March 31, 2017 Last Updated 4:02 pm

MediaLife Magazine to be shuttered; Fox News ratings soar, but more troubles may lay ahead

Morning Brief: The man who led ‘lock her up’ chants at the Republican National Convention is now said to be seeking immunity from prosecution, though it’s unlikely you will see him testifying before Congress anytime soon

The week is at an end and we have still have heard from Time Inc. about a sale. I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise, but instead a sign that things have reached a serious point as discussions continue. Or, not. But the lack of rumors is actually impressive, especially when you compare the lack of leaks to the White House, which has sprung more leaks than the Titanic.


MediaLife Magazine is closing down, the website for media planners and buyers said last night.

“When we launched Media Life nearly 18 years ago, what inspired us was a quirky notion. It was the sort of quirky notion entertained by editors and rarely anyone else,” the editors wrote.

“We’d write Media Life solely for its readers, media planners and buyers, and no one else. We’d write the stories they told us they wanted. We’d write real stories, not the pretend, advertiser-puffing stories then dominating the print trades.”

Editor and publisher Gene Ely told the NY Post’s Keith Kelly that there will be future projects. “We were so lucky to have launched when we did. We saw, reported on and were caught up in the monumental changes that swept through the media industry. Every bit of it was fascinating to us. We were never bored and always curious about what would come next,” Ely wrote in the farewell post.



New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman was the one who broke many of the stories regarding Roger Ailes and troubles at Fox News. Last night Sherman was back with a report on the what lay ahead for the cable news channel.

Things have actually gone rather well without Ailes. Ratings have been high, and the talent drains seems to have ended. But Sherman is tracking the progress of the investigation that Sherman says has reached a grand jury, and the network still is being run as much as if it is part of a political machine, with the president and the network seemingly coordinating content and tweets.

New York Magazine, Gabriel Sherman:

The Trouble at Fox News Keeps Getting Worse

Next week, according to sources, a grand jury in Manhattan will be hearing new testimony in a federal investigation of Fox News that had been led by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, until he was fired by Trump earlier this month. The case continues without Bharara, and people familiar with the investigation say the government is looking into a number of potential crimes, including Fox News’s alleged surveillance of journalists, and whether network executives misled investors by hiding Ailes’s sexual-harassment settlements. (A contender to replace Bharara is Ailes’s personal attorney Marc Mukasey — a choice that could have consequences for the investigation.)

Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that former Fox News CFO Mark Kranz has been offered immunity to cooperate with prosecutors. Kranz was forced out of the company last summer in the wake of Ailes’s departure. One former Kranz colleague told me that Kranz “knows everything” about the Fox News budget, and would be key to an investigation into whether Ailes had hidden payouts.



Copyright and fair use can be quite a mess, even when the law is fairly clear.

A book I have been working on with a friend of mine has been held up for quite a while over the issue of fair use of movie content. The Library of Congress says that if you are writing a book about film it is fair use to use a snippet from the film as part of your eBook. Unfortunately, Vimeo told me they don’t care one bit about what the rules are, they won’t let their service be used to store the snippets for use in the eBook. This forced a change in the way the book was created and has led to delays (as have my own laziness in completing the project).

Ars Technica, Joe Mullin:

If you publish Georgia’s state laws, you’ll get sued for copyright and lose

If you want to read the official laws of the state of Georgia, it will cost you more than $1,000.

Open-records activist Carl Malamud bought a hard copy, and it cost him $1,207.02 after shipping and taxes. A copy on CD was $1,259.41. The “good” news for Georgia residents is that they’ll only have to pay $385.94 to buy a printed set from LexisNexis…

…Now, the case has concluded with US District Judge Richard Story having published an opinion (PDF) that sides with the state of Georgia. The judge disagreed with Malamud’s argument that the OCGA can’t be copyrighted and also said Malamud’s copying of the laws is not fair use. “The Copyright Act itself specifically lists ‘annotations’ in the works entitled to copyright protection,” writes Story. “Defendant admits that annotations in an unofficial code would be copyrightable.”



Yesterday most new organizations made a big deal out of a tweet by the president that went after the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative group of Republicans who objected to Speaker Paul Ryan’s Obamacare replacement plan. The president, apparently frustrated with the group, tweeted out something or other and the media screamed “Squirrel” again, easily distracted from the real story, which remains the investigation into Russian ties to the campaign.

But things are moving along and with the news that retired US Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn is seeking immunity in exchange for his testimony has the media back focusing on the real story.

But don’t expect to see Flynn in front of Congress anytime soon. Those of us old enough to remember Watergate remember that John Dean’s testimony only came after much of the investigation was done. Dean’s testimony was used to sum up and confirm what was already known. Testimony in front of Congress, unlike in the movies, is not supposed to be full of surprises. Any committee wants to know what will be said in public long before it actually is.

If Flynn gets immunity, he’ll get it from the FBI first. But the FBI may not need to do that, it might well decide that a case can be made without Flynn cooperating – in which case Flynn could really be in trouble.

The Washington Post, Aaron Blake:

The Trump White House is in deep legal trouble, according to Trump’s own standards

President Trump on Friday urged his former top adviser, Michael Flynn, to seek an immunity deal from Congress, after news broke late Thursday that Flynn was seeking such a deal. Trump said Flynn should cut a deal because the entire thing is “a witch hunt” that ostensibly won’t lead anywhere…

…And here’s Trump in late September: “The reason they get immunity is because they did something wrong. If they didn’t do anything wrong, they don’t think in terms of immunity. Five people. Folks, I’m telling you: Nobody’s seen anything like this in our country’s history.”

Joining him in that belief was Flynn himself, then a top surrogate who would later become Trump’s national security adviser before resigning over his talks with a Russian ambassador. Some argue his discussion of sanctions with Sergey Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration may have broken a law against civilians conducting diplomacy…

“When you are given immunity, that means that you have probably committed a crime,” Flynn said in September on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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