Jeff Zucker resigned on Wednesday as the president of CNN and the chairman of WarnerMedia’s news and sports division, writing in a memo that he had failed to disclose to the company a romantic relationship with another senior executive at CNN.
Mr. Zucker, 56, is among the most powerful leaders in the American media and television industries. The abrupt end of his nine-year tenure immediately throws into flux the direction of CNN and its parent company, WarnerMedia, which is expected to be acquired later this year by Discovery Inc. in one of the nation’s largest media mergers.
In a memo to colleagues that was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Zucker wrote that his relationship came up during a network investigation into the conduct of Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor who was fired in December over his involvement in the political affairs of his brother, former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York.
“As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years,” Mr. Zucker wrote. “I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong.”
CNN+, a subscription streaming service that is set to begin this spring.
“Together, we had nine great years,” Mr. Zucker wrote in his memo on Wednesday. “I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently. But it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute.”
As the gregarious and sometimes combative host of CNN’s 9 p.m. hour, Mr. Cuomo was at the peak of a broadcast journalism career that he had forged outside of his famed political family. But it was the troubles of his brother, who resigned the governorship in August, that ultimately embroiled Mr. Cuomo in a controversy that appeared to precipitate his dismissal.
“This is not how I want my time at CNN to end but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother,” Chris Cuomo said in a statement earlier on Saturday. “So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did as CNN’s #1 show in the most competitive time slot.”
Until last month, Mr. Cuomo had enjoyed the support of CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, and he faced no discipline for his behind-the-scenes strategizing with Andrew Cuomo’s political aides, a breach of basic journalistic norms.
But documents released on Nov. 29 revealed that the anchor offered advice on Andrew Cuomo’s public statements and made efforts to uncover the status of pending articles at other news outlets, including The New Yorker and Politico, concerning harassment allegations against his brother.
Mr. Zucker — who had been steadfast in backing Chris Cuomo, at one point saying the anchor was “human” and facing “very unique circumstances” — informed the anchor on Saturday that he was being fired. “It goes without saying that these decisions are not easy, and there are a lot of complex factors involved,” Mr. Zucker wrote in a memo to CNN staff.
The spectacle of a high-profile anchor advising his powerful politician brother amid scandal was a longstanding headache for many CNN journalists, who privately expressed discomfort at actions that, in their view, compromised the network’s credibility. The CNN anchor Jake Tapper went public with his concerns in May, telling The New York Times that his colleague had “put us in a bad spot,” adding, “I cannot imagine a world in which anybody in journalism thinks that that was appropriate.”
Even so, the timing of Mr. Cuomo’s firing, on a Saturday at 5 p.m., caught many members of the CNN newsroom off guard.
When Jeffrey Epstein gave The Times columnist James Stewart a tour of his apartment a few years ago, he boasted of his expansive Rolodex of billionaires — and the dirt he had on them. A year and a half after the financier’s death by suicide in a New York jail, the fallout for those in the registered sex offender’s orbit, and increasingly those a step or two removed from it, continues to spread.
For example, the latest management reshuffle at Apollo, as we reported yesterday, can be linked back to Epstein. Tracing all the resignations and reshuffles directly and indirectly tied to the scandal will take a while (we’re working on it), but here’s a tally of some so far:
The Apollo co-founder Leon Black said in January that he would resign as C.E.O. but stay on as chairman, after an internal inquiry found he had paid $158 million to Epstein for tax advice. He unexpectedly quit both posts in March, and later stepped down as chairman of the Museum of Modern Art. Josh Harris, a fellow co-founder who had unsuccessfully pushed Black to quit immediately, said yesterday that he was stepping back from Apollo after failing to become the next C.E.O.; Marc Rowan, Apollo’s third co-founder and Black’s pick as successor, now leads the firm.
When the details of meetings between Epstein and Bill Gates burst into public view in late 2019, the billionaire’s wife, Melinda French Gates, hired divorce lawyers. The couple’s split, announced this month, could upend their numerous investments and philanthropic ventures
Les Wexner announced last February that he would step down as C.E.O. of the Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands, under pressure from multiple internal investigations about his close ties to Epstein. Earlier this year, he and his wife, Abigail Wexner, said they would not stand for re-election to the L Brands board this month. (The company is now in the process of spinning off Victoria’s Secret.) Mr. Wexner was Epstein’s biggest early client and, a Times investigation found, the original source of the financier’s wealth.
Prince Andrew of Britain gave up his public duties last November, days after a disastrous interview with the BBC centered on his relationship with Epstein. At least 47 charities and nonprofits of which he was a patron have since cut ties to the prince.
Joi Ito resigned as the director of the M.I.T. Media Lab, a prominent research group, in 2019 and as member of several corporate boards (including The New York Times Co.), after acknowledging that he had received $1.7 million in investments from Epstein.
Alexander Acosta resigned as Donald Trump’s labor secretary in 2019, amid criticism of his handling of a 2008 sex crimes case against Epstein when he was a federal prosecutor in Miami.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Morgan Stanley sets up its C.E.O. succession competition. The Wall Street firm gave new roles to four top executives, marking them as candidates to take over from James Gorman: Ted Pick and Andy Saperstein were named co-presidents; Jonathan Pruzan was named C.O.O.; and Dan Simkowitz was named co-head of strategy with Pick.
The U.S. endorses a global minimum tax of at least 15 percent. The proposal, which was lower than some had expected, is closely tied to the Biden administration’s plans to raise the corporate tax rate. Global coordination would discourage multinationals from shifting to tax havens overseas.
