Outside groups haven’t worked to squash Marjorie Taylor Greene’s controversial candidacy, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is remaining neutral in the runoff. (Bloomberg) — Robintrack.net, the website whose hourly updates on retail stock demand became a minor obsession of Wall Street, will end its service after owners of the Robinhood investing app curtailed access to the data on which it ran.The two-year-old portal “will be coming to an end, at least in One of the industries that was brought to a grinding halt by the coronavirus pandemic has been the entertainment industry. Broadway stays dark, concert halls big and small sit empty, and television and film production have been on perma-pause. This, at a time when many people are looking for something new to distract them.
POLITICO reported in June that Greene had posted hours of Facebook videos where she made a trove of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic comments — including an assertion that Black people “are held slaves to the Democratic Party,” and that George Soros, a Jewish Democratic megadonor, is a Nazi.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in June — through his spokesman, Drew Florio — that he found those comments “appalling,” and he had “no tolerance for them.” But Florio said last week that the California Republican is remaining neutral and letting the primary process play out — a stance that likely does not signal urgency to donors or outside groups.
“This is the kind of race and kind of situation where you need those groups,” said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), who is actively supporting Cowan. “So often, they only get involved when they have someone that they are trying to get in. But I think it’s just as important they get involved when there’s someone they’re trying to get out.”
The lack of intervention from national Republicans — despite their public rebukes of Greene — has frustrated and baffled GOP lawmakers, strategists and donors, who worry Greene’s victory would be a black eye for the party at a time when they are still grappling with a national reckoning over racial inequality.
And it would diminish the impact of the party’s successful efforts in June to oust GOP Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a member with a long history of racist remarks. If Greene, a vocal QAnon conspiracy theorist and businesswoman, earns the party’s nomination in the deeply conservative district in northwest Georgia, she is almost guaranteed to win a seat in the House.
“I have been very involved in the John Cowan race. I’ve pushed House leadership to get involved, without having success,” added one GOP lawmaker, who was granted anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters.
The reluctance of McCarthy — who could face a leadership challenge if Trump goes down in November — to get involved in the contest underscores the tough position that leadership is in: While they want to distance the party from the deeply controversial views espoused by Greene, they also don’t want to alienate the hard-line conservative voters who are a key part of Trump’s base heading into the election.
And it’s not just Greene’s race that has spooked House GOP operatives. The primary runoff field for Rep. Doug Collins’ (R-Ga.) neighboring open seat includes state Rep. Matt Gurtler, who came under fire after he posed for a photo with a man with white supremacist ties. But that race, which is also on Tuesday, has seen a rush of outside spending by various PACs.
GOP leadership and the party’s campaign arm don’t typically play in primaries, and it can be risky to take a shot at a fellow Republican and miss: GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (Wyo.) recently came under fire from some House Freedom Caucus members and other Trump allies for supporting a primary opponent to Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), among other comments that riled Trump’s most loyal House foot soldiers. Cheney — who was one of the most vocal Republicans in calling on King to step down — later pulled her endorsement of Massie’s primary opponent after past racist tweets from the candidate resurfaced.
When it comes to the matchup between Greene and Cowan, GOP lawmakers and strategists believe that outside help could easily tip the scales. While Greene won the first round of the primary in June by a wide, 19-point margin, the race has drastically tightened in the following weeks: An internal Cowan campaign survey from late July found a tied race between him and Greene.
Plus, Cowan has outspent Greene on TV by about $50,000, according to a source tracking media spending, and outraised her by nearly a four-to-one margin in July, signs that point to a well-run campaign.
In an interview, Cowan framed the outcome of the runoff in dire terms, warning that a victory by Greene would endanger Republican candidates who would have to answer for her comments up and down the ballot in Georgia, from the House battlegrounds in suburban Atlanta to the two Senate contests on the November ballot.
“I want to win this race,” he said. “But more than that I want to protect the Republican Party. She is the antithesis of the Republican Party. And she is not conservative — she’s crazy.”
And he warned that Democrats could use her comments to juice up fundraising for their candidates. “She deserves a YouTube channel, not a seat in Congress. She’s a circus act,” Cowan said.
Greene’s campaign did not respond to a request to interview the candidate for this story. Throughout the campaign, she has cast Cowan as insufficiently supportive of Trump because he donated to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the 2016 race. She has also accused him of misrepresenting his role as a reserve deputy in the Floyd County sheriff’s office.
