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Trump Boasts About TV Ratings as Reporters Debate Airing Coronavirus Press Conferences

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  • President Trump received backlash online after boasting about the TV ratings from his coronavirus briefing.
  • Many users criticized the president for his remarks while confirmed cases and deaths from the coronavirus continue to grow significantly in the U.S.
  • The tweets also furthered a debate about whether or not Trump’s briefings should be broadcast live on media outlets, with critics arguing that he often uses the time to spread misinformation.
  • Others argue that cutting Trump’s briefings amounts to censorship.

Trump Gets Backlash for Ratings Tweets

President Donald Trump stirred up another controversy on Sunday after boasting about the ratings from his daily coronavirus news briefings.

“Because the ‘Ratings’ of my News Conferences etc. are so high, ‘Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers’ according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY,” the president tweeted.

A little while later, Trump tweeted several excerpts from the same New York Times article he referenced early.

Numerous people took to Twitter to criticize Trump for bragging about his ratings while so many Americans are dying.

“More Americans have died from coronavirus than during the attack on Pearl Harbor and Trump is talking about ratings?” Scott Dworkin, the host of the podcast the Dworkin report, wrote in a tweet.

“While bodies were being placed on the back of a refrigerated truck outside Brooklyn hospital, America’s President was boasting about his #coronavirus press conferences television ratings,” tweeted pastor, activist, and radio host Bishop Talbert Swan.

Prominent conservative commentators also chimed in, like Ben Shapiro, who appeared to condemn Trump’s remarks while also accusing others of doing the same.

Celebrities like John Legend and Chrissy Teigen also jumped in to slam Trump and his remarks. 

What the Article Actually Says

Others, however, pointed out that the president had inaccurately quoted the Times article and taken it out of content.

There are several things to note here. First of all, the article, written by Michael Grynbaum, is titled, “Trump’s Briefings Are a Ratings Hit. Should Networks Cover Them Live?” 

“The president’s viewership has rivaled the audiences for hit reality shows and prime-time football,” the tagline reads. “But some worry about misinformation.”

In the very first sentence, Grynbaum opens the article, writing, “President Trump is a ratings hit, and some journalists and public health experts say that could be a dangerous thing.”

But when you look at Trump’s tweet he only includes the very first sentence, then skips the next part and moves on to the excerpt about ratings.

“And the audience is expanding even as Mr. Trump has repeatedly delivered information that doctors and public health officials have called ill informed, misleading or downright wrong,” Grynbaum continues.

The article then goes on to say that while journalists have long debated how to report on Trump’s “fabrications,” the coronavirus pandemic has “raised the stakes.”  

“Now, the president’s critics say, lives are at risk,” Grynbaum writes.

Debate on Airing Trump’s Briefings 

Grynbaum’s article brings up an important and growing debate over whether or not Trump’s press briefings should even be aired.

For a while now, those in favor of the idea have argued that Trump has been using his daily press briefings to lie, downplay the coronavirus, and generally spread misinformation, and as a result, it is in the public interest to stop airing them.

This is a point that has been made by a number of prominent journalists in recent weeks.

“If he keeps lying like he has been everyday on stuff this important, we should— all of us should stop broadcasting it, honestly. It’s going to cost lives,” Rachel Maddow said on her show a few weeks ago. 

That sentiment was also echoed by Maddow’s fellow MSNBC anchor, Joe Scarborough.

“There is no public benefit to this briefing,” the Morning Joe host tweeted. “The networks should all cut away.”

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan also wrote an op-ed  around the same time as Maddow’s remarks, arguing that the media should stop broadcasting Trump’s “dangerous, destructive coronavirus briefings.”

“More and more each day, President Trump is using his daily briefings as a substitute for the campaign rallies that have been forced into extinction by the spread of the novel coronavirus,” she wrote.

The idea seemed to gain momentum on Sunday following Trump’s controversial remarks about his ratings. More people began calling for networks to cut the briefings, and #BoycottTrumpPressConferences trended on Twitter.

Outlets Take Action

Some outlets have already taken action. Last week, the local NPR station in Seattle, KUOW, announced in a tweet that it would no longer be airing the president’s coronavirus press conferences.

The station explained that it would still cover the briefings, but that it would not broadcast them live “due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time.”

One day early, five of the six major networks stopped airing the briefing partway through.

According to the Associated Press, the networks ABC, CBS and NBC cut away after the first 20 minutes, while CNN and MSNBC held out a little longer, and only Fox stuck it out to the end.

White House spokesman Judd Deere criticized CNN and MSNBC in a tweet for cutting early, calling the move “disgraceful.”

A CNN reporter responded in another tweet, quoting a spokesperson who said: “If the White House wants to ask for time on the network, they should make an official request. Otherwise we will make our own editorial decisions.”

CBS also made a similar comment, but MSNBC took a much harder stance, with a representative telling reporters that they, “cut away because the information no longer appeared to be valuable to the important ongoing discussion around public health.”

However, on the other side, some have argued that cutting the press briefings amounts to censorship.

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Axios) (Fox News)

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Florida Cracks Down on “Vaccine Tourism”

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  • Florida is now requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • The state has been hit with “vaccine tourism” as many people, predominantly wealthy individuals, fly to the state from other parts of the U.S. and abroad just to get the shot. 
  • So far, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses administered in Florida went to out-of-staters, though it is unclear if all those people were tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.

Florida Requires Proof of Residency

Florida is cracking down on “vaccine tourism” and requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get a COVID-19 shot.

Previously the state was allowing anyone 65 and older, including non-residents, to get the vaccine. This resulted in people flying to the Sunshine State from across the U.S. and abroad just for the purpose of receiving it. 

According to state data, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses Florida has administered have gone to out-of-staters. It is unclear if all these out-of-staters are tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents. 

Now, people must show a form of identification like a driver’s license or mortgage payment to receive it. Exceptions will be made for healthcare workers. 

Vaccine Supply Continues to Be Limited

Wealthy people in particular were quick to schedule travel plans to Florida for this reason. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was an influx of Canadians booking private jets to Florida. Some were looking to book flights there and back on the same day, leaving just enough time for them to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, people in Florida and across the country are waiting in long lines and struggling to book appointments on glitching websites to get their shots. Vaccine supply continues to be incredibly limited and not everyone in high-risk groups have received them.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said this rule is not made to impact snowbirds, people who live in Florida during the winter to escape cold weather up north. 

“They go to doctors here or whatever, that’s fine, DeSantis said, according to CNN. “What we don’t want is tourists, foreigners. We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (CNN) (Travel + Leisure)

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Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”

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  • Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
  • Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
  • Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.

Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017. 

Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony. 

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”

Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.

“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”

What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”

Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing. 

“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.  

That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”

“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”

Nation Impressed by Gorman

“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment. 

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”

Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration. 

Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation. 

Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day. 

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)

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SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section

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  • The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June. 
  • The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
  • Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary. 
  • It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.

College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay

College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.

Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”

The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary. 

While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S. 

Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.

With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.

The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test

In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.

In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.

According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.

For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)

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