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Apple’s star-studded ‘Morning Show’ gets off to a bumpy-but-promising start – TechCrunch

We weren’t sure what to expect from the launch of Apple’s new subscription streaming service. There were reports that the company was committed to staying family friendly, rather than exploring the adult content and creative liberties that both premium cable and streaming can offer. Plus, most of the trailers were pretty underwhelming.

For our 100th (!) episode, your regular Original Content podcast hosts are joined by TechCrunch writer Sarah Perez to discuss all the Apple TV+ shows we’ve sampled so far — “For All Mankind,” “See,” “Dickinson” and even “Snoopy in Space.” And we were pleasantly surprised by what we found.

Just a few episodes in, “For All Mankind” (an alternate history in which the Soviet Union won the race to the moon) and “See” (set in a world where everyone has lost the sense of sight) have turned some of us into fans. And even “Dickinson” — which has the seemingly impossible task of telling Emily Dickinson’s story using modern slang— turns out to be a strange and watchable experiment.

We save our most extensive discussion for the most high-profile title of the bunch: “The Morning Show,” which stars Jennifer Aniston as Alex Levy, longtime host of an AM news show also called “The Morning Show,” and Reese Witherspoon as local news anchor Bradley Jackson, whose confrontation at a coal mine protest ends up going viral right as Alex’s show implodes, thanks to sexual misconduct allegations against her longtime co-host Matt Kessler (played Steve Carell).

Obviously, the show has star power, and the leads are supported by talented and familiar faces like Billy Crudup, Mark Duplass and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

The performances are all strong, with Aniston and Witherspoon carrying the show: Aniston convincingly portrays a woman who’s both devastated by the revelations of her on-screen partner’s behavior and desperate to seize the opportunity that these revelations create. Witherspoon, meanwhile, adds complex shading to perhaps her trademark role as a spunky, ambitious upstart.

The writing, on the other hand, is a bit uneven. There’s an unfortunate tendency towards speechifying about big themes like The Role of Journalism in America — at times, it feels almost Sorkin-esque, but without the eloquence or snappiness of Aaron Sorkin’s best dialogue.

So far, though, the speeches have been balanced out by strong characterization and some satisfyingly dramatic twists.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you want to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:30 Apple TV+ roundup
27:02 “The Morning Show” review (spoiler-free)

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LIVE: Chris Cox, Former Chief Product Officer, Facebook, in conversation with WIRED's Lauren Gooden

LIVE: We're live with Chris Cox, former Chief Product Officer, Facebook, from our #WIRED25 summit in conversation with WIRED senior writer Lauren Goode.n

Posted by WIRED on Friday, November 8, 2019nnn

As for what specifically drove him to leave, Cox explained that, “It wasn’t something where I felt I wanted to spend another 13 years on social media. Mark and I saw things a little bit differently . . . I think we are still investigatingu00a0as an industry, how do you balance protecting the privacy of people’s information and continuingu00a0to keep people safe,” Cox said. n

On whether moving toward encryption was part of that, he said he thinks encryption is “great: and that “It offers an enormous amount of protection,” but noted “it certainly makes some of those things more complicated” on the privacy versus safety balance. He complemented Facebook’s efforts to build ways of catching bad actors even if they’re shielded by encryption. That includes digital literacy initiatives in Brazil and India ahead of elections, and offering forwarding systems for sending questionable information to fact checkers. “I think there are pros and cons with these systems and I’m not a hard-liner on any one of them,” Cox said, and noted that what Facebook is building is “resonant with what people want.”n

Cox was asked about the major debate about whether Facebook should allow political advertising. “We think political advertising can be good and helpful. It often favors up and comers versus incumbents.” Still, on fact-checking, he said, “I’m a big fan,” even though Facebook isn’t applying that to political ads. He did note that “I think the company should investigate and is investigating micro targeting . . . if there’s hundreds of variants being run of the creative thenu00a0it’s tricky to get your arms around what’s being said.” He also advocated for more context in the user interface distinguishing political ads.u00a0n

Chris Cox speaks at Wired25n

Cox’s next projectsn

Since leaving Facebook, Cox has joined the advisory board of a group called Acronym, which is helping to build out the campaign and messaging technology stack for progressive candidates. “This is an area where my perception is that the progressives have been behind on the ability to develop and use as a team infrastructure that helps you have a good voter file, how to develop messaging —u00a0just basic politics in 2019.”n