Despite the slew of racist Facebook videos uncovered by POLITICO, Greene still has some high-profile support in Washington: She is backed by the House Freedom Fund, the political arm of the Freedom Caucus; Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a top Trump ally; and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and his wife, Debbie Meadows. When the seat’s incumbent, Rep. Tom Graves, announced his retirement, the Freedom Caucus encouraged Greene to abandon her run in the competitive 6th District, where former GOP Rep. Karen Handel was making a comeback bid, and run for the open seat, which was more conservative, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Greene said in a recent interview with a local news station that she and McCarthy have spoken “several times” since the POLITICO story was published, and they have a “great relationship.” She also claimed that McCarthy’s statement of condemnation — which was distributed by a staffer — was just a “miscommunication.”
McCarthy’s spokesman confirmed that he has “spoken several times on the phone with both Greene and Cowan in recent weeks” and has “a good and productive relationship with both,” but did not comment on the veracity of Greene’s statement.
Cowan described his communication with McCarthy as a “good conversation,” according to Carter. “Now, what happened after that, I don’t know,” Carter added.
But if Cowan was expecting the cavalry, it never came.
In the absence of national intervention, a dozen members have worked to boost Cowan through public endorsements, making calls on his behalf or joining his Zoom campaign events. That group includes Scalise, Carter and Reps. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Rick Allen (R-Ga.), Greg Murphy (R-N.C.), Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), James Comer (R-Ky.), Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) and Mark Walker (R-N.C.).
“John Cowan is a great candidate,” Carter said, but “we are very concerned about the other candidate as well. … And certainly, I don’t want someone making those kinds of comments in my conference.”
Scalise, who immediately endorsed Cowan after Greene’s previous comments — which he called “disgusting” — came to light, appeared at a virtual fundraiser for Cowan in late July. But no help has come in the form of major outside spending.
Walker, a former pastor who is retiring this year after court-ordered redistricting transformed his seat into safe Democratic territory, unsuccessfully lobbied the conservative Club for Growth to get involved, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The Club considered playing in the race and polled, but ultimately declined to endorse Cowan or spend. (It is, however, making a large investment in the primary runoff in Georgia’s 9th district for Gurtler.)
A new super PAC, dubbed A Great America PAC, formed in June, and operatives behind the group cut a TV ad casting Greene as a threat to Trump’s reelection. The group reported spending $30,000 on media production — but only booked about $17,000 on a cable buy, according to media buying sources.
Republicans in D.C. and Georgia attribute some of the lack of outspending to the worsening political environment. Donors are too distracted by Trump’s flailing poll numbers and the precarious Senate majority to pay attention to a congressional primary runoff for a deep-red seat — particularly because it seems increasingly unlikely that Republicans will reclaim the majority, and McCarthy has not publicly signaled that Greene should be stopped.
Some House Republicans are angry at the Freedom Caucus for boosting Greene’s candidacy in the first place and think the group should have rescinded their endorsement. Only Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) publicly pulled his endorsement; Jordan said in a brief statement he disagreed with her comments.
If Greene wins, she could create a constant stream of headaches — and controversies — for the House GOP. Republican leaders had to strip King of his committee assignments and formally rebuke him on the House floor after he defended white supremacy and white nationalism in an interview with The New York Times last year.
Democrats are ready to pounce on a Greene victory and yoke her controversial statements to Republican House candidates across the country — particularly Handel and Republican Rich McCormick, who is running in an open battleground seat in the Atlanta suburbs. McCormick’s wife donated to Greene when she was still running in the 6th District against Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.).
“Marjorie Taylor Greene is an extreme, far-right voice enabled and embraced by Georgia Republicans like Karen Handel and Rich McCormick and her views have no place in Congress,” DCCC spokesman Avery Jaffe said in a statement. “Georgia Republicans, and Republican candidates running across the country, will have to answer for her hateful views in their own campaigns.”
And Greene is already signaling that she has no interest in playing nice with her potential future colleagues, doubling down on some of her most controversial remarks and lashing out at Scalise and Cheney in her recent interview with a local news station.
“Steve Scalise, I was very surprised by, especially since he’s been called a racist and things like that in the past,” Greene said, an apparent reference to the Louisiana Republican’s 2002 speech to a white supremacist group. “Liz Cheney, I’ve never met or talked to her. I think that was unfortunate that they were pressured, probably pressured so to speak, maybe by people in the media, to make statements about me and they just hadn’t learned about me yet.”
Author: By ALLY MUTNICK and MELANIE ZANONA
Robintrack, Chronicler of Day Trader Stock Demand, To Shut
(Bloomberg) — Robintrack.net, the website whose hourly updates on retail stock demand became a minor obsession of Wall Street, will end its service after owners of the Robinhood investing app curtailed access to the data on which it ran.
