January 27, 2020

Worried Reporters Make a Plea: Please Buy Our Paper

Last year, the parent company of the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, GateHouse Media, bought the second largest chain, Gannett, in a merger valued at $1.2 billion. That deal was also driven by the banking industry. The new company, named Gannett, is controlled by a private equity firm, Fortress Investment Group, which itself is owned by the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank. The merger also received nearly $2 billion in financing from another private equity firm, Apollo Global Management.

On the day the deal went through, the company’s leader, Michael E. Reed, spoke of “inefficiencies” at the new Gannett and described the NewsGuild, the union that represents journalists at many of its papers, as “a big problem.”

Like Mr. Marx and Mr. Jackson in Chicago, journalists in other cities have made moves to protect their jobs — by working to form unions, seeking out new ownership or generally raising a ruckus.

Journalists at The Baltimore Sun, a Tribune Publishing newspaper, have sought buyers among local entrepreneurs and foundations, said Scott Dance, a weather and environment reporter and unit chair of the union there. The prospects include the Abell Foundation — endowed by the namesake family that owned The Sun until its 1986 sale to Times Mirror, a newspaper company that merged with Tribune Publishing’s predecessor in 2000.

In Oakland last month, journalists at the Alden-owned Bay Area News Group, a ring of daily and community papers that has lost nearly 100 jobs since 2016, leafleted a Christmas tree lighting, warning about “Alden Global Capital and the Destruction of Local News.”

“They clearly do not value the newspaper mission,” said George Kelly, a Bay Area News Group reporter. “We’ve been asking for Alden to invest or get out.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/26/business/media/newspaper-reporters-hedge-funds.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Site That Ran Anti-Semitic Remarks Got Passes for Trump Trip

TruNews, which Mr. Wiles founded as an online radio program in 1999 called America’s Hope, has a history of spreading conspiracy theories and proclaiming an imminent apocalypse. It drew more scrutiny in November after Mr. Wiles, in an online video, accused Jews of orchestrating Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

“That’s the way Jews work,” Mr. Wiles said. “They are deceivers. They plot, they lie, they do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda. This ‘Impeach Trump’ movement is a Jew coup, and the American people better wake up to it really fast.”

Mr. Wiles also warned his listeners that “when Jews take over a country, they kill millions of Christians.”

Afterward, Representatives Ted Deutch of Florida and Elaine Luria of Virginia, wrote to the White House asking why TruNews had been allowed to attend presidential events. They did not receive a response.

The White House declined to comment for this article. In the past, the administration has faced lawsuits after revoking press credentials from reporters from CNN and Playboy.

On the phone from Switzerland, Mr. Wiles explained how his Davos trip had come about.

“We’re on a list of media organizations at the White House and from time to time they send out notices that there are events taking place,” Mr. Wiles said, adding that his team had also covered Mr. Trump’s visits to NATO summits and Group of 20 gatherings. He said that he received an email from the White House about the Davos trip and that his request to attend was approved.

The team from TruNews — three correspondents and a two-person production crew — stayed at a hotel where the White House had reserved a block of rooms for the use of American journalists. (As with a wedding block, those who used the rooms paid the hotel directly.) Reporters spotted Mr. Wiles at the breakfast buffet at the hotel, the Privà Alpine Lodge.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/26/business/media/trunews-white-house-press-credentials.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

India Restores Some Internet Access in Kashmir After Long Shutdown

The lifting of restrictions on Saturday applied only to 301 “whitelisted” websites. Among them were entertainment platforms like Netflix and Amazon and some international news outlets, including The New York Times. Many Indian publications remained blocked, along with all social media. Mobile data access was also restored, though it was limited to 2G connections.

“It is very slow — and a good joke,” said Sajeel Majid, 35, a restaurant owner in Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir. “India wants to deceive the world by saying we have restored internet, but we can’t even access email with 2G speed.”

Though some Kashmiris said the partial restoration of internet services could bring some semblance of normalcy to the region, they pointed out that shops remained largely shut and troops were still posted everywhere. Over the last week, around half a dozen Kashmiri militants were killed in gun battles with Indian forces, who have been accused of torturing civilians and using excessive force against protesters.

