In This Episode
- On Thursday, The Food and Drug Administration approved the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the United States. The landmark move could help make contraception more accessible across the country at a time when access to birth control and abortion is being restricted.
- The Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. In a 20-page demand letter sent to the company this week, the FTC said it was investigating if OpenAI “engaged in unfair or deceptive practices” that could harm consumers, including reputational harm.
- And in headlines: Hollywood actors are officially on strike, Fox News is facing a new defamation lawsuit from a Trump supporter who attended the January 6th riots, and a group of families and doctors are suing Texas over the state’s new law banning gender-affirming care for minors.
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, July 14th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What A Day where we are here to fess up. We are the ones who sent the coke to the White House.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, we did it, Joe. We did it, Joe. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, Hollywood actors are officially on strike. Plus, Fox News is facing a new defamation lawsuit from get this, a man who attended the January 6th riots.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh. But first, the FDA approved the first over-the-counter birth control pill called Opill. That means for the first time in the United States, Opill will be able to be sold without a prescription. It is a move that could significantly expand access to contraception in this country, which is something that is desperately needed, especially now.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, with the Supreme Court doing all that they have done. So tell us more about this Opill.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So this is not a new medication. Opill was actually first approved for prescription use 50 years ago. So it has been around. It’s a mini pill that only uses the hormone progestin and it has a very long history of safety and efficacy. Right off the bat, Opill will become the most effective method of birth control that is available over the counter, more so than condoms or any other nonprescription methods. So this is really an exciting development. As for how this decision happened, back in May, a panel of 17 independent advisers to the FDA, including OB-GYNs, adolescent medicine specialists, a breast cancer specialist and experts in consumer behavior and health literacy, all voted unanimously that the benefits of making this pill available to people without a prescription far outweighed any risks.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, they didn’t ask for our votes, but we could have got them up to 18, 19, you know.
Priyanka Aribindi: 18 and 19 right here. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: So is this happening in response to the Supreme Court decision overturning the right to abortion last year?
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, accessibility to contraception has become even more important without Roe in place, it’s received way more attention. But this had been in the works long before the court ruled last summer. It’s a decision that had widespread support from groups like the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Family Physicians, before SCOTUS even ruled on Dobbs. Estimates say that 45% of the 6 million annual pregnancies in the U.S. are actually unintended. That is a very high percentage, and especially for people of color or those with low incomes. There are greater hurdles associated with getting a prescription and picking it up. With this, you don’t have to pay to see a doctor or take time off of work or get child care to go to a doctor’s appointment. Birth control would just be available for anyone to buy at pharmacies and drugstores all over the country. It would make things a lot easier, especially for busy people.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: According to the pill’s manufacturer, the Dublin based Perrigo Company, Opill, will most likely become available in stores and online in the U.S. early next year. There will be no age restrictions on its sale. However, potentially very big catch here. The company has not yet said how much this will cost consumers, what the retail sticker price will be. Obviously, if that price is not relatively inexpensive, despite the fact that it will be available on shelves, it won’t be accessible to everyone who needs it. So that will definitely be a problem.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely right. We know there’s a very long history of medical companies, you know, overcharging for, you know, these medicines. So hopefully that doesn’t happen here as well.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. I mean, the company has said that they are committed to keeping things affordable. So we will see if they stick with that commitment or what that commitment means to them exactly.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right now, the Affordable Care Act requires health insurance plans to cover prescription contraception, but that requirement isn’t in place for over-the-counter methods. But lawmakers are working on it. Under President Biden’s recent executive order to strengthen access to contraception. The government may start taking steps to require insurers to cover over-the-counter birth control. Senate Democrats also reintroduced legislation that would require that coverage. So we will keep you posted on these developments. What this price ends up being as we continue to learn more. But overall, very exciting development.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And now on to the potentially wild world of artificial intelligence. You all have heard us talk a bit before about various concerns around AI from the impact it can and is having on local news to it telling people to break up with their partners. I don’t know if you all remember that story. It was wild. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: That was bad.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right? So bad. Well, the Federal Trade Commission has a few questions of their own about this uncharted territory. And they have now opened an investigation specifically into OpenAI. That’s the company behind ChatGPT and the FTC is looking into whether the chat bot has violated consumer protection laws by putting folks’ reputations and their personal data at risk. The investigation is being called by the Washington Post who broke the story, quote, “The most potent regulatory threat to date to OpenAI’s business in the United States.”
