How Sheldon Adelson uses the media to punish those he dislikes

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Breitbart last night heralded "Exclusive — Zionist Organization of America Analysis Determines McMaster Hostile to Trump, Calls for Reassignment." Yes, "Exclusive!"

The "oldest pro-Israel group in the country," it revealed, had "completed its analysis of President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster’s behavior and determined him to be a threat to Trump’s agenda."

Yes, H.R. McMaster is portrayed as a subversive Manchurian Aide, as if brainwashed by the Democratic National Committee, ACLU, Bernie Sanders and other leftie forces. And who's the prime backer of the organization? It's Trump partisan and ginormous Republican donor Sheldon Adelson.

As it revels in the attack on McMaster, Breitbart might now check some of Adelson's media holdings, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Israel Hayom (Israel Today). It's all the subject of a long dissection in Moment, an independent magazine for Jewish Americans that's especially good on Adelson's shilling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — until of late.

He's been an Israeli media power broker and exceedingly influential in backing both Trump and Netanyahu. It's been deemed a real force in turning the tide for Bibi in two elections. The paper there is read by 40 percent of Israeli newspaper readers and, being heavily subsidized and free (casino mogul Adelson has blown an estimated $200 million on it), really hurt others major papers, which just happen to be Netanyahu's critics.

Breitbart could simply go to an Israeli supermarket and pick up a copy of what a lot of serious journalists consider junk, "propaganda and not more than that," as a former top daily newspaper editor there put it to me. It adores Trump and was given a bunch of interviews during the campaign and one in the Oval Office several weeks after his inauguration.

Interestingly, it may be belatedly turning on Netanyahu, thinking he's not conservative enough, doing so as a criminal investigation is getting closer and closer to him. A potential rival to Netanyahu's right sat next to Adelson at a big recent dinner in the West Bank. That politician, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, is the beneficiary of "sudden favorable coverage" in Adelson's paper.

“The dosage has changed: from a free paper that personally worships Netanyahu...to something else," says Rafi Mann, founding editor of the Israeli media watchdog The Seventh Eye.

Also Wednesday came word that Netanyahu "lashed out at the media and his political opponents in an animated speech to hundreds of enthusiastic supporters on Wednesday, seeking to deliver a powerful show of force as he battles a slew of corruption allegations that have threatened to drive him from office."

Boy, bashing the supposedly leftist mainstream press while investigations hover around you. Only in Israel!

Right?

Bipartisan self-promotion

"In the United States, self-promotion is a bipartisan issue. Four seemingly disparate parties filed suit today for their right to free speech, i.e. advertising, on the Washington, D.C. metro system. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), reproductive health service Carafem and conservative personality Milo Yiannopoulos have come together in an unholy alliance to defend their right to run ads on the metro." (Quartz)

Fox earnings

"Higher fees for the Fox News, FX and sports cable networks lifted revenues for 21st Century Fox Inc. and helped offset weak performances from the Fox Broadcasting and film units in the most recent quarter." (The Wall Street Journal)

Morning babble

"Trump & Friends" belittled what co-host Steve Doocy said is the "bluster" and "suicide mission" of North Korea in warning of a strike on Guam. "I don't think even Kim (Jong-un) is that dumb." But, thank god (literally), Robert Jeffress, a right-wing minister and TV host, was beckoned to crazily cite Romans 13 as giving Trump the authority to attack North Korea or assassinate Kim as an "evil dictator" (Romans 12 says do not repay evil with evil).

CNN's "New Day" looked at the Trump-chiding "mixed messages" theme, namely that the administration is not speaking with one voice, with Trump's "fire and fury" remarks improvised. Of course, the Trump administration says that's not the case.

A Brzezinski-Scarborough-less "Morning Joe" on MSNBC went heavy with the investigation of Paul Manafort and speculation on government investigators raiding his home. It was hosted by Willie Geist and thus atmospherically (and thankfully) less screechy in its Trump critiques than usual.

