The image seared into my mind from the Iowa Democratic caucus

Caucus day in Iowa ended without official results being released, and all I can think about is spilled wine on a Des Moines gym floor. Also in this week’s issue:

  • This wasn’t a “shut up and sing” kind of Super Bowl halftime show

  • Jim Carrey is retiring from political art

  • The 117 🆕 emoji coming in 2020

Yours,

P.S. Kobe Bryant has become a global street art icon since his death late last month. Old murals depicting the basketball star became memorial sites, while new murals by artists including Jules Muck, Mister Alek, Lushsux, and Art “Artoon” Gozukuchikyan went up. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.


The image seared into my mind from the Iowa Democratic caucus

Iowa Starting Line captured a photo of a shattered wine bottle on a Des Moines gym floor during the caucus, and it about sums up how things played out.

The Iowa Democratic Party didn’t release results Monday because of a “reporting issue,” spokeswoman Mandy McClure said in a statement. Volunteers reported trouble using an app meant to tabulate results that only a quarter of precinct chairs had installed, a Democratic consultant told the New York Times, and phone lines to call in results were busy.

On Des Moines local news Monday night, anchors discussed what the snafu meant for the future of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus as results were shown on screen. President Trump won 97% in the Republican caucus — unsurprising given his incumbency and popularity in the party — while every Democratic candidate had 0% with 0% of precincts reporting. It wasn’t the ideal look for Democrats kicking off their primary season.

Impartial results were released Tuesday afternoon.


Alice Marie Johnson starred in Trump’s Super Bowl ad

The Trump campaign Super Bowl ad highlighted Johnson, whose sentence Trump commuted in 2018 after her case was brought to his attention by Kim Kardashian West. The ad characterized Trump as a champion of criminal justice reform: “Politicians talk about criminal justice reform. President Trump got it done,” the ad read.

Johnson tweeted out the ad:

But the Washington Post found Trump has ruled on fewer clemency requests than his recent predecessors in the White House, and 19 of the 24 people who have received clemency from Trump either had some sort of appeal to his base or had a well-connected advocate, like Kardashian West or Alan Dershowitz, the celebrity attorney who has defended Trump during his impeachment trial. Thousands of official applications for clemency sent through the Justice Department pardon office have not been decided not by the Trump administration. Trump did sign the First Step Act in 2018, however, which has led to the release of thousands of inmates.

“Find a way to get to Kim Kardashian,” Larry Kupers, the former head of the pardon office, told the Post when asked his advice for how to receive clemency. “I’m very serious about that.”


This wasn’t a “shut up and sing” kind of Super Bowl halftime show

Credit: NFL/YouTube

While most of Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s halftime show was just pure, unadulterated bops, JLo made a statement with one segment when her song “Let’s Get Loud” was briefly mashed up with “Born in the USA” and she came out in a two-sided American-Puerto Rican flag and said “Let’s get loud! Latinos!” Some also saw the lit-up structures that kids were shown in during “Let’s Get Loud” as a statement about children caged at the border.

On Instagram, Lopez wrote in a caption, “We are proud to recognize that all of us together are what makes this beautiful country truly great. ✨❤️♡💙.”

Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush loved the show:


Jim Carrey is retiring from political art

Credit: @JimCarrey/Twitter

Since Trump took office, actor Jim Carey has been moonlighting as an artist, skewering the administration with marker illustrations. But Carey said during a press tour for his upcoming film “Sonic the Hedgehog” that his days as a political artist are over, according to Yahoo Entertainment.

“I just wanted to be the lighthouse that was saying, 'Hey, stay off the rocks, you're headed for the rocks,’” he said. “We're still headed for the rocks, but I've decided you understand my message, I don't need to be steeped in it anymore.”


Rock stars for Bernie

Some Sanders campaign staffers are calling it “Bernchella,” per Politico. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held campaign events last week in Iowa with Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend, and will team up next week with the Strokes in New Hampshire. The campaign put out posters to promote the concert-rallies, with art by Molly Crabapple for the Iowa dates, and Sanders’ name displayed in the style of the Strokes’ logo for the New Hampshire one.


Twitter now lets users report misinformation about elections

Twitter announced last week users can now report voter suppression efforts and other election misinformation the same way they report harassment or spam. If an account tweets inaccurate information about an election, click the ∨ icon on a tweet, then click “Report Tweet,” and select “It’s misleading about a political election.”

“As caucuses and primaries for the presidential election get underway, we’re building on our efforts to protect the public conversation,” Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy Carlos Monje Jr., told Politico in a statement.

Twitter took a hands-off approach to misinformation ahead of the Iowa caucus, however. Tweets by conservatives including Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk falsely suggested electoral fraud in some Iowa counties, and Twitter said the tweets did not violate their election integrity policy.


Taylor Swift’s newest song was written as a reaction to the midterms

Taylor Swift released a new song Friday to coincide with “Miss Americana,” her Netflix documentary.

“Only the Young” is Swift’s most political track yet and a holdover from her Lover sessions. The song was co-written with Joel Little ,who assisted Swift on the album’s other political songs, “The Man,” “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince,” and “You Need to Calm Down.”

Lyrics in “Only the Young” touch on activism (“They aren't gonna change this / We gotta do it ourselves”) and gun violence (“You go to class scared / Wondering where the best hiding spot would be”), while the chorus sounds like a call for young people to run for office: “Only the young / Can run.”

Swift told Variety she wrote the track after the 2018 midterms, when the Tennessee Democrats she endorsed lost their races.

“I was really upset about Tennessee going the way that it did, obviously,” she said. “And so I just wanted to write a song about it.”

Swift said it was hard to see young people’s hopes dashed in cases where they had supported and canvassed for candidates.

“I found that to be particularly tragic, because young people are the people who feel the worst effects of gun violence, and student loans and trying to figure out how to start their lives and how to pay their bills, and climate change, and are we going to war — all these horrific situations that we find ourselves facing right now,” she said.


The 117 🆕 emoji coming in 2020

The Unicode Consortium announced 117 new emoji last week that will be released to most platforms in the second half of 2020, according to Emojipedia, which released sample images for the new emoji. Continuing the trend of emoji gender inclusivity, the latest additions will include a gender-neutral Santa called Mx Claus, a woman in a tuxedo, a man in a veil, and the blue and pink transgender flag.

I’m personally looking most forward to the smiling face with a tear, pinched fingers, and the anatomical heart.


How should we fact check visual misinformation in the meme age?

In case you missed it, I wrote about the challenges of fact checking altered visual media and efforts being made to standardize the language we use to describe edited video and images as well as a tool being developed so news consumers can check the veracity of images themselves. You can read my story here.


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