Treasury officials said they could capture at least $700 billion in additional revenue. That would involve hiring 5,000 new I.R.S. agents, imposing new rules on reporting crypto transactions and other measures.
U.S. customs officials block a Uniqlo shipment over Chinese forced labor concerns. Agents at the Port of Los Angeles acted under an order prohibiting imports of cotton items produced in the Xinjiang region.
U.S. steel prices are soaring. After years of job losses and mill closures, American steel producers have enjoyed a reversal of fortune: Nucor, for instance, is the year’s top-performing stock in the S&P 500. Credit goes to industry consolidation, a recovering economy and Trump-era tariffs. Unsurprisingly, steel consumers aren’t thrilled about it.
Oprah Winfrey to Blackstone, made its stock market debut yesterday, ending its first trading session with a valuation of about $13 billion. DealBook spoke with Oatly’s C.E.O., Toni Petersson, about the I.P.O. and what’s next for the company.
resignation letter offering both praise of SoftBank’s chief, Masa Son — and unusually pointed criticism of the company’s corporate governance.
Going out vs. staying in, charted
It’s been a while since we checked in on an alternative indicator of pandemic economic activity: the share price ratio of Clorox to Dave & Buster’s.
Wait, what? Nick Mazing, the director of research at the data provider Sentieo, came up with that metric to gauge the openness of the economy. The higher Clorox’s share price rises relative to Dave & Buster’s, the more people appear to be staying home and disinfecting everything than going out to crowded bars. By this measure, conditions have nearly returned to prepandemic levels — indeed, Dave & Buster’s recently lifted its sales forecast, as nearly all of its beer-and-arcade bars have reopened.
packed concert schedule, selling tickets to people who may have already binge-watched all of “Below Deck.” The second, however, suggests that people aren’t as eager to get back to huffing and puffing at the gym as they are content to exercise at home. As restrictions lift and people feel safer in crowds, drinking and dancing appear to be higher priorities.
new book, “Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment,” the Princeton psychology professor and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, along with co-authors Olivier Sibony and Cass Sunstein, argue that these inconsistencies have enormous and avoidable consequences. Kahneman spoke to DealBook about how to hone judgment and reduce noise.
DealBook: What is “noise” in this context?
Kahneman: It’s unwanted and unpredictable variability in judgments about the same situations. Some decisions and solutions are better than others and there are situations where everyone should be aiming at the same target.
Can you give some examples?
A basic example is the criminal justice system, which is essentially a machine for producing sentences for people convicted of crimes. The punishments should not be too different for the same crime yet sentencing turns out to depend on the judge and their mood and characteristics. Similarly, doctors looking at the same X-ray should not be reaching completely different conclusions.
How do individuals or institutions detect this noise?
You detect noise in a set of measurements and can run an experiment. Present underwriters with the same policy to evaluate and see what they say. You don’t want a price so high that you don’t get the business or one so low that it represents a risk. Noise costs institutions. One underwriter’s decision about one policy will not tell you about variability. But many underwriters’ decisions about the same cases will reveal noise.
An arm of Goldman Sachs has raised $3 billion from clients to invest in later-stage start-ups. (WSJ)
SPACs have raised $100 billion this year through May 19, a record, but new fund listings dropped sharply last month. (Insider)
Politics and policy
President Biden issued an executive order directing government agencies to expand efforts to analyze and mitigate the economic risks tied to climate change. (Axios)
“As Paycheck Protection Program Runs Dry, Desperation Grows” (NYT)
CNN said the prime-time host Chris Cuomo inappropriately advised his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, on how to respond to sexual harassment allegations. (NYT)
Paul Romer was one of the tech industry’s favorite economists; now he is criticizing Silicon Valley giants for being too big. (NYT)
Amazon was recently pushed to ban prominent electronics accessory makers by the F.T.C. over fake-review schemes. (Recode)
Best of the rest
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett got more than 200 billionaires to pledge half their wealth to charity. Some are falling short, but still getting massive tax breaks. (Insider)
FIFA, the global soccer governing body, secretly considered supporting the European Super League, before reconsidering amid public outcry about the now-failed competition. (NYT)
Five questions to ask before you panic about inflation. (NYT)
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The CNN prime-time host Chris Cuomo offered public-relations advice to his brother, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, after a series of sexual harassment allegations threatened the governor’s political career earlier this year, an unusual breach of traditional barriers between lawmakers and journalists.
CNN said on Thursday that the conversations were “inappropriate” and that Chris Cuomo would refrain from any more similar discussions with the governor’s staff. But the network said it would take no disciplinary action against the anchor, whose program was CNN’s highest-rated show in the first quarter of the year.
The episode has — once again — raised questions about Chris Cuomo’s ability to host a flagship cable news program while his brother is a key figure in several major political stories. Besides the harassment allegations from several women who worked on his staff, Governor Cuomo has faced criticism for obscuring the number of coronavirus deaths in New York State nursing homes. Last year, before the scandals became news, Governor Cuomo commanded a national audience with his daily briefings on the pandemic.
Governor Cuomo’s office said on Thursday that Chris Cuomo had joined several strategy calls with the governor and some of his top advisers, confirming an earlier report by The Washington Post. Earlier this year, CNN barred Chris Cuomo from participating in its news coverage of the harassment allegations lodged against his brother, who has denied any wrongdoing.
he helped write speeches for Joseph R. Biden Jr., who was then a candidate for president.
Several of Fox News’s opinion hosts actively advised President Trump during his administration; Sean Hannity even appeared with Mr. Trump at a boisterous campaign rally. But CNN’s leadership often criticized Fox News for those blurred lines, with Jeff Zucker, the CNN president, describing the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox as “state-run TV.”
