Supercreator AM: Black women startups, COVID-19 invades the Olympics and unvaxxed Americans unbothered by Delta

Plus: The TL;DR on President Biden’s beef with Facebook.

Good morning and welcome to Supercreator AM. It’s MondayJuly 19. I’m Michael, writing to you from New York City. Here’s what you need to know as you start your day:

FIRST CORONAVIRUS CASE AT TOKYO OLYMPIC VILLAGE — Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto confirmed an unidentified overseas visitor tested positive for COVID-19 at the Olympics athletes’ village, adding to concerns that the Games could become a super-spreader event. There have been a total of 45 cases to the Games, which run July 23 through August 8. [Junko Ogura / CNN]

UNVACCINATED AMERICANS ARE UNCONCERNED ABOUT DELTA — Just 48 percent of partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Americans are concerned about the Delta variant, although this population is most vulnerable to succumbing to it. Nearly three in four fully vaccinated Americans are concerned. [Anthony SalvantoFred BackusKabir Khanna and Jennifer Depinto / CBS News]

TEXAS DEMOCRATS KICK OFF A WEEK OF VOTER-RIGHTS PROGRAMMING — The Texas Democrats who flew to Washington DC last week to block a statewide anti-voter bill from passing will take part in a five-day conference highlighting the need for Congress to pass federal voting legislation. The news comes as two more Texas Democrats tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number up to five total case. [Jane C. Timm / NBC News]

VC FUNDING FOR BLACK WOMAN AT 5-YEAR HIGH — US startups led by Black women have raised $494 million in venture funding in 2021 compared to $484 all of 2020. But this figure represents just 0.34 percent of the total venture capital spend on startups with at least one Black woman a founder in the US so far this year. [Sophia Kunthara / Crunchbase News]

ONE-THIRD OF VOTERS THINK THEY’RE “WOKE — 32 percent of 1,000 registered voters surveyed in a recent poll “consider themselves to be woke.” A larger percentage of men than women referred to themselves this way. [Benjamin Fearnow / Newsweek]

◇ EXPLAIN IT TO ME

— BIDEN’S FACEBOOK BEEF: Back in May, the Biden administration announced a push to dispense at least one shot to 70 percent of the US adult population and fully vaccinate 160 million by the Fourth of July. At the time, the president rolled out additional funding for on-the-ground outreach efforts in states and rural communities. And the campaign increased the availability of walk-in appointments, pop-up clinics and mobile units to make the shots accessible. But while 20 states reached the milestone, the White House missed its goal by about three percent.

What made matters worse is that the data showed we reached what experts were calling a “vaccine ceiling,” or a wall in the number of people who planned to get vaccinated or were partially vaccinated. In a Gallup poll in June, 78 percent of those who didn’t plan to get vaccinated said they were unlikely to reconsider, including 51 percent who said they were “not likely at all” to change their mind. This left just one in five vaccine-reluctant adults open to reconsidering, with only two percent saying they were very likely of 19 percent saying they were somewhat likely to change their mind.

Public health officials warned this outlook could leave us vulnerable to another nationwide surge in cases, especially since the highly contagious delta variant became the dominant strain in the US. And that’s what’s happened. And Biden and company are pissed about it because they think the misinformation being spread across conservative media and social apps like Facebook are partly to blame.

In a press briefing last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Facebook “[needed] to move more quickly to remove harmful violative posts,” pointing to a report that found almost 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on Facebook were spread by 12 people who remained active on the app. (Facebook disputed the methodology of the study.) And last Friday, the president escalated the tension: “They’re killing people,” Biden said of Facebook.” I mean they’re really, look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.”

Obvs, Facebook didn’t take too kindly to the accusation and the company did what it does when it gets called out: Post a prickly rebuttal to its corporate blog that pushed back against the criticism without offering an opportunity to independently verify its claims. “The fact is that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the US has increased,” Guy Rosen, Facebook Vice President of Integrity, wrote. “These and other facts tell a very different story to the one promoted by the administration in recent days.”

Facebook’s trust deficit with the public has cost it the benefit of any doubt, which makes it an easy scapegoat on issues of misinformation. Instead of attempting to rehabilitate its greed-fueled growth-at-all-costs image, it’s leaned into it in recent years as public opinion towards big tech has sharply shifted against it. I have a lot of issues with Facebook, many of which are documented in my reporting. But while the politicization of masks and vaccines were amplified on social media, they originated from the previous administration who believed it was in their political interests to play down a pandemic and discredit the science so it could win reelection. And when the Biden administration takes these un-nuanced positions like “they’re killing people!!!” comes off as an attempt to distract from a federal government that is unsure of how to finally end this pandemic, whether or not that’s true or the president’s intention.


END TODAY WITH SUPERCREATOR PM — Each afternoon, premium subscribers receive an exclusive bonus update featuring all the news and views I’ve collected from hours of in-depth independent reporting to help you track the power brokers who are deciding the issues that impact you and the people you care about. 

I like to think of Supercreator PM as an evening conversation we’re having over a drink to catch you up on everything you missed while you were creating so can spot the signal from the noise. In yesterday’s issue, I wrote about Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s decision to force a procedural vote on the infrastructure bill:

“I get the sense that Schumer recognizes the enormous political and policymaking opportunity he has here. The bipartisan framework would invest billions of dollars into rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges and transportation systems. (That sigh of breath you just heard is from this New Yorker who’s fed up with New York City’s decrepit subway.)

[House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi has earned a reputation as a master legislator. If Schumer pulls this off (and that’s a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge if), then he’ll have a feather in his cap to silence some of his critics and calm the nerves of antsy first-time and unenthusiastic voters who were hesitant to deliver Democrats a governing majority.

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◇ THE MORNING READ

— “Why the new employer of choice is no employer at all” by Nick deWilde at The Jungle Gym: “Traditional employers need to confront the reality that the internet is and will be their biggest competitor for top talent. Regardless of whether a company is fully remote or hybrid, every organization is at risk of having its top people poached by the seductive draw of independent work. To adapt to this new reality, companies will need to understand the benefits and drawbacks of going independent so they can build an employee experience that allows them to remain competitive in the war for talent.”

◇ MICHAEL’S PICK

Bored Basic Cutting Board ($92): Adulting is getting excited about a new kitchen implement as if you just won the lottery.


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