In This Episode
- The CDC said fully vaccinated Americans can safely gather indoors together, and laid out other guidelines for our current stage of the pandemic. The daily rate of vaccination continues to increase, with a record of 2.9 million shots being given last Saturday.
- The jury selection process in the trial of Derek Chauvin was delayed yesterday due to a dispute over whether a third degree murder charge can be brought. Finding impartial jurors will also prove to be difficult, considering the high-profile nature of the case.
- And in headlines: Biden orders the Department of Education to review changes to Title 9 made under Trump, pervert rat Pepe Le Pew won’t appear in Space Jam 2, and Papa John’s 20-month anti-racism education.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Tuesday, March 9th. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: And Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, where we are cautioning our listeners against buying DIY vaccines off of Etsy.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, it’s really cute to have bespoke things, but is it cute to get a bespoke vaccine that doesn’t have any vaccine in it? I don’t think so.
Gideon Resnick: No. No, it’s not.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, an update on jury selection in the Derek Chauvin trial, then some headlines.
Akilah Hughes: But first, the latest.
[clip of Rochelle Walensky] If you and a friend or you and a family member are both vaccinated, you can have dinner together wearing masks without distancing. You can visit your grandparents if you have been vaccinated and they have been too.
Akilah Hughes: Oh, my gosh. Did you guys hear the word dinner with other people? [laughs].
Gideon Resnick: Amazing.
Akilah Hughes: That was CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky laying out the new guidelines about what vaccinated Americans can and can’t do after their shots, which could also lead to a new kind of spread across the country: FOMO. That’s right. You all gonna be missing out. OK, but seriously, these recommendations were highly anticipated and teased for the past few days. There is nothing crazy surprising in them, but it’s good to have official guidance. So, Gideon, how would you break down these rules?
Gideon Resnick: I would break them down first by saying: seeing a human in my home who does not live here is going to be nuts. I’m going to have to get over that hump at some point. But here are some of the big takeaways from this. For vaccinated-on-vaccinated situations, the CDC is saying that fully-vaccinated Americans, which means two weeks after a second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one J&J shot, can gather with each other indoors without masks or distancing for dinners, like we were talking about. For vaccinated-on-unvaccinated situations, they said that fully-vaccinated people can visit indoors with unvaccinated people from one household as long as no one that is unvaccinated is at risk for serious illness. That point is basically for grandparents or older people generally who might want to see their kids and grandkids. Then for vaccinated-on-a-COVID-exposure type situation, the CDC also said that a fully-vaccinated person who has been exposed to a suspected or known case of COVID-19, in most cases does not have to quarantine or be tested if they don’t develop symptoms. So overall, great, great news, but mostly guidance about what to do in private settings with select people.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and probably don’t go visit someone you know has COVID. [laughs] I just—seems like it goes without saying. And then what’s their guidance about it all in a public setting?
Gideon Resnick: It’s kind of the same. It didn’t really change much here. The CDC is still telling vaccinated people to wear masks in public settings, social distance and other precautions. Also that vaccinated people should still avoid gatherings with multiple households, as well as large and medium-sized gatherings. But it’s still unclear what constitutes those. Then also, the CDC is not updating travel guidance, which basically says people should avoid nonessential trips even if they are vaccinated.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, so it’s like they don’t want to open the floodgates here, but they also want to give people a little something to look forward to. You know, if you got the vaccine, you don’t want to just be sitting in your house doing the same thing you’re doing now. What is the result?
Gideon Resnick: Yes, it has to feel like we’re going in some direction. I completely agree. Walensky, to that point, characterized all of this as a, quote “first step”. And it seems to reflect recent and growing evidence that suggests that fully-vaccinated people are less likely to spread COVID, though that has still not been fully ruled out, which is why there’s still caution here. The CDC also said that the guidelines could help encourage people to actually get vaccinated. There had been some criticism at how slowly the CDC moved in providing these updates for that exact reason—if people were led to think that getting vaccinated couldn’t change their day-to-day, they might be more hesitant to see the benefits of getting it. To your point, Akilah. We can probably expect more updates here as time goes on.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and on that note, vaccinations are still ramping up. So as we get further along in all of this, what numbers are you currently tracking?
