July 16, 2020

Writer for Tucker Carlson Resigns After ‘Abhorrent’ Online Posts Are Revealed

Mr. Carlson has not commented on the matter since Mr. Neff resigned. Ms. Scott and Mr. Wallace wrote in their memo that Mr. Carlson would address the episode on his Monday show.

Mr. Neff did not respond to inquiries for comment.

A conservative writer who previously worked at the right-wing news and opinion site The Daily Caller, which Mr. Carlson co-founded, Mr. Neff published on AutoAdmit under a pseudonym, CharlesXII.

His posts there mocked and denigrated African-Americans, Asian-Americans and women, and he contributed to message threads in which other writers used racial slurs. He also occasionally bragged about his influence on Mr. Carlson’s show.

CNN identified Mr. Neff as the author of the posts and first reported his resignation on Friday.

Mr. Neff, in a recent interview with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, said that when Mr. Carlson read off his teleprompter, “the first draft was written by me.” He told the magazine that he and Mr. Carlson agreed on many issues and that he enjoyed working at a show that could affect national politics.

“We’re very aware that we do have that power to sway the conversation, so we try to use it responsibly,” Mr. Neff told the magazine, which identified him as a 2013 graduate and a former editor at The Dartmouth Review, the college’s undergraduate conservative newspaper. (As of Saturday, the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine appeared to have removed the article about Mr. Neff from its website.)

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/11/business/media/tucker-carlson-writer-blake-neff.html

Amazon Backtracks From Demand That Employees Delete TikTok

ByteDance has made a series of moves in response to the concerns. The company said that it would separate TikTok from much of its Chinese operations, and that users’ personal data would be stored in the United States and not in China. In May, ByteDance hired Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive, to be chief executive of TikTok based in Los Angeles. It has said that managers outside China call the shots on key aspects of its business, including rules about data.

On Monday, TikTok also said that it would withdraw from app stores in Hong Kong, where a new national security law from China was enacted. The company said it would make the app inoperable to users there within a few days.

After Amazon’s first email on Friday, TikTok said in a statement that user security was “of the utmost importance” and that it was committed to user privacy. It added, “While Amazon did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns, we welcome a dialogue.”

Before Amazon sent out its second message on Friday, Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, who has called for investigations into the national security ramifications of Chinese apps, said, “The whole federal government should follow suit.”

TikTok has long been a concern of American intelligence officials, who fear the social networking app is a thinly veiled data collection service. Over the past six months, security researchers have only furthered those concerns with a series of discoveries.

Last month, a researcher uncovered that TikTok had the ability to siphon off anything a user copied to a clipboard on a smartphone — passwords, photos and other sensitive data like Social Security numbers, emails and texts. The researcher began posting the findings on the online message board Reddit.

The researcher, who goes by the handle Bangorlol, also said that TikTok was capturing data about a user’s phone hardware and data on other apps installed on the phone. Many of these abilities are found in other apps, but TikTok’s developers had gone out of their way to prevent anyone from analyzing the app, the researcher said.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/technology/tiktok-amazon-security-risk.html

An Open Letter on Free Expression Draws a Counterblast

“But the fact is there are a lot of people, particularly Black and trans, expressing very valid concerns about the climate right now,” she said. “Letting this very lofty position go unanswered didn’t feel like it was benefiting anyone.”

The prominence of the Harper’s signers has been a flash point in the conversation, with some deriding that letter as the whining of “assorted rich fools,” as a writer for The Daily Beast put it. The response letter characterized it as a defense of “the intellectual freedom of cis white intellectuals,” which “has never been under threat en masse.”

On Friday, after the response letter was posted, the writer Thomas Chatterton Williams, who spearheaded the Harper’s letter, highlighted the more than two dozen Black and other nonwhite intellectuals who signed his letter.

“You know, just a bunch of privileged solipsistic elites worrying about problems that don’t exist,” Mr. Williams, who is Black, tweeted. “So far, haven’t seen any of the formerly imprisoned signatories or the ones who have experienced fatwas cave to the social media backlash, though,” he added.

His dig was a reference to the fact that criticism of the Harper’s letter centered as much on who signed it as its content. And within hours of its publication, some who had signed distanced themselves from it, saying they would not have joined if they had been aware of some of the other signers. The inclusion of J.K. Rowling, who has drawn condemnation for a series of recent comments widely seen as anti-transgender, drew particular ire.

The new letter included one person, the historian Kerri Greenidge, who had signed the Harper’s letter, according to emails reviewed by The New York Times, but then asked that her name be removed, saying on Twitter, “I do not endorse this @Harpers letter.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/arts/open-letter-debate.html

Facebook Said to Consider Banning Political Ads

If a ban on political ads were to happen, it would be a reversal for Facebook and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. The social network has long allowed politicians and political parties to run ads across its network virtually unchecked, even if those ads contained falsehoods or other misinformation.

Mr. Zuckerberg has repeatedly said he would not police politicians’ ads and stated that the company was not an arbiter of truth because he believes in free speech. He has also said that removing political ads from the network could harm smaller, down-ballot candidates who are less well-funded than nationally prominent politicians. Political advertising makes up a negligible amount of Facebook’s revenue, he has said, so any decision would not be based on financial considerations.

