December 20, 2016 Last Updated 4:08 pm

The Washington Post report has Kuwaiti ambassador denying ThinkProgress account of event move to Trump-owned hotel

Afternoon Brief: The Apple News plug-in for WordPress gets a major update, bringing it up to version 1.2.0, and adding several live preview features

This morning I mentioned in the Morning Brief that fake news is but a part of the mix when it comes to some far-right news organizations, that the stories often reinforce existing themes being espoused, and that one site will refer to the another in order to get the theme spread. Liberal news organizations are very different, indeed.

Witness this afternoon’s story in The Washington Post that comes a full 24 hours after ThinkProgress reported that the Embassy of Kuwait had canceled an event scheduled to be held at The Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown and instead reserved the Trump International Hotel instead. According to ThinkProgress, the move came after “the Trump Organization pressured the ambassador to hold the event at the hotel owned by the president-elect.”

The Washington Post story, however, says that the Kuwaiti Embassy did, indeed, book the hotel, but other than that, there is nothing to see.

“Kuwaiti Ambassador Salem al-Sabah said he felt no pressure to hold his event at the hotel and had not been contacted by the Trump Organization, contradicting aspects of a report Monday from the liberal website ThinkProgress,” Jonathan O’Connell writes for the Post.

The problem with the ThinkProgress piece is that it depends on an anonymous source to back up the accusation that there was pressure brought by the Trump organization:

The source, who has direct knowledge of the arrangements between the hotels and the embassy, spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak publicly. ThinkProgress was also able to review documentary evidence confirming the source’s account.

The point here is that it is typical of news organizations such as the Post to wait on a story, then try to get their own angle on it. Here, the Post got Kuwaiti Ambassador Salem al-Sabah to deny the accusation. That leaves ThinkProgress with a story that remains unconfirmed by other news organizations. Fake news simply doesn’t work this way.

It is interesting – at least to me – that the Post ran their story this afternoon after The Atlantic picked up on ThinkProgress’s piece to discuss the inherent conflicts that will arise with a president who won’t divest his business interests once in office.

The WordPress plug-in for Apple News has been updated and there appears to be quite a lot of changes contained in the new version.

Unfortunately, I’m not finding Apple News to be very useful for TNM. Only occasionally does the readership actually approach acceptable levels.

I better luck with the PoliMedia experiment, though. PoliMedia was our second site this summer which covered the intersection of politics and the media. Occasionally the traffic through Apple News was incredible, likely due to a story being picked by the Apple News team to be featured. But even then traffic looked like a heartbeat monitor, with high peaks of a short duration, followed by low traffic. In the end, PoliMedia was shuttered because the site wasn’t worth the DDoS attacks, and personal attacks, it generated. Score one for the Russians and Trump supporters.

Here are the details on the Apple News plug-in update:


  • Added a live preview of the font being selected (macOS only).
  • Added a live preview of formatting settings (font preview in macOS only).
  • Switched to the native WordPress color picker for greater browser compatibility.
  • Added a framework for JSON validation and validation for unicode character sequences that are symptomatic of display issues that have been witnessed, though not reproduced, in Apple News.
  • Broke out Action_Exception into its own class file for cleanliness.
  • Added direct support links to every error message.
  • Added better formatting of multiple error messages.
  • Added unit tests for the Apple_News and Admin_Apple_Notice classes.
  • Added new unit tests for Push.

The Association American of Publishers released their July Statshot report, which you can read in full over at The Digital Reader, but the upshot is that eBook sales continue to fall.

Now, as TNM says every time these reports land, the AAP report represents the sales numbers of their members, the big US publishers. Those publishers have raised the price on digital and as a result sales in July were down a further eBooks were down 19.2 percent.

Overall, revenue for AAP member publishers are down for the first seven months of the year, mostly due to lower sales of education sales, an area where teachers and professors are looking for alternatives to the prices being asked by the big publishers.

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