clock menu more-arrow no yes

Vox Sentences: The news is fake, the jobs are real

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

South Korea's president is impeached; great jobs news for which Donald Trump cannot in a million years ingenuously take credit.


Park out on the street

JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images
  • South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye was removed from office Friday, when the country’s Constitutional Court unanimously voted to impeach her for misuse of her office in a massive corruption and influence-peddling scandal. [NYT / Choe Sang-hun]
  • The scandal (which came to light late last year, and resulted in Park losing her presidential powers in December pending the court’s ruling) centers on suspiciously close — as in, Rasputinesque — Park confidante and adviser Choi Soon-sil, who’s accused of having used her influence to shovel millions of dollars to her own organizations’ coffers. [Vox / Jennifer Williams]
  • Park's disgrace has reinvigorated South Korean interest in politics — and revealed deep political fissures. Younger Koreans see Park as an example of a wretched political system, while older ones defend her. [BBC / John Nilsson-Wright]
  • Hundreds of such elderly Park supporters stormed the courthouse Friday; two were reportedly killed in the protest. [Reuters / Joyce Lee and Cynthia Kim]
  • The country now has 60 days to select a new president in a snap election. It's expected that the current opposition party — which is interested in improving its relationship with China, and possible detente with North Korea — will obtain power. [WSJ / Jonathan Cheng]
  • That's not great news for the US, which has just started deploying a missile defense system to South Korea. Park's successor will have to decide whether to continue to accept the THAAD system or reject it. (Spoiler alert: neither choice is ideal.) [The Diplomat / Benjamin Lee]

Make Jobs Numbers Real Again

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
  • The US added 235,000 "nonfarm" jobs in February — much better than expected, and great news for the economy. [Business Insider / Akin Oyedele]
  • Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration was also eager to claim it as great news for Donald Trump. Press secretary Sean Spicer was in fact so eager to claim it as such that he violated a federal rule by tweeting about it less than an hour after the jobs report was released. [NYT / Patricia Cohen]
  • Spicer's haste was unusual, but his exuberance was not. Presidents always take good credit for good jobs reports, even though, really, the president doesn't control the economy... [The Atlantic / Derek Thompson]
  • ...and even if he did, the president in question would have been Barack Obama, because the strong job market now is the result of factors that have been present in the economy for a while. [Vox / Jim Tankersley]
  • The bigger problem with Trump claiming credit for these jobs numbers, of course, is that Trump spent his entire campaign arguing that jobs reports were fake — manipulated by the Obama White House to obscure the truth of a terrible economy.
  • There is an actual policy argument here — in fact, after taking office, Trump reportedly mulled changing the calculation of the unemployment rate in a way that would result in it rising by a full percentage point. But it was also a convenient dog whistle for the idea that the Obama administration was simply making up numbers. [Bloomberg / Patricia Laya]
  • This is one of those claims that is hard to get around when one becomes president oneself. Spicer tried to wave it away last month, after the first jobs report came out since Trump's inauguration, by saying the president wasn't interested in statistics. [NPR / Scott Horsley]
  • This time around, though, Spicer gleefully trumpeted the statistic, and — asked about Trump's earlier skepticism — joked that the numbers "might have been phony in the past, but they're real now." It was either a snide joke about the president's (and his administration's) tendency to lie or a casual dismissal of the legitimacy of jobs numbers themselves — or both. And it was, to be honest, not okay. [Vox / Matt Yglesias]

State of oblivion

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is making a trip to Asia next week. He is not bringing any reporters along — in a breach of longstanding State Department policy. [Poynter / Benjamin Mullin]
  • This is weird — after all, the State Department tends to prefer having American journalists around on foreign trips, because it's easier to control the message that way. It's also weird that the State Department just hasn't been having daily briefings, which it hasn't, for weeks. [Washington Times / Guy Taylor]
  • The lack of press contact isn't being seen as a sign that Tillerson is running a shadowy State Department. It's a sign that Tillerson is, at best, having what David Ignatius calls an "agonizingly slow start" in actually doing anything at the State Department... [RealClearPolitics / David Ignatius]
  • ...and, at worst, is being actively sidelined by the White House. As in, "the Mexican foreign minister came to DC on Friday and didn't meet with Tillerson (and other State employees didn't even know he was in town)" level of sidelined. [LAT / Tracy Wilkinson]
  • It can't help Tillerson that he's acutely understaffed — he currently has one permanently appointed assistant secretary, and no one's been nominated to replace the acting officials in the other six roles. [Conor Finnegan via Twitter]
  • Nor can it help that the forthcoming Trump budget is likely to recommend that the State Department's budget be slashed by 37 percent — no, seriously, 37 percent. [Politico / Nahal Toosi and Burgess Everett]
  • There's no evidence that the hand of Steve Bannon is behind this. But Bannon certainly has a well-developed view of the world that looks very dimly on diplomacy, soft power, and the other things the State Department prides itself on. It also means that any influence Tillerson is unable to seize as a foreign policy force in the administration may accrue to Bannon by default. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]

Miscellaneous

  • Wild radioactive boars contaminated by the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant six years ago are now roaming northern Japan by the hundreds, rampaging through crops and occasionally attacking humans. If you are planning a trip to Japan soon, do not eat wild boar. [The New York Times / Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura]
  • Donald Trump is tearing through the American regulatory system. Does Chuck Schumer want to do anything to stop him? [The Intercept / David Dayen]
  • Every now and then, a patient's dire online plea for help paying medical bills goes just viral enough to bring in real money. But the vast majority of those who will rely on crowdfunding to survive are being filled with false hopes — only to come away empty-handed. [BuzzFeed / Anne Helen Petersen]
  • One of the reasons LBJ could ram Medicare through Congress in 1965 is because he intentionally made it difficult to know its price tag. Paul Ryan's AHCA is benefiting right now from similar inscrutability. [New Yorker / Ryan Lizza]
  • Two intrepid reporters in Vermont set out in search of an answer to a vexing and vital question: Why is their state so freaking white? [VPR / Angela Evancie and Rebecca Sananes]

Verbatim

  • "At the core of [James Baldwin's] message was always the assertion that there was no Negro problem; there was the problem of white people not being able to see themselves, to take responsibility for their history, and to ask themselves why they needed to invent 'the nigger.'" [New York Review of Books / Darryl Pinckney]
  • "In the stagnant country of his little bedroom, on the island of his gigantic bed, with two curtains sewn together to clothe his body, Paul Mason decided that he didn't want to die." [GQ / Justin Heckert]
  • "In rural New Jersey, the president’s business has proposed an unusual real estate project. It wants to build a cemetery. Or maybe not. Or maybe two." [The Washington Post / David Fahrenthold]
  • "As a serious organization with a respectable-sounding name, the Center for Immigration Studies would create policy briefs for conservative candidates and members of Congress — and provide cover for the lobbying efforts of its rabidly xenophobic sister organization." [The New Republic / Laura Reston]
  • "Buffy might have been a teenage girl, but the issues in the programme transcended age or gender. It’s undoubtedly a feminist story, about the empowerment of women." [The Guardian / Anthony Stewart Head]
  • "On the day the threat arrived, the congregation of Masjid Bilal Ibn Rabah had planned a potluck dinner." [The New York Times / Anna North]

Watch this: How to impeach a president

Ben Franklin wondered what would happen if a "president has rendered himself obnoxious." The founders came up with a plan. [YouTube / Liz Scheltens]