February 23, 2017 Last Updated 8:04 am

Unmoderated comments can transform any news outlet into a Breitbart; Fast Company sees a ‘golden age’ for magazine covers

Morning Brief: Apple, Microsoft and other tech companies react to administration’s rescinding of transgender protections, caught between desire for future corporate tax reform and the need to maintain their collaborative work environments

The level of hatred towards fellow Americans is at record levels. Assisted, it seems to many, by the very publications that chronicle its rise. Is it not time for publishers to decide what to do with their comment threads?

No matter what their reporters may write, no matter how editors want to present the content, trolls, comment spammers, and others can quickly transform any story. It is seen every day in the pages of major newspapers such as The Washington Post, and in political publications such as The Hill. It is making it easier for not only readers, but politicians to become belligerent.

Take this story from The Hill (below). On its surface it is the tale of a woman with a brain tumor swept up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel. Journalists on Twitter are shocked that what appears to be a sad story about a woman caught up a dire situation can degenerate. The Hill is, in the end, discovering how to become like Breitbart News.

The Hill, Rafael Bernal:

Lawyers: ICE detainee with brain tumor removed from hospital

An undocumented immigrant diagnosed with a brain tumor while under Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody was returned to a detention center from a Texas hospital, her lawyers said.

The woman, a Salvadoran national identified only as Sara, was released from Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, and taken to Prairieland Detention Center against her will, according to her lawyers.

“She told us they tied her hands and ankles in her condition,” Melissa Zuniga, a member of Sara’s legal team, told The Hill. “She’s complaining of a lot of pain.”



Tech companies are in a bind. Their CEOs met with the new president early on and clearly are hoping that legislation will be passed allowing the repatriation of overseas profits, as well as lower corporate taxes. At the same time, however, the current administration is doing its best to upset trade, the inflow of tech workers, as well as launching culture wars at odds with the work environment common in Silicon Valley and the West Coast.

What is sad about the issue of transgender bathroom regulations is that so few of those opposed to the new rules the Obama administration put in place truly understand the issue. I found it interesting that the Showtime series Billions decided to introduce a transgender character to the show this season. Small things like this may be the only way to begin educating those who actually believe the issue is about straight men dressing up in women’s clothing in order to enter a woman’s bathroom.

The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters, Jo Becker and Julie Hirschfeld Davis:

Trump Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students

President Trump on Wednesday rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, overruling his own education secretary and placing his administration firmly in the middle of the culture wars that many Republicans have tried to leave behind.

…The question of how to address the “bathroom debate,” as it has become known, opened a rift inside the Trump administration, pitting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos against Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr. Sessions, who had been expected to move quickly to roll back the civil rights expansions put in place under his Democratic predecessors, wanted to act decisively because of two pending court cases that could have upheld the protections and pushed the government into further litigation.

But Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off and told Mr. Trump that she was uncomfortable because of the potential harm that rescinding the protections could cause transgender students, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions.

Mr. Sessions, who has opposed expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, pushed Ms. DeVos to relent.

Politico, Tony Romm:

Tech opens new war with Trump over transgender rights rollback

Apple, Uber and Microsoft took aim at President Donald Trump after he issued a directive on Wednesday that rolls back federal protections for transgender students in public schools.

In a statement, Apple stressed its belief that “everyone deserves a chance to thrive in an environment free from stigma and discrimination,” adding: “We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals. We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections.”



Fast Company is not the first, mere the latest, to see how the new administration has energized magazine covers. It is as if editors all went to the same bar after the election to debate whether to surrender, flee or fight.

Fast Company: Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan:

It’s A Golden Age For Magazine Covers (Thanks Trump!)

The 2016 election and new administration come accompanied by a renaissance of political image-making: The release of new cover art by magazines like Der Spiegel and Time are met with thousands of shares and retweets. Each photograph and illustration is analyzed and picked apart by commentators. And fomenting all of this is a protest movement with a flair for signage that remixes, reappropriates, and borrows the work of these artists.

Not since George Lois’s iconic work for Esquire in the ’60s has cover art enjoyed so much popular and critical success. It’s a fascinating time to be an illustrator, designer, or painter working on political subjects. Co.Design asked some of the voices and pens behind today’s iconic cover art about their work—and what’s changed in the past three months.

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