After Chris Cuomo joined CNN in 2013, he mostly refrained from interviewing his brother on television. (One early exception led to some backlash.) That changed last year, after Governor Cuomo’s coronavirus updates became a national phenomenon. The brothers engaged in extended prime-time interviews about the emotional burdens of the pandemic. Viewers were riveted, especially after Chris Cuomo tested positive for the coronavirus and began speaking with his brother from isolation in a basement.
CNN leaned into the moment. “You get trust from authenticity and relatability and vulnerability,” Mr. Zucker told The New York Times last year. “That’s what the brothers Cuomo are giving us right now.”
who received special access to government-run coronavirus testing facilities, including a police escort for samples so that they could be quickly processed.
At the time, a CNN spokesman defended the host, arguing that Mr. Cuomo was sick with the virus and “turned to anyone he could for advice and assistance, as any human being would.”
Announcing phony news on April Fools’ Day is one of corporate America’s favorite occasions for shameless publicity stunts. But when stonks, Dogecoin and $69 million JPG files are real things that warrant serious business coverage, the risk of jokes being taken seriously could hardly be higher. Some say that’s a good reason to skip them, not to mention the gravity that a pandemic has cast over things.
With that in mind, can you spot the prank among these recent announcements? (Scroll to the bottom for the answer.)
A: To celebrate National Burrito Day today, Chipotle is giving away $100,000 worth of Bitcoin.
B: Volkwagen’s U.S. operation is changing its name to “Voltswagen” to emphasize the company’s push into electric vehicles.
C: Robinhood is nixing a confetti animation when app users make a stock trade to reduce “distraction.”
complaints about burnout.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Business groups challenge President Biden’s proposed corporate tax increases. The Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce were among those that praised Mr. Biden’s plan to spend trillions on infrastructure. But they rejected his idea to pay for it by raising taxes, saying that doing so would endanger the economic recovery.
delay future shipments of its vaccine after a mix-up at a manufacturing plant. A top E.U. official said the bloc would allow “zero” shipments of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to Britain until the drugmaker fulfilled its commitments to Brussels. And France announced a third nationwide lockdown as its cases mount and inoculation efforts lag.
A tough day for initial public offerings. As Deliveroo had “the worst I.P.O. in London’s history,” other offerings also struggled. In the U.S., the SoftBank-backed real estate brokerage Compass priced at the bottom of a reduced range, while the low-cost airline Frontier sold at the low end of expectations. And in Canada, the space tech company MDA priced below its range.
Microsoft wins a huge contract to make augmented-reality headsets for the U.S. Army. The tech giant will receive up to $22 billion for equipping soldiers with sensors based on its HoloLens technology. It’s another big defense contract for Microsoft, which beat out Amazon to provide a $10 billion cloud computing system for the Pentagon.
Executives get a ‘sense of urgency’ in Georgia
A day after 72 Black executives signed a letter calling on companies to fight restrictive voting bills more forcefully, executives have begun speaking out more directly about laws that limit ballot access. But their statements came too late to affect a sweeping law passed last week in Georgia that added new requirements for absentee voting, limits on drop boxes and other restrictions that have an outsize impact on Black voters.
Today in Business
Delta and Coca-Cola reversed course. Ed Bastian, Delta’s C.E.O., told employees, “I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.” James Quincey, Coca-Cola’s C.E.O., said he wanted to be “crystal clear” that “the Coca-Cola Company does not support this legislation, as it makes it harder for people to vote, not easier.”
The statements by the Atlanta-based companies angered local politicians, including Gov. Brian Kemp. In the past, corporate stands on controversial issues have led to political retribution: In 2018, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle stripped a tax break proposal from a bill that would benefit Delta after the airline ended a promotional discount for N.R.A. members. The State House passed a similar measure yesterday, but the Senate didn’t take it up before the chambers adjourned for the year.
Retaliation also goes the other way: In an interview with ESPN, President Biden said he would “strongly support” moving Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game from Atlanta, scheduled for July.
“It is regrettable that the sense of urgency came after the legislation was passed and signed into law,” said Darren Walker, the Ford Foundation president, who is a board member at Pepsi, Ralph Lauren and Square.
said the company stood “ready to continue to help in ensuring every Georgia voter has the ability to vote.” A spokesperson for Home Depot reiterated the company’s stance that it believes “all elections should be accessible, fair and secure.” A spokesperson for Inspire Brands, the owner of Dunkin’ Donuts and Arby’s, said that it “values inclusivity” and believes that “every American should have equal access to their right to vote.”
“The argument is they are recruited, they’re used up and then they’re cast aside without even a college degree. So they say, how can this be defended in the name of amateurism?”
— Justice Samuel Alito, assessing the “stark picture” painted by college athletes in an antitrust case against the N.C.A.A. that the Supreme Court heard yesterday.
The Red Sox sold a stake to private equity. Now what?
RedBird Capital Partners confirmed its deal to buy a stake in Red Sox parent Fenway Sports Group, a transaction that values the company at $7.35 billion. DealBook spoke with RedBird’s founder, Gerry Cardinale, and Fenway’s chair, Tom Werner, about what happens next.
Buy and build. RedBird plans to acquire more teams: Mr. Cardinale noted that his company doesn’t own teams in the N.B.A., N.H.L. or M.L.S. For its part, Fenway plans to tap new opportunities in ticketing, sponsorship and media. (As part of the RedBird deal, the N.B.A. star LeBron James bought a stake in Fenway.) In media, Fenway controls NESN, and RedBird owns a stake in the YES network. “You should expect that we’re going to continue to look for ways to innovate in that area,” said Mr. Cardinale, who helped create the YES network.
