The Vice Presidential Debate Was a Lot More Fun on Twitter

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  • Author: Marcus Wohlsen. Marcus Wohlsen Culture
  • Date of Publication: 10.04.16. 10.04.16
  • Time of Publication: 11:52 pm. 11:52 pm

The Vice Presidential Debate Was a Lot More Fun on Twitter

Longwood University Prepares For Vice-Presidential DebateThe site of the vice presidential debate at Longwood University, on October 4, 2016 in Farmville, Virginia.Win McNamee/Getty Images

It’s hard not to be cynical about the 90 minutes of bland electoral theater Americans just witnessed in the form of the 2016 vice presidential debate. Two professional politicians traded rehearsed talking points while pundits mulled the history-making ramifications of crosstalk and water-drinking. Mike Pence was smooth. Tim Kaine was jumpy and interrupted a lot. Pence probably won. But guess what? Neither of these guys is running for president. So it doesn’t really matter.

Thankfully, Twitter gives everyone the real-time power to eviscerate the pretensions of the ugliest presidential race in modern US history.

this is like watching two dads trying to passive-aggressively assert their position in the starbucks line

— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) October 5, 2016

Forgot what it's like when two evenly matched, rational and experienced politicians debate on the national stage. It's boring.

— Ryan Williams (@RyanGOP) October 5, 2016

TV editors are scrambling right now to find highlight moments from this debate.

— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) October 5, 2016

Unlike his ticket-mate in the first presidential debate, Pence actually spent time articulating what sounded like traditional GOP policy positions.

This debate bizarrely sounds like a Republican running against a Democrat

— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) October 5, 2016

He also spent a lot of time not defending Donald Trump from Kaine’s prodigious attacks on the Republican presidential candidate’s vast catalog of offensive statements and Putin praise.

Mike Pence is pretending Trump isn't Trump because a) he doesn't support Trump and b) wants to preserve his own career after this ends.

— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) October 5, 2016

As a few smart observers pointed out, Pence’s dodges may well outlast the brief bragging rights he gains by winning tonight. For Hillary Clinton’s campaign, it doesn’t matter so much whether Kaine won. They just need more material for their ads making Trump look bad.

It sort of works in the debate, but Pence shaking head, saying "no he hasn't" is going to look bad in ads next to Trump saying those things

— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) October 5, 2016

As for Trump himself, he clearly couldn’t stand the thought of spending a night out of the spotlight. Earlier today, he promised to live-tweet his running mate’s debate, ensuring just as many journalists would be watching his feed for possible gaffes as they would be the debate itself.

I will be live-tweeting the V.P. Debate. Very exciting! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2016

But for once, Trump’s Twitter feed didn’t make news. That’s because he was surrounded by advisors who likely made sure for once Trump didn’t sabotage himself in 140 characters.

Our @JohnKingCNN reports the Trump campaign plans to have his team around him as Trump live tweets tonight's debate

— Steve Brusk (@stevebruskCNN) October 4, 2016

Instead, Trump engaged in what could only be described as a “live re-tweeting” of the debate, which included such thoughtful gems as:

"@Jnelson52722: @realDonaldTrump @Susiesentinel Kaine looks like an evil crook out of the Batman movies"

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2016

In the end, the debate was over. Sadly, the election won’t be for more than a month.

Never been happier to see white dudes leave my screen and I watched every episode of Entourage

— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) October 5, 2016

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Culture
  • Date of Publication: 10.04.16. 10.04.16
  • Time of Publication: 8:11 pm. 8:11 pm

GOP Says Pence Won the VP Debate—Hours Before It Starts


The Republican National Committee may have added a few fortune tellers to its staff. Either that, or the RNC just published all its post-debate spin by accident hours before the debate even began. Yeah, we’re going to go ahead and say it was the second one.

Around 7 pm ET, two hours before Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine take the stage for the vice presidential debate, the RNC published several pages of content to its website declaring Pence the winner.

“Americans from all across the country tuned in to watch the one and only Vice Presidential debate,” the page reads. “During the debate we helped fact check and monitor the conversation in real time @GOP. The consensus was clear after the dust settled, Mike Pence was the clear winner of the debate.”

But that wasn’t all. Twitter sleuths soon began unearthing more of the RNC’s accidental predictions.


There's more!

— jer (@JerMeansWell) October 4, 2016

Obviously, the RNC was never going to declare Kaine the debate’s winner. But it’s never a good look for a political campaign to show so clearly how the spin sausage gets made.

The RNC was quick to take some of the pages down. But even the party’s 404 error gets its anti-Clinton message across. In case you can’t wait until the debate is actually over to get spun, the pages are all archived here.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 10.03.16. 10.03.16
  • Time of Publication: 6:52 pm. 6:52 pm

Trump Team Turns Into a Mini-Drudge Report

If you happen to click on a link to in the next few weeks, you may notice something peculiar—namely, the part that the bottom that says “Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President.”

No, Trump hasn’t suddenly started supporting Hillary Clinton (though, really, that would just be the latest in a long list of Trump campaign trail contradictions). His team bought the domain for $15,000; now they’ve transformed it into a site all about Clinton’s scandals. It’s like their own personal Drudge Report, complete with underlined, all-caps headlines such as “CLINTON CALLS SANDERS SUPPORTERS BASEMENT DWELLERS.”

‘We want people to see all the truth, and not the sometimes one-sided truth that we get from the media.’ Brad Parscale, Digital Director, Trump for President

The site is the Trump campaign’s answer to what they believe is the liberal mainstream media, says Trump’s digital director, Brad Parscale. “It allows us a nice playing field to do some opposition research and let it show,” Parscale says. “We want people to see all the truth, and not the sometimes one-sided truth that we get from the media.”

Of course, the Trump campaign has every reason to want to create its own news cycle right now. The campaign is currently in the middle of perhaps the worst stretch since it began last summer. Today the New York attorney general’s office issued a cease and desist letter to the Trump Foundation, Trump’s purported charitable foundation that The Washington Post found does not appear to have the proper certification to accept donations. This blow comes just after the New York Times‘ blockbuster report on Trump’s 1995 tax returns, which show more than $900 million in losses. All of that almost makes you forget that on Friday, news broke that Trump appeared in a softcore porn video—shortly after the GOP candidate went on a lewdm pre-dawn Twitter rant lambasting former Miss Universe and current Clinton supporter Alicia Machado.

So yeah, we’d say the Trump campaign could use a new storyline. The domain previously belonged to a Clinton supporter named Jeremy Peter Green, who offered the site to the Clinton campaign, USA Today reports. But Clinton’s camp turned him down, unwilling to engage in what could become a “whack-a-mole” situation trying to lock down every possible domain, a campaign spokesperson said. “Who’s to say someone can’t keep buying sites? It’s not really a sound investment.”

But Parscale was more than happy to take it off Green’s hands. “It was worth it for what I wanted to do.”

Parscale believes the domain will increase the Trump campaign’s clicks, because each piece of content appears more neutral than if it came from, say, Trump’s namesake site. “For people who are trying to look for real information on Clinton and Kaine this is going to look more legitimate,” he says. “The average person on Facebook is not going to know that Donald Trump owns that page.”

Sneaky, maybe, but it’s not altogether unusual. Clinton benefits from another trolling tactic via the super PAC Correct the Record, which floods social media with anti-Trump, pro-Clinton stories. In both cases, the candidates benefit from the fragmentation of traditional media and the rise of social media to misdirect and manipulate potential voters. Who says you shouldn’t trust politicians?

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Culture
  • Date of Publication: 09.30.16. 09.30.16
  • Time of Publication: 10:46 am. 10:46 am

Trump’s Overnight Twitter Tirade Sums Up His Weaknesses

Sleep. Remember sleep? The thing you were doing just a few hours ago, before you woke up, and the man who could potentially be the next President of the United States told you to “check out” a sex tape? Sleep was nice, wasn’t it?

Donald Trump, apparently, doesn’t get much sleep. Because, beginning at 5:14 am, the Republican nominee for President picked up his phone and started firing off tweet after tweet about former Miss Universe Contestant Alicia Machado, who Hillary Clinton name-checked during the first presidential debate last week. After Machado gained some weight following her Miss Universe win, she says Trump took to calling her Miss Piggy. Trump has since defended himself on Fox and Friends, saying, “She was the winner, and you know she gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.”

But Trump wasn’t finished digging himself into a hole with female voters just yet. Then came the tweets:

Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an "angel" without checking her past, which is terrible!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016

Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGEMENT! Hillary was set up by a con.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016

Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016

And here we are. That Trump would unleash a tweetstorm before sunrise shouldn’t surprise anybody at this point. But this one in particular seems to encapsulate two of the biggest issues dogging Trump’s campaign: his attitude toward women and his apparent problems with impulse control. They also showcase his propensity for seeding conspiracy theories, just as he has with regard to Hillary Clinton’s health and President Obama’s citizenship.

During the first debate, Trump brought up his temperament, saying, “I think my strongest asset by far is my temperament. I have a winning temperament.” Clinton’s disagreed, and with good reason. Though both candidates have historically low favorability ratings, recent polls have shown Trump lagging far behind Clinton in terms of who voters believe has the better temperament to be president. And it seems that line of attack worked, considering most methodologically sound post-debate polls (not the flash polls Trump’s team has been celebrating) show that Clinton got a boost from the debate. And according to one NBC News and SurveyMonkey poll, 27 percent of likely women voters said the debate made them think less of Trump.

