Jim Rutenberg

Social Media Pollution, a Huge Problem in the Last Election, Could Be Worse in 2020

Thanks to savvy lobbying by tech companies, online election campaign speech remains almost entirely unregulated. The platforms won exemptions from many campaign finance provisions by arguing that the rules would stifle their growth. They don’t have the legal requirements for ad disclaimers and disclosures — like keeping public logs of political sponsors — that television does. That’s how the Internet Research Agency, a home for troll accounts in St. Petersburg, Russia, could spend money on Facebook pages that worked for Hillary Clinton’s defeat without having to reveal its identity.

Trump’s Attacks on the News Media Are Working

“Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’” So began Day 645 of a presidency that has made denigrating the news media one of its identifying features. After mocking and insulting penned-in reporters on the campaign trail, President Doanld Trump continued going after journalists the day after he was sworn in, over the size of his Inauguration Day crowd.

National Enquirer Had Decades of Trump Dirt. He Wanted to Buy It All.

Federal investigators have provided ample evidence that President Donald Trump was involved in deals to pay two women to keep them from speaking publicly before the 2016 election about affairs that they said they had with him. But it turns out that Trump wanted to go even further. He and his lawyer at the time, Michael D. Cohen, devised a plan to buy up all the dirt on President Trump that the National Enquirer and its parent company had collected on him, dating back to the 1980s, according to several of Trump’s associates.

David Pecker, American Media Chief, Is Said to Have Immunity in Trump Inquiry

Apparently, the tabloid executive David J. Pecker has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors investigating payments during the 2016 campaign to two women who said they had affairs with Donald J. Trump. Pecker is chief executive and chairman of American Media Inc., the nation’s biggest tabloid news publisher, best known for its flagship, The National Enquirer. He is close to President Trump and the president’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D.

Investigators Focus on Another Trump Ally: The National Enquirer

President Trump has long had ties to the nation’s major media players. But his connections with the country’s largest tabloid publisher, American Media Inc., run deeper than most. A former top executive of Trump’s casino business sits on AMI’s four-member board of directors, and an adviser joined the media company after the election. The company’s chairman, David J. Pecker, is a close friend of the president’s.

A Failure of the Network News Star System

The arrival of hard consequences for these men may have come too late in the news industry, but media organizations are unquestionably leading the national reckoning now underway. For the news business, this is the way it has to be: Its main product, after all, is integrity, which, in the case of the networks, is personified by those who sit behind the desk. Once the audience’s trust is lost, the entire enterprise falls apart.

Russia Inquiry Fails to Unite a Nation

[Commentary] As the country grapples with a  serious affront to American democracy, the agreement on the basic facts in the mainstream news media does not extend to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and other important parts of the conservative media. This is the case even as the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III bears down in his investigation of the alleged Russian efforts to sway the 2016 presidential election.

Roger Ailes: The Man Who Mined a Divided America

Before Donald Trump rode the anger of forgotten (white) America to an “America First” presidency, before Breitbart News became a “platform for the alt-right” and before there were “alternative facts” and dueling versions of reality, Roger Ailes saw a divided country but an undivided news media. And he set out to change it.

Politics, It Seems, Has Jolted Even the Idiot Box Awake

As the big broadcast networks and ad buyers descend on Manhattan this week for the start of the annual advertising sales season known as upfronts, the Colbert-Fallon role reversal says everything you need to know about the political charge that’s shaking up the television world. The thinking the Spring 2016 was that people wanted a party-like-it’s-1999 late night experience, which Jimmy Fallon and James Corden offered and Stephen Colbert, then struggling in the ratings, presumably did not. Now, as Alexander Nazaryan wrote in the Newsweek piece on Fallon’s new standing, “Americans want rage.” Actually, it seems, a good subset of them want “woke.”

Murdochs’ TV Deal in Britain Hinges on 3 Words: ‘Fit and Proper’

“Fit and proper” is that so-perfectly British standard by which regulators decide whether a company should be allowed to gain and retain broadcast licenses. It’s based on the premise that those who control news, information and entertainment options on television and radio should be held to high ethical standards, and that doing so determines “the kind of country we are,” as Jane Bonham-Carter, a member of Parliament, recently put it. Understanding just how important the Sky deal (complete ownership of the popular and highly profitable Sky satellite and cable network) would be for the Murdochs’ personal and global ambitions, and the complications that “fit and proper” could present to them, is vital to understanding the head-spinning developments at Fox News these past few months.