Deepening ties with online gambling is also on the table. “We do have an excellent relationship with DraftKings,” Mr. Werner said, “and we’ve already had some conversations with them about partnerships.”
The deal was a better fit for the private market instead of a SPAC, the executives said, after talks to take Fenway public via a blank-check firm fell through. “In the middle of Covid, with the mandate to re-underwrite the next wave of growth for Fenway Sports Group, we probably would be better off doing that privately and then give ourselves the option down the road,” Mr. Cardinale said of going public. He also called the current SPAC market “very frothy.”
announced a deal last week to go public by merging with a blank-check firm that valued it at roughly $8 billion.) A new documentary, “WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn,” tries to find lessons among the ups and downs. It streams on Hulu, starting tomorrow.
Jed Rothstein, the director, told DealBook that he believes what’s most compelling about WeWork isn’t what went wrong, but how it initially succeeded by turning strangers into a kind of tribe. “We still need that,” he said.
“The core idea of WeWork met a real need for community,” Mr. Rothstein said. “The voids people were trying to fill have only become more real.” After a year of social distancing, he likes the notion of curated communal spaces, which is what WeWork offered. Talking to early WeWorkers who bought the vision and later felt betrayed, he was surprised to find how much the company gave its devotees, notably a feeling that they were part of something bigger. That is worth acknowledging in a world where people will increasingly work remotely and for many different companies in their careers, Mr. Rothstein said.
WeWork’s co-founders, Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, both had communal childhood experiences. Mr. Rothstein said he thought they sincerely wanted to replicate the good in group life and inspired people who hadn’t seen that before. But Mr. Neumann also focused on what he didn’t like — sharing equally — and emphasized an “eat what you kill” mentality. Ultimately, his hunger turned the community dream into a nightmare for many.
After the director talked to people who followed the initial vision, his perspective changed. “People in the film experienced real growth and fulfillment mixed with their anger,” he said. “I realized the story is much more nuanced.”
THE SPEED READ
The media conglomerate Endeavor filed to go public for a second time, while raising $1.8 billion to buy full control of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It also added Elon Musk to its board. (WSJ, CNBC)
Vice Media is reportedly in talks to go public by merging with a SPAC. And the S.E.C. issued two notices for companies looking to go public via SPAC. (The Information, S.E.C.)
Junior bankers aren’t the only ones feeling burned out. Young lawyers are, too. (Business Insider)
Politics and policy
New York became the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana. (NYT)
Efforts by aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to hide New York State’s Covid-19 death toll coincided with his efforts to win a multimillion-dollar book deal. (NYT)
An accidental disclosure by the I.R.S. revealed a $1 billion tax dispute with Bristol Myers Squibb. (NYT)
Best of the rest
The ad agency Deutsch is doubling referral bonuses for Black job candidates. (Insider)
Amazon wants its employees mostly back in its offices, while the Carlyle Group and IBM favor hybrid working models. (Insider, Bloomberg)
Paul Simon is the latest musician to sell his entire back catalog: Sony Music Publishing will buy the collection, including classics like “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” for an undisclosed amount. (NYT)
Feeling burned-out? As more workers consider a return to the office, our colleague Sarah Lyall is writing about late-pandemic anxiety and exhaustion. Tell her about how you’re coping.
April Fools’ Day quiz answer: B. If you were fooled by Volkswagen’s prank, you’re in good company. Volkswagen reportedly told journalists that a draft of the announcement was not a stunt. It later called the stunt just “a bit of fun.”
Sherry Vill remembers feeling embarrassed and stuck as the New York governor Andrew Cuomo “manhandled” her and came onto her in her own home, in front of her husband and son.
“He towered over me,” she said during a press conference on Monday. “There was nothing I could do.”
Vill, 55, met Cuomo in May 2017, when he visited her suburban house near Rochester, New York, while surveying flooding damage in the area. Hers is the latest in a series of allegations detailing a pattern of sexual misconduct by the now infamous chief of state.
Vill recalled Cuomo holding her hand, forcibly grabbing her face, aggressively kissing her cheeks and calling her beautiful. The unwanted advances made her uncomfortable, especially around her family and neighbors.
She later received a letter and pictures from the governor, addressed only to her, and a personal invitation to attend one of his local events.
“The whole thing was so strange and inappropriate, and still makes me nervous and afraid because of his power and position,” Vill said.
Cuomo’s office did not immediately return a request for comment, but his administration has so far generally denied any inappropriate touching by the governor despite a swathe of accusations from multiple women about his behavior.
Letitia James, New York attorney general, has now tapped a former acting US attorney and an employment discrimination lawyer to probe the sexual harassment allegations, while many of the state’s high-profile Democrats have already said that Cuomo should resign.
“Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York,” said Chuck Schumer, Senate majority leader, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a joint statement earlier this month.
Cuomo is also facing widespread criticism for how he handled the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, despite once being heralded as a hero and Democratic darling.
His administration is currently being investigated for how it reported nursing home deaths from Covid-19 and is under fire for prioritizing Cuomo’s family members for then hard-to-access coronavirus tests.
Another woman, Anna Ruch, previously described a similar experience to Vill’s in 2019, when she said Cuomo put his hand on her bare lower back, touched her face and asked to kiss her.
Multiple current and former aides have now outlined inappropriate interactions with the governor, even as he publicly admonished the “pervasive poison of workplace sexual harassment” and ardently defended workplace protections amid the #MeToo movement.