For Trump to unleash such a temperamental attack against a woman—flaunting a sex tape that does not appear to exist, no less—is an altogether curious strategy, if it’s a strategy at all.

Our advice to Trump: Get some sleep.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Culture
  • Date of Publication: 09.27.16. 09.27.16
  • Time of Publication: 6:42 pm. 6:42 pm

Millions of People Checked Out Clinton’s Debate Fact-Check Site

Hillary Clinton usually reserves her shout-outs for the local leaders and politicians who join her at campaign rallies across the country.

During last night’s presidential debate, though, it was all about the fact-checkers. “I hope the fact-checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard,” she said at one point. “Please, fact-checkers, get to work,” she said at another.

Clinton was clearly hoping that the fact-checkers—both professional journalists and amateur know-it-alls—would help back her up as she took on Trump. The campaign even turned into a live fact-check machine, called Literally Trump. During the debate, Clinton told viewers to go to the site “to see in real-time what the facts are,” and according to Clinton spokesperson Tyrone Gayle, it seems to have worked.

Nearly two million people visited Clinton’s website within an hour after she mentioned it. That’s 10 times as many visits as the campaign has ever attracted in an hour. By this evening, the Literally Trump factoids had been shared 18,000 times on social media.

The idea for the site was Clinton’s, according to Gayle. “In debate prep, Hillary made it clear that while she would be calling Trump out for his lies, she wanted a place where viewers could be empowered to look it up themselves, not have to wait for reporters or any other delivery mechanism,” Gayle said. “Hillary suggested making Trump’s past statements available on the website for anyone to read for themselves.”

Of course, the Clinton campaign wasn’t the only one scrambling to separate fact from fiction during the debate. Media outlets (including ours) followed the debate along with their researchers, while groups like Politifact flooded Twitter with their real-time assessments.

But the Clinton campaign was seeding the idea that fact-checking mattered even before Clinton took the stage. Earlier in the week, the campaign sent around an 18-page memo, filled with its own Trump fact-checks.

In the spin room following the debate, campaign press secretary Brian Fallon said he believed this strategy succeeded in setting the tone for the matchup. “I think that the discussion about fact-checking prior to tonight actually foreshadowed one of the major dynamics of the debate,” he said. Fallon noted that Trump continued to deny he supported the war in Iraq and insisted that Clinton’s 2008 campaign started the birther movement against President Obama, two facts that have been frequently debunked during the mad fact-checking rush of 2016.

Of course, it’s highly unlikely that there were many Trump supporters, or even conservatives, getting their facts from Clinton’s website. Trump supporters, after all, were doing their own fact-checking in their own online echochambers.

Fallon acknowledged these communities are tough to penetrate. “I think that with the multiplier effect of so many different outlets and online social platforms that it’s possible in 2016 to really create your own reality and only listen to and get facts from certain outlets that conform to your worldview,” he said.

Chris Christie and others in conservative circles have already claimed that the media’s fact-checkers “have an agenda.” Just imagine what they think about Clinton’s.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Culture
  • Date of Publication: 09.16.16. 09.16.16
  • Time of Publication: 12:54 pm. 12:54 pm

Actually Accurate Headlines About Donald Trump’s Birther Nonsense

Donald Trump Holds Media Availability In Portsmouth, New HampshireDonald Trump addresses the media about Barack Obama’s release of his original birth certificate earlier that morning, on April 27, 2011 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried to magically mask his years of paranoid speculation about the whereabouts and authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate today with a 23-word statement at his new hotel in Washington D.C. In it, he erroneously blamed the so-called “birther movement” on Hillary Clinton, and falsely claimed that he was the one who put those rumors to rest.

“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” he said. “I finished it. President Obama was born in the United States. Period.”

No mention of the fact that after President Obama produced his birth certificate, Trump demanded to see his college records for verification. No mention of the fact that he insinuated that the State Health Director who verified the birth certificate was whacked to keep him quiet. And no mention of an apology for his role in spreading the birther suspicions, which were pretty darned racist and harmful.

No matter. After Trump finished, the MSNBC chyron read “Trump: Obama Was Born in the U.S., Period.” The New York Times’ headline said the same. So did the A.P.‘s.

Come again?

As we’ve noted before, Trump has a habit of running his campaign like a Twitter feed, issuing constant updates, each one more absurd than the last, to push his most recent scandal farther down the feed. Who has time to talk about the Trump Foundation scandal when it’s Birther Day on CNN? But this tactic only works when the media takes Trump’s every utterance at face value.

Did he finally admit President Obama was born in the US? Sure. But did he also lie and fail to apologize for starting that rumor while doing it? You betcha!

A few outlets, to be fair, got it right.

Donald Trump Finally Admitted Obama Was Born In The US — And Lied Twice While Doing So

— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) September 16, 2016

Trump fanned a conspiracy about Obama's birthplace for years. Now he pretends Clinton started it.

— Vox (@voxdotcom) September 16, 2016

Breaking: Trump admits Obama born in U.S. but falsely blames Clinton for starting rumors

— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 16, 2016

People on Twitter also had some suggestions for more accurate headlines.

if headlines described reality:
Unapologetic Trump Falsely Blames His Longstanding Campaign of Race-baiting Lies on Clinton, Cons Media

— Philip Gourevitch (@PGourevitch) September 16, 2016

Headline: Trump levels false charges against Clinton after dropping false charge against Obama.

— Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) September 16, 2016

The headline shouldn’t be “Trump Confirms Obama Born in US,” the headline should be “Trump Admits to 5+ Years of Race Baiting"

— colbyhall (@colbyhall) September 16, 2016

For our part, we’d go with something more along the lines of: Trump Rickrolls the Media With Hotel Press Junket Followed By More Birther Bullshit. But that’s just us.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 09.02.16. 09.02.16
  • Time of Publication: 11:45 am. 11:45 am

Trump’s Campaign CEO’s Little Known World of Warcraft Career

Before he became CEO of the Donald Trump campaign, and before he took over the alt-right media outlet, Steve Bannon made his living selling virtual gold on the Internet.

Today, an article in Mother Jones reminded us that back in 2008 we here at WIRED wrote about it. The story focuses on the World of Warcraft marketplace called Internet Gaming Entertainment, where players could pay real money for virtual goods, like gold, in the game. The company was founded by former child star Brock Pierce, and Bannon was an investor. Bannon managed to convince Goldman Sachs to plow $60 million into a company that sold imaginary goods in an imaginary world.

Surely there’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

Here’s a bit of the original article:

Goldman Sachs started making visits, inspecting the Asian operations and talking with Bannon and others about terms. Finally, on February 7, 2006, the deal was inked: Goldman Sachs, together with a consortium of private funds, made a reported $60 million investment in the company. Part of the money was used to buy Pierce, Salyer, and IGE’s general counsel, Randy Maslow, out of some of their stock in the company. Pierce walked away with $20 million and still retained the controlling share of a company that was doing more than a quarter of a billion dollars in sales a year.

In 2007, following a major lawsuit by one World of Warcraft player, who accused IGE of “substantially impairing” players’ enjoyment of the game, the company took a nosedive. It rebranded to Affinity Media, and Bannon took over as CEO. He stayed in that role until 2012, when he joined Breitbart, which, coincidentally, also peddles imaginary stuff on the Internet.

You should go read the whole story.

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  • Author: Marcus Wohlsen. Marcus Wohlsen Culture
  • Date of Publication: 08.17.16. 08.17.16
  • Time of Publication: 6:16 pm. 6:16 pm

Meme Alert: Trump Campaign Shakeup a Sign of Trouble? Says Who?

Mere hours ago, Donald Trump demoted his Russophile campaign manager Paul Manafort and replaced him with the head of news at Trump-ophile website Breitbart. And the move already appears to be paying off. Check out this top-shelf #content coming out of Trump’s shop:

When asked about being down in the race, Trump adviser replies, "Says who?"

— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) August 17, 2016

Okay, okay, so maybe no one handed Trump advisor Michael Cohen a script (though it wouldn’t have taken long to write) before his interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar. But if Cohen’s gruff defiance of his mainstream media interlocutor’s recitation of numerical fact is any indication, the new day promised by the Trump campaign’s staff shakeup very much resembles the good old days of winning so big, which brought the GOP nominee this far.

(We should also note that if Michael Cohen’s name sounds familiar it may be because he’s the Trump campaign staffer who once said, “And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.”)

Speaking of retro, we’ve got our own little contribution to keep the meme rolling, the clicks coming, and the ratings high. After all, who needs to get out the vote when you can go viral?


And if our contribution to the meme-ifying of what is already a viral moment doesn’t do it for you, the Internet offers you these alternatives:

— darth™ (@darth) August 17, 2016

Poles. All of them.

— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) August 17, 2016

RYAN: That Michael Cohen interview did was a disaster.
TRUMP: Says who?
TRUMP: Just kidding. Yeah, it was so friggin' bad

— Owen Ellickson (@onlxn) August 17, 2016

— Nathan Yau (@flowingdata) August 17, 2016

what "All of them" looks like:

— Taniel (@Taniel) August 17, 2016

Roses are red
My intentions are true
You're behind in the polls
*long pause*
Says who

— Hayley Hudson (@hayhud) August 18, 2016

The answer to "Says who?" is actually "Calvin Klein"

— Jordan Cohen (@jorcohen) August 18, 2016

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 08.17.16. 08.17.16
  • Time of Publication: 9:08 am. 9:08 am

Trump Hates the Media, Right? But Now a Media Exec’s Running His Campaign

Stephen BannonStephen Bannon in 2013Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP

Donald Trump’s bid for the White House has always been a media circus. Now, it’s being run by one of the ringleaders.

