Here’s what we’re talking about:
1. FINALLY WITHIN EARSHOT: President Joe Biden paid a backhanded compliment to Fox News. He didn’t mention the conservative bastion directly, but during a CNN town hall last night he said an unnamed network (definitely Fox News) “had an altar call” in its shift toward promoting COVID-19 vaccines as the Delta variant tore through unvaccinated Americans. But the truth is not everyone on the network is singing from the same hymnal.
- Biden himself underlined the enormous stakes: “If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized. You’re not going to be in an ICU unit. And you are not going to die,” he said during the town hall. Fully vaccinated people can very much still get COVID-19, sometimes severely, but as Biden emphasized the chances of that happening are much lower among vaccinated people.
Here’s what has and hasn’t changed at Fox News, per my colleagues:
The changes: Fox News did create a new vaccine public-service announcement. Hosts including Sean Hannity and Jesse Watters have been open about getting the shot. And the network, per CNN’s Brian Stelter, is also plugging Vaccines.gov, the US federal vaccine website, for the first time in six weeks.
- But some of the highest-rated personalities remain against the lifesaving shot: Tucker Carlson’s show especially continues to remain vocally anti-vax. In fact, Biden’s praise of Fox News’ apparent about-face came the same night one of Carlson’s guests described promotion of the shot as “virtue signaling.”
Republican lawmakers are also emphasizing getting vaccinated: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise revealed he just received his first dose because of concerns about the Delta variant. His push is far from alone, but just as on Fox News there are still holdouts with major platforms to push their misinformation.
One thing is certain: Cases are rising more rapidly in states where fewer people are vaccinated, per The New York Times.
2. Inside the inner circle of South Dakota’s governor: Gov. Kristi Noem’s national profile is quickly rising as Noem explores a 2024 presidential run. My colleagues took a look at her top advisors, who include the former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and several aides who have worked on Capitol Hill. Two members of Noem’s family are also in the inner circle. Check out our full list of Noem’s 22 top advisors.
3. Republicans pull out of Capitol riot panel: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the GOP would not participate in the select committee investigating the riot after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vetoed two of McCarthy’s five choices to serve on the panel. Pelosi acknowledged her decision was unprecedented but said the equally “unprecedented situation” of the insurrection necessitated her blocking Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks. Here’s what’s next for the inquiry into the worst attack on the Capitol since the British torched the building in 1814.
- Rep. Liz Cheney defended Pelosi’s decision: Cheney, the only Republican on the panel, said McCarthy’s behavior had disqualified him from being speaker should the GOP retake the majority. This is just the latest episode in their feud.
4. The White House is said to be debating a masking push: Top officials are discussing whether they should urge all Americans regardless of their vaccination status to wear masks in more settings because of the Delta variant, The Washington Post reports. Talks are still early, though some of them have involved the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
5. Amazon, investment banks, and even tobacco companies are trying to cash in on pot: Cannabis legalization is big business on Capitol Hill. A record number of interests lobbied to shape marijuana laws from April to June this year as legalization talks heated up. Beyond Amazon, some of the largest cannabis companies are expanding their lobbying efforts. More on how all sorts of companies are trying to shape a potentially $100 billion industry.
6. Early infrastructure vote fails, but lawmakers don’t seem discouraged: Senate Republicans voted against advancing the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal. But a key faction called for more time and said they could support the same agreement in four days. The vote failed on a 49-51 vote, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer voting no only so he could bring it up again later. Sen. Mitt Romney is among Republicans who think they’ll have a final deal Monday.
7. Mitch McConnell signals GOP will play hardball on nation’s debt: Congressional Democrats slammed McConnell for threatening to oppose an extension of the US’s ability to pay its bills, a step that could jeopardize the economic recovery if Congress doesn’t act. Democratic lawmakers pointed out that they supported raising the limit more than once under President Donald Trump. How the GOP is raring for a fight on spending.
8. Melania Trump agreed that John McCain wasn’t a war hero, former aide says: Lewandowski told Insider that Trump supported her husband privately after they met up following the presidential candidate’s declaration in 2016 that McCain, a decorated Vietnam POW, was “not a war hero.” The detail was part of a new Insider oral-history project on the 2016 campaign. A spokeswoman for Melania Trump denied that she disparaged McCain. Former Trump aides said the future first lady wasn’t shy about sharing her thoughts with her husband.
9. South Korea is tapping BTS to help with diplomacy: The seven-member boy band — consisting of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook — will attend international conferences like the 76th United Nations General Assembly this September. More on the dynamite diplomats.
10. Parents are getting on the nerves of counselors at ritzy camps: A Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer employed by one camp says dealing with overbearing parents makes it “the hardest work I have ever done.” The wild details include parents trying to diagnose medical issues by looking at photos and losing it when their child wears mismatched clothes.
Today’s trivia question: The US has only one national historic site that is located outside the country. Where is it? Hint: It’s somewhat alluded to in one of the service branches’ songs. Email your guess and a suggested question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Yesterday’s answer: Some businesses frame the first dollar they receive. Amazon named a building on its campus after John Wainwright, its first customer. His book purchase started it all.