But that hands-off approach has led to an intense backlash against the social network. Lawmakers, civil rights groups and Facebook’s own employees have assailed it for letting hate speech and misinformation fester on its site. Last month, the Biden presidential campaign said it would begin urging its supporters to demand that Facebook strengthen its rules against misinformation. More recently, advertisers such as Unilever and Coca-Cola have paused their advertising on the platform in protest.

That was punctuated this week by the release of a two-year audit of Facebook’s policies. The audit, conducted by civil rights experts and lawyers who were handpicked by the company, concluded that Facebook had not done enough to protect people on the platform from discriminatory posts and ads. In particular, they said, Facebook had been too willing to let politicians run amok on the site.

“Elevating free expression is a good thing, but it should apply to everyone,” they wrote. “When it means that powerful politicians do not have to abide by the same rules that everyone else does, a hierarchy of speech is created that privileges certain voices over less powerful voices.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/technology/facebook-politcal-ads-ban.html

Hedge Funds Duel in Bankruptcy Court Over McClatchy Newspapers

The Alden-owned MediaNews Group has drastically cut costs at newspapers it manages. In 2018, staff members at The Denver Post, a MediaNews Group daily, openly rebelled, publishing a special section filled with articles critical of ownership. “If Alden isn’t willing to do good journalism here,” The Post’s editorial board wrote in the lead editorial, “it should sell The Post to owners who will.”

Alden owns 32 percent of Tribune Publishing, the chain that operates The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and newspapers in nine other major metropolitan areas in the United States. Last week the hedge fund increased its influence on Tribune Publishing when it gained a third seat on its seven-member board. Alden also has an interest in another newspaper chain, Lee Enterprises, and its MediaNews Group controls roughly 200 publications.

From 2004 to 2019, roughly half of all newspaper jobs in the United States were eliminated as the cumulative weekday circulation of print papers fell to 73 million from 122 million, according to a University of North Carolina study.

At the same time, advertising revenue fell sharply as readers gave up print newspapers, a longtime home of lucrative retail ads and classified notices, in favor of digital devices. Google and Facebook came to dominate the online ad market, hampering publishers’ attempts to generate the necessary revenue from digital ads.

Wall Street ownership of newspapers has become common, and Alden helped drive that trend since the Great Recession, when it started grabbing stakes in distressed news media companies.

Alden’s emergency motion was first reported by McClatchy DC, a news site staffed by McClatchy journalists in Washington.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/business/media/mcclatchy-bankruptcy-chatham-alden.html

Joy Reid Takes Nightly Anchor Slot at MSNBC

Ms. Reid apologized for writing mocking claims that Charlie Crist, the former Florida governor, was gay. But additional offensive posts emerged. Along with opposing gay marriage, she opined that “most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing” and that “a lot of heterosexuals, especially men, find the idea of homosexual sex to be … well … gross.” She said Rachel Maddow, who was not yet her colleague, held views “at the left-most end of the political spectrum.”

Ms. Reid initially claimed those posts had been fabricated and inserted into the archives of her blog by hackers intending to defame her. She even hired a cybersecurity expert. Later, she acknowledged that there was little evidence that the posts had been faked.

“I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things because they are completely alien to me,” she told viewers in April 2018 in a lengthy apology, saying she had grown up “in a household that, like many in America, had conservative views on L.G.B.T.Q. issues.”

“The person I am now is not the person I was then,” Ms. Reid told viewers. Many liberal pundits defended her, including Jonathan Capehart, Jeffrey Toobin and Joan Walsh.

Asked on Wednesday if she still believed she had not written the posts, Ms. Reid said: “It’s two years ago, so I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about that old blog. What I genuinely believe is that I truly care about the L.G.B.T. people in my own life. I care about being a good ally, a good person, and making sure that my voice is authentic, that I can make a difference.”

NBC has pledged to improve its diversity, an area where its news networks have struggled. Mr. Conde, a former chairman of Telemundo who succeeded NBC News’s previous chairman, Andrew Lack, in May, said this week that he wanted a work force that was 50 percent nonwhite, with employees split evenly by gender.

“AM Joy” was created after a previous weekend host, Melissa Harris-Perry, left MSNBC, accusing the network of sidelining her. “I am not a token, mammy or little brown bobble head,” Ms. Harris-Perry, who is Black, wrote in an email to NBC staff at the time.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/business/media/joy-reid-msnbc-anchor.html

Facebook’s Decisions Were ‘Setbacks for Civil Rights,’ Audit Finds

On Tuesday, civil rights leaders met with Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg with 10 demands, including appointing a civil rights executive. But attendees said the Facebook executives did not agree to many of their requests and instead spouted “spin.” Mr. Zuckerberg said that while the company would make some changes to its processes, it would not do so because of external pressure or threat of financial loss, said one person who attended the meeting.

“I don’t know if Mark appreciates that hateful speech has harmful results, and that Facebook groups have real-world consequences,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League and one of the leaders of the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign.