Wired’s Lauren Goode asked if he was aligning himself with progressives, taking a political stance, and whether he could do that while still at Facebook. “Absolutely not,” Cox responded. “And why is that I think when you’re in a veryu00a0senior role at a platform, you have a duty to be much more neutral in your politics.” n

He then came out with a bold statement enabled by his independence. “I think Trump should not be our president. The other thing I care a lot about right now is climate change and he’s not going to help us there.”n

n

That led to Cox discussing that he’s also been working to advise San Francisco startup Planet Labs, which is using satellite imagery to track climate change. “The vision was to build these small, about shoebox-size satellites with solar panel panel wings and have a fleet of them in space, which is real-time imaging the Earth.” n

With that data, Cox explained you can track wildfires, deforestation, coal power plants, methane gas and more. Then, “You can start to contribute to having a health system, where you are basically imaging the Earth every hour, and then you’re creating some public data set with tools that plug into decision makers, banks, insurance companies, policymakers, investors, journalists, students…”n

Asked about big tech’s responsibility for addressing climate change, Cox said “I think at the very least it’s making a commitment to being carbon-negative.”n

Acronym and Planet Labs’ work intertwines, as Cox believes climate data proves the need for someone new in the Oval Office. While Cox didn’t discuss it onstage, Wired listed him as part of Shasta Group, which is Cox’s own vehicle for contributing to these projects. Still, he’s not ready to launch a full-fledged company of his own in politics and climate. “I’m still so youngu00a0at this field that I don’t have enough confidence in my own mental model of the world.”n

Cox concluded that by harnessing big company’s employees and having team leaders put more attention on climate change, “I do think tech can lead.”u00a0n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Chris Cox’s motivational speeches were at the heart of Facebook’s new employee orientation. But after 14 years at the social network, the chief product officer left in March amidst an executive shake-up and Facebook’s new plan to prioritize privacy by moving to encrypt its messaging apps. No details on his next projects were revealed. 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Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.nn

Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.nn

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.nn

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]”,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1415412437/xje35licfau9iewxnf44.png”,”twitter”:”joshconstine”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/1603003″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”author”:[{“id”:1603003″name”:”JoshConstine””url”:”””description”:”””link”:”https://techcrunchcom/author/josh-constine/””slug”:”josh-constine””avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g””48″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g””96″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”}”links”:{“homepage”:”http://wwwJoshConstinecom””facebook”:”http://wwwfacebookcom/JoshConstine””twitter”:”https://twittercom/joshconstine””linkedin”:”https://wwwlinkedincom/in/joshconstine/””crunchbase”:”https://wwwcrunchbasecom/person/josh-constine”}”position”:”Editor-At-Large””cbDescription”:”[{“id”:1603003″name”:”JoshConstine””url”:”””description”:”””link”:”https://techcrunchcom/author/josh-constine/””slug”:”josh-constine””avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g””48″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g””96″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”}”links”:{“homepage”:”http://wwwJoshConstinecom””facebook”:”http://wwwfacebookcom/JoshConstine””twitter”:”https://twittercom/joshconstine””linkedin”:”https://wwwlinkedincom/in/joshconstine/””crunchbase”:”https://wwwcrunchbasecom/person/josh-constine”}”position”:”Editor-At-Large””cbDescription”:”[{“id”:1603003″name”:”JoshConstine””url”:”””description”:”””link”:”https://techcrunchcom/author/josh-constine/””slug”:”josh-constine””avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g””48″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g””96″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”}”links”:{“homepage”:”http://wwwJoshConstinecom””facebook”:”http://wwwfacebookcom/JoshConstine””twitter”:”https://twittercom/joshconstine””linkedin”:”https://wwwlinkedincom/in/joshconstine/””crunchbase”:”https://wwwcrunchbasecom/person/josh-constine”}”position”:”Editor-At-Large””cbDescription”:”[{“id”:1603003″name”:”JoshConstine””url”:”””description”:”””link”:”https://techcrunchcom/author/josh-constine/””slug”:”josh-constine””avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g””48″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g””96″:”https://securegravatarcom/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”}”links”:{“homepage”:”http://wwwJoshConstinecom””facebook”:”http://wwwfacebookcom/JoshConstine””twitter”:”https://twittercom/joshconstine””linkedin”:”https://wwwlinkedincom/in/joshconstine/””crunchbase”:”https://wwwcrunchbasecom/person/josh-constine”}”position”:”Editor-At-Large””cbDescription”:”

Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.nn

Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.nn

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.nn

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or 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lung ‘breakthrough’ suggests lethal culprit in THC products could be vitamin E acetate”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Official word has come down from federal authorities on one potential cause of the mystery illness affecting vape users: Vitamin E acetate, a chemical found in some vaping products that has been demonstrated to linger in the lungs long afterwards. The finding has been called a “breakthrough” but is far from the last word on the situation.n

Sadly, the condition has already claimed the lives of at least 39 people, and more than 2,000 cases have been reported collectively from every state but Alaska. At present the only advice offered has been to stop vaping altogether.n

In a media teleconference, the heads of the investigation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained the basis for pointing the finger at Vitamin E acetate. The substance was cited as a possible problem early on but only recent testing has established it as a bona fide suspect, the team explained.n

Samples taken from the lungs of 29 victims of the condition were sent in from 10 different states, and vitamin E acetate was found in all of them. “These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate as the primary site of injury within the lungs,” said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC .n

Although she agreed that this evidence is a “breakthrough,” she noted that it is at present merely a correlative finding u2014 more research is required to establish causation, namely the mechanism of harm, though other work has been done in that area.n

“Previous non-CDC research suggests that when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung function,” she said.n

“It’s important to note that these findings do not rule out other possible compounds or ingredients that may be causing these lung injuries,” she continued. “There may be more than one cause of the outbreak.”n

n

As vape lung death toll mounts, CDC investigators warn against ‘informal’ THC sourcesn

n

Equally important are the statistics involved with the sources of the substances in question. As mentioned earlier in the investigation, a huge proportion of those suffering from this condition were using THC products, and specifically ones acquired through unregulated channels like street dealers.n

The vitamin E acetate may have been added for the purpose of essentially cutting the product, Schuchat mentioned in response to a question on the call.n

“That may be done for the illicit purpose, or the profit purpose, of diluting the materials, making it look nice and perhaps not having to use as much THC or other active ingredients,” she said.n

Other potentially dangerous chemicals have been identified in vape products when heated and aerosolized, including many that even the creators might not have predicted.n

Knowing a potential culprit doesn’t get at the heart of the problem, which would be that this chemical (perhaps among others) has already built up over months or years in the lungs of frequent vape users. Treatment is a parallel line of research, but knowing at least one substance responsible should be helpful.n

The CDC’s previous advice still stands, the officials noted: They advise avoiding vaping altogether, as there are very few controls at present over which ingredients are allowed in vape products, and what must be declared on the packaging, or indeed whether those declarations are in any way accurate.n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Official word has come down from federal authorities on one potential cause of the mystery illness affecting vape users: Vitamin E acetate, a chemical found in some vaping products that has been demonstrated to linger in the lungs long afterwards. 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how to win customers and influence consumers at Disrupt Berlin”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Every startup is a story and every startup’s success depends — on some level — on how well they can either tell that story or get that story told.n

The best stories are the ones that create an instant brand. One that sparks a relationship or a moment of inspiration with customers and consumers alike. Those are the stories that transform industries and re-contextualize how businesses think of themselves and their competition.n

On the Extra Crunch Stage at Disrupt Berlin three of the finest practitioners of the dark arts of branding, public relations, marketing and communications will share their tips and tricks on how to get coverage for a company and how to use that coverage to get at the strategic objectives that companies need to fulfill as they grow.n

These alchemists of allusive include Collette Ballou, the founder of the eponymous Ballou PR; Katy Turner, the managing director of Multiple; and longtime public relations pro, Joanna Kirk.n

Ballou began her career in European public relations in the aftermath of the dot-com collapse in the U.S. in 2001. Both an investor and an entrepreneur, Ballou has worked with startups and investment firms including 83 North, Accel Partners, Box, Criteo, Eventbrite, Facebook, GoEuro (now Omio), Lakestar, Pinterest, Stack Overflow, Stripe, TransferWise, Twilio, Waze, WhatsApp and Zendesk. She also is an investor in venture funds, including Cavalry Ventures and Connect Ventures.n

Before founding Multiple, Turner worked in several different roles across the tech industry in the U.K. and Europe. She began her career at Orange (in a time when it was actually cool to work for a mobile operator, she says). That role led to positions at Eden Ventures, Videoplaza and as the chief marketing officer at Tech City UK. In addition to her work at Multiple, Turner also serves as a mentor for Seedcamp and Techstars and sits on the investment committee for the University of Bristol’s Enterprise Fund.n