December 19, 2016 Last Updated 8:18 am

US electoral college votes today; Despite persist claims of widespread voter fraud state reviews find little to report

Morning Brief: News Corp joins Bauer in leaving the Audited Media Association of Australia, calling into question whether third party circulation audits will survive

The Never Trump folk have one last hope, that 538 electors in 50 states will do something unprecedented – or unpresidented, if you will – not vote as they are expect to, and swing the electoral college to Hillary Clinton, or at least not give Donald Trump the 270 votes needed to win.

For many Americans – and I suppose most non-Americans – the electoral college is an oddity. Its electors correspond to the number of members of Congress: 435 House Representatives and 100 Senators. Officially this is how the president gets elected. The general election, held in November, is actually just a way the individual states select their electors as the US Constitution does not mandate how the states determine who is an elector. Since the end of the Civil War, all the states have chosen presidential electors by popular vote, with several actually listing the electors on the ballot – but in most states the electors remain pretty much anonymous, unless they do something almost unthinkable and vote against the wishes of the voters of their state.

But that is what some are asking electors to do, vote against Donald Trump. Few are likely to do so, of course, though portions of the media are playing up the idea.

The Washington Post, Robert Samuels:

In last-shot bid, thousands urge electoral college to block Trump at Monday vote

Mark Hersch, a 60-year-old Chicago-based marketing strategist, joined a group known as the Hamilton Electors, who have been organizing efforts to contact electors and change their minds. Before the election, Hersch said, the most political activism he had ever undertaken was planting a yard sign.

He said he believes the goal to deny Trump seems reachable if not probable. Rather than persuade an entire country, he and his allies must find 37 Republicans willing to vote for someone else, a tipping point at which the responsibility of picking the president would shift to the U.S. House of Representatives. No one knows for sure how many are considering alternate votes; estimates vary from one to 25.

The New York Times, Michael Wines:

All This Talk of Voter Fraud? Across U.S., Officials Found Next to None

After all the allegations of rampant voter fraud and claims that millions had voted illegally, the people who supervised the general election last month in states around the nation have been adding up how many credible reports of fraud they actually received. The overwhelming consensus: next to none…

…A few states reported somewhat larger numbers of fraud claims that were under review. Tennessee counted 40 credible allegations out of some 4.3 million primary and general election votes. In Georgia, where more than 4.1 million ballots were cast, officials said they had opened 25 inquiries into “suspicious voting or election-related activity.”

But inquiries to all 50 states (every one but Kansas responded) found no states that reported indications of widespread fraud. And while additional allegations could surface as states wind up postelection reviews, their conclusions are unlikely to change significantly…

…“The old notion that somehow there are all these impostors out there, people not eligible to vote that are voting — it’s a lie,” said Thomas E. Mann, a resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. “But it’s what’s being used in the states now to impose increased qualifications and restrictions on voting.”



The past decade has not been kind to publishers. But what will the next few years bring? That is what is on the minds of many as we head into uncharted waters. Will the media be more highly regulated, more partisan, more likely to come under government pressure to conform to an official or nearly official message? Or will it become more vibrant as is finds it mission is to poke and prod the government line?

Los Angeles Times, Glen Johnson:

A newspaper’s closure sparks fury — and concern over Hungary’s rightward drift

For much of its history, the daily Nepszabadsag (“Liberty of the People”) was the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party. It became a strong independent voice in the years after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.

But the country has turned sharply to the right in recent years, and Napszabadsag recently shut down after about 60 years in print. Its owners said it was losing money, but many Hungarians suspected the hidden hand of the government.

To its loyal readers, the newspaper’s demise was an ominous sign of the times. “It was the last really left-wing paper,” said Felkai, 62.

The New Republic, Clio Chang and Alex Shephard:

What Happens to Media Matters in a Post-Hillary World?

The allegiance to the Clintons has always sat uncomfortably beside Media Matters’s ostensible goal of holding media accountable. Any journalist on Twitter knows that even mild criticisms of Clinton would almost instantaneously raise the hackles of some Media Matters staffer, giving the distinct impression that the whole project was about protecting Clinton from unflattering press rather than ensuring journalistic integrity. But Media Matters depended heavily on its association with the Clintons. Brock, a formerly conservative journalist who wrote a biography of Clinton that portrayed her as a hardcore leftist Lady Macbeth, has always been an object of suspicion among liberals, his conversion reeking of snake oil. His elevated stature in the world of Democratic politics comes not from any deep roots in liberalism, but the fact that the Clintons blessed his enterprise. That Media Matters both checks conservative media and protects the Clintons has been instrumental in Brock’s ability to raise money for his nonprofit empire, which also includes the website Shareblue (formerly Blue Nation Review) and the super PACs Correct the Record and American Bridge. (Brock did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.)



As the news gets worse, some publishers or their associations react by simply ending the reporting. You don’t like the way the ad page counts show declining sales, end the reports. Don’t like the report that shows circulation falling, pull out of the audit bureau. The excuse is always the same: the reports don’t show the full picture. But guess what, they never did, the reports show what they were set up to show – but when the reports showed growth their proponents used them to brag. With little to brag about, well, kill the reports.

The Australian Business Review, Jake Mitchell:

News Corp magazines withdraw from Audited Media Association of Australia

News Corp Australia’s magazine division has withdrawn from the publishing sales measurement service Audited Media Association of Australia…

…The news comes after The Australian last week revealed rival magazine publisher Bauer Media pulled out of the AMAA, which operates the Audited Bureau of Circulations.

The measurement group is increasingly under pressure as publishing brands attract audiences across print, mobile, online and social media.

Publishers believe the auditing of print sales does not offer a complete insight into their audiences, which are across many platforms, while advertising is bought using readership figures rather than circulation.

Fairfax Media announced in August it would no longer participate in the AMAA’s digital subscriptions metric.

Mumbrella, Tim Burrowes:

Magazine audits suffer another massive blow as publishers aim to turn narrative to readership

News Corp has delivered a potential deathblow to Australia’s independent magazine circulation audit system, becoming the second major publisher in less than a week to withdraw from the Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA).

The move by the company’s magazine arm NewsLifeMedia follows Thursday’s announcement from Bauer Media that it was withdrawing from the system.

The withdrawals follow years of declining circulations which led to headlines every quarter highlighting most magazine titles’ falling print numbers.

As a result of Bauer Media and NewsLifeMedia pulling out of the audit, advertisers will no longer have third party verification that magazine circulations are what the publications claim them to be.

The boss of the AMAA has today warned brands they will have to choose which data to trust before they decide where to advertise.



The Guardian, Benjamin Young:

How North Korean magazines accidentally subverted the USSR

In the dying decade of the USSR, people became increasingly frustrated with the inefficiency of the Soviet system and their inability to get their hands on much-coveted western goods. But however bad things got they were left with one comforting thought: they were still better off than those living under communist rule in North Korea…

…Seemingly oblivious to their impact, the Soviet authorities never stopped the distribution of the Russian-language versions of the magazines, which are still published in Pyongyang today. According to Petrov, it’s possible the Soviets deliberately allowed the magazines to grow in popularity because they highlighted “the human face of the Soviet system as opposed to the ugly parody of Stalinist North Korea”.

Lankov adds that the “the Soviet elite despised North Korea almost as much as the general public – or even more. So they did not mind people seeing the North Koreans make fools of themselves”.

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