Daily Dose: 12/30/16
Five years from now, the Greek Freak could be a $200 million man
11:00 AMThis is my last day of Daily Dose, as Clinton Yates returns on Monday. It’s been a blast this week running down the most interesting and noteworthy stories. Let’s get to it.
It’s coming up on three years since the city of Flint, Michigan, switched its water supply to the lead-contaminated Flint River. During that time period, anywhere between 6,000 to 12,000 Flint children have been exposed to dangerous levels of lead, according to the United Way of Genesee County. Ever since problems began to arise with the water supply in the city, government officials in the state were either willfully ignorant or purposely negligent in its handling of the situation, exposing tens of thousands of people to unsafe water. Over the past year, the water supply has been switched back to Detroit water, lawsuits have been filed, and officials have been charged, but contaminated water is still an issue. FiveThirtyEight, in its end-of-the-year awards, recognizes the man who blew this story wide open.
It’s the Cold War 2.0. On Thursday, the Obama administration announced new measures against Russia for its role in the alleged interference with this year’s presidential election. The measures include sanctions against multiple Russian agencies, including the spy agency that succeeded the KGB, the expulsion of 35 Russian operatives from the country, and the closing of two Russian-owned facilities on the East Coast. Early Friday morning, Russian officials shot back that they would recommend the expulsion of 35 American diplomats in their country, which is as petty as it sounds. While all of this may amount to a penis-measuring contest between the two countries, a recent story in The New Yorker about how the United States almost accidentally initiated a nuclear attack against the Soviet Union in the 1980s should give us all pause.
The Greek Freak is about to get paid … in five years. I won’t bog you down with the confusing numbers and terminology of the new collective bargaining agreement the NBA owners and players recently agreed to, but I will tell you that (no bias here) versatile forward and fan favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, for his next contract in 2021 (he just signed an extension in September), could nab a deal worth $240 million if he stays with his current team. That’s multiple-time MVP winners Stephen Curry and LeBron James money. Here’s to more dunks, struts and amazing stories from The Greek Freak for many years.
Winner of Thursday: rapper album sales
When a mixtape based on a Broadway play can sell almost 200,000 units in its first week, that means it was a good year for music. Complex runs down the first-week numbers for some of the most talked about albums in 2016.
Loser of Thursday: Simon & Schuster
The New York-based publishing company reportedly offered Breitbart editor and white nationalist Milo Yiannopoulos a book deal worth $250,000. Yiannopoulos, who was famously axed from Twitter after he incited a swarm of hateful and violent messages toward Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones, was a key agitator during the misogynist “Gamergate” controversy of 2014. The deal is not too surprising, though, considering Simon & Schuster has published the works of Donald Trump, Dick Cheney and Glenn Beck in the past.
What to look forward to this weekend: Driving safely
This weekend is New Year’s Eve, which means there will be a lot of alcohol and too much drinking and driving. Stay safe out there. AAA probably provides assistance in your area.
Daily Dose: 12/28/16
Rest in peace, Princess Leia
10:45 AMStill here. Clinton Yates traveled to Prague to work with a world-renowned linguist to figure out if it’s “5-2” or “fine, too.”
(Good) Journalism appears to be back. Even though the pay is rough, the hours are not ideal, and the stress levels are alarmingly high, there’s some good news on the horizon for those in the field of the fourth estate: journalism. A “profitable” Washington Post, as Politico puts it, is set to add more than 60 journalists to its newsroom in the coming year. That’s almost unheard of in this profession, but the Post — which has invested heavily in new media technology in its newsroom — over the past 12 months, at least, has found a winning formula for bringing readers back in. Part of that is chalked up to the 2016 presidential election, but it’s also the investment in good journalism. From David Fahrenthold’s work on the Donald J. Trump Foundation to the continued groundbreaking efforts of the Pulitzer Prize-winning police shooting database, the Post has found that where there is good work — and, not to mention, heavy financial investment from a billionaire — there is an audience. There is, of course, still work to be done to save an industry that’s lost almost half of its workforce since 1990, and being a newspaper reporter is consistently rated the worst job in the country, but there now might be light at the end of that tunnel.
Rest in peace, Princess Leia. On Tuesday, the world lost another great human being. Renowned actress Carrie Fisher, star of the Star Wars films, died after suffering a heart attack late last week. While Fisher is best known for playing fearless heroine Princess Leia Organa in the original three Star Wars movies (and most recently in 2015’s The Force Awakens), she also starred in The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally and Scream 3. Outside of acting, Fisher was an accomplished author and script doctor, and an outspoken advocate for mental illness, as the actress lived with bipolar disorder for most of her life. She was awarded the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism at Harvard University this past May, where she told those in attendance, “Many people thank me for talking about [mental illness], and mothers can tell their kids when they are upset with the diagnosis that Princess Leia is bipolar, too.”
