February 10, 2017 Last Updated 8:55 am

Both NYT and WaPo run with similar stories about national security adviser Michael Flynn

Morning Brief: Two Massachusetts dailies, the Malden Evening News and the Medford Daily Mercury, shuttered – ‘we just didn’t know where our revenue would come from’

The headlines today are that the three judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously rejected President Trump’s bid to reinstate his travel ban, but that probably won’t be the story that dominates the news today. Instead, it is a story that we have actually heard before, but new details, new leaks, are quickly making it the big story.

The story is that the now national security adviser Michael Flynn spoke with the Russian ambassador just after Christmas. At the time, the conversations were considered inappropriate based on the concept that the US should only have one government at a time, and President Obama and his administration were still in office. But as the details of the conversation were missing, the story appeared, and then just as quickly disappeared. Until now.

At issue is the idea that Flynn may have spoke to the Russian ambassador about possibly lifting sanctions against the country. The inference, that even today’s stories want to avoid, is that the lifting of sanctions would be payback for Russian assistance in getting Trump elected president.

What is interesting about the NYT and Post stories this morning is how they mirror each other, as if the two papers talked before publication, knowing that the accusations against Flynn are explosive. What is different now is that the papers have heard from those who have read the transcripts of the conversation.

The questions now, with an administration that is leaking like a sieve, are who has the transcripts, who did the recording, and who did the leaking?

The Washington Post, Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima:

National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say

National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.

The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo:

Flynn Is Said to Have Talked to Russians About Sanctions Before Trump Took Office

The accounts of the conversations raise the prospect that Mr. Flynn violated a law against private citizens’ engaging in diplomacy, and directly contradict statements made by Trump advisers. They have said that Mr. Flynn spoke to Mr. Kislyak a few days after Christmas merely to arrange a phone call between President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Mr. Trump after the inauguration.

But current and former American officials said that conversation — which took place the day before the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia over accusations that it used cyberattacks to help sway the election in Mr. Trump’s favor — ranged far beyond the logistics of a post-inauguration phone call. And they said it was only one in a series of contacts between the two men that began before the election and also included talk of cooperating in the fight against the Islamic State, along with other issues…

…During the Christmas week conversation, he urged Mr. Kislyak to keep the Russian government from retaliating over the coming sanctions — it was an open secret in Washington that they were in the works — by telling him that whatever the Obama administration did could be undone, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing classified material….

…Federal officials who have read the transcript of the call were surprised by Mr. Flynn’s comments, since he would have known that American eavesdroppers closely monitor such calls. They were even more surprised that Mr. Trump’s team publicly denied that the topics of conversation included sanctions.

It would be nice to think that with the economy in better shape than at any time since the fiscal crisis, and with unemployment at a 9-year low, that we wouldn’t have to talk about daily newspapers folding. But the reality is that local papers continue to struggle to make ends meet. At issue is local advertising, and local news. Ad rates feel high, compared to digital, for many local businesses. And local governments now put their notices online, depriving many newsrooms of the their monopoly on local news.

The websites for both papers mentioned below are already offline.

Associated Press:

2 Massachusetts daily newspapers cease publication

Two Massachusetts daily newspapers that could trace their roots to the late 19th century have ceased publication, citing financial pressures.

The Malden Evening News and the Medford Daily Mercury stopped publishing print and online editions in mid-January. They both published Monday through Friday.

Patrick Horgan, a member of the family that owned the newspapers, says many of their biggest advertisers are also struggling financially and “we just didn’t know where our revenue would come from.” He didn’t know how many jobs were lost in the closures.

Rupert is at it again, sitting in on an interview between The Times and Donald Trump, and again attempting to bid on complete ownership of the satellite broadcaster Sky. One guess that because Murdoch wants it so badly, he’ll eventually get it. On the other hand, maybe the battle to finally own it is what keeps him alive.

The Guardian, Jane Martinson and Jasper Jackson:

Ed Miliband asks Ofcom for inquiry into Rupert Murdoch Sky bid

The former Labour leader Ed Miliband is leading a campaign for the media regulator Ofcom to launch a full inquiry into Rupert Murdoch’s bid for ownership of the satellite broadcaster Sky.

In a letter to Sharon White, the chief executive of Ofcom, Miliband is one of several senior cross-party politicians to demand that the regulator carry out a “fit and proper person” test following 21st Century Fox’s bid for the 61% of Sky it does not already own.

Ofcom carried out a fit and proper person test of whether Sky should be allowed to hold a broadcast licence in 2012. Although it cleared the broadcaster, Murdoch’s son James was heavily criticised over his role as chairman of News International when the news of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World broke.

Speaking of Rupert…

The Kansas City Star, Blair Lerkhoff:

Sportswriter fired for anti-Trump tweet sues New York Post

Highlights from Bart Hubbuch’s Twitter profile include “Veteran sportswriter, Sarcastic Texan, Tyler’s dad, Proud Jayhawk and Personal favorite of Alec Baldwin.”

His latest entry, as of Thursday morning, was this update from Jan. 30: “Last Friday, I was fired by the New York Post for tweeting on my own time seven days earlier my personal belief that Donald Trump becoming President of the United States is a national tragedy.”

Now, Hubbuch is suing the Post, charging that he was fired because of Post owner Rupert Murdoch’s relationship with Trump…

…“The Post does not exist to generate a profit; instead it is operated in a manner designed to serve the ends of Murdoch and his other business interests, such as 21st Century Fox,” according to the lawsuit. “That gives Murdoch a strong incentive to please Trump and avoid upsetting him.”

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