, Wyoming passed a separate ban on medication abortions this week, which could take effect in July, though that law is also being challenged in court. 


Juanita Tolliver: Actress and singer Brandy and her Prince Charming Palo Montalban are reprising their iconic roles 26 years after playing the leads in the 1997 television movie, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Black Cinderella, y’all. [laughter] Yesterday, Disney Plus revealed first looks of Brandy and Montalban as Queen Cinderella and King Charming on the set of the latest installment of their Descendants franchise, which centers around the children of Disney’s villains. And the monarchy is looking better than ever. Disney Plus’s new film Descendants Rise of Red, will center around their child, Chloe and her friendship with Red, the queen of Heart’s daughter. That all sounds great, but real talk, if you’re listening to this and you haven’t seen the 1997 Cinderella, first of all, how dare you? Like, I’m scoffing, audible scoff from me. [laughter] But secondly, the TV movie was groundbreaking at the time for its colorblind casting and not to mention its incredible music, its giving Billy Porter singing Impossible. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Impossible. You know how he did it. 


Juanita Tolliver: C’mon. You better do it for the show. [laughter] In terms of the cast, we’re talking queen Whoopi Goldberg, King Victor Garber, and none other than the great Whitney Houston as the fairy godmother herself. Do yourself a favor this weekend. Kick back your feet, fire up Disney Plus and have yourself an impossibly pleasant time, y’all. I love, love, love every bit of this. Also, Brandy was looking like she has not aged a day in these photos. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. She looked so good in those photos. Also, we don’t we don’t recognize any other Cinderella. None of the others. It doesn’t matter. 


Juanita Tolliver: At all. 


Tre’vell Anderson: This is the only one. And those are the headlines. It’s Friday, WAD squad. And we’re back with our favorite end of the week segment, Rent Free. 


Juanita Tolliver: Okay. You know, I’m new to Fridays, Tre’vell. So break it down. What exactly is happening here? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Glad you asked. This is our little reminder for the people out there that we also put out a newsletter every night. And with everything going on right now, that’s not an easy job. So we’re here to help our associate editor, Julia Claire, process her thoughts about the one thing that’s been living rent free in her head this week. Julia, thanks for joining us. 


Julia Claire: Thank you for having me back again, processing my thoughts on the week, processing my trauma from the week. It’s all it’s all happening here in the rent free segment of What A Day.


Tre’vell Anderson: We love that. 


Juanita Tolliver: So what do you have on deck for us this week? 


Julia Claire: Obviously, we’ve been, you know, kind of in the midst of the news whiplash of whether or not Trump is going to be indicted this week or if he just trolled us into believing that he was. But he’s definitely used it for his advantage. He’s raised $1.5 million dollars from it. The thing that’s been living rent free in my head is that even his most diehard supporters are not really responding to his calls for them to go out in the streets and protest. Obviously, you know, with January 6th and everything that happened, I expected there to be a little bit more action. But only 50 people showed up in New York at a protest to support President Trump, and they were far outnumbered by counterprotesters. And then there was an impromptu protest in front of Trump Tower. And then they were all accusing each other of being feds. It’s total chaos in in MAGA world. The alt right message boards are lighting up with ambivalence about it. This is really the key. The guy who basically created the Stop the Steal campaign, Ali Alexander wrote this on his social media, previously, I had said if Trump was arrested or under the threat of a perp walk, 100,000 patriots should shut down all routes to Mar-a-Lago. Now I’m retired. I’ll pray for him, though. 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean, I guess that’s a positive pivot for the country, even though these– 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: –same people are clearly still sending Trump coins. 1.5 million since he trolled us all, is what I what I’m latching on to. Because even if they don’t show up, they’re still sending him money. 


Julia Claire: It’s just very funny that a lot of America’s preeminent MAGA chuds are are kind of losing steam on Donald and that he he just doesn’t have the juice that he used to. 


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s a good thing, right? 