The Trump campaign announced today that it has hired Breitbart News Network executive chairman Steve Bannon as campaign CEO. Paul Manafort, who has been running the show since the ouster of former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, will stay on as campaign chairman and chief strategist, but it seems without question that his power will be seriously diluted.

Bannon’s hire highlights a troubling trend: the blurring of the lines between media as campaign observer and campaign operative. With Bannon leading Trump’s presidential bid, the lines are now erased.

That the head of Breitbart would eventually just up and join the Trump campaign may have seemed a foregone conclusion to anyone who’s been watching the conservative media outlet this election cycle. Breitbart has been openly pro-Trump, even as other conservative outlets like The National Review and Red State have come out against him.

When Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields accused then-campaign manager Lewandowski of battery, a charge that was eventually dropped, Breitbart’s staff sided with the Trump campaign, telling reporters to stop speaking out about the story.

Breitbart has always been on a covert quest to see Trump elected. Now, that quest is out in the open. Bannon’s hire highlights a troubling trend: the blurring of the lines between media as campaign observer and campaign operative. With Bannon leading Trump’s presidential bid, the lines are now erased. And Bannon isn’t even the only media mogul helping: ousted Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes is reportedly advising Trump in the run up to the first debate, despite allegations against him of sexual misconduct at Fox.

All of this would be unthinkable in any other election year. But with Trump’s unpredictable candidacy, anything goes.

We’ve said before that the Internet killed objectivity, but it’s just as true to say that election 2016 did, as mainstream media outlets struggle to cover a candidate who says and does things no mainstream candidate would. Meanwhile, outlets like Breitbart see a candidate who’s giving voice to the very conspiracy theories and fears that have long lingered in its social media networks and comment sections. And now, giving them a seat at the political table. This has exacerbated the echo chamber effect that already makes it nearly impossible for people of different ideologies and beliefs to hear each other.

In choosing Bannon to lead his campaign, Trump is leaning into the divisive message that’s buoyed his candidacy since last year, rather than trying to bridge the gap with disaffected Republicans, who have urged him repeatedly to pivot toward a steadier strategy. (In fact, Breitbart is one of the biggest critics of the current GOP leadership, including Speaker Paul Ryan, who’s had a rocky relationship with Trump so far.)

It’s also a familiar move for Trump: when the going gets tough, whoever’s leading the campaign gets the boot. It happened to Lewandowski just two months ago when Trump’s dominance in the polls began to flag and early fundraising numbers turned out to be dismal.

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort lTrump campaign manager Paul Manafort listens to Ivanka Trump speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016.Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Now, as Clinton continues to trounce Trump in battleground polls, Trump seems to be sidelining Manafort as well. The move also comes amid debate over Russia’s role in Trump’s rise and Manafort’s ties to Russia. According to documents obtained by The New York Times, while Manafort was working for pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych, he was supposed to be paid $12.7 million in unofficial payments.

Meanwhile, the fact that the Democratic National Committee was hacked by Russian operatives has led many to wonder whether the Russians did it explicitly to prop up Trump’s campaign. Then there was Trump’s off the cuff comment during the Democratic Convention, in which he said of Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Bannon isn’t the only one who will be tasked with getting this chaotic campaign across the finish line. Trump has also promoted KellyAnne Conway, a Republican pollster, to the position of campaign manager. That, too, is a fitting jump, given Trump’s obsession with the polls during primary season. And yet, with just just 82 days until Election Day, turning around Trump’s favorability numbers this late in the season would be unprecedented even for the most sophisticated pollster.

In a statement, Trump described Bannon and Conway as “some of the best talents in politics.” WIRED reached out to the Trump campaign for comment but hadn’t heard back by publication time.

“I am committed to doing whatever it takes to win this election,” he said. In other words, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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  • Author: Emma Grey Ellis. Emma Grey Ellis Culture
  • Date of Publication: 08.16.16. 08.16.16
  • Time of Publication: 9:00 am. 9:00 am

No Excuses: Google Just Made Voting a Little Easier

DC Early VotingBill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

For many Americans, the path to casting a vote is way rockier than it should be. Between (racist) new voter ID laws and government websites that haven’t been updated since the late Cretaceous, it hard to know how to register, where and when to vote, and what you need to bring. Heck, the rules were so confusing in New York during the primaries that even Ivanka Trump was unable to vote for her dad. That’s where Google’s newest search tool, which debuts this morning, comes in.

Next time you punch “how to vote” or “how to register” into Google’s search bar, all the tricky logistical details of your state’s specific electoral rigamarole will be spelled out in plain English. “The voting process is complicated and overwhelming,” says Emily Moxley, the project’s team lead and product manager. “Different websites have bits and pieces of the information people need, and it’s hard to tell if the information you’re looking at is up to date. So we collected everything into one location, in terminology that’s easy to grok.”

Google collected all that data with the help of law firm Perkins Coie and what Moxley calls “a fair amount of manual, painstaking work.” The Google team’s slogging is likely to be worth it though, because this is clearly information that people want. The Google-generated map below shows a real surge in voter registration interest since 2012, especially in the swing states and the Northeast, where it’s up over 100 percent at least.

The data doesn’t show why certain states are more energized than others (though we suspect that Senator Sanders may have had something to do with the 358 percent interest spike in Vermont), but it clearly shows that people want to participate. Nation-wide, interest in voter registration peaked at +190 percent within an hour of Hillary Clinton’s keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention.

However you feel about the candidates and this most ridiculous season of political theater, more people than ever are political engaged online, and this new suite of voter-friendly tools may help them take that fervor out to where it really counts: the voting booth.

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  • Author: Davey Alba. Davey Alba Business
  • Date of Publication: 08.15.16. 08.15.16
  • Time of Publication: 8:28 pm. 8:28 pm

Trump and Thiel Really Don’t Get How the First Amendment Works

It’s just the beginning of the week, and already a major presidential candidate and his staunchest ally in Silicon Valley have shown they have a fundamental misunderstanding of how the First Amendment works.

Yesterday, Donald Trump responded to a critical New York Times piece depicting the self-sabotage of his campaign:

It is not “freedom of the press” when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2016

Today, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel said in an op-ed in the Times that he was proud of the court battle he funded against Gawker, a privacy lawsuit that pushed the site into bankruptcy. Gawker, he said, published “thinly sourced, nasty articles that attacked and mocked people” to make money.

What seems to be beyond both Trump’s and Thiel’s grasp is that the First Amendment does not protect someone from protest or criticism. Of course, the whole point of protecting a free press is to ensure the right to protest and criticize publicly.

In the op-ed, Thiel said he had suffered at the hands of Gawker when a 2007 post on the site’s Silicon Valley gossip blog Valleywag “made choices for him” on how and when he came out to the public as a gay man. Thiel said journalists shouldn’t fear his campaign against Gawker, which included funding the Hulk Hogan sex tape privacy lawsuit that led to the site’s bankruptcy and several others. “It’s not for me to draw the line,” Thiel writes, “but journalists should condemn those who willfully cross it.” Yet drawing the line is exactly what Thiel has done, and he’s going to spend his fortune to make sure others don’t cross it, even if that means he financially destroys journalists and publications.

Ironically, even as Thiel sought to frame his issues with Gawker as concern over the broader question of privacy on the Internet, much of his fortune comes from investing in companies whose own practices raise serious privacy questions themselves. Thiel says Gawker was “willing to exploit the Internet without moral limits,” but gossip and tabloid journalism are hardly a new invention of online publishing. There’s nothing uniquely “Internet-like” about people’s desire to click on a headline to satisfy their curiosity. Meanwhile, Facebook—on whose board Thiel sits—is developing a new kind of monopoly over our personal data and preferences, turning astronomical profits in the process. Facebook’s power over users’ attention spans has itself means the company has powerful influence over the future of journalism, pushing publishers to create content that Facebook users will like and share. It’s not resource-strapped media companies that have the leverage here—as the Gawker bankruptcy shows, it’s media companies that are just struggling to survive.

Yes, several incidents have shown how malicious actors can use the Internet to violate people’s privacy in unacceptable ways: the nude celebrity photo scandal, the Sony and DNC hacks, vigilante doxxers online, to name a few. But that’s not what’s on the mind of the likes of Thiel and Trump.

Instead, Trump banned news organizations from BuzzFeed and Politico to The Des Moines Register and The Washington Post from covering his campaign events. On Twitter, he rarely mentions The New York Times without describing it as “failing.” Reporters who write stories that cast him in a critical light are “dishonest” and “disgusting.” And his antagonism has only grown as his poll numbers have dropped, leading him to blame the media as co-conspirators in what he calls a “rigged” election. In Trump’s world as in Thiel’s, it seems, a press that isn’t subservient to the powerful doesn’t deserve to be free.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 08.09.16. 08.09.16
  • Time of Publication: 1:21 pm. 1:21 pm

Most North Carolina Trump Voters Won’t Believe in a Clinton Victory

Donald Trump Holds Campaign Rally In NC One Day Ahead Of PrimaryDonald Trump yells into the crowd at the conclusion of a campaign rally in Hickory, North Carolina on March 14, 2016.Sean Rayford/Getty Images

And so it begins.

For the last year and some change, Donald Trump has been complaining that the presidential nominating process is rigged. Now that he’s secured the nomination, though, he’s moved on to a new target, claiming last week that the election itself will be rigged. “I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged. I have to be honest,” he recently told a crowd in Ohio.