Priyanka Aribindi: All right. Detail for us what exactly the FTC is concerned about here. I imagine a number of things.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. And it is a number of things. So the FTC sent a 20 page letter to the company demanding some answers to and documents about a number of things. I’ll highlight a few of them really quickly. So apparently ChatGPT and its siblings have been slandering or defaming folks. So part of the investigation by the FTC is asking for detailed descriptions of all complaints the company has received of its products, making, quote, “false, misleading, disparaging or harmful statements about people.” They basically want to see if the company has done anything unfair or deceptive that leads to reputational harm for folks. The FTC also asks the company to provide records related to a security incident that happened back in March in which a bug in the system leaked people’s payment information and chat history to other folks. Though the company said the number of folks impacted was, quote, “extremely low.” The FTC is like, well, like, how low? Prove it. They want them–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. [laugh]
Tre’vell Anderson: –to prove exactly how low that is, right?
Priyanka Aribindi: Please lay that out for us.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. And then lastly, they’re also asking about how the bots were trained, which I find interesting, because there was a headline the other day about comedian and author Sarah Silverman being the lead plaintiff in a pair of lawsuits against OpenAI, the company in question here, as well as Facebook’s parent company, Meta. They accused the companies of illegally using their copyrighted works in this case, Sarah Silverman’s 2010 best selling memoir, The Bedwetter Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee to train their artificial intelligence systems without consent or compensation. So this investigation could be, you know, not so great news for OpenAI, at least in that regard.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. I mean, I think we will all be waiting for the answers to some of these questions. So very curious about what turns up here. But why exactly is this investigation such a big deal? Can you explain it for us?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, as the Post also noted, the FTC is basically like the federal government’s top Silicon Valley cop because they’ve already made the likes of Meta, Amazon and Twitter pay these really big fines for similar alleged violations of consumer protection laws. So they serve as sort of checks and balances while we wait on the lawmakers in Congress to figure out how to regulate this new technology. Because right now, like I said, this is all uncharted territory. And this potential harm that we’re talking about that AI can have, by the way, is something that OpenAI’s own CEO Sam Altman has talked about publicly. Back in May, he actually testified before Congress and said, quote, “If this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong.” And so he actually was advocating in his testimony in favor of regulations, including–
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: –a new government agency charged with creating standards for the field. Now, perhaps he wasn’t expecting the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation specifically into his company. But, you know, here we are.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. He thought he was getting ahead of it by asking for help. Probably not, you’re right, what he expected. But I don’t feel bad for him. I don’t feel bad at all.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely not. He’ll be all right. More on all of this very soon. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: It is official, everybody. SAG-AFTRA is on strike. Union leaders announced yesterday that the Guild and the AMPTP did not reach a deal before the Wednesday strike deadline and the walkout was announced Thursday afternoon in a press conference. Take a listen to SAG President Fran Drescher. Yes, that Fran Drescher going off about her and her fellow worker’s disappointment in the AMPTP’s unwillingness to meet their demands.
[clip of Fran Drescher, SAG president] So the jig is up. AMPTP, we stand tall. You have to wake up and smell the coffee. We are labor and we stand tall and we demand respect.
Priyanka Aribindi: I have a whole new respect for Fran Drescher after learning about her role as, you know, [laughter]SAG president, she’s awesome. Like, what can’t this woman do?
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. Shout out to the nanny okay? [laugh] From now on, actors and other members of the Guild are not allowed to do any on camera work, including ADR and voice acting. They cannot do any promotional appearances such as tours, interviews, film festivals and fan expos, including this year’s upcoming San Diego Comic-Con. Background work is also off the table, so no auditions, rehearsals or costume fittings, no talent contracts and more. And as we said on the show yesterday, this marks the first WGA, SAG-AFTRA double strike in over 60 years, and it’s sure to worsen the widespread disruption in the American entertainment industry that has been without its writers for over two months thus far.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, seriously, you have no writers, you have no actors. I mean, aside from the crews and the people who work hard to make these shows and movies happen, you have nobody. You don’t really have Hollywood without them. So please, uh to the powers that be, accept their demands. The Justice Department on Wednesday said that a new Mississippi law discriminates against residents of the state’s majority-Black capital city of Jackson. You’ll remember that we previewed this sinister law last month before it was set to take effect on July 1st. But long story short, it gives state officials the power to appoint judges and prosecutors in Jackson’s court system unilaterally, rather than allowing residents to democratically elect the people who run the city’s already overburdened criminal justice system. The law also expands the state’s police department’s presence in Jackson, a city that residents say is already overpoliced. The NAACP filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Mississippi shortly after the law was signed by Republican Governor Tate Reeves back in April, accusing lawmakers of treating the city of Jackson differently from the rest of the state. It appears that that is exactly what they are doing. And the Justice Department is now seeking to join that lawsuit. It’s important to note, though, that the department is not backing the challenge against police expansion in the state, just the court stuff.