Gideon Resnick: The number one, obviously, is the total vaccination number. That is the biggie I think we’re all looking at. According to the CDC, as of yesterday, about 60 million people have gotten at least one dose and over 31 million are fully vaccinated, which is about 9% of the population. That is great, great stuff. The second is that daily number. The daily numbers are climbing with a new record hit on Saturday of 2.9 million and a daily average recently over two million. So also moving in a good direction. And then another thing that I’ve been sort of kind of obsessing over, is vaccine hesitancy. So the Census Bureau did a survey that looked at responses of about 80,000 people in early February. It found that the number of people who said they will get vaccinated has gone up—which is good—but that younger people are more hesitant than older groups. So something like 70% of people 65 and older who haven’t been vaccinated say they will, versus less than half of people aged 18 to 39. The Wall Street Journal did a write up on this and noted that converting people who answered probably to definitely would make a very big difference in getting to herd immunity. So that is actually the good part of this. It is just one snapshot, but something to keep an eye on.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and as we learn more about this hesitancy, age is potentially a factor you mentioned, but also political affiliation. Unsurprising.
Gideon Resnick: It always is. Some polls have shown that Republican voters are less into the vaccine at this point. Almost a third in some of them say they don’t want to get the shot. The Washington Post recently talked to some of those voters and we’ll put a link in our show notes if you want to read more about why these folks are hesitant. One thing going forward here in the Biden administration’s public messaging will be figuring out how to get hesitant people on board and make sure we get to that herd immunity. Biden is also speaking in his first primetime presidential address later this week to mark basically a year since this all began in earnest in the United States. Crazy stuff. March 11th, the day of Biden’s address is actually when the World Health Organization called the spread of the coronavirus a pandemic last year, and then travel suspensions and lockdowns, Tom Hanks, all that stuff shortly followed. Yep. We don’t need to relive all of that today, but we’ll keep you updated—
Akilah Hughes: Not yet.
Gideon Resnick: Not yet—on this speech later in the week. But returning to a story we discussed last week, jury selection in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, was set to begin yesterday, but there was a delay in the process. Akilah, what happened there?
Akilah Hughes: OK, so it has to do with an ongoing dispute about whether or not to include a third charge against Chauvin. That would be third degree murder. He’s already facing two other charges, those being second degree murder and second degree manslaughter. Basically, on Friday, a court of appeals ruled that a third degree murder charge could be brought and Chauvin intends to appeal that to Minnesota Supreme Court. So jury selection is on pause until then.
Gideon Resnick: And then let’s talk about this third degree murder charge. Why is it so important in this case?
Akilah Hughes: So adding the charge could make getting a conviction on at least one charge easier for the prosecution. Third degree murder carries up to 25 years in prison, so it’s definitely going to be important moving forward. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is leading the prosecution, is doing his due diligence and finding every single possible thing they can throw at him to get justice here. It was Ellison’s team, actually, that filed to delay jury selection because Chauvin is in what they called a quote “heads I win, tails you lose scenario” because, say Chauvin takes his chances at trial: he could fail to be convicted, but he also could be convicted and then appeal that outcome by saying that the judge lacked jurisdiction when the jury selection began because of this outstanding murder charge situation. So, you know, damned if you don’t, damned if you don’t. And just FYI, it could take 30 days for the Supreme Court of Minnesota to rule, which inevitably pushes the trial all the way into the spring.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And so let’s talk about the jury selection part of this. This is one of the most high profile cases in the country’s history. Chauvin killed a man on video, a video that has been seen hundreds of millions of times and aired on TV news networks on a loop. How do they think they’ll find impartial jurors for this?
Akilah Hughes: Well, yeah, that’s the entire challenge here. So the courts are tasked with compiling an impartial jury. And unless you live under a rock, it’s kind of hard to have not formed any opinion whatsoever about this case unless you’re just deeply uninformed. Prospective jurors have been sent a questionnaire asking for views on Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, policing, and more, with 16 pages—and went as far as to ask if you attended a protest, and if you did, if you carried a sign and if so, what your sign said. So it’s unclear what would be seen as disqualifying, but in any case, the defense and the prosecution both have the power to request dismissal of any potential juror that they don’t see fit to weigh in. The jury selection process is supposed to resume today at 8 a.m. local time, but it absolutely could be delayed again. We’ll let you know what happens here. But one last thing and—all right, I’m sorry to be up on the soapbox again, I really am—but when we talk about this trial, please, please, please remember that this is the Derrick Chauvin trial. It’s not the George Floyd trial. Though they will likely be putting George Floyd’s character and past on trial, the charges are against Chauvin because he’s the one who killed a man on video. And it really does matter how he frame the discussion—looking at you media, looking at you individuals. And that’s the latest for now.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Tuesday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we’re talking about Sunday night’s Oprah interview with Harry and Meghan. There were some major revelations involving issues of racism within the royal family, shock, surprise, mental health and more. 17 million people tuned in and we haven’t really had a chance to discuss it yet. So Giddy, what were your thoughts?
Gideon Resnick: Oh, it, it was a lot. I didn’t watch the whole thing. I’ve mostly like read highlights after the fact. I will say as a person who doesn’t really follow the royal family stuff, it still was so shocking to me. Like even not knowing the ins and outs of it, just like every—even just the two or three accusations that you just referenced, like were crazy. I firmly defend Meghan Markle as a Northwestern alum more than any other Northwester alum, including myself.
Akilah Hughes: [laughs] There you go.
Gideon Resnick: That’s, that’s the one point of pride I will always come back to whenever there’s Meghan Markle news. But yeah, I mean, the stuff that the stuff that she was saying was awful. And like the moments where Oprah had the different headlines about, like, you know, the way that she’s been written about versus the way that Kate has been written about and stuff . . . it was damning. It was, it was awful. And it’s awful to see a person go through that.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, totally.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I also think, like we were saying this before, but when you watch just two hours of somebody doing an interview that is as talented as Oprah, you start to like understand a little bit of like, how it is that she is so good at this.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. She has like every, every single like human, like instinct when talking to people. It’s just like, it was really amazing to watch that.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Yeah. Well, OK, I’ve, I’ve said six thousand things. What were your takeaways from this?
Akilah Hughes: So many things. Yeah. I think to your point about just like how damning it is, it’s also really wild that they had this interview at all. I mean, Princess Diana did not do a lot of interviews. Famously, there was the one that happened before she died where she, you know, alluded to the problems within the royal family, but, you know, we all know how that ended. And she was absolutely not as like blunt as this interview was. So I think that, you know, just in that regard, I’m like, that’s a real risk. But also, they already fled the country, so it’s like that’s a real risk. So it’s shocking. One thing that stood out to me that I didn’t see a lot of people talking about was the fact that when they like, you know, sort of ended up moving to America after they were in Canada, that Tyler Perry was the one to—
Gideon Resnick: I saw that.
Akilah Hughes: —put them up and like, protect them. And like, there’s plenty of jokes about like: Madea and the Royal Family. Whatever. But like, the real thing that’s so striking to me is, you have a Black man who is incredibly successful against every odd in America—I mean, this is a person from like the South—and he’s the one who’s saving the Black princess, not, you know, the royals who have all the protections on earth. She doesn’t. And she gets to have this interview with Oprah, who was like arguably at the top of this profession. Right? It’s just like, it’s amazing that it was Black people who protected her.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah.
Akilah Hughes: When, you know, she wasn’t embraced by England. Also, I just think, like, really upsetting that her kids weren’t going to be offered security. Like how—
Gideon Resnick: That’s crazy!
Akilah Hughes: —can you even rectify that? Like that’s Princess Diana’s grandson. [laughs].
Gideon Resnick: Right.
Akilah Hughes: How do you—I mean, I guess, you know, we can come to our own conclusions about how they actually feel about Princess Diana when you think about it that way. But I just can’t imagine being that craven to be like: we have all of this power and we can’t spare a moment for you, Harry, the kids, none of it, you’re an afterthought. And, you know, obviously the whole thing about them worried about how dark the baby would end up being—
Gideon Resnick: Oh, yeah. Oh, my God.
Akilah Hughes: —is just beyond the pale. No pun intended. [laughs] Yeah. Just like, really fucked up. And look, I made a joke on Twitter, I stand by it. But like, yeah, just like worry about your own weird looking family. Like Prince Charles has like those weird sausage fingers. Maybe that’s the concern, instead of the fact that the kid might be darker than Meghan Markle. Like, yuck. [sighs]
Gideon Resnick: It’s true.
Akilah Hughes: All of it. Well, just like that—I say just, but you know, [laughs] at length—we’ve checked our temps. Stay safe. Maybe avoid the royal family for a while. They seem to have a lot of, like reflection to be doing. And we’ll be back after some ads.
Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: President Biden ordered the Department of Education yesterday to reassess how college campuses handle sexual assault. This executive order is the first step in undoing rules finalized by Betsy DeVos that gave more protections to students accused of sexual assault and narrowed the scope of cases that schools were required to address. Biden’s Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was directed to suspend, revise or rescind changes that Trump’s administration made to Title 9. Some advocacy groups are happy about the order, but they say that it doesn’t change anything immediately. A group of students and sexual assault survivors wrote a letter to Biden urging him to immediately suspend parts of the current policy that students and advocacy groups are challenging in court.
Akilah Hughes: Hear, hear. A reporter in Iowa who was arrested while covering Black Lives Matter protests last spring began her trial yesterday. Andrea Sahouri of the Des Moines Register faces charges, including the failure to disperse, and interference with official acts. She was covering a demonstration when officers deployed tear gas into the crowd. Her lawyers say she was running from the tear gas when an officer pepper sprayed her and arrested her, even though she identified herself as the press. The officer’s body camera was off—shock. Sahouri’s case has garnered international attention from journalists and human rights groups, including Amnesty International and employees from the U.S. newspaper chain Gannett. Over 100 journalists were arrested in 2020 during Black Lives Matter protests, but Sahouri is among 13 journalists who are currently facing criminal charges.
Gideon Resnick: TV’s most iconic cartoon rodent pervert, Pepe Le Pew, has been cut from Space Jam 2—just an easy transition from the last one into this headline. That’s according to the Deadline, which published details yesterday about what would have been Pepe’s big scene in the movie. In that scene, the French skunk apparently kissed a bartender character against her will, got slapped and then got dressed down by LeBron James. For the raw footage of LeBron explaining consent to a tennis ball on a string, I have been authorized by Crooked Media to offer one million dollars. This update comes after a New York Times op-ed last week said Pepe’s actions normalized rape culture, but apparently he’s been out of this movie for months. If any Tucker Carlson producers want pitches on its angle for getting absolutely furious about this news, one option is to say: my life is meaningless without the pathologically horny rat.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, you got to, you got to just have that horny rat, I guess. Honestly, he’s not a big enough star to have a scene.
Gideon Resnick: I agree.
Akilah Hughes: Over the past year, we’ve seen more and more people take steps to confront their own internalized racism. Now they’ve been joined by the founder of Papa John’s who bravely told an interviewer yesterday he spent the last 20 months, learning not to say the N-word. Here’s John Schnatter in his own words:
[clip of John Schnatter] And we’ve had three goals for the last 20 months: to get rid of this N-word in my vocabulary and dictionary and everything else—
Akilah Hughes: OK? I can’t imagine why it would take more than, like, the one time you had to stop, like being the CEO. [laughs] But OK, 20 months. Somebody better be getting paid. All right. Well, in his defense we are talking about the Michael Jordan of racial slurs. I’d love to know the techniques and strategies he used for his not-saying-the-N-word training regimen. I hope he gets up at 4 a.m. just to remember not to say it. Schnatter resigned from his role as CEO of Papa John’s Pizza in July 2018, after he used the N-word on a conference call. He insists he is not racist, though—of course—and one of his other goals is to clear his name. Personally I’m going to spend the next 20 months trying to forget the words: Papa John.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I think I can do it a little bit faster, but we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes.
Akilah Hughes: You know, Domino’s is right there and those are the headlines.
One last thing before we go: Crooked new sports podcast, Takeline, premieres next Tuesday, March 16th. Each week, Emmy Award-winning host Jason Concepcion and two-time WNBA champion and new co-owner of the Atlanta Dream—how about that?—Renee Montgomery will host a fast, funny, smart, thoughtful conversation about sports, culture, politics and all the ways they intersect on and off the court.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, they are so much fun to listen to and it’s going to be your new favorite show besides ours. Come on, WAD heads, WAD squad, let’s just stick around. But listen to the trailer and subscribe to Takeline on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, cancel horny rats, and tell your friends to listen.
Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just pizza menus at non-Papa John’s establishments like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And avoid EBay vaccines also.
Akilah Hughes: You know, don’t bet on those things. Just get the Pfizer, Moderna or J&J.
Gideon Resnick: I know you have like a really good bid and you think you’re going to get this one. You didn’t the last one. But it won’t, it won’t work out.
Akilah Hughes: Right. The shipping alone guys. The shipping.
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.