The two-year-old portal “will be coming to an end, at least in its current form,” according to its creator, Casey Primozic, 23, who built the site as a college side project and watched daily traffic swell to the tens of thousands. Robinhood will stop providing the feed on which Robintrack’s information is based out of concern it’s disadvantaging clients.
Primozic’s site used data from the app showing broad trends among Robinhood users’ trading to display which stocks were popular with its clients. The information became a proxy for the preferences of individual investors everywhere.
“They said the reason they’re doing this is because ‘other people’ are using it in ways they can’t monitor/control and potentially at the expense of their users,” he wrote in a message to Bloomberg News. “They feel it paints Robinhood as being full of day traders when they say most of their users are ‘buy and hold.”’
In an emailed statement from a spokesperson, Menlo Park, California-based Robinhood confirmed it will stop displaying the number of customers who hold a particular stock, and limit the data feed in the near future. “The trend data that is available on our web platform can be reported by third parties in a way that could be misconstrued or misunderstood,” the email said. “Importantly it is not representative of how our customer base uses Robinhood.”
CNBC reported earlier that Robinhood was curtailing access to the data.
Built in three months, Robintrack became a sideshow to the rally in U.S. equities that began in March, holding a mirror to buying and selling by armies of small-time stock dabblers and possibly amplifying their impact. The site did something that had eluded Wall Street’s intelligence-gathering machine previously: figure out what retail investors are doing in real time. It’s also sparked a raging debate over to what degree small investors are driving the gains.
Last month, Primozic said he had been contacted by hedge funds and other financial firms interested in aggregating his website’s data, which shows how many accounts own stocks on the Robinhood platform. Some of the people he spoke to were looking into creating algorithms based on the information.
On Friday, Primozic said he was told in a 15-minute phone call with a product manager that the firm would “be interested in keeping the conversation open” about how the company might provide the data in the future.
“They said it’s OK that I keep Robintrack up containing all data I’ve collected thus far, but no new data will be available once they shut down the API,” he said. “It will not be available to anyone outside of Robinhood, as far as I know.”
(Updates to add description of Robintrack in third paragraph)
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Author: Sarah Ponczek
Tyler Perry puts his creativity and financial might to get the cameras rolling again
(CNN)One of the industries that was brought to a grinding halt by the coronavirus pandemic has been the entertainment industry. Broadway stays dark, concert halls big and small sit empty, and television and film production have been on perma-pause. This, at a time when many people are looking for something new to distract them.
But this sense of being frozen in time has been thawing out in one small corner of Atlanta. Tyler Perry Studios recently completed its first successful session of what Perry calls “Camp Quarantine” to film season 2 of “Sistas,” the comedy-drama series on BET.
It is one of the first TV series produced entirely during the pandemic. Eleven days of filming, more than 300 people on site and no one got sick while there. According to the studio, everyone was tested and sequestered immediately upon arrival until their results came back. Four people were found to be positive at that time, yet no one tested positive since.
And Tyler Perry Studios is turning around and doing it all over again to film the second season of the primetime soap opera, “The Oval.” Less than two weeks ago, 377 people were tested upon arrival. Since then, they say two more rounds of testing were done — all negative. Shooting on “The Oval” began Thursday.
The virus that changed the world
Perry was getting ready to go into production for the new fall season on “Sistas” when the global pandemic came to a head.
“What I usually do at the top of the year is I write all of my scripts and I’ll go into production around March,” Perry told me. “So I was all ready to go. It was March 16. I’m watching, I’m reading, I’m paying attention to all that is happening with the numbers, and I go, ‘Okay, we have to shut down.’ So before the city, before the state, I shut down because I didn’t know how to keep 500 people safe while shooting.”
Perry said he was hopeful that there would be a federal response, a federal plan. “But a few weeks in, I realized … you got to figure this out if you’re going to do it.”
Perry consulted with medical experts, including me, and put together a 30-page plan that in essence created a quarantine bubble big enough for cast and crew for the duration of the shoot. He called it Camp Quarantine.
It involved pre-arrival testing and quarantining; flights on Perry’s private jet for out-of-towners; more testing and quarantining upon arrival; plenty of personal protective gear; no hugging; a lot of mask wearing — except for the cast while filming — and good hand hygiene; and then testing every four days. Cast and crew were kept isolated at the 330-acre studio lot in a combination of accommodations including army barracks and historic homes. There were food and alcohol trucks, movie nights, church services — just about everything.
“Once I started to get the information and understand this virus a lot more, I thought maybe this is possible, to get everyone together, reduced the crew size, social distance — do all the rules that the unions are asking, that the state is asking, that the city’s asking. But also, get us all at the studio — let us all live here during the production period,” Perry said.