That may seem like just another dubious claim from a candidate who’s prone to dubious claims, except for the fact that, well, Trump’s base is buying it. According to a new poll of North Carolina voters by the firm Public Policy Polling, a whopping 69 percent of Trump voters think that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, it will be because the election was rigged. Compare that with the just 16 percent who say it would be because she got more votes.

The poll surveyed 830 likely Trump voters in the state from August 5 to 7, mostly over the phone, but approximately 20 percent via an Internet panel, and has a margin of error of 3.4 percent. If these North Carolina voters are emblematic of the rest of the country, this could present a new and dangerous frontier for American electoral politics. The fact is, the reason our country can boast about its peaceful transfers of power is primarily because its citizens have long trusted that the will of the people decides who should get that power. At times, the influence of the people’s will has been called into question, as it was during the 2000 election when Vice President Al Gore lost, despite winning the popular vote.

But even after a painful Supreme Court case that ultimately decided the presidency, Gore tried to quell suspicions that the process was rigged. In his concession speech, he told the American people, “I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country.”

In planting the seed in voters’ minds that the election will be rigged, Trump does not seem poised to make a similar concession if he loses. And he very well may lose. Clinton is leading by a big margin in post-convention polls. She is even drawing more donations than Trump is among Republicans who initially supported Republican candidates Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich during the primaries.

Besides, even if Trump does try to bow out gracefully, this poll indicates he has encouraged a large faction of voters to believe not only that the Republican party is corrupt, but that elections themselves are a hoax. If that concept becomes mainstream, there’s no telling whether the United States could begin to experience the type of chaos that mars other countries’ elections.

That the election will be rigged isn’t the only conspiracy theory Trump’s supporters now subscribe to, according to the same poll. Last week, Trump said he saw a video of US officials loading $400 million off a plane in Iran, a video that does not actually exist. His campaign later clarified that Trump had seen no such video. And yet, the poll shows that 47 percent of his voters in North Carolina say they saw the video themselves. He also said last week that Clinton is the devil, a statement that 41 percent of polled Trump supporters agree with, while 17 percent say they are unsure.

This has been a busy season for fact-checkers, and not just because of Trump. But there’s a difference between fudging the facts and seeding mistrust in the fundamentals of American democracy, which could have lasting—and potentially calamitous—ramifications.

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  • Author: Emily Dreyfuss. Emily Dreyfuss Culture
  • Date of Publication: 08.04.16. 08.04.16
  • Time of Publication: 2:58 pm. 2:58 pm

The Obama-Biden Bromance Returns to Cheer You Up

Happy 55th, Barack! A brother to me, a best friend forever.

— Vice President Biden (@VP) August 4, 2016

It’s President Obama’s birthday, y’all. And yes, the general election is in full-on crazy mode. And of course tomorrow is Friday, the new designated time for bad news to spill unceremoniously all over the news cycle like slop from the bedpan of the world’s sickbed. But for today, Obama’s BFF is here to wish him well. And cheer the rest of us up, too. (As of 3pm ET, his birthday greeting was already Biden’s most retweeted tweet ever.)

The Obama-Biden bromance, immortalized in a video from this year’s White House Correspondence dinner and another from Buzzfeed that first introduced the world to those friendship bracelets, is the antidote to the hysteria and vitriol of US politics. It’s Leslie Knope, but real. Or at least, as real as any carefully constructed political theater opportunistically taking advantage of a meme might be! And you know? We’ll take it.

Since Biden sent this birthday greeting over Twitter, we can only guess that Twitter’s No. 1 VIP, presidential candidate Donald Trump, will see it. And so will his running make, Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Mike Pence drafting texts to Donald Trump, finally settles on "mr trump… why don't we have what they have"

— Brian Barrett (@brbarrett) August 4, 2016

Give it time, Pence. Loves like these don’t develop overnight. You’ve got a whole 95 days until November 8, and if you win, at least four years of staring into each other’s eyes in the White House situation room to let your friendship blossom.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 07.24.16. 07.24.16
  • Time of Publication: 4:00 pm. 4:00 pm

Clinton Camp’s Mobile App Borrows from Sanders’ Strategy

The rumor mill is still spinning over how exactly WikiLeaks obtained tens of thousands of emails from the Democratic National Convention that reveal blatant favoritism of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders within the party.

This whodunnit saga will no doubt continue this week as the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Philadelphia tomorrow. Which means the Clinton campaign will need as much help as it can get from her volunteer base in pushing back against that narrative to capitalize on any good will the convention might inspire this week.

The campaign likely hopes its newly released mobile app could help with that. Taking a page out of the book of Sanders’ own primary campaign, Clinton’s new app, Hillary2016, aims to make it easier for volunteers to set up their own virtual field offices. On the app, they’re able to check into events, funnel campaign content to Facebook, and compete for various types of rewards, among other campaign-related activities.

In many ways, Hillary2016 resembles the Field the Bern app that Sanders volunteers created earlier this year. Both apps use technology to cut out the middle man in campaigning. The idea is to give volunteers all the tools they need to spread a candidate’s message without ever having to step foot in a field office.

Of course, there’s only so much volunteers can do on their own. The campaign and the Democratic National Committee itself were no doubt hoping to host a convention that looked disciplined and controlled compared to the chaotic Republican convention last week. Instead, they’ll have to contend with newly fired-up Sanders supporters who were already convinced “the system” was rigged anyway. Now many feel like they have the emails to prove it.

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  • Author: Marcus Wohlsen. Marcus Wohlsen Business
  • Date of Publication: 07.22.16. 07.22.16
  • Time of Publication: 8:48 pm. 8:48 pm

Clinton’s VP Announcement Is the Ultimate Text From Hillary

Hillary Clinton Campaigns With Tim Kaine In VirginiaHillary Clinton and Tim Kaine wave to the crowd during a campaign event in Annandale, Virginia on July 14, 2016.Alex Wong/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton finally announced her vice-presidential running mate today. Senator Tim Kaine isn’t an exciting pick, but he makes sense. Clinton more or less has liberals safely on her side; Kaine is a moderate white man from Virginia, a swing state, which pretty much checks off all the demographic and electoral boxes where she needs to build up more support.

What’s more interesting is how Clinton told the public she would deliver the news: via a text from Hillary. It was the ultimate Internet age callback to the viral meme of Clinton and her now infamous sunglasses and Blackberry. But it was also a way to drum up anticipation among her supporters for an event that is, admittedly, a snoozefest for anyone but cable news producers.

That Clinton indicated she would reveal her pick first to a relatively narrow audience may seem counterintuitive. Wouldn’t a candidate want to spread the word as widely and quickly as possible? Press conferences have always been a way for candidates to drive the narrative. But in 2016, with so many social media tools at the public’s disposal, that’s no longer possible. By sharing the Clinton can shape her inevitable public address around that all that online buzz.

Since Obama’s 2008 campaign used targeted digital messaging to help put him over the top, the Democratic party has worked aggressively to build a tech infrastructure that relies on focused outreach to solidify support and get voters to the polls. Clinton’s tech team this election cycle represents the culmination of that strategy so far, and digital discipline has characterized her approach since the primaries. In that light, Clinton’s text message veep announcement today makes perfect sense.

Given that the “veepstakes” (gag) is essentially a fun time-filler for pundits, the average citizens who are going to care the most are the ones who are already passionately in Clinton’s camp. If you’ve given Clinton your phone number to get text messages, that includes you. By announcing her pick to those people first, Clinton makes that group feel part of an inner circle—while simultaneously tapping them for a donation. This kind of narrowcasting helped Obama win in 2008 and 2012. Clinton will likely rely on an even more focused version of this approach to chase votes in 2016.

But while Clinton promised the news by text to gin up support with her base first, in the end, the campaign did broadcast the Kaine announcement on Twitter as well. Given Donald Trump’s dominance on the platform, there’s no sense in Clinton taking any chances.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 07.14.16. 07.14.16
  • Time of Publication: 3:16 pm. 3:16 pm

Trump Loves Twitter. But It’s Gonna Screw Mike Pence

Donald Trump Holds Campaign Rally In IndianaIndiana Governor Mike Pence introduces Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Grand Park Events Center on July 12, 2016 in Westfield, Indiana. Aaron P. Bernstein /Getty Images

Updated on July 15 at 10:55 am after Donald Trump confirmed that Mike Pence will be his running mate.

Donald Trump just announced that Indiana governor Mike Pence is his pick for vice president. And that means the online masses are frantically picking apart Pence’s digital footprint in search of something incriminating—or at least that’s at odds with Trump.

There’s plenty to work with.

Shortly after The New York Times reported that Pence will likely be Trump’s running mate, this Pence tweet surfaced, a clear jibe against Trump’s pledge to ban Muslim people from entering the United States.

Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.

— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) December 8, 2015

In another, Pence voices support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which Trump calls “terrible.”

Trade means jobs, but trade also means security. The time has come for all of us to urge the swift adoption of the Trans Pacific Partnership

— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) September 8, 2014

The swiftness with which Pence’s own words are being turned against him shows just how difficult it is to run for office or pick a running mate in 2016. To accuse someone of flip-flopping is an age-old insult in politics. Now that politicians have social media accounts and armies of constituents constantly demanding to know how they feel about the news of the day, hiding those inconsistencies becomes tougher. By sheer force of character, Trump has managed to overcome all the times he’s contradicted himself. Not everyone can.