Lindsey Boylan, a former economic development official, published an essay in February about how she felt Cuomo “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs”. She recalled a number of his vulgar comments – including a suggestion that they play strip poker – and described her shock when, during a visit to his office, he kissed her on the lips.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected,” Boylan wrote. “His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right.”
Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy advisor in her 20s, told the New York Times that she felt Cuomo – who asked her invasive and pointed questions about her sex life, including whether she had ever slept with older men – was grooming her for a sexual relationship.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett said. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
Alyssa McGrath, who works for the governor’s office, says Cuomo mixes “flirtatious banter with more personal comments”, and recounted one time when she caught him peeping down her shirt, the New York Times reported.
Another current aide, who has remained anonymous, accused Cuomo of fondling her under her blouse at his executive mansion – conduct that could result in a misdemeanor sexual assault charge, according to the Albany Times Union.
The global leaders in Covid-19 vaccination rates are Israel and the United Arab Emirates. After them come a handful of countries that have each given between 30 and 45 shots for every 100 residents, including the United States, Britain, Bahrain, Chile and Serbia.
maximized the number of people who receive one “jab,” as the British call it — and has delayed the second jab, often for about three months.
Kate Bingham, a venture capitalist who led the committee that advised the British government on vaccination, has described the strategy this way: “I think it’s the right public health response, which is to show that you try and vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible. Better to protect everybody a bit rather than to vaccinate fewer people to give them an extra 10 percent protection.”
Dr. Robert Wachter of the University of California, San Francisco, has written, “According to most vaccine experts, delaying shot #2 by a few months is unlikely to materially diminish the ultimate effectiveness of two shots.”
In Britain, the daily number of new Covid cases has fallen by more than 90 percent since peaking in early January. The decline is larger than in virtually any other country. (In the U.S., new cases have fallen 79 percent since January.) Given that the contagious B.1.1.7 variant was first discovered in Britain and is now the country’s dominant virus form, “Britain’s free-fall in cases is all the more impressive,” Wachter told me. “Clearly their vaccination strategy has been highly effective.”
British deaths have also plummeted in recent weeks:
lives saved; it also reduces the chances of future outbreaks: The fewer people who have Covid, the fewer who can infect somebody else. That’s especially important when more contagious variants are circulating. Worldwide, the number of confirmed new cases has risen 21 percent over the past month.
about 2.5 million shots a day, up from about 800,000 in mid-January. But the federal government will soon be receiving closer to four million shots a day from the vaccine makers. A big question is whether the Biden administration and state governments will be able to continue increasing the pace at which people are getting shots in their arms.
For countries where vaccine programs have only just begun, as in much of South America, Africa and Asia, the British approach may be worth mimicking.
Finally, keep in mind that one of Britain’s main vaccines has been AstraZeneca’s — the same one that some other European countries have stopped using this week, out of concern over blood clots. But there is no sign of an increase in clots in Britain. “If the choice is potentially being exposed to Covid-19, or getting the vaccine & being protected, choose the vaccine,” Devi Sridhar, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, wrote yesterday.
All of this comes with the usual caveat: If the data changes, the lessons should change, too. Based on the current evidence, though, Britain appears to have landed on the most effective vaccination strategy — which is yet another sign of how powerful the vaccines are.
The latest: A delay of millions of doses ordered from India will most likely slow Britain’s vaccination campaign in coming weeks.
THE LATEST NEWS
The Times’s editorial board argues: “Nothing greases the gears of government quite like pork.” Many top Democrats and Republicans support restoring earmarks.
Modern Love: A woman’s online shopping habit wasn’t really about the clothes.
Neigh: A horse retreat in New Mexico offers life-changing “attunement.” But what is it?
Lives Lived: Dick Hoyt finished more than a thousand road races, but he didn’t run them alone. His partner was always his son Rick, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, whom he pushed in a wheelchair. Hoyt died at 80.
debating whether to keep the measure.
The old guidelines, from the Association of Art Museum Directors, allowed museums to sell items if they no longer fit an institution’s mission and if the proceeds went to buy other art, not to pay staff salaries or other bills.
Museums that favor keeping the new arrangement say it’s necessary for their long-term survival. “It’s misinformed to think that every museum has a board full of billionaires,” said Anne Pasternak, the director of the Brooklyn Museum. During the pandemic, the Brooklyn Museum has raised nearly $35 million at auction sales.
Last month, even the Met — the largest museum in the U.S. — said it might sell items to help underwrite the salaries of staffers involved in collection care.
Those opposed to the continuation of these sales argue that they undermine museums’ mission.“If you want to flip paintings, there are many other types of institutions where you can do that,” Erik Neil of the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va., told The Times. “And they are called commercial galleries.”
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Time,” one of the company’s first feature-length documentaries, and the Op-Doc “Alone.”
You can see today’s print front page here.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about Gov. Andrew Cuomo. On “Still Processing,” Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris discuss a toxic racial slur.
Lalena Fisher, Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Allison Herren Lee was named acting chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission in January, and since then she has been active, especially when it comes to environmental, social and governance, or E.S.G., issues. The agency has issued a flurry of notices that such disclosures will be priorities this year. Today, Ms. Lee, who was appointed as a commissioner by President Donald Trump in 2019, is speaking at the Center for American Progress, where she will call for input on additional E.S.G. transparency, according to prepared remarks seen by DealBook.
