As of this writing, it’s been about two months since most of the United States started sheltering in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, since bars and restaurants closed, since schools closed, since the Covid-19 hospitalization numbers started to rise in New York. It’s been a long time, but it’s felt even longer. Meanwhile, one-in-five Americans has filed for unemployment since mid-March, and even though the majority of them expect to get their jobs back eventually that eventuality might be pretty far off if people keep crossing state lines to go to restaurants. Speaking of reopening, the White House rejected the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reopening guidelines because they weren’t lenient enough. Still, at least drug dealers are being inventive in the face of international lockdowns. But those are just the broad strokes of the last week. What else have folks been talking about online? For starters, all of this.
What Happened: Who could have foreseen that the President of the United States really wouldn’t like an ad taking him to task for his Covid-19 response? Oh, that’s right, everyone.
What Really Happened: As the coronavirus continues to dominate headlines and control the world, attention continues to be paid to President Trump’s response to the pandemic and his administration’s handling of it. It’s a response that has seen a shortage of coronavirus tests, questionable comments about injecting disinfectant, and a lot of miscommunication on proper guidelines. Then, last week, this ad appeared summing up where things are right now as the result of the Trump administration’s efforts.
As explained above, the video came from The Lincoln Project, a political action committee dedicated to, in their words, “holding accountable those who would violate their oaths to the Constitution and would put others before Americans.” What some people might not know about The Lincoln Project, however, is that it’s a group funded by a number of Republicans, including Kellyanne Conway’s outspoken husband, George. For anyone wondering if the president saw it, he did.
As might be expected, President Trump’s middle-of-the-night tweetstorm, made headlines, because of course it did. But it also sparked another question: How did Trump even see the ad? There’s actually a theory out there about that.
The president’s response, however, didn’t dissuade those responsible for The Lincoln Project.
The Takeaway: If Trump was hoping his tweets would slow the spread of the ad, they didn’t.
Wherefore Are Thou, Task Force?
What Happened: Last week, word started to spread that the Trump administration might wind down the coronavirus task force. Once that word got around, though, the plan shifted.
What Really Happened: With projections suggesting that the US death rate from Covid-19 could hit 3,000 per day by the beginning of June, it’s fair to say that America is very, very far from being out of the woods when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, this bit of news last week seemed very unexpected.
To make matters slightly more embarrassing, even as the administration was confirming those reports, it emerged that not everyone on the task force had actually been informed.
During a press briefing, Trump said that one of the explanations for winding down the task force was that “we can’t keep our country closed for the next five years.” That same day, he said in another interview that it could be possible Covid-19 would claim more lives amidst attempts to reopen the economy.
But then, as more folks were pointing out that winding down the task force was a bad idea, this happened.
The Takeaway: Let’s go with this.
Uh, ‘Grandma Killer’?
What Happened: If you’re wondering why the term “grandma killer” was trending on Twitter last week, we have an answer.
What Really Happened: The question of reopening American businesses, and what that could mean for people in the country most susceptible to Covid-19, is one that’s been debated at length in recent weeks. But even with all of the back-and-forth, it’s highly unlikely anyone expected this.
That’s Bethany Mandel, editor at conservative outlet Ricochet, following the trail blazed last week by Ben Shapiro in declaring that in trying to get America up and running again, some older folks might die. People, as one might expect, took issue with these comments.
Others, meanwhile, marveled at how quickly her true self revealed itself, because it’s apparently not just President Trump for whom there’s always a tweet.
Yet more wondered just what was happening to Mandel that the tweet was sent in the first place.
Mandel herself was seemingly happy with the response her tweet got.
The Takeaway: Let’s face it, there could’ve been a lot of alternate realities that led to “grandma killer” trending on Twitter.
Welcome Back to the News Cycle, Betsy DeVos
What Happened: As if there wasn’t enough to worry about with everything that’s going on, last week saw the final revision to Title IX, which concerns sexual harassment and assault in schools. Suffice to say, it wasn’t a revision that went unnoticed.
What Really Happened: Before last week, it had been a while since anyone had heard much from US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Considering the coronavirus pandemic has closed many schools, that’s not entirely surprising. Then, on Wednesday, she emerged with this.
On the face of it, what DeVos was saying sounded reasonable; after all, schools need to do a lot to improve their treatment of victims of sexual assault and harassment. But that’s not actually what DeVos was talking about, as it turned out. People could be forgiven for not realizing that immediately, however.
Soon, though, Twitter got the CliffsNotes versions of what the changes meant—and responded swiftly.
Or, if you need a summary for the summaries…
You might be asking yourself, how could this even happen? This might offer some insight.
Democratic lawmakers were quick to speak out against the changes; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi released a statement calling them “callous, cruel, and dangerous,” and presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden—himself currently accused of sexual assault—said that he’d put a “quick end” to the changes if elected. On Twitter, it was the same story, with multiple Democrats reacting immediately after DeVos went public with her announcement.
The Takeaway: More than anything, it might have been the timing and circumstances of the news that most shocked people.
Elon Musk and Grimes Have a Baby
What Happened: Say goodbye to the week by saying hello to a new arrival to this thing we call “life.” Just don’t ask us how to pronounce the poor kid’s name—though you can hear it from Elon himself here.
What Really Happened: This last week has been pretty bleak, hasn’t it? Let’s end with some good news—instead of death, some new life. After all, it’s not every week that celebrity couple Elon Musk and Grimes get to welcome a new addition to their family. As should only be expected, Musk broke the news on Twitter.
When Grimes first revealed that she was pregnant, plenty of people were cynical about how everything was going to work out. Admittedly, that’s what happens when you break the news while launching an album, talk about it being both “profound” and “sort of a tragedy,” and call yourself a “chubby fairy” because of your baby bump. But, look! Everything is going fine, there’s nothing strange or—
OK, that was a weird joke, but really, everything is just perfectly norm—
Don’t worry, it gets better. Or, at least, more confounding.
Amazingly, this turned out to be … close to the truth, as Grimes herself would later reveal.
The surreal punchline to this may be that the state of California refuses to accept the name as-is. Should we just call him Clive? Let’s just call him Clive.
The Takeaway: Those who are shocked by the choice of name may just have short memories, or missed the 1990s altogether.
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