Donald Trump takes on the RNC

Trump suggests Trump take over the RNC. Former President Donald Trump wants to swap out the Republican National Committee’s leadership and replace it with allies, including his daughter-in-law. Current RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel offered to step down last week after months of pressure from Trump supporters. If Trump has his way, he’d replace McDaniel with Michael Whatley, head of the North Carolina Republican Party, along with Lara Trump, wife of Trump’s son Eric, as co-chair. 

Party national committees usually try to stay neutralduring primaries, which is why this isn’t just standard politics. Despite Trump’s significant lead in polling and early state contests, Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, remains in the race. Though the RNC considered a proposal last month that would have declared Trump the presumptive nominee before voters in 48 states had the chance to weigh in, it ultimately did not move forward with it. 

Despite tensions, Trump and the RNC need each other. The RNC is running low on cash — 2023 was its worst fundraising year in a decade. In March 2021, shortly after Trump left office, his lawyers demanded that the RNC stop using his name and likeness in fundraising appeals. A former RNC leader told CNN that “as soon as [Trump] becomes the presumptive nominee and they basically deem him that, then he will allow them to use his name again.” 

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Trump will likely hit a cash crunch by summer due to all the legal bills he’s paying for his defense in multiple lawsuits and criminal charges. He may need to ask the RNC for more cash should his own coffers run dry. Last year, his campaign and allied groups spent more than $50 million on lawyers and legal fees. The RNC had paid some of those legal bills but stopped to maintain neutrality during the primaries after Trump declared his third presidential run. 

Smart in a shot

A Marketplace illustration highlights the dagger symbol marking best sellers the New York Times suspects could be helped by bulk orders.

The New York Times bestseller list isn’t a straight popularity contest. 
The ranking comes after The Times tabulates confidential sales data from across the country, applies statistical weights and leaves out some perennial best sellers, textbooks other categories. It’s a secretive methodology that stops short of automatically disqualifying authors and publishers who the editors suspect have gamed the system. 
“Read Write Own: Building the Next Era of the Internet,” by venture capitalist Chris Dixon, enthusiastically promotes blockchain and cryptocurrency, while categorically rejecting criticism of the technology. The book landed at No. 9 last week, just ahead of Britney Spears’ memoir. (Dixon’s book has since moved down to No. 15.) Its ranking has a dagger symbol (†), indicating bulk orders may have artificially boosted sales — orders that reportedly came from Dixon’s own companies and partners. 
This tactic isn’t new. The publication Book Riot cited Jacqueline Susann’s “Valley of the Dolls” in 1966, Wayne Dyer’s “Your Erroneous Zones” in 1976 and Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” in 1987 as early examples of juiced sales. (Book Riot’s explainer on the history of buying books onto the bestseller list is worth reading in full.) The New York Times introduced the dagger in 1995 to signal when a book’s rank may have benefited from these kinds of sales. 
But getting on the list doesn’t just bestow prestige, it’s a potent marketing tool that can help authors attract future book deals. It also begets more sales. A 2004 study found that New York Times bestseller status boosted sales 13% on average, including 57% for new authors. When the Times eliminated bestseller lists for graphic novels and romance in 2016, sales of those genres dropped 5% and 10% respectively the following year. 

The numbers

The Super Bowl has come and gone, and so has the Super Bowl of the flower industry. Let’s do the numbers. 


Florists make 30% of their annual sales in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. 


That’s how much a dozen red roses cost in Manhattan, New York, this week — more than $10 per stem. 

460 million 

Hundreds of millions of flowers are imported for Valentine’s Day, along with multitudes of pests that are intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 


Leading up to Valentine’s Day, more than 30 daily flights bring flowers from Colombia to Miami. Wholesalers can get flowers to their destination within 48 hours of being picked. It’s a supply chain marvel, but air freight is one of the reasons that roses aren’t a climate-friendly way to say, “I love you.” 


About 37% of people in the U.S. planned to buy flowers as a gift for their sweetie or another important person last year. About 57% of people planned to buy candy. 

None of us is as smart as all of us

Tell us what’s making you smarter at We’d love to include your recommendation in a future newsletter.

Measuring “agreeableness”  

Producer Andie Corban is reading a 404 Media story about how companies like Olive Garden, FedEx and McDonald’s are making job applicants take a bizarre personality quiz featuring a weird, blue alien named Ash. 

When the options are expensive and limited 

Host Kimberly Adams is reading a helpful guide for parents on how to find quality child care. The article by The 19th tells you when to look and how to vet programs and providers. 

It’s not all doom and gloom 

“Make Me Smart” fan Poppy M., from Portland, Oregon, recommends Reasons To Be Cheerful, a project created by musician David Byrne. The site is “a fantastic counterpoint to the doom cycle,” Poppy wrote us, “while still being serious news topics and not relying too much on pet stories.” 

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