It’s still bowl season. College football bowl games kicked off Dec. 17, and while it seems like 50 games have been played so far, we still have 19 games to play before we reach the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 9 (8 p.m. EST, ESPN). And while most of the games so far have been forgettable — though we have three bowls named after fried chicken spots this year — the action always picks up the closer we get to New Year’s Eve. When you think of the most exciting moments in college football history, you think Statue of Liberty play or Vince Young or missed two-point conversions. And what do those plays all have in common? They all happened in one of the “big four” games: the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl. FiveThirtyEight runs down which bowl games are usually the best.
Winner of Tuesday: Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin
Mike Tomlin says of Terry Bradshaw, "What do I know? I grew up a Dallas an, in particular a Hollywood Henderson fan." (1/2)
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) December 27, 2016
For all the kiddos at home, Hollywood Henderson once said Terry Bradshaw "couldn't spell 'cat' if you spotted him the 'c' and the 'a.'"
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) December 27, 2016
Loser of Tuesday: Phil Jackson
After 17 years of dating — and four years of engagement — New York Knicks president Phil Jackson and Los Angeles Lakers president Jeanie Buss have separated. Late Tuesday evening, Jackson tweeted out a screen-grabbed message stating that due to “the nature of our professional obligations and the geographic distance” between the couple, they were ending their engagement. That is sad in and of itself, but the dagger came when Buss retweeted Jackson’s original message, saying she has “nothing but love and respect” for Jackson but that “the love of my life is the Los Angeles Lakers.” How do you get put in the friend zone by your own fiancee?
What to look forward to on Wednesday: Analysis of celebrity relationships
From Drake and Jennifer Lopez to T.I. and his wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris. Don’t bother reading any of that. Pick up a book instead.
Daily Dose: 12/27/16
President Obama says he could have beaten Donald Trump in the November election
10:00 AMI’m still here. Clinton Yates is off on an international expedition with Raven-Symone, exploring the multiple continents of Africa. Let’s get to it.
Stunt on em, Barry O. President Barack Obama, who has less than a month left in office, appeared on The Axe Files podcast on Monday with former adviser David Axelrod, telling the host that he would have beaten President-elect Donald Trump had he run for office again. Obviously, U.S. presidents are only eligible for two terms, but Obama believes that had he been eligible, his progressive message and administrative accomplishments — namely the Affordable Care Act —would have resonated with a base Hillary Clinton missed out on: the white working class. Trump, of course, disagreed with Obama’s assertion, but one can only imagine this is the expression the current president had on his face when he made the statement:
Terry Bradshaw might want to walk back those comments now. The Hall of Fame quarterback put his foot in his mouth last week when he told FS1 that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was not a “great coach.” Bradshaw, who won four Super Bowls with the Steelers, was uncharacteristically harsh on Tomlin, saying, “He’s a nice coach. To me, I’ve said this, he’s really a great cheerleader guy. I don’t know what he does. I don’t think he is a great coach at all.” The only problem with that is Tomlin, since the 2007 season, has amassed a 102-57 record, appeared in two Super Bowls, won Super Bowl XLIII, and has never had a losing season. He’s also won five AFC North titles in that span. Tomlin’s predecessor, Bill Cowher, also appeared in two Super Bowls — winning one during the 2005 season — but it took a decade for him to make it to the second one. Cowher also missed the postseason five times during his 15-year tenure, including three losing seasons. With all that said, a year before Cowher retired from coaching in 2007, Bradshaw told the Palm Beach Post that “the wonderful thing about Cowher is that he has a plan. Great coaches believe in their plan.” Two coaches, two similar resumes, two different outcomes.
The post-election stories keep getting scarier. This time, The Washington Post takes us to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a small town right outside of Nashville, which has become a microcosm of anti-Muslim resentment over the past couple of years. Despite a Muslim population of barely 1 percent in a town of 126,000, Murfreesboro has been the site of a proposed Sharia law ban and a lawsuit against the building of a mosque that went all the way up to the Supreme Court. What’s most unsettling about what’s happening in Murfreesboro — outside of targeted harassment at schools, places of worship and convenience stores — is how candidly offensive some of the residents can be. There’s the unnamed businessman who believes Muslims want to “kill you and take your wife as a sex slave.” (This man refused to give his name because he employs Muslims.) There’s also the elderly white couple that lives with their converted daughter and her Muslim husband who believe in a Muslim registry and don’t consider the harm that might come their family’s way simply for their religion. A few people in the story refer to their Muslim counterparts as “them.” The next few years will be difficult for a ton of people.
Winner of Monday: Former NBA coach George Karl
Excerpts from Karl’s forthcoming book, Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection, have been rolling out over the past week now, getting the former coach into trouble on multiple occasions. But it’s the passages that were reportedly removed that made Karl a winner this week. Sure, this happened on Saturday, but I am just now getting to it, so bear with me. Anyway, Karl didn’t want those DeMarcus Cousins problems. Trust me.
