The Atlantic Daily: The Most Popular Song in America

“Old Town Road” is a genre-bending hit with an unusual rise. Plus: the behind-the-scenes companies that may be delaying medications for patients, and more

Aaron Bernstein / Reuters

What We’re Following

What will Congress get to see of the Mueller report, which Attorney General William Barr promised “within a week”? Last month, Barr released a summary letter clearing Trump of collusion, and since then, congressional Democrats have clamored to see the book-length report for themselves. But the version that Barr delivers to Congress will likely be littered with redactions of any sensitive material, which could obscure certain conclusions. As Democrats hounded Barr on Tuesday, he left the tiniest bit of wiggle room for another version for members of Congress, with fewer redactions.

President Trump might shake up the Federal Reserve Board with an unorthodox pick. The position has typically been a landing spot for highly credentialed economic wonks, but Trump signaled to aides that he’s serious about nominating Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and offbeat 2012 presidential candidate. That Trump is considering Cain is yet another signal that he isn’t pleased with the central bank’s series of economy-dampening interest-rate hikes, and wants to make the directives of the Fed more aligned with his own. Aides had suggested Trump hold back, as Cain has faced sexual-harassment allegations.

The most popular song in America right now is “Old Town Road,” a banjo-infused hit by the young rapper Lil Nas. But the song had just last month been kicked off the Billboard country charts, after some Nashville pundits lamented that it was insufficiently country. Lil Nas then brought in Billy Ray Cyrus for a remix that helped turn “Old Town Road” into a viral hit, crowned No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 100 on Tuesday. The song’s genre-bending hasn’t been received well by country music’s old guard, but rap and country music have more in common than some might think.


Kamala Harris Takes Her Shot

(Sasha Arutyunova)

Senator Kamala Harris of California—who is half Indian and half black—is trying to make her case as an embodiment of everything that President Trump is not. But first, she has to win among Democrats:

Among the many lines Harris offers on the stump is: I intend to win this. You don’t quite expect to hear a woman say that. But Harris has become very good at tapping into the emotions of a crowd of Democrats and delivering what they want to hear. The 2020 Democratic National Convention is 15 months off, though. Over the next year, the campaign is sure to get ugly—Trump hasn’t even given Harris a nickname yet. I asked her whether she thought that, as a black woman, she had an extra-narrow lane of acceptable behavior to maneuver in. “I don’t think so,” she said. Then she downgraded that sentiment. “I hope not.”

Has the United States dealt with its own racism and misogyny enough to elect a black woman president? There’s little rational basis for saying yes. But there was little rational basis for believing that a man named Barack Hussein Obama could win the White House either, let alone a huckster named Donald Trump.

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Evening Read

Invisible Middlemen Are Slowing Down American Health Care

(Katie Martin / The Atlantic)

Pharmacy benefit managers, the behind-the-scenes companies that play a huge role in getting certain life-saving drugs to patients, are a complex yet largely invisible part of the American health-care system. Olga Khazan writes:

Cindy Adams, who lives in Benton, Arkansas, found herself writhing in pain after some injections she needs to take in tandem with her chemotherapy were delayed for three weeks. As she slipped in and out of consciousness, “I was begging for God to take me,” she told me. Her doctor, Fred Divers, claims the delay was caused by an issue with the specialty pharmacy and PBM. “This kind of thing happens all day, every day,” he says.

The doctors I spoke with said that they have full-time employees whose job it is to do daily battle with PBMs and specialty pharmacies. David Oubre, the managing physician of the Pontchartrain Cancer Center in Louisiana, gave me the clinical notes of one woman whose breast-cancer drug was delayed by nearly a month because of what the office says is a misunderstanding of the patient’s diagnosis by the PBM, as well as by a long exchange of faxes, some of which were simply “blank pages.”

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Urban Developments

New ankle monitors can call and record kids without their consent, raising concerns among civil liberties watchers.

(Kira Lerner)

Our partner site CityLab explores the cities of the future and investigates the biggest ideas and issues facing urban dwellers around the world. Claire Tran shares today’s top stories:

New ankle monitors can call and record kids without their consent, raising concerns among civil-liberties watchers.

California’s proposed housing bill would rewrite single-family zoning codes. Opponents say it threatens the heart of the California dream.

States with stricter gun-control laws have fewer homicides, especially when they’re used in combination. Here are the three that work best, according to a new study.

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