Juanita Tolliver: It is a good thing. But, you know, he’s back on calling Ron DeSantis Ron Desanctimonious. And meatball Ron was so much better. He really [laughter] fumbled the ball with that. 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, it’s definitely going to be a long 2024 election cycle, so I’m sure he’s going to come out with a lot of good nicknames for Ron DeSantis. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. More to come, right? 


Julia Claire: Yeah, more hell to come. 


Juanita Tolliver: That was Crooked Associate editor Julia Claire, who scrolls through right wing websites to bring us all of the latest for the What A Day nightly newsletter, which if you haven’t already, you can subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. Julia, thanks so much for coming on the pod. 


Julia Claire: Thank you guys for having me once again. Have a great weekend. [music break]


Juanita Tolliver: One last thing before we go. You’ve heard her name in the credits and you’ve also heard a lot of interviews she’s produced for us here on WAD but today, we’re bidding farewell to our intrepid associate producer, Jazzi Marine. 


Tre’vell Anderson: From jumping on breaking news like no one’s business to helping us understand the deeper emotional ramifications of the Taylor Swift Ticketmaster debacle. Jazzi has been instrumental in all of the day to day work to bring you this very podcast, you know and love. So before she rides off into the LA sunset, we wanted to send her off with this. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Jazzi you can’t leave us. I truly can’t say enough good things about working with you. You have just been such a joy. I can’t wait to say that I knew you way back when. But we are going to miss you so much. 


Unspecified speaker number 1: Jazzi has always welcomed me with open arms when I’ve reentered the WAD squad. And I’ll miss her incredible taste in comfort movies and getting to see her blossom into the perfect dog mom for Yoshi. 


Unspecified speaker number 2: Jazzi. Your energy, your optimism, those jokes. Come on, man we’re going to miss you. 


Juanita Tolliver: Jazzi, girl, it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you on some of the best stories we’ve been telling on this show, from Shirley Chisholm to the descendants of the Clotilda. You helped me bring some great stories to life, and I’m going to miss you, friend. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Jazzi, why are you leaving me? Who am I going to talk to about, you know, foot surgeries now? Who’s going to be the counterweight when I’m talking so horribly about Taylor Swift? 


Leo Duran: Jazzi, this is Leo, your former EP. The WAD squad is not going to be the same without you because you were the team’s biggest cheerleader. Could always look to you to always be so excited and enthusiastic to cover whatever was happening in the news, no matter how good or bad it was. So best wishes to where you’re going next. We’ll miss you. 


Unspecified speaker number 3: Jazzi is an amazing producer who always thought about really good questions for our guests and also uh was in proximity to a lot of very good dogs and a peloton bike, which is rad. 


Unspecified speaker number 4: Jazzi. I want to say this for the entire world to hear. You were the only member of the WAD team to DoorDash me matzo ball soup when I was sick with the novel coronavirus. And for that and so many other things, you are truly the best. 


Unspecified speaker number 5: Jazzi. I’m going to miss our trips to the snack closet at the office watching you stress eat Skittles when we’re on deadline. Most of all, I’ll miss that same smile you gave me on my first day at WAD that you’ve worn every day since. 


Juanita Tolliver: Jazzi. Thank you for everything you’ve done for the WAD squad. And we wish you all the best on your next adventure. We love you. 


Jazzi Marine: Guys. I’m fully sobbing. [laughter] I could not [?]. I love you all [kiss sound]. [music break] 


Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, make it home before midnight to avoid turning into a pumpkin and tell your friends to listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading, and not just Brandy’s skin care routine like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And goodbye Jazzi. 


Juanita Tolliver: We really do adore you, friend. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Don’t leave me, please. [laughter] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman and our executive producers are Lita Martinez, Michael Martinez, and Sandy Girard. Production support comes from Leo Duran, Ari Schwartz, and Matt DeGroot with additional promotional and social support from Ewa Okulate, Julia Beach and Jordan Silver. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.