To be sure, plenty of mainstream Republicans have come out against Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, and even the US Chamber of Commerce has rejected his stance on trade. So the fact that Pence disagrees with Trump on those issues may not carry all that much weight on the right.

What’s more likely to hurt him—and Trump—among moderate Republicans is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act he signed into law in 2015. It would have allowed Indiana businesses to deny service to people on the basis of their sexuality. The bill was widely condemned as discrimination, with the state’s own Chamber of Commerce calling the law a hit to Indiana’s “national identity as a welcoming and hospitable state.”

It also drew the ire of tech industry leaders like Apple CEO Tim Cook and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff. In a Washington Post op-ed, Cook compared the Pence-signed Indiana law to Jim Crow. “The days of segregation and discrimination marked by ‘Whites Only’ signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms must remain deep in our past,” he wrote. “We must never return to any semblance of that time.”

Pence amended the bill in an attempt to curb fears of discrimination, but he couldn’t win, as social conservatives lashed out against what they saw as a weakening of the legislation.

In other words, Pence is no stranger to the battles that rage in media, both social and traditional. But now that he’s Trump’s running mate, it’s safe to say he ain’t seen nothing yet.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 07.14.16. 07.14.16
  • Time of Publication: 10:36 am. 10:36 am

Thiel: We Must Talk ‘Frankly’ About America’s Problems

Key Speakers At The LendIt USA 2016 ConferencePeter Thiel.Bloomberg/Getty Images

Silicon Valley promised us flying cars. Instead, we get Peter Thiel speaking at the Republican National Convention.

A newly released list of speakers for next week’s convention in Cleveland includes Thiel, the litigious Silicon Valley billionaire investor, Facebook board member, and Donald Trump delegate, who, most recently, funded a revenge lawsuit against Gawker that forced the media company into bankruptcy.

In a statement to WIRED, Thiel explained why he wants to appear at the convention, an obligation even top Republicans have ducked this year. “Many people are uncertain in this election year,” he wrote, “but most Americans agree that our country is on the wrong track. I don’t think we can fix our problems unless we can talk about them frankly.”

In any other election year, Thiel’s presence at the convention wouldn’t be all that surprising. A known libertarian, he was one of the most prominent backers of Ron Paul’s 2012 Super PAC, and during primary season he was a key donor to Carly Fiorina’s Super PAC.

But the fact that Trump is this year’s presumptive Republican nominee makes Thiel’s support curious. On everything from trade to immigration to government data collection, Trump’s policies stand in direct opposition to the ones laid out by major industry groups like the Internet Association and TechNet.

Today, a large group of tech leaders, including Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, investor Vinod Khosla, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, and more than 100 others published an open letter repudiating Trump, not just for his tech policies, but for his broader campaign.

“He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline,” the letter reads. “We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation.”1

Thiel’s decision to back Trump is also unique given the new RNC platform’s stance on LGBT issues. Thiel is openly gay and supports gay marriage, but this year’s RNC platform includes a plank that supports conversion therapy for LGBT people and promotes states’ rights to decide which bathrooms transgender people can use. When this so-called “bathroom bill” was introduced in North Carolina, the CEO of PayPal, the company Thiel co-founded, pulled plans to expand operations in that state.

Suffice it to say, as a member of the tech industry elite, Thiel is breaking ranks—even with himself. Back in 2014, in an interview with the conservative outlet The Daily Caller, Thiel waxed poetic about the future of democracy and said that Donald Trump, who had long toyed with a presidential bid, was “sort of symptomatic of everything that is wrong with New York City.”

Of course, he won’t be the only convention speaker who’s come out against Trump in the past. The list also includes former competitors Ted Cruz and Scott Walker, as well as Republican party leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

Oh, and PS: Peter Thiel rocks.

1. Update: 11:06 am ET 07/14/16 This story has been updated to include the open letter from tech industry leaders.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 07.11.16. 07.11.16
  • Time of Publication: 9:00 am. 9:00 am

Twitter to Stream the Republican and Democratic Conventions

Twitter has been perhaps the most talked about platform this election cycle. (Thanks, Donald Trump.) Now, in hopes of capturing even more of the political conversation, the company is announcing that it will livestream the Republican National Convention when it kicks off next week in Cleveland, followed by the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia the week after that.

The streams will be available on both the mobile and web apps through Twitter’s new Live product. The company recently tested Live during Wimbledon, streaming matches through a broadcasting partnership with the tennis tournament organizers.1 Later this year, the company will also team up with the NFL to stream Thursday night football.

The convention coverage, which will be shot by CBS and its online affiliate CBSN, is part of that push into event-based livestreaming, a fitting move for a company whose core strength has always been real-time events.

Throughout this election cycle, Twitter has vied with other social media sites for a share of the public attention. But it has excelled in moments when people want to huddle together to talk about one thing and one thing only. On debate nights, Twitter is the modern day spin room, and when a crisis hits, it’s typically the first place candidates go to respond. Facebook may have more users, but Twitter tends to have the densest, most instantaneous conversations around a single topic.

“Twitter is the fastest way to find out what’s happening in politics and to have a discussion about it,” Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief financial officer, said in a statement. The goal of the livestream, he said, is to give “people around the world the best way to experience democracy in action.”

Just how you’ll find the Twitter Live stream of the conventions is unclear, but CBS will likely tweet out a link to the Live page. A link to the page may also appear in the Twitter Moment for the convention. Either way, a spokesman for Twitter says, “It won’t be hard to find.”

The stream will be available to people who don’t have a Twitter account as well, which should help expose the platform to new users and show them why it’s useful. As the video streams on the live page, the company will also surface Tweets from across the platform that are relevant to that moment, using a combination of hashtags and its own algorithm.

For Twitter, this partnership is a smart move. Already, audiences are used to watching a live event on television, then turning to Twitter to comment on it. Now Twitter is placing the entire experience on the second screen. It also gives Twitter a way to compete with Facebook’s live feature, which delegates and other convention attendees will no doubt be using to cover everything that happens on and off the convention floor.

And for American voters, it will make the sometimes opaque and bizarre process of picking a president just a little more transparent.

1. Correction 09:32 am ET 7/11/16 An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported that Twitter partnered with ESPN. It partnered with Wimbledon.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 07.05.16. 07.05.16
  • Time of Publication: 1:07 pm. 1:07 pm

FBI Director: Clinton Emails Were Careless, Not Criminal

The FBI’s months-long investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private emails has come to an end. Investigators found that Clinton was “extremely careless” in handling classified information, FBI director James Comey said today. But they do not believe her transgressions warrant criminal charges.

Investigators interviewed Clinton for three-and-a-half hours over the Fourth of July weekend about her use of a private email server while Secretary of State, and the threat of a possible indictment has hung over her presidential campaign. The final decision on whether or not to bring charges against Clinton still remains with the Department of Justice.

“In our system the prosecutors make the decisions about whether charges are appropriate,” Comey said. “Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

Comey called the investigation “a painstaking undertaking, requiring thousands of hours of effort.” But while the FBI’s final assessment would seem to absolve Clinton of any criminal wrongdoing, its findings still give her opponents and critics ample fodder for criticizing her judgment.

The FBI searched several servers and email devices Clinton used as Secretary of State and found 110 emails and 52 email chains considered classified at the time they were sent and received, Comey said. Eight of those chains were top secret, the government’s highest security classification.

The investigation also found several thousand work-related emails not among the 30,000 messages Clinton handed over during the probe. The FBI discovered those emails by searching for traces on servers or devices connected to her email domain, as well as by analyzing archived government accounts of other officials who were emailing with Clinton at the time. Of those emails, the FBI found that another three were considered classified.

But Comey cautioned that Clinton’s failure to produce these emails was not likely an intentional attempt to obscure information. Instead, he said Clinton deleted or her email system purged many of those emails over time. Because Clinton wasn’t working with a government server or even a commercial service like Gmail, no archive existed.

‘Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.’ FBI Director James Comey

The FBI also assessed whether foreign governments had hacked Clinton’s account. Investigators found that Clinton did use her personal account while traveling “in the territory of sophisticated adversaries” but didn’t find any direct evidence of a hack.

At the very least, Comey emphasized that Clinton’s use of a private server was an exercise in sloppiness.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive highly classified information,” he said. “Any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about those matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”

Still, the FBI does not believe criminal charges are appropriate, because such a case would require evidence of “intentional misconduct or indication of disloyalty to the United States,” Comey said.

The Politics of Email

In a statement, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said the campaign is “glad that this matter is now resolved.”

“We are pleased that the career officials handling this case have determined that no further action by the Department is appropriate,” he said. “As the Secretary has long said, it was a mistake to use her personal email and she would not do it again.”

But while the investigation itself is over, this will not be the last time we hear about the email scandal. On one hand, Clinton no longer has an FBI investigation hanging over her head. On the other, Comey just handed Donald Trump and other conservative leaders ready-made talking points that will feed into concerns over Clinton’s trustworthiness and prudence. And the fact that Clinton likely won’t face charges, despite Comey’s rebuke, will only fuel more campaign rhetoric that the “system is rigged”—a sentiment already being fed by recent news that Bill Clinton met privately with Attorney General Loretta Lynch last month while the FBI investigation was still in progress.

Already, the presumptive Republican nominee has taken to Twitter to express those thoughts.

FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2016

In his remarks, Comey acknowledged that the FBI’s assessment will likely stir up more controversy about the politics of the investigation, but he rejected any claims of undue influence.

“Opinions are irrelevant,” he said. “Only facts matter, and the FBI found them here in an entirely apolitical and professional way.”