Tre’vell Anderson: Interesting.
Priyanka Aribindi: The embattled law is temporarily blocked in court at the moment. Now, it is up to the district judge who issued the injunction to approve or deny the department’s request to join the NAACP’s lawsuit.
Tre’vell Anderson: Fox News is facing a new defamation lawsuit from a man who attended the January 6th riots. Ray Epps, a two time Trump voter, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, accusing the network and its former host, Tucker Carlson, of airing false claims about Epps with, quote, “knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for truth or falsity.” Epps states that Carlson repeatedly spread falsehoods about him being a federal agent who helped instigate the insurrection on the Capitol. And Epps has testified under oath that he has no connection to the FBI. The unsubstantiated on air claims by Tucker Carlson fueled a conspiracy theory that Epps helped incite the Capitol attack, which Epps said led to death threats and forced him to shut down his business. Video footage shows Epps urging people to enter the Capitol on January 6th, but he claims the information he saw on Fox News inspired his decision to go to the protests. According to the suit, Epps is currently facing charges from the Department of Justice for his involvement in the January 6th riots. And I just have to say I love that they are fighting themselves and taking down each other so we don’t have to.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, please uh rip each other’s heads off. Nothing would make us happier. [laughter] The House of Representatives voted yesterday to overturn a Pentagon policy, ensuring abortion access to service members regardless of where they are stationed. The vote was 221 to 213, pretty much right down party lines in favor of attaching the abortion proposal to the annual defense policy bill. The House also voted to adopt an amendment that would bar the military’s health plan from covering gender transition surgeries and gender affirming hormone therapy. This is not good. Conservatives tucked these measures into the typically bipartisan defense bill, making it way less likely to pass as it heads to the Democrat controlled Senate. Besides the ultra conservative ultra awful amendments, the defense bill would grant a 5.2% pay raise to military personnel and establish a special inspector general to oversee U.S. aid to Ukraine. Representative Katherine Clarke of Massachusetts, the Democratic whip, said in a floor speech, quote, “The MAGA majority is using our defense bill to get one step closer to the only thing they really care about. A nationwide abortion ban.”
Tre’vell Anderson: A group of Texan families and doctors filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to block the state’s new law that bans gender affirming care for minors. They’re arguing that the law violates parental rights and discriminates against transgender teens. Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 14 into law last month, preventing transgender minors from accessing hormone therapies, puberty blockers and transition surgeries. As of now, it’s set to go into effect on September 1st. And yet every major medical organization, including the American Medical Association, has opposed bans like these and advocated for youth medical care when administered properly. At least 20 states have passed similar laws, but about half of those aren’t being enforced either because of legal blocking or because they haven’t gone into effect yet. Also, let’s not forget that last year Abbott became the first governor to order investigations into families who are receiving gender affirming care, which was later halted by a judge thankfully. According to the lawsuit, a doctor who is also a plaintiff said on behalf of himself and his patients, quote, “I am gravely concerned about my patients ability to survive, much less thrive. If SB 14 takes effect.” We’ve been covering, you know, these trans bans for ever. And it’s always interesting that, you know, they think they know better than the people who, you know, went to school to study these things.
Priyanka Aribindi: Then every single expert. It really is it’s wild to watch in real time where your like everybody is saying this, but that’s I guess the whole Republican Party kind of at this point.
Tre’vell Anderson: They get off on gaslighting all of us. And those are the headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Join the picket lines and–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Tre’vell Anderson: –tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you are into reading and not just bad advice from AI bots like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[spoken together] And stay cool out there.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously, it’s going to be a scorcher for millions and millions of us, so I don’t know, stay inside.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m going to say stay inside, find some AC, find a pool. Do what you got to do.
Priyanka Aribindi: Do what you have to do. [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers. Our intern is Ryan Cochran, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]