One year ago, The Recount published a visual representation of President Trump's persistent public downplaying of the emergence of Covid-19 in the United States — calling bullshit on his claim at the time that "I've always known this is a pandemic ... I've always viewed it as serious." The Calendar instantly went viral, and was viewed by tens of millions of people on social media and television news around the world. With Joe Biden having just effectively sewn up the Democratic presidential nomination, the Calendar helped shift the political conversation just as the contours of the general election were taking shape. To celebrate the first anniversary of its publication, we are offering Trump's Coronavirus Calendar as a unique, 1/1 NFT — our first Recount-minted news moment.
The Recount’s mission is to reinvent how high-quality, high-integrity journalism is produced and distributed, and how audiences engage with news. Our unique remix approach to reportage and storytelling helped catapult the company to an extraordinary first year in 2020. Tens of millions of people engaged with our work on social media, podcast platforms, and our own site and app.
We had been dabbling with short-form video journalism on Twitter for a few months before we posted the Calendar, but once it dropped, our world shifted. Political leaders, policy makers, media figures, celebrities, and millions of others viewed, shared, and commented on this clever, concise, visually arresting representation of how President Trump was handling the epochal crisis that would dominate all of our lives in the year ahead. Madonna posted it to her Instagram account. Super pacs ripped it off. Versions of the Calendar popped up on Reddit, YouTube, VK (Russia), Weibo (China), and countless other platforms in America and around the world. We hit a nerve.
The role of journalism is to report the truth and call bullshit on those in power when they lie, deflect, dissemble, or otherwise refuse to engage with that truth. One year ago this week, President Trump claimed, “I’ve always known [Covid-19] is a pandemic. I’ve felt that it was a pandemic long before it was a pandemic … I’ve always viewed it as serious.” But Trump’s Coronavirus Calendar told a different story — that is, it told the truth.
Since then, The Recount has made a habit of identifying key moments in the news and encapsulating them in short, sharp videos that drive millions of conversations every day (here are a few of our favorites). And now we are poised to bring that approach to the world of streaming. So as we approached the one-year anniversary of the Calendar, our first runaway viral video, we thought it would be fun to celebrate that breakthrough in a manner that itself is an expression of our relentless aspiration to rethink how journalism works — its form, function, and economics — in this moment of intense fluidity and flux in digital media.
Today, therefore, we are making Trump’s Coronavirus Calendar available as a unique, 1 of 1 non-fungible token — a permanent, platform-free, digital asset secured via blockchain technology. We’re using an Ethereum-based protocol called Zora for this initial test. And a test is precisely what it is. We are excited to experiment with the tools of decentralized media, and we’re inspired by the new possibilities it might open up in the news business.
Few disagree that our shared information ecosystem feels broken and in need of new thinking. The permanence, transparency, and flexibility inherent in blockchain-based systems reminds us of the energy, optimism, and, sure, the hype around the early internet. The Recount’s founders have been working at the intersection of media and technology for more than three decades, and in that time, we’ve done our share of boundary-pushing (resulting in more than our share of both successes and failures) in the field. We’ll see how this first test plays out; one of the many great features of the Zora protocol is its auction mechanics, which can be tuned not only toward value generation but non-financial factors such as market fit between buyer and seller. We may not end up selling this NFT at all (the auction allows choice regarding if, when, and to whom a sale takes place). But no matter how this unfolds, we’re confident we’ll learn something. And that, at bottom, is the real goal here, the goal propelling every journalistic endeavor: to learn.
If you’re interested in the Calendar auction, visit our page on Zora here. The NFT will be minted at 12 AM on March 17th, 2021.
Trump’s Coronavirus Calendar was created by:
Brennan Murphy - Creator
Abby Collier - Producer
Angel Alcantara - Editor
Slade Sohmer - Editor In Chief
John Heilemann - Executive Editor