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 06.28.16. 06.28.16
  • Time of Publication: 3:05 pm. 3:05 pm

Benghazi Report Shows the Internet Is Killing Objectivity

Secretary Clinton Testifies at Benghazi HearingHillary Clinton testifies in front of the Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015.Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

If you were to read the way the left wing and right wing media were covering the newly released report on the attacks in Benghazi today, you could be forgiven for thinking they were referring to two entirely different documents.

“House panel investigating deadly Benghazi terrorist attack faults Obama administration response — finds Clinton knowingly misled public,” read the Fox News homepage banner.

“Benghazi Committee Releases Final Report, Slams Clinton,” the unabashedly conservative Breitbart News reported.

But over on the left, it was a different story. A very different story.

“House Republicans release anticlimactic Benghazi report,” Daily Kos wrote.

“$7 MILLION MOCKERY: GOP WITCH HUNT CLEARS CLINTON — ​AGAIN,” read the leading headline on the Huffington Post.

Even relatively mainstream outlets like The New York Times had a wildly different take from the right wing press: “House Benghazi Report Finds No New Evidence of Wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton.”

If you’re an American voter, trying to decide whether or not Clinton was responsible for the deaths of four Americans in Libya in 2012—which was, after all, one of the chief missions of the House Select Committee on Benghazi—which story do you believe? The answer: Whichever one you want.

The Beauty and the Tragedy

It is the beauty and the tragedy of the Internet age. As it becomes easier for anyone to build their own audience, it becomes harder for those audience members to separate fact from fiction from the gray area in between. As media consumers, we now have the freedom to self-select the truth that most closely resembles our existing beliefs, which makes our media habits fairly good indicators of our political beliefs. If your top news source is CNN, for instance, studies show you’re more likely to be liberal. If local radio and TV figure prominently in your news habits, you’re more likely to be conservative.

Meanwhile, since the early 2000s, the American National Election Studies show that partisanship in the US has spiked drastically, with Americans on either side of the aisle harboring ever colder feelings about their political opponents. It’s hard to prove the country’s increasingly polarized media habits had anything to do with that, but it’s also hard to believe the two trends are unrelated. The country is being fed wildly different stories, all from media outlets claiming the other side is biased. So who’s right? Is there even such a thing?

The Bias Card

Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Obama, summed it up well in response to Mother Jones’s Washington bureau chief David Corn’s comment on Twitter:

@DavidCornDC no you wouldn't, because all your news sources would still say that a) she's to blame, and b) all other news is biased

— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) June 28, 2016

Of course, the report itself is public, and interested audiences could theoretically “read this report for themselves,” as House Select Committee chairman Trey Gowdy suggested in a statement released with the report. And if they did, readers would see that the Committee both eviscerates the Obama administration for failing to adequately respond to threats in Libya and utterly fails to convincingly pin the blame on Clinton. Both, not either.

But at 800-pages, reading the report is a tall order for voters who now take their political lessons in caption-sized doses. Most readers probably didn’t even make it to the end of Breitbart’s 1,516 words on the subject or The Huffington Post’s 889 words, for that matter. If history serves, most of you probably stopped reading this story several paragraphs ago, and I’m only 517 words in.

That won’t matter, though. Because whatever people on both sides have read, they’ll claim to have heard the full and true story. But as the web widens, providing anyone a platform to tell their side of the story, that’s rarely if ever the case, and it may never be again.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 06.28.16. 06.28.16
  • Time of Publication: 6:01 am. 6:01 am

Clinton Tackles Tech’s Biggest Issues in New Policy Agenda

Democratic Presumptive Nominee for President former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton meets voters after delivering a speech in Columbus, Ohio on June 21, 2016.Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton is releasing her technology and innovation agenda today, which includes plans to expand broadband access to all American homes, forgive some student loans for people starting new companies or joining a startup, invest in computer science education in schools, and create a national commission on digital security.

Clinton will address the plan today as she visits a workforce training facility in Denver and later, hosts a townhall with digital content creators in Los Angeles.

The presumptive Democratic nominee has touched on tech issues in an ad hoc way before, urging Silicon Valley to help fight radicalization online and calling for greater protection for on-demand workers. This is the first time, however, that Clinton—or any presidential candidate for that matter—is synthesizing these ideas into a comprehensive platform.

Though many pieces of the agenda are policy prescriptions Clinton has announced in the past, including a plan to bring broadband access to every American home by 2020, the tech platform includes newer proposals as well. Her plan would, for instance, allow would-be entrepreneurs to defer their student loans interest free for up to three years as they launch their businesses. Business owners who locate in “distressed communities” or start a social enterprise also could ask the government to forgive as much as $17,500 in loans after five years in business.

The goal of this part of the plan is to encourage millennials to start businesses. Entrepreneurship among young Americans has fallen drastically, and student debt is often cited as one of the greatest obstacles to starting up.

The tech agenda also affirms Clinton’s commitment to net neutrality; her desire to make the United States Digital Service, a tech team that modernizes government processes, a permanent part of the executive branch; her plan to train 50,000 computer science teachers over the next decade; and her interest in ensuring tech companies can recruit top talent from anywhere in the world. According to the platform, Clinton “would ‘staple’ a green card to STEM masters and PhDs from accredited institutions.”

Silicon Valley will probably be most interested, however, in Clinton’s policies regarding privacy and encryption, both topics that have intersected with the country’s national security interests in the wake of the shooting in San Bernardino, California. But the newly released agenda may not satisfy. Though Clinton’s plan notes the importance of tech companies and law enforcement working together to preserve “individual privacy and security​,” it offers little in the way of specifics or new information. Clinton has repeatedly called for collaboration between Silicon Valley and the government to win the war against terrorists both online and off, but it’s never clear just how she’d convince a reluctant tech community to cooperate.

But while her sweeping suggestions may not appease security experts and others seeking specifics, the fact that Clinton has a tech agenda at all puts her ahead of just about everyone else in this presidential election cycle. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush tried to address such issues, but Donald Trump’s fixation with immigration and national security dominated the conversation. And Trump hasn’t offered much in the way of guidance here, except to say that as president, he would require Apple to manufacture its phones in the US and work with Bill Gates to “close that Internet up.”

It’s little surprise that Clinton would embrace the tech industry and its issues. Silicon Valley is loaded with high-dollar donors, and last week, a slew of technologists including LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Dropbox founder Drew Houston, Netflix founder Reed Hastings, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and others openly pledged support for Clinton. Meanwhile, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt, who also announced his support, has backed startups that work with the Clinton campaign and the Democratic party.

Not that Trump lacks any Silicon Valley backing. Noted libertarian and billionaire investor Peter Thiel is Trump delegate. Still, it’s clear that Clinton, like President Obama before her, has the tech industry’s vote. Now, she’s also got their attention.

Update 06/28/16 9:20 am ET: This story has been updated to include Clinton’s full tech agenda.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 06.21.16. 06.21.16
  • Time of Publication: 9:42 am. 9:42 am

#TrumpSoPoor is Trending Because, Well, His Campaign Kind of Is

The one presidential candidate who’s staked his reputation on being “really rich” is actually not all that rich, at least, not as far as his campaign is concerned.

On Monday, the Federal Election Commission’s monthly report revealed a historic gap between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s campaign war chests. Where Clinton ended the month with $42 million in cash on hand, Trump rounded out May with just $1.3 million. To put that in context, that’s less than the $1.8 million Ben Carson’s campaign still has left, and Carson dropped out of the race in March.

Word traveled fast, and overnight, the hashtag #TrumpSoPoor began trending on Twitter, spawning endless tweets about his business dealings…

#TrumpSoPoor He'll have to start paying taxes

— Jocelyn Plums (@FilthyRichmond) June 21, 2016

His looks…

#TrumpSoPoor he uses Tang when he runs out of Foundation.

— Brandon Unger (@ungerbn103) June 21, 2016

And of course, making Mexico pay for his campaign…

#TrumpSoPoor gonna make Mexico pay for his campaign

— David Shorr (@David_Shorr) June 21, 2016

But while Trump’s lack of cash may be shocking compared with Clinton’s abundance of it, it’s not all that surprising in the context of his campaign. Trump essentially self-funded his primary run and regularly spoke on the stump about why he wasn’t seeking money from outside donors. That rhetoric may have worked to sway primary voters, but it’s not a realistic strategy to fund an official presidential campaign in the general election.

The FEC report is an early reflection of Trump’s initial attempts at true campaign fundraising. It’s dismal, but it’s important to bear in mind that it reflects only the month of May. The next report, issued in July, will provide a clearer picture of whether Trump is truly struggling to raise money now that he’s really trying. The true challenge, however, will be matching Clinton’s on-air attacks. Already, reports show Clinton has reserved $117 million in TV ad time. Trump has reserved about zero, which means any ads he does place will come at a premium—a premium it doesn’t look like the Trump campaign can quite afford.

What’s just as telling as how much money the Trump campaign has raised, however, is where exactly that money is going. The answer: back into Trump’s pockets. According to the FEC filing, nearly 20 percent of Trump’s campaign expenditures have been spent on Trump-owned venues and airlines, as well as on members of the Trump family.

Talk about a self-funded campaign. Trump is, quite literally, funneling money back to himself. There are, for instance, a number of payroll disbursements to Donald J. Trump himself. There is a $423,000 payout to his Mar-A-Lago golf club and a $349,000 payment to Tag Air, a Trump-owned airline. And that’s just from May. There’s also a nearly $30,000 rental expense for Trump International Golf Club, and a nearly $36,000 fee for Trump National Golf Club. The list goes on.