In a statement, the government of Jammu and Kashmir said continued internet restrictions were necessary to prevent the “propagation of terror activities” and the “circulation of inflammatory material.” Officials said they would approve more websites in the coming days.

India has increasingly come under scrutiny, both domestically and abroad, for cutting off the internet, a tactic more commonly associated with dictatorships than democracies. The country tops the world in the number of internet shutdowns, with 134 last year, according to SFLC.in, a legal advocacy group in New Delhi that tracks such restrictions.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/26/world/asia/kashmir-internet-shutdown-india.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Russell Simmons Documentary Premieres Amid Controversy

Ziering and Dick, who have spent the past decade revealing sexual assault in the military (“The Invisible War”) and on college campuses (“The Hunting Ground”), begin tracking Dixon in the wake of the #MeToo movement, after an explosive column by the screenwriter Jenny Lumet alleging abuse against Simmons. Dixon’s claims are similar, and the film focuses on her as she grapples with her fears about how the black community will respond.

She also admits to idolizing Simmons when he first hired her: “Russell Simmons was who I wanted to be,” she says in the film. “I couldn’t have scripted it better.”

Recalling Anita Hill’s claims against Clarence Thomas when he was nominated for the Supreme Court, and Desiree Washington’s accusations against Mike Tyson, Dixon agonizes over whether she wants to go public, fearing that she is up against a force much larger than herself. “I’m never going to be that person,” she says in the film. “The black community is going to hate my guts.”

The documentary also discusses the culture at the time: misogyny in the music business, both in specifics when it came to hip-hop, and in general terms, pointing out that the rap genre didn’t invent the use of degrading images of women in its music videos. #MeToo founder Tarana Burke is also a frequent voice, adding commentary about black women’s place in the movement, and their feelings of alienation. “Black women feel like they have to support black men,” she said.

The movie returns to the Simmons case and other women’s stories: Abrams, a former model who had a relationship with him, tells her abuse story and the aftermath, when she tried to kill herself. “I’m a failure, a chew toy for men of power,” she says in the documentary. Hines, from the all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies, also tells her story, agonizing over its consequences.

The film concludes with a tearful meeting between Abrams, Dixon and Lumet. The three join together for a survivor’s reunion, part commiseration over their shared experiences, part celebration of their recovery.

“I wish I could have come forward earlier,” Lumet says regretfully. “He could have left everyone else alone.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/25/movies/russell-simmons-documentary-controversy.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Pompeo Denounces News Media, Undermining U.S. Message on Press Freedom

Some journalists pointed out that Mr. Pompeo appears to erupt more often at female reporters. In an interview with Deirdre Shesgreen of USA Today last year, Mr. Pompeo at one point repeated her name nine times: “No, not O.K., but. Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre. Not O.K., but.”

For some, Mr. Pompeo’s treatment of Ms. Kelly underlined a persistent hostility toward women. Cathryn Clüver, executive director of the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School, said, “This secretary of state is a bully and a misogynist.”

Mr. Pompeo’s statement included a puzzling reference to Bangladesh: “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.”

The line implied, though did not specifically assert, that when Mr. Pompeo challenged Ms. Kelly to identify Ukraine, which is in Eastern Europe, on an unlabeled map, she had mistakenly pointed to Bangladesh, in South Asia. Ms. Kelly, who has a master’s in European studies from Cambridge University and has worked abroad, said Friday that she correctly identified Ukraine.

Mr. Pompeo has been widely criticized both within the State Department and outside for failing to defend veteran diplomats who testified last fall in the impeachment inquiry and who have been attacked publicly by Mr. Trump.

Last April, Mr. Pompeo played a pivotal role in Mr. Trump’s political plans involving Ukraine — at the heart of the impeachment charges — by ousting Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine and an anticorruption advocate. After Ms. Kelly had asked whether he owed Ms. Yovanovitch an apology and whether he had tried to block Mr. Trump’s shadow Ukraine policy, Mr. Pompeo cut off the interview, which had gone on for only nine minutes.

“I’ve defended every single person on this team,” Mr. Pompeo said.

