Politics and the media merge with Trump bringing on Breitbart executive to be CEO of campaign

Morning Brief: Gawker reported sold to Univision for $135 million following bankruptcy auction, only other bidder was the tech publisher Ziff Davis as media owners, investors shy away

An admittedly bizarre election cycle became even more bizarre when the nominee for the Republican Party, in an effort to prop up his struggling campaign, brought on the the executive chairman of Breitbart News to be CEO of his campaign.


In many ways, it is a very logical thing for Donald Trump to do. Media and politics have been essentially merged since Roger Ailes help create Fox News as the voice of the Republican Party. For Donald Trump, the outside candidate running against the Republican establishment, the side of the media represented by Breitbart News has been both his echo chamber, and the source of much of the themes he has run of. If one wonders where Trump got the idea that Hillary Clinton would be arrested after charges were brought against her so that she could not win the Democratic nomination, or that after winning that nomination it is clear that she is too ill to become president… look no further than the media websites supporting Donald Trump’s campaign.

Stephen Bannon, the Breitbart executive, is said to now be in charge of the campaign, with Kellyanne Conway getting the title of campaign manager. Conway has been serving as adviser and pollster for Trump.

Paul Manafort, who this week was at the center of a New York Times story on under the table payments when he worked for ousted Ukraine President Viktor F. Yanukovych, will reportedly remain with the campaign, though no one quite knows in what capacity.

Bannon may be an unfamiliar name to some, but he has been financing and producing a number of political films, including Battle for America, Fire from the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman, The Undefeated, and Occupy Unmasked. The production company behind the films is Citizens United Productions. Yep, that Citizens United. So much for the idea of getting money out of politics.

Gawker was sold yesterday to Univision for $135 million in a bankruptcy auction. The only other bidder was tech publisher Ziff Davis, who had submitted a stalking horse bid of $90 million. Univision’s bid, in other words, was a 50 percent premium over the floor-setting bid.

Univision-logoFor Gawker, it is about a good a deal as it could have imagined, considering the $140 million judgment against it in the Peter Thiel backed Hulk Hogan lawsuit.

Gawker is said to be earning around $50-55 million in revenue this year, so the sale price is a premium over revenue metrics considering it was a bankruptcy auction. But digital media brands are valued far higher than print brands, and Univision was likely far more attracted to Deadspin, Gizmodo and Jalopnik than the actual Gawker nameplate. In the end, it may be all about the cost to create a digital brand, versus the cost to acquire one.

No official word has come from Univision because a bankruptcy judge still has to approve the sale at a hearing later this week. At the media auction, held this spring for the assets of Freedom Communications, Tribune Publishing won the right to acquire the Orange County Register and Riverside Press-Enterprise, only to have the Department of Justice intervene in the sale, forcing Tribune to withdraw and Digital First Media end up with the newspaper properties. No sees a DOJ intervention this time around.

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