The supposed distinction between what’s good and what’s profitable is diminishing, Ms. Lee will argue in the speech, saying that “acting in pursuit of the public interest and acting to maximize the bottom line” are complementary. The S.E.C.’s job is to meet investor demand for data on a range of corporate activities, and Ms. Lee’s planned remarks suggest that greater transparency on E.S.G. issues won’t be optional for much longer. “That demand is not being met by the current voluntary framework,” she will say. “Human capital, human rights, climate change — these issues are fundamental to our markets, and investors want to and can help drive sustainable solutions on these issues.”
Ms. Lee will also argue that “political spending disclosure is inextricably linked to E.S.G. issues,” based on research showing that many companies have made climate pledges while donating to candidates with contradictory voting records. The same goes for racial justice initiatives, she will say.
This is not an interim priority. Ms. Lee is acting chief, but based on recent statements by Gary Gensler, President Biden’s choice to lead the S.E.C., she’s laying the groundwork for more action rather than throwing down the gauntlet. In his confirmation hearing this month, Mr. Gensler said that investors increasingly wanted companies to disclose risks associated with climate change, diversity, political spending and other E.S.G. issues.
Not everyone at the S.E.C. is on board. Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman, fellow commissioners also appointed by Mr. Trump, recently protested the “steady flow” of climate and E.S.G. notices. They issued a public statement, asking, “Do these announcements represent a change from current commission practices or a continuation of the status quo with a new public relations twist?”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested, to varying degrees, that the governor of New York consider resigning over allegations of sexual harassment. He has rejected those calls and is considering running for a fourth term.
The U.S. is considering new ways to protect itself against cyberattacks. Efforts by China and Russia to breach government and corporate computer networks — and the failure of American intelligence to detect them — have spurred discussions about ways to organize U.S. cyberdefenses, including more partnerships with private companies.
Credit Suisse is accused of continuing to help Americans evade taxes. The Swiss bank aided clients in hiding assets, seven years after it promised U.S. federal prosecutors that it would stop doing so, according to a whistle-blower report. That puts the firm at risk of a fresh investigation and more financial penalties. The bank said it was cooperating with the authorities.
A veteran Democratic official is poised to join the Biden administration. Gene Sperling, an economic wonk who served in the Clinton and Obama administrations, is likely to oversee the implementation of the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, Politico reports.
Stripe is now Silicon Valley’s most valuable start-up. The payments processor has raised funding from investors like Sequoia and Fidelity at a $95 billion valuation. Stripe plans to use the money to expand in Europe, including in its founders’ home country, Ireland.
chief counsel of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase before joining the O.C.C. But his enthusiasm isn’t based on Bitcoin’s success as much as on his personal struggles, he told DealBook.
Mr. Brooks borrowed his way out of an ailing town. He grew up in Pueblo, Colo., a steel center that lost its purpose in the 1980s. His father took his own life when Mr. Brooks was 14, and he and his mother had little. In high school, he waited tables and took out loans for school, for a car and eventually for a home. Now, he’s betting that blockchain can help the underbanked do the same more easily.
“Unlocking credit availability allows people to move up the ladder,” Mr. Brooks said. Nearly 50 million Americans don’t have credit scores, but many are creditworthy. Traditional rating systems aren’t equipped for nuanced assessments that might include things like rent, Netflix bills or income from gig work. For many, the inability to borrow limits opportunities to achieve financial security.
At the O.C.C., Mr. Brooks started Project Reach, a financial inclusion initiative. His first move since resigning from the agency in January is to join the board of the fintech firm Spring Labs as an independent director, DealBook is the first to report. Among other things, the company is developing richer data environments for credit scoring using blockchain tech.
Finding solutions to financial inclusion that are immune to politics is key, noted Mr. Brooks, a Trump administration appointee. Credit, he argues, lets people bet on themselves regardless of which party is making policy, and the current system excludes many worthy borrowers. “Let’s let more people climb ladders,” Mr. Brooks said.
“It’s just a pent-up cycle where the money has nowhere to go, so it’s doing stupid things.”
— Howard Lindzon, an investor, entrepreneur and market commentator, speaking to The Times’s Erin Griffith on the booms (or bubbles) in everything from trading cards to Bitcoin, SPACs and so-called meme stocks.
new data from the Harris Poll, revealed exclusively in DealBook.
A year of living in fear created unlikely heroes. For the past year or so, the Harris Poll has monitored public sentiment in weekly surveys of more than 114,000 people. At the height of the emergency, more than half of respondents were afraid of dying from the virus and a similar share were afraid of losing their jobs. “Only in the past month, with vaccines rising and hospitalizations and deaths declining, is fear abating,” the report noted.
The Times’s Opinion podcast “Sway,” the economist Mariana Mazzucato told Kara Swisher that the traditional narrative has holes in it.
“Do you have any idea where the innovation in places like Silicon Valley came from?” asked Ms. Mazzucato, the founder of University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. She ticked off technologies like the internet and GPS: “We wouldn’t have any smart product without all the smart technology, which was government-financed.”
Listen to the conversation here.
THE SPEED READ
The French food giant Danone ousted Emmanuel Faber as its chairman and C.E.O., under pressure from two activist investors. (FT)
A Maryland hotel magnate who cut a deal to buy The Baltimore Sun from Tribune Publishing may instead challenge Alden Global Capital for all of Tribune’s newspapers. (NYT)
The value of short bets against SPACs has more than tripled since the start of the year. (WSJ)
Politics and policy
Jeff Bezos declined an invitation to speak at a Senate hearing on economic inequality, which will include testimony from an Amazon employee involved in union organization efforts in Alabama. (CNN)
With pandemic stimulus out of the way, President Biden is now making infrastructure spending a priority. Can it pass Congress? (FT)
Ant Group’s C.E.O., Simon Hu, resigned amid pressure on the Chinese fintech giant from Beijing to overhaul its business. (NYT)
In a securities filing, Elon Musk gave himself a new title, “Technoking of Tesla,” and the company’s C.F.O. Zach Kirkhorn is “Master of Coin.” (S.E.C.)