When Mr. Pompeo objected to the Ukraine questions, Ms. Kelly said she had told an aide a day earlier that it would be a topic of discussion.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/25/us/politics/pompeo-mary-louise-kelly.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Trump Impeachment: Making a Case Against a President, and Against Tuning Out

Certain greatest hits went into heavy rotation. The acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, seemed to say “get over it” onscreen as often as his boss said “You’re fired” on “The Apprentice.”

The senators were a captive audience, though some ducked out, unseen by the stationary cameras. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina vanished before managers played a video of him, prosecuting the Clinton impeachment trial in 1999, in which he contradicted arguments he’s made to defend President Trump. (Mr. Graham did make himself available to cameras between sessions, as did the Democratic presidential candidates kept off the trail in Iowa by Senate duty.)

If any senators weren’t keen on their duty, a good chunk of their constituents were willing to volunteer. Eleven million viewers watched the trial’s first day — hardly Super Bowl numbers but more than watched the Clinton trial, though the numbers declined the next day. And the three major broadcast networks aired more of the trial during the daytime than in 1999, though they left the evening portion to cable news.

In a way, the Democrats programmed their presentation the way a cable news channel does. They recycled through their arguments and video clips during the daytime, for a home audience watching snippets here and there.

Then in prime time, they brought out their centerpiece programming, delivered by Mr. Schiff. (This was around where Fox News usually cut away, preferring its own prime-time hosts.) At the end of Friday’s session, he stepped back from the specifics of the abuse-and-obstruction cases to argue “moral courage” and putting country over party.

“Give America a fair trial,” he concluded. “She deserves it.”

The tone wasn’t entirely solemn. On Thursday evening, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York told a story about a friend who’d just asked him if he’d heard about “the latest outrage.” Mr. Jeffries assumed this referred to Mr. Trump. Actually, his friend said, “Someone voted against Derek Jeter on his Hall of Fame ballot.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/arts/television/trump-impeachment.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Have a Search Warrant for Data? Google Wants You to Pay

The new fees could help recover some of the costs required to fill such a large volume of legal requests, said Al Gidari, a lawyer who for years represented Google and other technology and telecommunications companies. The requests have also grown more complicated as tech companies have acquired more data and law enforcement has become more technologically sophisticated.

“None of the services were designed with exfiltrating data for law enforcement in mind,” said Mr. Gidari, who is now the consulting privacy director at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society.

Mr. Gidari also said it was good that the fees might result in fewer legal requests to the company. “The actual costs of doing wiretaps and responding to search warrants is high, and when you pass those costs on to the government, it deters from excessive surveillance,” he said.

In April, The Times reported that Google had been inundated with a new type of search warrant request, known as geofence searches. Drawing on an enormous Google database called Sensorvault, they provide law enforcement with the opportunity to find suspects and witnesses using location data gleaned from user devices. Those warrants often result in information on dozens or hundreds of devices, and require more extensive legal review than other requests.

A Google spokesman said that there was no specific reason the fees were announced this month and that they had been under consideration for some time. Reports put out by the company show a rise of just over 50 percent in the number of search warrants received in the first half of 2019 compared with a year earlier. The volume of subpoenas increased about 15 percent. From last January through June, the company received nearly 13,000 subpoenas and over 10,000 search warrants from American law enforcement.

Google will not ask for reimbursement in some cases, including child safety investigations and life-threatening emergencies, the spokesman said.

Law enforcement officials said it was too early to know the impact of the fees, which Google’s notice said would go into effect in mid-January.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/technology/google-search-warrants-legal-fees.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Marlon James to Host New Literary Podcast

The podcast’s topics, too, reflect the hosts’ wide-ranging tastes. While they do spar over the relative merits of English department favorites like Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope, they also discuss the work of the romance novelist Jackie Collins (a favorite of James’s) and “Nothing Lasts Forever,” the 1979 novel by Roderick Thorp on which the film “Die Hard” is based.

James, a professor at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn., won the Booker Prize in 2015 for “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” and was a National Book Awards finalist last year for his fantasy novel “Black Leopard, Red Wolf.” That he would gravitate toward podcasting is no surprise to those familiar with his books. In “Black Leopard,” he worked hard to retain the oral and aural dimensions of the western and central African epic traditions that inspired the project. “I write to be read aloud,” he said.

