Breakfast Briefing: 5 things for PR pros to know Friday morning

A calmer presidential debate; Broadcaster cuts Pope's gay marriage comments; Walmart sues over opioid crisis; No, Virginia, there isn’t a Santa Claus; Tesla's “full self-driving” software doesn't.

Breakfast Briefing: 5 things for PR pros to know Friday morning

Last night's presidential debate was much calmer than the first, and often focused on actual policy. The new muted microphone rule led to a more reasoned exchange with President Trump and former VP Joe Biden sparring on COVID-19, race, the environment, and of course the controversy around leaked emails from the laptop of Joe Biden's son Hunter. Trump was decidedly more reserved, USA Today reports, and actually praised moderator Kristen Welker saying; "So far, I respect very much the way you handled this."

A Mexican broadcaster admitted it removed Pope Francis' endorsement of same-sex civil unions from an interview. The Pope's comments, revealed Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival in the documentary "Francesco," were first made for an interview with the Pope that aired in May. On Thursday, broadcaster Televisa acknowledged it deliberately removed the same-sex statements including; "What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered." The Vatican typically films most long-form Papal interviews itself and shares the full footage with the interviewers while retaining a copy, which is how the makers of "Francesco" acquired the interview. (Associated Press)

Walmart is suing the U.S. government saying poor regulations and enforcement helped cause the opioid crisis. The suit, filed Thursday, is seen as a preemptive strike against the government which is expected to take civil action against Walmart over the many opioid prescriptions filled at its pharmacies. The lawsuit states, in part, that "Under defendants' sweeping view, Walmart and its pharmacists may be held liable — perhaps even criminally — for failing to second-guess DEA-registered doctors and refuse their prescriptions. But if pharmacists do so, they may face the wrath of state medical boards, the medical community at large, individual doctors, and patients." Walmart wants the federal judge to say the government has no legal grounds for seeking civil damages. (PBS)

No, Virginia, there isn't a Santa Claus. Not unless you mean the virtual one Macy's will present online, CNN reports. Citing COVID-19 concerns, the store has cancelled the 159-year holiday season tradition that began in 1861. In a press release, Susan Tercero, Macy's vice president of Branded Entertainment said "to replicate the magical experience of visiting Macy's Santaland for children and their families, we will shift to a virtual engagement this year." The experience starts with a greeting from virtual elves.

Tesla is sending mixed messages about its self driving cars, the Associated Press reports. This week the company distributed what it called "full self-driving" software to a small group of test drivers. However, Tesla's website includes decidedly less confident messaging that admits the $8,000 system won't allow cars to operate without someone constantly watching the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a statement saying it is working with Tesla, is monitoring the situation and that "No vehicle available for purchase today is capable of driving itself." Separately, Bloomberg reports that Tesla is recalling about 30,000 vehicles in China because of suspension problems.

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