Let's help Stephen Colbert

He announced last night that he will have a Monday interview with Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived White House communications boss. Though we think it would be more potentially newsy for the Mooch to call Colbert at home after a dinner, as he did with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, he will be in Colbert's Manhattan studio.

Let's help out: What would you ask the Mooch? Pass along your pro bono creative counsel for Colbert to jwarren@poynter.org.

Why celebs prefer Instagram to Snap

Scott Kessler, director of equity research and analyst at CFRA Research, and Kerry Flynn, a financial reporter at Mashable, were on Cheddar to detail why some investors are anxious over Snap and also "why celebrities and so-called influencers are flocking to Instagram and away from Snap."

A Koch-Newmark initiative to help Techdirt

The technology site Ars Technica reports, "In the wake of an ongoing, expensive libel lawsuit that could drag on for years, Mike Masnick, the founder of Techdirt, announced Wednesday that his website would accept more than $250,000 in donations 'to further reporting on free speech.'"

"In a lengthy post, Masnick explained that the Freedom of the Press Foundation, along with other companies and organizations—including Automattic, the Charles Koch Foundation, Union Square Ventures and a charity founded by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark — will "enable us to focus even more reporting resources on covering threats to free speech in the U.S. and around the globe, and to tell the stories of the chilling effects created when free speech is attacked."

The Silicon Valley impact on journalism

Franklin Foer's provocative "When Silicon Valley Took Over Journalism," in September's Atlantic, takes the purchase of The New Republic by Facebook mogul Chris Hughes as a harbinger of bad things to come in media.

"Over the past generation, journalism has been slowly swallowed. The ascendant media companies of our era don’t think of themselves as heirs to a great ink-stained tradition. Some like to compare themselves to technology firms. This redefinition isn’t just a bit of fashionable branding. As Silicon Valley has infiltrated the profession, journalism has come to unhealthily depend on the big tech companies, which now supply journalism with an enormous percentage of its audience — and, therefore, a big chunk of its revenue."

Why we all need copy editors

Naomi Schalit, co-founder of the Maine Center for Investigative Reporting, tweets a "concise argument for copy editors": a photo of a front page of the Augusta, Maine-based Kennebec Journal that declares "Trump warns of 'fire and furry."

Diversity in TV newsrooms

A Hispanic and African-American fact sheet via Pew Research Center includes this about TV newsroom employment:

"The portion of local TV newsroom staff who are Black has remained at about 10 percent since 1995, according to a survey of non-Hispanic TV stations.The percentage of African-American television news directors is smaller, at 5.5 percent; in 1995, just 2 percent of local TV news directors were African-American. Hispanics, who made up 4 percent of the TV news workforce in 1995, now make up 9 percent of both the TV news workforce and TV news directors."

A TV guru speaks

Quartz reports, "The most enlightening hour of each biannual Television Critics Association press tour is the talk by FX CEO John Landgraf, sometimes called the 'smartest man in television.' Landgraf offers TV critics and reporters a bird’s-eye view of the industry, usually with bar charts to highlight the ever-growing slate of scripted series across cable, broadcast, and streaming television."

"This time, Landgraf devoted much of his talk to explain the stark philosophical difference between smaller, curated networks like FX, HBO, and AMC and the titans of Silicon Valley (Netflix, Amazon, and, increasingly, Apple) contributing to what he called the “glut of oversupply” plaguing American TV."

“'I want the humans to hold their own against the emerging strength of the machines,' he said." He derided Silicon Valley’s business model for TV, saying it goads companies into a “winner take all” environment as they produce tons of TV at gigantic costs, "often operating at significant losses and valuing algorithms, platforms and scale over a more human element. Meanwhile, networks like FX, Landgraf said, are much more committed to curation, quality control and exercising an 'editorial voice.'”

A toy story

"Lego A/S has jettisoned its chief executive after just eight months in the job, appointing a younger leader with digital experience in a surprise move it hopes will better position it for growth with the next generation of toys." (The Wall Street Journal)

Corrections? Tips? Please email me: jwarren@poynter.org. Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here.

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.

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