The Trump campaign did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment, but a spokesperson told NBC News the campaign has “no concerns” about funding. And why should it? With all that money flowing back into Trump’s empire, perhaps #TrumpIsn’tSoPoor after all.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 06.15.16. 06.15.16
  • Time of Publication: 11:31 am. 11:31 am

Trump Spurns GOP Pieties to Meet With NRA on Terror List Gun Ban

Donald Trump often gets away with saying things that would be political suicide for anyone else. But this time he’s saying something that most Americans might actually agree with.

In the wake of the deadly shooting in Orlando last weekend, Donald Trump says he plans to meet with the National Rifle Association to talk about limiting gun access to people suspected of ties to terrorism.

I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2016

The demand for this kind of change has grown deafening in recent days, especially after news emerged that, despite the FBI investigating him twice for his suspected terrorist ties, the Orlando shooter was still able to purchase a gun.

While Democrats have re-upped their calls for curbs on suspected terrorists’ ability to buy guns, Republicans have been entirely unwilling to entertain the idea. That’s largely due to the fact that the NRA wields enormous power over the GOP. But Trump has proven time and again throughout this election that Republican politics and pieties hold little sway over him.

Trump’s tweet pulls back the curtain on the fact that it’s the NRA, not Congress, that dictates the country’s gun laws.

Instead, Trump has staked his reputation to the claim that terrorism is the number-one threat facing the country, and that he will do anything in his power to stop it, including banning Muslim people from entering the United States. Keeping guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists is entirely in keeping with that message, whether or not it aligns with the Republican playbook.

The question now is: how will Republicans in Congress respond to Trump once again going rogue? Trump’s tweet pulls back the curtain on the fact that it’s the NRA, not Congress, that dictates the country’s gun laws. It also puts Republicans in a tricky position politically. Do they take this opportunity to voice their support for a policy that 71 percent of Americans already support? Or do they stick to the script for fear of upsetting the almighty NRA?

None of this is to say that Trump is becoming a gun control advocate. During his national security speech, Trump said Hillary Clinton wants to “take away Americans’ guns, then admit the very people who want to slaughter us.” Though that’s far from factual, it’s Trump’s way of pandering to pro-gun advocates.

This incident may still scare Republicans anyway, if for no other reason than it illustrates how little control the GOP and its longstanding allegiances have over Trump as president. It’s what Trump’s supporters love about him. It’s what keeps his ostensible allies up at night.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 06.13.16. 06.13.16
  • Time of Publication: 6:07 pm. 6:07 pm

Trump Bans Washington Post in Latest Assault on the Press

Donald Trump has never made a secret of his disdain for what he has called, at turns, the “disgusting” and “dishonest” press. Now, the presumptive Republican nominee is taking that vitriol to the next level, announcing on his Facebook page that he is revoking The Washington Post‘s press credentials.

According to Trump, this decision is a response to a story the Post published earlier this morning that accused Trump of trying to connect President Barack Obama with the Orlando shooting. The story referenced an interview Trump did with Fox News this morning in which he said, “Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind.” The Post apparently took that to mean Trump was implying that the president may be “identifying with radicalized Muslims.”

On his Facebook page, Trump said that while he is “no fan of President Obama,” the story is “incredibly inaccurate.”

“We are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post,” Trump wrote.

Spurious as the Post‘s claims may be, it’s hard not to read Trump’s decision to ban the storied publication from his events as a major attack on the free press. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time either. The Trump campaign has repeatedly turned down reporters for press credentials without explanation or warning. Meanwhile, the candidate has promised that if he becomes president, he will “open up” the country’s libel laws to make it easier to sue news outlets “and win lots of money.”

The freedom of the press, of course, is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Given that Trump is already challenging freedom of religion by proposing a ban on Muslim immigrants, it’s little wonder he would play fast and loose with the freedom of the press as well.

In a statement, Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said the Trump campaign’s decision is “nothing less than the repudiation of the role of a free and independent press.” Baron said the Post would continue to cover the Trump campaign “as it has all along — honorably, honestly, accurately, energetically, and unflinchingly.”

Donald Trump today revoked press credentials for @washingtonpost. My statement here.

— Marty Baron (@PostBaron) June 13, 2016

The Post’s publisher, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has yet to respond, but it’s clear there’s no love lost between the two billionaires either. In response to Trump’s criticisms of the Post last year, Bezos Tweeted that there’s always a seat for Trump on his space company Blue Origin’s rocket with the hashtag #SendDonaldToSpace.

Finally trashed by @realDonaldTrump. Will still reserve him a seat on the Blue Origin rocket. #sendDonaldtospace

— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) December 7, 2015

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 06.09.16. 06.09.16
  • Time of Publication: 3:59 pm. 3:59 pm

Obama Endorsement Yields Clinton’s Most [FIRE EMOJI] Tweet Yet


President Barack Obama is officially “#WithHer.”

The president announced his long-awaited endorsement of Hillary Clinton in a YouTube video posted to Clinton’s channel today. He congratulates Clinton on becoming the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee, saying, “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.”

Of course, Donald Trump had something to say about this, immediately tweeting:

Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama—but nobody else does!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2016

And that’s when Clinton’s Twitter team, obviously feeling their damn selves after Obama’s endorsement, took the gloves off.

Delete your account.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 9, 2016

Game on. Already the tweet is the most popular Clinton has ever sent, and that’s saying something, given she had some of the most popular political Tweets of 2015.

It may sound like a small thing, but make no mistake, this tweet represents what could be a kind of turning point for the Clinton campaign. It not only represents a level of attitude her campaign rarely leveled at Democratic rival Bernie Sanders online. It’s also an indication that the campaign may be prepared to be more nimble in responding to what are sure to be Trump’s all too frequent Twitter attacks.

One criticism of Clinton during primary season is that she always appeared a little too rehearsed, a little too cautious, when up against Sanders. In reality, what the social media age now craves is an air of off-the-cuff authenticity. Trump is a master of conveying that quality. Now, we’ll see if Clinton can bring this same online agility to the debate stage and beyond this fall.

As for Obama, who was, of course, the catalyst to this catfight, he said he’s eager to get on the campaign trail with Clinton, and also thanked Bernie Sanders on his hard-fought campaign. Obama noted that embracing Sanders’ message “is going to help us win in November.”

That includes not just the substance of that message, it seems, but the style, too.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 06.07.16. 06.07.16
  • Time of Publication: 6:10 pm. 6:10 pm

New Clinton Video Celebrates Glass Ceiling-Shattering Win

Tonight, Hillary Clinton plans to claim victory as the first female candidate to become a major political party’s presumptive nominee for president.

In honor of that moment in history—and before the results of today’s six primaries are announced—the Clinton campaign has released a video that celebrates the former Secretary of State’s accomplishment, positioning it as the climax of decades of work stretching back to the women’s suffrage movement in the 1800s and the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s.

The video features footage and famous quotes of prominent female leaders, including Gloria Steinem and Rosa Parks, and of course, Clinton herself. These include Clinton’s famous declaration at the 1995 UN Conference on Women: “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”

The video, which urges supporters to “keep making history,” represents a turning point in Clinton’s campaign. Now, as she readies herself for battle against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, whose support among women in the United States is dismal, Clinton is embracing with both arms not only the historical significance of her pending nomination but the obvious electoral advantages is could give her in November.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 06.06.16. 06.06.16
  • Time of Publication: 11:59 am. 11:59 am

Buzzfeed Takes A Stand Against Trump, Rejects RNC Ads

Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti told employees Monday that the media giant is dropping the Republican National Committee as an advertiser, now that Donald Trump is the party’s presumptive nominee.

In an email to the staff, Peretti explained the decision, likening Trump ads to cigarette ads. “We don’t run cigarette ads because they are hazardous to our health,” Peretti wrote, “and we won’t accept Trump ads for the exact same reason.”

Peretti took particular issue with Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, his approach to immigration, his comments about women, and his threats to limit the free press. “We certainly don’t like to turn away revenue that funds all the important work we do across the company,” the email reads. “However, in some cases we must make business exceptions.”

Buzzfeed’s decision to withdraw from the advertising deal illustrates just how thorny Trump’s relationship with the media has become. As the candidate consistently bashes the press as “dishonest” and “disgusting,” those same media outlets are struggling to remain unbiased, while also acknowledging that Trump’s campaign—and many of its platforms—are anything but normal. Just as Trump is rewriting the rules around how politicians are supposed to behave, he’s also rewriting the rules around how responsible journalists need to cover what is a historically incendiary and polarizing candidacy.

Peretti insisted that the advertising decision won’t impact Buzzfeed’s coverage of Trump, and yet, it’s tough not to read this as, well, whatever the opposite of an endorsement is. Buzzfeed is not, however, the first media outlet to take such a public stand. The Huffington Post, which Peretti co-founded with Arianna Huffington, famously published all its early Trump coverage this election cycle under its Entertainment section. By December, it reversed that decision, but now ends its Trump coverage with a note that reads, “Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”

Trump’s campaign has also put new media sources, like Facebook, in a tricky position, as the company tries to balance its responsibility as a news source without appearing to back Trump’s policies. Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, an immigration activist, appeared to criticize Trump’s plan’s to build a wall on the Mexican border. Weeks later, when Facebook was accused of suppressing conservative content in its Trending Topics feature, that comment was considered by some to be evidence of Facebook’s clear liberal bias.

