March 14, 2016 Last Updated 7:36 am

Competing newspapers reflect conflicting versions of reality; Murdoch’s Post blames ‘leftists’ for Trump campaign violence

Morning Brief: Digital First Media has ‘stalking horse’ bid for Freedom Communication assets accepted by consultant handling bids for the bankruptcy proceeding, Tribune Publishing likely to submit competing bid at auction

The next round of important primaries are set for tomorrow: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio voters go to the polls in a political environment that is getting increasingly tense, and occasionally violent. The big question has been whether, if Donald Trump were to get the Republican nomination, that the party and right-wing media establishment would rally around the nominee in the fall.

Last week Rupert Murdoch pretty much answered that question by tweeting that the Republican establishment should support Trump should he get the nomination. Today his NYC tabloid, the Post, fell in line by running a front page that blamed “libs” for the increasing violence being seen at Trump rallies.

NY Post NY Daily News newspapersTwo incidents this weekend, and how they were covered by newspapers on opposite sides of the political spectrum show the increasing divide in the nation, its media, and in each’s version of reality.

In Ohio on Saturday a man jumped a barricade and rushed the stage. Secret service agents quickly grabbed the man and arrested him. Later, the man said he was trying to grab the microphone so he could call Donald Trump a racist.

“I was thinking that I could get up on stage and take his podium away from him and take his mic away from him and send a message to all people out in the country who wouldn’t consider themselves racist, who wouldn’t consider themselves approving of what type of violence Donald Trump is allowing in his rallies, and send them a message that we can be strong, that we can find our strength and we can stand up against Donald Trump and against this new wave he’s ushering in of truly just violent white supremacist ideas,’ Thomas DiMassimo, 22, told CNN.

The Trump campaign claimed DiMassimo was a member of ISIS, though the claim was quickly dismissed.

Also on Saturday, two Northwestern University students appeared in court after being arrested on charges that they spray painted racist and homophobic messages along with the name of Donald Trump inside a chapel on the Evanston, Illinois university campus.

While the Chicago Tribune coverage mentioned the spray painting of Trump’s name, it left open whether the two students were, in fact, expressing support for the candidate. This allowed Trump supporters to post comments on the Tribune story blaming Bernie Sanders supporters for attempting to make Trump look bad.

This is the same claim made by a Post headline regarding the Ohio incident: Angry leftists are determined to disrupt Trump’s campaign, though the headline is far more slanted than the story itself. The Post’s NYC rival, the Daily News, which has run several front pages with Trump appearing as a clown, again featured Trump in a negative story on today’s front page.

Another Trump incident that is having media implications occurred earlier last week when Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields was allegedly grabbed by Donald Trump’s campaign manager after the conclusion of the candidates rally in Florida.

Breitbart News websiteFields was attempting to ask Trump a question “but before he could answer I was jolted backwards,” Fields wrote on Breitbart News. “Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken.”

Fields said she did not know who did it, but Ben Terris of The Washington Post said that it was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

Breitbart News has been supporting the Trump campaign, but at first it appeared that the online news outlet would back up its reporter, but that did not last long as management instructed staff to lay of the story.

Today, Fields resigned: “Today I informed the management at Breitbart News of my immediate resignation. I do not believe Breitbart News has adequately stood by me during the events of the past week and because of that I believe it is now best for us to part ways,” Fields said in a statement sent to BuzzFeed.

Editor-at-large Ben Shapiro also resigned over the incident and the lack of support coming from Breitbart News:

“Both Lewandowski and Trump maligned Michelle in the most repulsive fashion,” Shapiro said. “Meanwhile, Breitbart News not only stood by and did nothing outside of tepidly asking for an apology, they then attempted to abandon Michelle by silencing staff from tweeting or talking about the issue. Finally, in the ultimate indignity, they undermined Michelle completely by running a poorly-evidenced conspiracy theory as their lead story in which Michelle and Terris had somehow misidentified Lewandowski.”

Digital First Media is the first of the newspaper companies to have a bid accepted on the assets of Freedom Communications. DFM’s $45.5 million bid for the Orange County Register and Riverside Press-Enterprise was approved by the consultant handling the bankruptcy, and does not include the pension obligations.

Orange County Register newspaperThe bid is a “stalking horse” bid – that is, a bid submitted before an auction to set a minimum price for the property and was in line with expectation.

DFM publishes other Southern California newspapers such as the Los Angeles Daily News and Torrance Daily Breeze. DFM itself has been through a bankruptcy in recent years.

Tribune Publishing is also expected to bid on the Freedom assets. Tribune owns the Los Angeles Times to the north of Orange County, and the San Diego Union-Tribune to the south. Tribune, which has a large debt load, would have to go further in debt to win the newspapers, but may feel that this is an opportunity to good to pass up.

“In acquiring Freedom, they would have close to 100 percent of the circulation in the Orange County area,” said an attorney representing Digital First Media. “Notwithstanding the changes in the newspaper industry in the past 10 years, I would consider that to be very substantial, and I would be very surprised if the Department of Justice did not look into that.”

That the DOJ would intervene, however, seems unlikely knowing the sorry state of the newspaper industry today.

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