Civil rights groups including Free Press and Color of Change also met on Wednesday with nearly 300 ad agency and brand marketing leaders about Facebook. In the session, they said the new audit report exposed holes in the company’s content policies and enforcement practices, according to attendees.

The audit “has laid bare what we already know — Facebook is a platform plagued by civil rights shortcomings,” said Vanita Gupta, chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Facebook has an enormous impact on our civil rights — by facilitating hate speech and violence, voter and census disinformation, and algorithmic bias, and by shortchanging diversity and inclusion.”

In the report, the auditors credited Facebook for making progress on some issues over the past two years, including increasing the hiring of some in-house civil rights experts and creating an ad system that would no longer allow advertisers running housing, employment and credit ads in the United States to target users based on gender, age or ZIP code. Mr. Zuckerberg had also personally committed to building products that “advance racial justice,” the report said.

But Facebook had been too willing to let politicians out of abiding by its rules, allowing them to spread misinformation, harmful rhetoric and even calls to violence, the report said.

The auditors said their concerns had increased over the past nine months because of decisions made by Mr. Zuckerberg and Nick Clegg, Facebook’s global head of policy and communications.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/technology/facebook-civil-rights-audit.html

The Jewish Week Pauses Its Print Edition

Other legacy Jewish publications have struggled recently. In April, The Canadian Jewish News folded; the announcement was illustrated by a drawing of matzo ball soup, with the matzo ball replaced by the distinctive coronavirus globe. The London-based Jewish Chronicle, founded in 1841 and billing itself the world’s oldest Jewish newspaper, was threatened with liquidation before a group of donors saved it in April.

The Forward, the venerable American Jewish newspaper, discontinued its print edition in January 2019 and soon after hired Jodi Rudoren, a former New York Times associate managing editor, as its editor in chief with a mandate to expand its digital reach.

The Jewish Week, whose print circulation dropped from 65,000 in 2005 to around 40,000 last year, was already moving toward a digital-focused presence, said Mr. Silow-Carroll, a former editor in chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency who joined the publication last year. The pandemic accelerated that shift, striking at the heart of crucial ad categories like travel, events, catering and camps, he added.

“The print model has been broken for a number of years now, compounded, quite honestly, by a lack of Jewish engagement,” he said. “Maybe that’s an easy way of saying we have an older readership that isn’t being replaced. And the way to find those readers, I think, is online, which is a reason I thought a move like this was inevitable.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/business/media/jewish-week-digital.html

Facebook Fails to Appease Organizers of Ad Boycott

There are questions as to how effective the ad boycott will ultimately be in moving Facebook to make changes. In a private meeting last week with employees, Mr. Zuckerberg said he expected advertisers to eventually return to purchasing ads on the platform.

Some boycott participants are pulling ads from Facebook for only the month of July, while others have pledged to stay away until the company makes major changes to its content moderation policies. Several advertisers, such as Unilever, decided to exclude multiple social platforms, such as Twitter.

Most of the protesting companies are still using Facebook to reach consumers, often by posting unpaid content. But this week, the publisher Stuff, New Zealand’s largest media company, said it would experiment with stopping all activity on Facebook and Instagram, having already backed away from advertising on Facebook last year.

The leaders of the ad boycott said that beyond Facebook, all social media companies needed to do a better job of policing content and defending against hate speech on their platforms. But given that Facebook was the largest social network, they said, it deserved the most scrutiny.

Even if Facebook did not feel accountable to the civil rights groups, said Ms. González of Free Press, Mr. Zuckerberg will be testifying in front of Congress on July 27 as part of an antitrust hearing with the chief executives of Apple, Google and Amazon.

“Is he going to come over to the right side of history, or face accountability in other ways?” Ms. González said.

Mike Isaac reported from San Francisco and Tiffany Hsu from Hoboken, N.J. Nicholas Corasaniti contributed reporting from Brooklyn.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/technology/facebook-ad-boycott-civil-rights.html

Disney World Draws Excitement and Incredulity as Reopening Nears


At least one Florida official, State Representative Anna V. Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, favors postponing Disney World’s reopening, however.

“Disney is definitely trying to create a safe environment,” she said. “But it does not make sense for any of these parks to be open right now.” Ms. Eskamani noted that Disney employees had anonymously created an online petition asking the company to keep its parks closed until infections subsided. The petition, created two weeks ago, had about 18,700 signatures on Tuesday.

Ms. Eskamani said the state’s “broken” unemployment system and a shortage of affordable housing in Orlando had left many concerned theme park workers with no choice but to go back to work. “Universal workers don’t even have unions for protection,” she said.

Universal declined to make an executive available for an interview.

Disney — with its theme parks closed, Marvel movies postponed and ESPN cable channel without live sports to televise — has seen its business more directly affected by the pandemic than much of corporate America. Michael Nathanson, a media analyst, estimates that Disney lost more than $1 billion between the beginning of April and the end of June. (Disney will release financial data for that period on Aug. 4.) To shore up its balance sheet, Disney furloughed about 100,000 workers, slashed executive salaries, suspended its investor dividend and lined up more than $13 billion in fresh credit.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/business/coronavirus-disney-world-reopening.html