Tesla’s California factory recorded hundreds of Covid-19 cases after Mr. Musk reopened the plant last May, according to county data. (WaPo)
Best of the rest
Peter Diamandis, the founder of the X Prize, held an in-person conference that became a Covid-19 superspreader event — and then followed up with a webinar that touted questionable treatments. (MIT Technology Review)
How the I.P.O. of Coupang, an e-commerce giant, signals a potential weakening of South Korea’s traditional corporate elite. (Bloomberg)
Some at Goldman Sachs are reportedly frustrated by the leadership of David Solomon during the pandemic, including his criticism of working remotely — while he himself has booked numerous getaways. (Bloomberg)
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The coronavirus vaccination czar for New York governor Andrew Cuomo made appeals for political support for the embattled politician, prompting ethical concerns, according to multiple media reports Sunday.
New York’s “vaccination czar”, longtime Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz, reportedly pivoted in at least one telephone conversation with a county executive from a discussion of vaccination policy directly to an appeal for support for Cuomo.
Schwartz has denied mixing political and policy calls or acting improperly.
Cuomo, the state’s governor since 2010, is in a fight for his political life under the weight of a half-dozen sexual misconduct allegations and a scandal over the deliberate misreporting of Covid deaths in nursing homes.
Both US senators from New York and most of the congressional delegation have called on Cuomo to resign, as prosecutors investigate the charges against the three-term governor.
“There is no way I resign,” Cuomo said last week. The governor has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct. He is up for re-election in 2022.
One county executive has already filed a preliminary report with state attorney general Letitia James of a possible ethics violation by the Cuomo administration in the Schwartz matter, according to reporting in the Washington Post and New York Times.
“At best, it was inappropriate,” an unnamed executive told the Post of Schwartz’s mixing discussions of vaccination policy and Cuomo’s political future. “At worst, it was clearly over the ethical line.”
At least two other county executives reported a close juxtaposition of phone conversations about vaccine policy with other conversations with Schwartz about supporting Cuomo.
Schwartz served as the governor’s top aide for four years during Cuomo’s first administration and was called back into service after the outbreak of the coronavirus emergency.
He denied inappropriate conversations with county-level officials; he acknowledged he made calls but said he did so as a long-time friend of Cuomo and did not discuss vaccines in them. “I did nothing wrong,” Schwartz told the Washington Post. “I have always conducted myself in a manner commensurate to a high ethical standard.”
With the most influential Democrats in the state already having turned on Cuomo as his third term wanes, the governor’s political fate may be beyond the ability of county-level officials to decide.
The rollout of vaccines in New York state has roughly tracked the national average. The state endured one of the worst and deadliest outbreaks of Covid-19 early in the pandemic, with Cuomo’s clear daily communication at the time about the threat winning him praise, especially in contrast with former president Donald Trump.
But outgoing New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who has for years been locked in a personal feud with Cuomo, was among those criticizing Albany for not doing enough to get vaccine doses to the city.
“We don’t get our fair share of vaccines for this city,” De Blasio told CBS News’ Face the Nation program on Sunday. “We’re vaccinating people not just from the city, but also from the suburbs, surrounding states.”
De Blasio predicted that Cuomo would resign under pressure from an impeachment inquiry that was opened by the state assembly judiciary committee last week.
“He is used to getting things his way, and it has been almost an imperial governorship,” De Blasio said. But the folks in this state and the political leadership don’t believe him anymore. He doesn’t have any credibility. I think an impeachment proceeding will begin, and I think he will be impeached, and perhaps right before that he’ll decide to resign.”
Nearly 6,000 people in New York state tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday, and 62 people died.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post joined most of the state’s Democratic congressional delegation in calling on Cuomo to resign in an editorial.
“Simply put: Any fair effort to get to the bottom of the avalanche of sexual-harassment allegations could take months – whereas legislators already have all the evidence they need to move to impeach Governor Cuomo immediately for his nursing-home horrors,” the paper said.
At the height of the early coronavirus crisis, while Cuomo’s tone and leadership struck a defining contrast with Trump, the latest allegations against the Cuomo administration evoked a different kind of unflattering association with Trump.
The former president explicitly tied coronavirus aid for states on the willingness of governors to demonstrate political fealty to him. Now county executives allege that a Cuomo aide has hinted at a similar tie.
Among those who caught the association was Donald Trump Jr, who tweeted on Sunday afternoon: “Andrew Cuomo is everything the media pretended Trump was times about 1000.”
Earlier this month the Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, sat down in front of TV cameras in the executive chamber of the state capitol in Albany to deliver one of the most awkward messages of his decade in office.
By then three women had accused him of sexually inappropriate behaviour. Among them was Lindsey Boylan, a former economic development adviser who in a Medium post alleged that while they were on board an official flight he proposed a game of strip poker and, in a separate incident, forced a kiss on her.
Given the uproar, Cuomo, 63, managed to remain remarkably composed. He struck a posture that could be described as contrite aggression, or aggressive contrition.
Speaking slowly and emphatically, as though addressing a class of pre-schoolers, he apologized while denying he had done anything wrong.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” he said, adding: “I never touched anyone inappropriately.”
To drive the point home, he repeated the phrase. “I never touched anyone inappropriately”.
The remark was intended to buy time, shoring up a crumbling political position while an independent investigation by the state attorney general, Letitia James, ran its course. It was not intended to deepen Cuomo’s travails by triggering a traumatic reaction in another alleged victim who happened to be standing a few feet away.