In a typical election year, it’s unlikely these public figures—particularly those in the journalism business—would feel so justified in speaking out against one candidate over another. But with Trump’s historically low favorability ratings and his widespread rejection within the Republican party, it’s clear that this is no typical election year. To pretend that it is risks normalizing Trump’s most radical ideas.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 06.02.16. 06.02.16
  • Time of Publication: 5:23 pm. 5:23 pm

Clinton to America: What If Twitter Were the Situation Room

Hillary Clinton used Donald Trump’s own words as weapons against him during her highly anticipated speech on national security today. She depicted her Republican opponent as “temperamentally unfit” to be President of the United States, and for proof, she pointed to Trump’s Twitter feed.

“Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry but America’s entire arsenal,” Clinton said.

Clinton lifted lines from Trump’s own speeches, interviews, and social media accounts and used them to paint a picture of a candidate who does not have a coherent plan for the country, “just a series of bizarre rants.” The audience in San Diego laughed as Clinton paraphrased Trump’s stance on everything from war to North Korea to climate change.

“He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or ambassadors, because he has, quote, ‘a very good brain,'” Clinton said. “He believes climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.”


The former Secretary of State also rightly predicted that Trump might have something to say about these barbs. “We all know the tools Donald Trump brings to the table: bragging, mocking, composing nasty tweets. I’m willing to bet he’s writing a few right now.”

In fact, just moments before, Trump had done just that:

Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton! Reading poorly from the telepromter! She doesn't even look presidential!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 2, 2016

Afterward, “Imagine Donald Trump” began trending on Twitter, a reference to Clinton asking the audience to “imagine Donald Trump in the Situation Room.”

The speech was a sneak peek of what the general election season is bound to look like—and how it will play out online. Taking a cue from her nemesis, Clinton leaned more heavily on personal attacks, rather than policy talk, managing to steal the news cycle from Trump for the day. In the process, the Clinton campaign seems to be acknowledging that this fall, it’s not just better ideas that will win the election. It’s better memes.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 06.01.16. 06.01.16
  • Time of Publication: 6:44 pm. 6:44 pm

Obama Bashes Trump On Trade, Immigration, and Tweets

OBAMA in ElkhartPresident Barack Obama waits during a break in filming a town hall meeting for PBS Newshour at the Lerner Theater in Elkhart, Indiana on June 1, 2016.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

During a speech on his economic record today, President Obama issued a scorching warning to Americans about Donald Trump: “Don’t think this agenda’s going to help you. It’s not designed to help you.”

The president sounded at turns exasperated and confounded as he addressed the people of Elkhart, Indiana, a town he last visited during the throes of the recession in 2009, and which he said he chose today “precisely because this county votes Republican.”

“If the economy is really what’s driving this election, then it’s going to be voters like you who will have to decide between two very different visions of what’s going to help strengthen our middle class,” Obama told the crowd before laying out what he believes the differences between those visions are.

For Obama, the speech was a chance to boast about his administration’s economic achievements—including the country’s consistent job growth and a shrinking deficit—while bashing the presumptive Republican nominee for president, who Obama believes would derail that progress. Without ever mentioning his name, Obama took Trump to task over everything from his tax policies to immigration to trade to his “provocative” tweets.

“I’m not here looking for votes,” Obama said. “I’m here because I care deeply as a citizen about making sure we sustain and build on all the work that communities like yours have done to bring America back over the last seven and a half years.”

Populist POTUS

Not that Obama shied away from sounding the kind of populist note that has characterized the 2016 campaign season. He called Trump’s proposal to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants “a fantasy” and rejected the idea that immigrants are responsible for stagnating wages in this country. Instead, he laid the blame on another popular target—corporate elites.

“Those decisions are made in the board rooms of companies where top CEOs are getting paid more than 300 times the income of the average worker,” he said.

He went on to frame Trump as a candidate who only has the interests of the rich at heart. He attacked Trump’s plans to overhaul the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill, and lambasting his proposed tax plan which would provide a major tax cut to the top .1 percent of American earners.

“That will not make your lives better,” Obama said. “That will help people like him.”


On trade, Obama called the idea that “other countries are killing us on trade,” which is a frequent Trump talking point, a myth. He argued, instead, that while trade and technological advancement have hurt certain industries, they’ve helped others, like agriculture and technology. He also emphasized the importance of trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership in dictating the terms of trade.

“If you don’t want China to set the rules for the 21st century, and they’re trying, then TPP makes sure we set the rules,” Obama said.

On that point, at least, Obama was not just fighting Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric. Both Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have publicly opposed the deal as well. With that exception, the president’s talk could have easily been ripped from the stump speeches of either of the Democratic candidates on the campaign trail. On nearly every economic issue—from pay equity to labor standards to investment in infrastructure—Obama painted a doomsday scenario on the right.

“When I hear working families thinking about voting for those plans, then I want to have an intervention,” Obama said.

“If we fall for a bunch of okey doke, just because it sounds funny or the tweets are provocative then we’re not going to build on the progress that we started.”

Tell us how you really feel, Mr. President.

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 05.17.16. 05.17.16
  • Time of Publication: 5:32 pm. 5:32 pm

Sanders Condemns Nevada Violence—and the State’s Democratic Party

This weekend’s Nevada Democratic State Convention looked like something out of a Donald Trump rally—which is to say, it was marked by chaotic protests, violent threats, and flying projectiles.

On Saturday night, Bernie Sanders’ supporters reportedly revolted against the Nevada Democratic Party, accusing it of intentionally rigging the convention to favor Hillary Clinton. The fight continued throughout the weekend as aggrieved Sanders supporters deluged Nevada Democratic Chair Roberta Lange with sexist and threatening texts and voicemails.

Today, the Vermont senator issued a statement condemning any instances of violence carried out by his supporters. At the same time, he denounced what he called a corrupt system within the Nevada state party.

“Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals,” Sanders said in a statement. But, he added: “At that convention the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place.”

At issue is the fact that though Clinton won the Nevada caucuses in February, the Sanders campaign has been actively organizing to win county conventions. By amassing more delegates at these county conventions, the Sanders campaign stood to cut into Clinton’s delegate lead at the statewide convention.

But the Nevada State Democratic Party denied credentials to 64 of Sanders’ delegates, saying that they either weren’t registered as Democrats or that their records couldn’t be verified. In the end, six of them received credentials, but the vote still tipped in Clinton’s favor.

The room soon erupted in protests.

Meanwhile, the chaotic scene has created waves within Sanders’ massive Reddit community as well. Moderators are urging Sanders supporters to avoid the kind of language that could get them in trouble with the media.

“They’re ​expecting​ us to act this way. If we take the bait and react violently and/or with threats of violence, we play right into their hands,” one moderator wrote. “Remember, what would Bernie do?”

Setting aside the issue of violence, however, it’s a little ironic to see the Sanders campaign accusing the state party of rigging the contest. Sanders has often criticized party leaders for trying to subvert the will of the people. But in this case, it’s Clinton who won the Nevada caucus to begin with and Sanders who’s using the cryptic system of delegate math to gain the edge.

On a related note: Anyone know where a girl can secure a hardhat for the convention in July?

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  • Author: Issie Lapowsky. Issie Lapowsky Business
  • Date of Publication: 05.17.16. 05.17.16
  • Time of Publication: 11:32 am. 11:32 am

Marco Rubio Lets It All Out in an Epic Tweetstorm

US-VOTE-REPUBLICANS-RUBIOFlorida Senator Marco Rubio at a rally on March 14, 2016 in Miami. RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images

Marco Rubio is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

Last night, in a Tweetstorm for the ages, the Florida Senator let loose a torrent of frustrations about what has been the most absurd election cycle in recent memory. And can you blame him?

It’s been a rough year for Rubio. Once thought to be the Republican party’s great hope, instead he spent this election cycle being repeatedly ridiculed for his height, his urge to stay well hydrated, his possibly overactive sweat glands, and more. He not only lost his home state of Florida, but he opted not to run for re-election to the Senate.

With the exception of his Marcorobot meltdown during the New Hampshire debate, the young Senator mostly retained his composure. But with just months left until he’s a private citizen again, Rubio is taking a note straight from the Donald Trump playbook, and telling it like it is on Twitter.

The flint to Rubio’s fire last night seemed to have been a Washington Post article alleging that he is “betwixt and between” on his next move.

Funny to read about unnamed "people close" to me who claim to know my thinking on future plans.They just make it up.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016

Unnamed sources "close to" often just people who want to sound like they are in the know. And reporters desperate for content just accept it

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016

Flashback to another article quoting a "longtime friend" saying I "hate" Senate. Words I have NEVER said to anyone.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016

Then Rubio really upped the attitude:

Another genius line claims that Im "a bit at sea in terms of his next step politically". Ummmm Not really.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016

I have only said like 10000 times I will be a private citizen in January.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016

As for future in politics, well it's nearly impossible for someone not in office to ever become a successful candidate for President.Right?

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016

A source "close to Rubio" says he was tired after long day & has decided to sleep for a few hours before tomorrow's ZIKA debate in Senate.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016

Go on Senator, let it out:

A "longtime friend" says Rubio is "betwixt and between when it comes to whether to chest or legs tomorrow at gym."

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016

According to source who knows his cousins, wife's dentist, Rubio could do cardio instead.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016

Ok that's enough for one night. Twitter isn't something you should just rush back into. You have to slowly increase the dosage…….

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016

Let’s dispel with this fiction that Marco Rubio doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing—and we kind of love it.

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