February 16, 2016 Last Updated 7:33 am

News Corp to launch new ‘no safe space’ website for US politics, led by a former Tory MP

Morning Brief: Report claims iPad Air 3 to be available shortly after March event, though any new iPhone or iPad sales will not impact what promises to be a down quarter for Apple

The election season in the US is getting plenty of attention, and with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia the election threatens to be a referendum on the future of US culture itself. Four years ago, when the mobile app craze was red hot, many news outlets launched polling or news aggregation apps to attract readers interested in keeping up to speed on events. (Im 2008, Apple launched its App Store and began accept third party apps, but the move was far too late for developers to do much for that year’s November election.)

Now, Rupert Murdoch is reportedly backing a new website to be called Heat Street, though I see that News Corp doesn’t own the URL so the final address is likely to be something else.

Louise Mensch selfieThe website will be fun by former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who recently in 2012 resigned from Parliament saying she wanted to spend more time with her family in NYC. Her husband is music manager Peter Mensch.

Mensch is a rather odd choice, to say the least. Mensch is fairly well known in the UK, has no name recognition in the States, though I’m sure in the circle Murdoch runs in she seems like an actual personality. Mensch will run the site with Noah Kotch, known for being the head of video at The Washington Post for all of two weeks.

In June 2012, Mensch launched a social networking website called Menshn which was supposed to rival Twitter. It was shuttered within its first year.

Investing in a new website is a low risk endeavor for most media companies, though most media companies are loath to launch new brands, in general. This site promises to be a place where “disagreement will be encouraged”: “It’s called ‘Heat Street’ and will, in a spirit of free speech and no ‘safe spaces,’ cover a variety of topics from a diversity of viewpoints,” a News Corp spokesman told the Guardian.

What Heat Street sounds like is an attempt to capitalize on the Donald Trump phenomenon, creating a website where the language and threats can get out of hand, where anyone can say anything, and be rewarded for it. Kind of like a Republican presidential debate really.

Apple’s March 15 event is unlikely to have much impact on the company’s quarterly earnings, which may prove dreadful thanks to slowing iPhone and iPad sales. The latest word from rumor sites is that the company will launch the iPad Air 3 and an inexpensive 4″ iPhone called the iPhone 5se (as in ‘special edition’).

iPad Air 2What is not expected is anything actually new. The iPad will simply be the same device with updated specs, while the iPhone will be the same. The Cupertino company remains stubbornly conservative in its approach to new products at a time when more and more iOS device owners are wondering if they have tied their wagon to the wrong horse.

I find Apple’s behavior particularly odd seeing that I can name no other company with the resources available to experiment with new products and fail. Launching an iPad, for instance, with more ports and storage options might not revitalize tablet sales, but it would hardly bankrupt the company, either. Instead, the company seems to be so sure it knows what it is doing, despite more and move voices being heard that it doesn’t.

John Gruber’s podcast last week featuring Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi is a good case in point. Gruber is known as a strong Apple defender, but he should get credit for asking about concerns that Apple software is declining in quality, pointing to iTunes as the prime example. Cue and Federighi had nothing very interesting to say on the subject, likely because they simply don’t see the issues.

I wish Gruber had asked more questions about the App Store, but I doubt seriously he knows much about issues media developers have with the Magazines & Newspapers category (and before that the Newsstand). It is odd that after more than two years of being in disrepair, the App Store can continue to go on as it is with so little comment or awareness by tech websites or Apple of its condition.

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