On top of encouraging readers to expand their literary horizons, James has found there are other benefits to talking about authors from the past. “I’m not denying there is some fun in talking trash about dead people,” he said. “They can’t attack me on Twitter.”

After the first two episodes of “Marlon and Jake Read Dead People” drop, the subsequent six installments will be released each Monday on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.

Follow New York Times Books on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, sign up for our newsletter or our literary calendar. And listen to us on the Book Review podcast.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/books/marlon-james-podcast-dead-people.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Jeff Bezos’ Hack Inquiry Falls Short of Implicating National Enquirer

American Media has said that it obtained information about the affair from Ms. Sanchez’s brother, Michael Sanchez, a Hollywood talent agent whom people at The Enquirer have described as a longtime source of information and tips.

Mr. Sanchez and American Media executed a nondisclosure agreement on Oct. 18, 2018, “concerning certain information, photographs and text messages documenting an affair between Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez,” according to a contract between the two parties reviewed by The New York Times.

Eight days later, Mr. Sanchez granted American Media the right to publish and license the text messages and photographs he had provided in exchange for $200,000, according to the contract and four people with knowledge of the arrangement.

“The single source of our reporting has been well documented,” American Media said in a statement. “In September of 2018, Michael Sanchez began providing all materials and information to our reporters. Any suggestion that a third party was involved in or in any way influenced our reporting is false.”

After federal agents and prosecutors examined allegations of wrongdoing by American Media in connection with the Bezos story last year, the company provided evidence showing them that Ms. Sanchez had provided text messages and compromising photos of Mr. Bezos to her brother, who passed them along to the tabloid, according to four people with knowledge of the situation.

That does not preclude the possibility that Saudi Arabia could have sent other useful information to The Enquirer. Nor were Mr. Bezos and his investigators off-base in suspecting a possible link between the tabloid and the kingdom. American Media and Saudi Arabia had both tried to build relationships with Mr. Trump, and one way to the president’s heart could have been an attack on Mr. Bezos, whom Mr. Trump once referred to as “Jeff Bozo” in a Twitter post.

At the same time, the American Media chairman David J. Pecker sought business opportunities and financing in Saudi Arabia. He met with Prince Mohammed in Saudi Arabia in 2017 after attending a White House dinner with a well-connected contact of the crown prince. In March 2018, American Media published a 97-page glossy magazine, “The New Kingdom,” essentially a promotional brochure for the crown prince and the nation.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/business/media/national-enquirer-jeff-bezos-saudi-hack.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

People Are Calling SWAT Teams to Tech Executives’ Homes

The attacks have been aided by forums that have sprung up both on the public internet and on the camouflaged sites of the so-called dark web. These forums name thousands of people, from high-ranking executives to their extended families, who could be targets, providing cellphone numbers, home addresses and other information. Some even discuss techniques that can be used — like cheap, online technology that can spoof a phone number and make the police believe a 911 call is coming from a target’s home.

In the eight months since one online forum was started, nearly 3,000 people have joined.

“Who should we do next?” read one message on the forum last month. The responses included gun emojis — the symbol, in swatting forums, for an attack in which the police were successfully called to the target’s home. Many of the responses were laced with profanity, as well as suggestions for ex-girlfriends who should be swatted.

One forum names at least two dozen Facebook employees as potential targets. They range from executives to product engineers. Some forum participants said that they had been barred from Facebook or Instagram, and that Facebook employees were fair game because they “think they are god.”

On another forum, new names of potential swatting victims are added daily. With each new entry, there is — at a minimum — a home address. Some entries contain more details, including the best time of day to catch the person at home or information about the children’s school.

“Lol, sick,” read many of the replies.

Swatting started in the combative world of online gaming. It was a way to terrorize someone more famous, get even with a rival or retaliate against someone with different political views.

Provoking a heavily armed police response presents obvious risks. Last year, a 26-year-old California man was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for calling in dozens of fake emergency calls, including one that led to the fatal police shooting of a Kansas resident, Andrew Finch.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/technology/fake-swat-calls-swatting.html?emc=rss&partner=rss