February 21, 2017 Last Updated 8:12 am

Author banks $250K for a few words, no writing; Softbank once again invests big in US publishing

Morning Brief: The Japanese company acquired Fortress Investment Group last week, the owner of the newspaper group GateHouse Media, in a $3.3 billion deal

The real story of Milo Yiannopoulos is not that different than Donald Trump: he says outrageous things, feigns oppression, collects supporters for the most disgusting positions, then walks off with the goodies. After signing a $250,000 deal with Simon & Schuster, which has an imprint designed to feed the market for right-wing content, Yiannopoulos won’t be required to actually do anything to collect the advance, just have his lawyer make sure the publisher lives up to their agreement.

But whether Yiannopoulos knows it or not, it is the end of the line. Sure, he’ll find another publisher for his book, assuming he really wants to write it, but no major publisher or network will likely want to touch the guy again. At least I would like to think that is the case.

But let’s be clear what what finally sunk this book deal, it was the fake objection to sex with children. In a society that sexualizes children at an early age, that makes female models look like undernourished, prepubescent play things, the idea that Simon & Schuster is really outraged that Yiannopoulos should fantasize about sex with 13 year olds isn’t a thing, just that it turns out he would be writing for the wrong imprint.

What really should be an outrage, but isn’t, is the that he continues to promote the idea that consent in not important.

“We get hung up on this child abuse stuff,” Yiannopoulos said on the video in question. “This is one of the reasons why I hate the left, the one size fits all policing of culture, this arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent.”

Indeed, consent is the issue. But Yiannopoulos thinks he knows his audience, and he probably does, for it is obvious that there is a large segment of the population that believes that women, and apparently young boys, do not need to consent to be sexually assaulted. But conversely, men must consent to allow women their rights. He have, after all, a president in office that has articulated the position very well.

“The people whose views, concerns and fears I am articulating do not sip white wine and munch canapés in gilded salons. And they will not be defeated by the cocktail set running New York publishing. Nor will I,” said Yiannopoulos in a statement.

The Huffington Post, Bob Ostertag:

Milo Yiannopoulos On Pedophilia And ‘This Arbitrary And Oppressive Idea Of Consent’

One of the most difficult things to understand about the whole Milo phenomenon has been how a bitchy gay queen like Milo can sashay his way into right-wing superstardom while greeting conservative audiences with a big “Hello Faggots!” and relentelssly carrying on about all the black dick that his been in his mouth.

The Milo pedophilia video may be the moment the wheels finally come off that bus. (Milo actually has a tour bus provided him by Breitbart News, painted with a giant “DANGEROUS FAGGOT” mural.) This is not the first time Milo has spoken of the joys of pedophilia. He did it on the Joe Rogan podcast last year, but no one really noticed…

..It is well-known, for example, that billionaire internet entrepreneur Peter Thiel was the first openly gay man to address a Republican convention, and did so to endorse Trump, for which he received a rousing ovation. And there was the creepily intimate Trump-Thiel hand caress at Trump’s “tech summit” with Silicon Valley big shots.

Less known is the fact that Andrew Breitbart worked for years “universalizing the conservative message in such a fashion that is audible enough to the gay community to break down the sound barrier created by the organized left.” In January 2011, Breitbart joined the board of far-right gay political group GOProud (now defunct). The next month, GOProud organized Trump’s first speech at CPAC, which launched Trump’s career as a Republican. Breitbart died suddenly in 2012 and Stephen K. Bannon took over, brought Yiannopoulos on board, took over the stumbling Trump campaign and rode it into the White House.

Thiel and Yiannopoulos have been arguing that, now that gay marriage is legal and gays can serve in the military, gays should move into the conservative camp from where they can more effectively fight against what their real enemy: Islam.

Associated Press:

Oklahoma backs bill requiring partners’ consent for abortions as lawmaker defends describing pregnant women as ‘hosts’

A Republican Oklahoma lawmaker who defended his description of pregnant women as “hosts” won approval on Tuesday for his bill that would require women seeking an abortion to first receive written consent from the father…

…The bill would require women seeking an abortion to provide the name of the father and would prohibit her from going through with it without his written informed consent. It also would allow the father to demand that a paternity test be performed and would provide exceptions in cases where the woman is the victim of rape or incest or if the pregnancy would endanger her life.

(Rep. Justin) Humphrey acknowledged the bill might not pass constitutional muster, but said he wanted to ensure that fathers had a role in the abortion process.

This is one of those deals that went a bit under the radar last week. The reason is that it involves investment banks. But it really also involves newspapers.

The Japanese company SoftBank Group acquired Fortress Investment Group for $3.3 billion. Fortress is the owner of New Media Investment Group, which in turn publishes newspaper under the GateHouse Media name. New Media’s portfolio of newspapers is huge, with most of them mid-major or smaller papers such as The Providence Journal.