“We got [cast and crew] down to 360 people, and we all moved in and we just finished our first television show successfully with no positives throughout the quarantine bubble,” he said.
The cost: $18 million. Getting access to quick testing: Priceless. I asked Perry about the thousands of tests that were performed at Camp Quarantine, at a time when testing is woefully inadequate for so much of the country. He said he’s aware he is paying top dollar for the privilege of rapid testing while others in need can’t afford to pay to get tested easily let alone quickly, but he said that he would halt production if he felt that his testing were interfering with their testing.
“When I see those lines in Arizona and other parts of the country where they’re waiting 10, 12 hours to get testing, it’s heartbreaking to me, because I know that that test — this antigen test — is only $23 a kit. Although I’m paying several hundred dollars, the average person cannot afford that,” Perry said. “So let’s be clear: If that happens, we would step back and shut down, because the important thing is that people are able to get the testing that they need.”
A trusted leader with a plan
Cast and crew were excited to be back to work. “I think that we can all agree that entertainment has helped us get through this. Books [are] entertainment. Television is entertainment. Movies are entertainment,” KJ Smith, one of the stars of “Sistas”, told CNN.
“I’m excited for us to return and I know that the world is, too. I know that we’re needed. I know this industry is needed. And especially in a time like this, we want to get away … we don’t want to think about these things,” she said, referring to the coronavirus.
Smith said she and others trusted Perry from the start. Shortly after the coronavirus had forced the cancellation the production schedule and press tours, she said they got on a call with Perry who assured everyone: “We’re going to figure this out.”
And then, she said, the cast and crew received a 30-page document. “We got a whole quarantine package of what’s going to happen. He got on the call with us again, made sure we were completely comfortable, which we were. I tell people all the time: I 100% trust Tyler Perry. He treats us like we’re his relatives. So I knew that we would be fully protected and we were — we were safe,” Smith said.
“Throughout the whole process, we had this big package of protective materials: hand sanitizers, surface cleansers, mask, suits, goggles, gloves — everything we needed. So we were really, really protected,” Smith said, adding, “There were no loopholes. There was no way around it. Everyone was holding each other accountable. And it worked out.”
Perry took his responsibility very seriously, especially after someone he often worked with — the hair designer Charles Gregory Ross — contracted Covid-19 and died in April.
“That was sobering for me,” Perry said. “And then when I started [seeing] the numbers on African-American people and Latino people, I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa!’ This thing is affecting us in much, much larger numbers. So I thought, I’ve got all these people that are working for me … the majority of the people that work with me are Black and Brown people. So I knew that I could not put them in harm’s way. So I had to come up with something but it was very sobering. Charles’s unfortunate death to this virus was very sobering.”
Perry was also concerned about those who had preexisting conditions and other health concerns. “The biggest challenge for me was actually absolutely keeping everyone safe. … I have several people who are older and who have pre-existing conditions from heart disease to … cancer. Three others are cancer survivors. So I was very concerned about them,” he said.
Perry made sure everyone knew to play it safe. Says Smith, “I consider myself a healthy individual with a healthy immune system. But I was aware — and he made us aware — of the people who needed the work, who needed to be there, who wanted to be a part of this, who had [pre-existing] conditions that could affect them. And so that had to stay at the forefront of my mind, so that we could all protect those people.”
At first, Smith said it was a bit tough, remembering to work in this new way. “It was like, okay, throw your mask on. Okay, let’s go over the next thing. What’s next? All right, take the mask off and now we do the scene. All right, throw the mask on and what’s next? So that was the biggest change and it felt really weird. It was really uncomfortable the first few times, but after the first couple days, we all were able to just get into the groove,” she said. Also hard: not greeting fellow cast members with a hug after being apart for a year, and not being able to sit around casually and catch up.
But all in all, Smith said the whole experience was fun. “I had the best time ever and I honestly hope we keep this business model for the rest of our shoots,” she said.
Perry said the success of the quarantine bubble he created for “Sistas” shows that the show can go on after all. “Masks work,” he said. “Testing works and contact tracing works. We have [hundreds of] people here and we were able to manage it just doing that: testing, isolation and contact tracing,” he added.
“All those guidelines work. They work for ‘Sistas,’ they’re going to work for ‘The Oval.’ And as long as we stick to the letter, which we do, I think we’ll be fine,” he said.
“I think that everybody who was here during the filming of ‘Sistas’ would say that it was a really, really good experience. And you know what they kept saying to me that I thought was really amazing? …They’re saying to me that they feel so safe. ‘I feel safe.’ And that is what the country has been missing for a long time,” Perry said.
CNN’s Andrea Kane and Amanda Sealy contributed to this report.
Author: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent