Real Time Fact Checking. We saw Trump interviewed a few months ago by ABC anchor David Muir. It was an unimpressive piece of journalism. Trump spouts his outright lies and he was barely challenged. In the format of a press conference Trump has more control. He can get away with never answering the question. In the interview format it's more challenging. The best politicians can answer the same challenging question in two different ways without ever answering the question. They have prebuilt answers independent of the questions and they find a way to connect the question to the answer they want to give. I say two different ways because in an interview format the journalist has the opportunity to redirect but for whatever reason any time the journalist asks the same question more than twice it starts to feel like badgering. Journalists have struggled in both formats to hold Trump accountable for his lies and misdirection. Those that did the best job needed to sacrifice their dignity and stomach a barrage of personal attacks. Somehow it never quite felt fulfilling.
Enter Jonathan Swan and 37 minutes of pure theater from Axios. Swan deployed a series of expressions to convey to the audience that a statement was ridiculous ("see the manuals read the books!") and then he provided a mumbling second audio channel fact check throughout so that like a real-time translation when someone is speaking a different language Trump was being fact checked in real time. And the inept attempt at deception never really got off the ground. The technique was fascinating to watch and at the conclusion of the interview as they said their goodbyes, it was apparent that Trump didn't realize he had been totally worked by Swan. As far as I'm concerned I just watched the first complete take down in the Trump era.
Football. Kevin and I bet back in May that the NCAA Division 1 football season would not play a game in 2020. If they play one game he wins $10. We've discussed this bet dozens of times since and neither of us has any interest in changing the bet or flopping sides. Today we doubled the bet. The only way football "should" work is with masks. While professional players have a financial incentive, college players in many cases don't even have health insurance. Any University in my opinion that allowed contact football to happen will be forever tarnished with what we know about the risks right now. Basketball and hockey are surviving in their bubbles but baseball and football are taking far fewer precautions. Baseball can credibly make the argument that their contact is less obvious but football is quite literally an "in your face" type of game. It occurred to me that if all they did was mask their players, they might be able to justify getting away with a season. All players, all coaches and all umpires. Hell, they already have helmets covering their heads what's another mask and plexiglass shield? But that probably makes too much sense. I think my bet is good.
Forecast Update. Back in early March after 2,300 deaths, I forecast 400,000 deaths before the end of June. That didn't happen. We are at about 157,000 deaths right now. I want to acknowledge my lack of forecasting skills and need to remind myself that it could have been much worse if the rest of country duplicated the New York experience.
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