New Media was employing a roll-up strategy, growing as fast as possible, rolling up debt, and likely heading to another bankruptcy if it kept it up. Its last Chapter 11 bankruptcy was filed on September 27, 2013.

There are at least three interesting things about this deal.

First, in December, president-elect Donald Trump met with Masayoshi Son, the CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., leading some to speculate that they discussed this kind of a deal. A conspiracy theorist might go further and ask if Trump has just had help in buying a media empire?

Second, Softbank has a bit of history of investing in the US media business, and their track record is terrible. In 1995, for instance, Softbank bought Ziff-Davis Publishing Company for $2.1 billion in a deal that really foretold the tech bubble. Thanks to some creative accounting, Softbank was able to restructure the debt, but it was a very bad investment. This one will prove no better, but maybe accounting can come to the rescue again.

Third, I guess I was wrong, there will be no bankruptcy this time around. Will there?


SoftBank Group to Acquire Fortress Investment Group for $3.3 Billion

TOKYO & NEW YORK — SoftBank Group Corp. and Fortress Investment Group LLC today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which SoftBank will acquire Fortress for approximately $3.3 billion in cash.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which was unanimously approved by a Special Committee of Independent Directors of Fortress’s Board of Directors and Fortress’s full Board of Directors, each Fortress Class A shareholder will receive $8.08 per share, which represents a premium of 38.6% to the closing price of Fortress Class A common stock on February 13, 2017, and a premium of 51.2% to Fortress’s 3-month volume-weighted average price, excluding dividends. In addition, each Fortress Class A shareholder may receive up to two regular quarterly dividends prior to the closing, each in an amount not to exceed $0.09 per Class A Share. Fortress plans to maintain its current base dividend of $0.09 per share for the fourth quarter of 2016 and, if closing does not occur prior to the applicable payment date, for the first quarter of 2017.

Pete Briger, Wes Edens and Randy Nardone (the “Fortress Principals”) have agreed to continue to lead Fortress, and have committed to invest 50% of their after-tax proceeds from the transaction in Fortress-managed funds and vehicles, underscoring a deep alignment with the interests of Fortress’s limited partner investors, and in equity securities of SoftBank and SoftBank-managed funds and vehicles. In addition, the Fortress Principals have agreed to vote shares representing an aggregate of 34.99% of the outstanding Fortress voting shares held by them in favor of the transaction.

Fortress’s senior investment professionals will remain in place and will retain their significant participation interests in fund performance. Fortress will operate within SoftBank as an independent business headquartered in New York, and SoftBank is committed to maintaining the leadership, business model, brand, personnel, processes and culture that have supported Fortress’s success to date.

“Fortress’s excellent track record speaks for itself, and we look forward to benefitting from its leadership, broad-based expertise and world-class investment platform,” said Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group Corp. “For SoftBank, this opportunity will immediately help expand our group capabilities, and, alongside our soon-to-be-established SoftBank Vision Fund platform, will accelerate our SoftBank 2.0 transformation strategy of bold, disciplined investment and world class execution to drive sustainable long-term growth.”

“SoftBank is an extraordinary company that has thrived under the visionary leadership of Masayoshi Son,” said Fortress Co-Chairmen Pete Briger and Wes Edens. “We are very pleased to announce an agreement setting our business on a great path forward as part of SoftBank, while creating significant value for our shareholders. We join a company with tremendous scale and resources, and a culture completely aligned with our focus on performance, service and innovation. We anticipate substantial benefits for our investors and business as a whole, and we have never been more optimistic about our prospects going forward.”

Under the terms of the agreement, SoftBank can bring in partners for a portion of the investment. Nizar Al-Bassam and Dalinc Ariburnu of F.A.B. Partners, who arranged the transaction, will continue to advise SoftBank with respect to Fortress.

The transaction is subject to approval by Fortress shareholders, certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the second half of 2017.

A few years ago, in a conversation with a UK publisher, I was asked why I thought the newspapers in his country were not see the same print advertising declines and move to digital that was happening in the US. I answered that I thought he was wrong about his assumption, that the move was occurring but that maybe he was not seeing it yet, but he would soon.

When I hung up from that conversation I immediately regretted saying what I did. What if I was wrong, what if the US market was unique and that UK newspapers and magazines would not see their fortunes turn as they had in the US, that advertisers would not move to digital in the UK the way they had in the US.

Turns out, I was not wrong.

BusinessInsider (UK), Jim Edwards:

For every £154 newspapers lose in print revenue, they gain only £5 on the digital side

Between 2015 and 2016, the tide turned swiftly against newspapers in Britain. A key threshold was crossed: smartphone ownership among people aged over 55 — the most important newspaper-reading demographic — nearly doubled…

…Financially, the decline has been terrifically damaging for newspapers. For every £154 ($192) they lost in print revenue, they gained only £5 ($6.23) on the digital side.

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