The Cuomo staff member was dutifully listening when he punched out that line about never having “touched anyone inappropriately”. According to the Albany Times Union, she grew emotional, later telling a supervisor he had done precisely that to her.
The female staffer said Cuomo had summoned her to the second floor of the executive mansion – his private quarters – supposedly to help him fix his phone. Then he shut the door, and in the Times Union’s account “allegedly reached under her blouse and began to fondle her”.
The allegation of aggressive groping took the maelstrom surrounding Cuomo to a new level. What began as a dispute over the apparent cover-up of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes and escalated with claims of bullying against a fellow Democrat, Ron Kim, exploded into a fully-fledged sexual harassment scandal involving seven women.
The bush fires Cuomo is fighting have gained a momentum of their own, with a new revelation or political setback seemingly erupting with every hour that passes. Renowned for having an iron grip on his own political narrative – to the extent that last year he wrote a book heaping praise on himself for his handling of the Covid crisis, subtitled Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic – Cuomo is looking increasingly impotent as he watches his image unravel in what is fast becoming a fall from grace of legendary proportions.
“The governor is fighting day to day right now,” said John Kaehny, executive director of a watchdog group, Reinvent Albany. “He’s looking terminally afflicted with scandal – he’s going down.”
On Friday, several of the most prominent Democrats on the New York stage, including US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerrold Nadler, who chairs the House judiciary committee, called for Cuomo to go. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand followed, joining a growing army of Democrats demanding the governor’s head, notably 59 state lawmakers who the day before signed a joint letter calling on him to “put the people of New York first”.
William Sulzer in 1913. It is not an idle threat. The judiciary committee of the state assembly has already opened an inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations that is the initial step towards impeachment.
‘We need to be unwavering in our values’
Jessica González-Rojas, a Democratic assembly member representing parts of Queens and one of the 59 calling for resignation, said she was now going further and pressing for impeachment. It didn’t matter that Cuomo was a leader from her own party, she said. What mattered was accountability.
“We need to be unwavering in our values and hold on to those standards for anyone, no matter their political affiliations,” she said. “Enough is enough – we must stop being distracted by the misogynist behaviour and abuses of power of this governor.”
González-Rojas said she saw a strong common threat connecting the scandals battering Cuomo. To her, they all flow from the same source: his abusive wielding of power and the toxic and cruel culture that has proliferated around him in Albany.
“What we’re seeing here is a pattern of overarching behaviour that for years has been accepted by New Yorkers because they saw it as strength. But as we peel back its layers we can see it more clearly as deeply undemocratic and morally repugnant, and we are starting to hold him accountable.”
For González-Rojas, Cuomo’s misogyny was evident even in the mantra he championed during the devastating early days of the pandemic when New York was at the core of the crisis: “New York tough”.
“There are ways to lead,” she said, “that are about being compassionate, vulnerable, as opposed to the tough-guy image he puts forward.”
That tough-guy image continues to prevail, remarkably so given the opprobrium Cuomo is facing. In his responses to his female accusers, he has belittled one woman as a “known antagonist” and accused others of peddling falsehoods. In the case of Boylan, questions are being asked about who leaked damaging details from her personnel file.
On Friday, Cuomo maintained his pugnacious profile when he repeated his determination not to resign, insisting “I never harassed anyone, I never abused anyone, I never assaulted anyone, and I never would”. Throwing down the gauntlet to the growing band of Democrats turning on him, he cast their call for his resignation as an act of “cancel culture” and said: “I was not elected by politicians, I was elected by the people.”
But his bombast belies the fact that his hold on power looks increasingly weak as he is whiplashed by so many crises. Paradoxically, the scandal that could prove to be most perilous legally is the one receiving least attention – the nursing homes furor.
revelation – admitted in part by his top aide Melissa DeRosa to state lawmakers – that the administration suppressed the number of nursing home deaths by several thousand in order to avoid a federal inquiry. DeRosa claimed the move was made to avoid Donald Trump tying them up in knots, but it sounded suspiciously like a cover-up.
‘We have a duty to remove him’
The nursing home crisis sparked a federal investigation that could haunt Cuomo for months or years. But it was not until the storm turned more personal, with details emerging of his bullying behavior, that his stumble turned into free-fall.
It came in February from an unlikely party – the relatively unknown state lawmaker Kim, who told the New York Post that after he spoke out about nursing home deaths he received a call from Cuomo. According to Kim, the governor threatened him.
“You have not seen my wrath … I can tell the whole world what a bad person you are and you will be finished. You will be destroyed,” he said, according to Kim. Cuomo denied the account.
In an interview with NPR on Friday, Kim said the call was part of “a pattern of ‘[Cuomo] abusing his position of power”. The lawmaker added his voice to the calls for impeachment, saying: “We have a duty to remove him.”
Kim’s action in going public opened the floodgates. Since then a host of politicians, employees and reporters have lined up to add their own strikingly similar stories about the toxic culture Cuomo has nurtured around him. Among those emboldened individuals was Lindsey Boylan – and in her wake the six other women who came forward with reports of inappropriate sexual conduct.
The fate of the man lauded as recently as a year ago as “America’s governor” is rapidly taking on a significance greater than his own political future. Many see it as the next big test of the MeToo movement.
“This is a defining moment for survivor justice,” said Shaunna Thomas, a co-founder of the progressive women’s group UltraViolet. “We need to send a very clear signal – that harassment and abuse in the workplace must have consequences, and that includes not being governor of New York state.”