Loser of Monday: Chicago crowd
Phil “CM Punk” Brooks is a Chicago native and former professional wrestler employed by WWE. CM Punk infamously left the company in 2014 and crowds have been chanting his name at WWE events for almost three years now. CM Punk had his first UFC fight last September and lost in an embarrassingly two minutes, 14 seconds. WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon finally shut the Chicago crowd up for good on Monday night with this sick burn:
Stephanie McMahon was prepared for the CM Punk chants tonight 💀💀 pic.twitter.com/hrm5XCUcQ6
— MMA GIFS (@mma_gifs_) December 27, 2016
What to look forward to on Tuesday: Japanese dignitary visit to Pearl Harbor
Shinzo Abe will be the first Japanese prime minster to visit the USS Arizona Memorial battleship, where over 1,100 servicemen died during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Before we Americans get too pretentious about the nearly eight-decade gap, Obama was the first sitting U.S. president to step foot in Hiroshima — where almost 100,000 people were killed by an atomic bomb — when he visited this past May.
Daily Dose: 12/26/16
George Michael dies at 53
12:15 PMClinton Yates is not here this week, as he’s busy trekking the mountains of Georgia, knucking and bucking and ready to fight. So, in his absence, I’ll be taking over Daily Dose duties for the entire week. Enjoy.
The never-ending nightmare that is 2016 strikes again. This time, Grammy-Award winning British singer George Michael. The pop icon, who went from teenage heartthrob in the 1980s to matured singer-songwriter over the past two decades, died “peacefully at home” on Christmas evening, according to his publicist. He was just 53. The eccentric musician rose to prominence as part of the duo Wham! before transitioning to a solo career that led to over 100 million albums sold, including over 20 million from his 1987 solo debut Faith, featuring genre-defining hits Father Figure, I Want Your Sex and title track Faith. Michael, who could give late musicians Prince and David Bowie strong competition in the unlikely-sex-appeal department, collaborated with some of the most well-known black performers in music history, including Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Beyoncé. BBC News has a detailed breakdown of Michael’s life.
The “Problem of Whiteness” has a problem. The African culture studies department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is offering a course next semester called “The Problem of Whiteness,” which explores the social construction of whiteness and how to “dismantle white supremacy,” leaning on the works of famed writers W.E.B. Du Bois, George Yancy and Ta-Nehisi Coates. While the class appears to be a revolutionary examination of how race works in America and across the globe, members of the Wisconsin state government are none too pleased. Gov. Scott Walker called the class “goofy” and “unusual,” Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke tweeted that it’s “racism against white people,” and Wisconsin Rep. Dave Murphy all but threatened to revoke state funding from the university if the class isn’t discontinued. The university has backed the course and its professor, Damon Sajnani, through a statement, explaining that the class “will benefit students who are interested in developing a deeper understanding of race issues.”
A&E’s failed publicity stunt. Last week, the cable network announced a docuseries called Generation KKK that centered around the Ku Klux Klan and four families with members trying to escape the domestic terrorist group. Initially scheduled to air Jan. 10, the series explored the inner workings of the heavily secretive organization and the effects a system of hate such as the KKK can have on young children. After the announcement, there was a chorus of backlash from social and traditional media, abhorring A&E for normalizing a hate group by giving it free airtime on cable television. While network executives could have squashed the television show right then and there, they instead doubled down, telling FOX411 that “the documentary series takes a clear stance against hatred of any kind.” Five days after the announcement, though, A&E abruptly canceled Generation KKK after it learned the show’s third-party producers violated company policy by paying Klan members for access during filming of the show. So, instead of dropping a series about the KKK due to the group’s documented violence and oppression of African-Americans for almost two centuries, A&E only had a change of heart when, ironically, ethics came into play.
Winner of the weekend: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick has had quite the tumultuous season, from his stand (pun intended) against the national anthem before the regular season began to the 49ers’ 13 consecutive losses since a Week 1 victory. But Kaepernick & Co. got the job done on Saturday, defeating the Los Angeles Rams, 22-21, for the second time this season. After scoring with 10 seconds left in the game, down 21-20, San Francisco coach Chip Kelly, with nothing else to lose, went for the 2-point conversion and the win. Kaepernick rolled to his right, saw an opening and glided into the end zone to give the 49ers a one-point lead. As he made his way up from the ground, the quarterback raised his fist in the air, resembling Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
Loser of the weekend: Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson
Thompson was one half of the Splash Brothers last season with reigning MVP Stephen Curry. This year, he’s arguably the fourth-most important player on his team, enjoying beers during postgame interviews and getting embarrassed (!!!) by geriatric ball players. On Christmas Day, Thompson got dunked on by 36-year-old Cleveland Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson in one of the most highlight-worthy plays of a game that involved LeBron James. To add salt to the wound, Thompson gave up the game-winning points to Cavs guard Kyrie Irving. Also, it’s being argued that this is the reason the Warriors have lost four straight to the defending champs.
What to look forward to on Monday: Day-after-Christmas sales
Grab those return receipts and hit the outlets. The way 2016 has gone, you deserve it.