April 12, 2017 Last Updated 10:07 am

Time Inc. sale delay has some media reporters a bit frustrated; Daily Mail pays out, apologizes to Melania Trump to settle suit

Morning Brief: Does anyone believe the president’s press secretary really is a holocaust denier? Probably not, but presser gaffes have some calling for his head

The good people of Kansas Congressional District #4 were asked by the president to vote for State Treasurer Ron Estes yesterday and they did just that, retaining the seat for the Republicans. Estes said that his win was an upset in that some in the media were forecasting a Democratic win.

“We heard a lot from the national media and from people outside the state that we weren’t going to be able to win this race. We showed tonight that we were,” Estes said. “We sent a message across the country that we’re still Republican.”

Democrats and some liberal journalists, on the other hand, pronounced the results a victory, in that James Thompson only lost the election by around 7 percent, far less than Hillary Clinton lost in the district back in November. They say that many journalists struggle with math, so I guess this is to be expected.

Meanwhile, Congress gets just what it needed: another old, white guy.

The Time Inc. sale/non-sale just keeps rolling along, with some in the media beginning to say that some shareholders are getting frustrated with the lack of news on the sales front. I call BS on that. It is the media reporters that are getting frustrated.

As for the sale, it is going along slowly because any sale – to either Meredith or Pamplona Capital Management – would be complicated by the fact that Time Inc. contains both highly desired monthlies, and high-profile, but less desired weeklies.

The company also has debt, as well as a management team that doesn’t bring much to the table – at least if your goal is to actually run magazines.

If Meredith can come up with the cash, and then arrange to sell off some of the titles to a PE at close (or soon after), there will be a deal. If not, it all could fall apart.

Bloomberg, Alex Sherman:

Meredith Is in Late-Stage Talks for Time Inc. Takeover

Meredith Corp.’s weeks-long pursuit of an acquisition of Time Inc. has advanced into late-stage discussions, according to people familiar with the matter.

While the slow pace has frustrated some involved in the process, a deal is still seen as more likely than not, though there’s no timetable for an agreement to be reached, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. Time’s board met Tuesday for an update on the sale talks, one person said.

NY Post, Keith Kelly:

Investors can’t agree on Time Inc. with sale in limbo

“Time management will have hell to pay if they don’t get a deal done with so many parties interested,” warned one large shareholder.

Talks are underway with “multiple parties,” sources close to the situation continue to say.

“A deal should take place at $20 [a share] or above,” said the large shareholder. “Without a deal, it trades at $15.”

State and city pension plans are a major source of troubles for governments, a wound that is entirely self-inflicted due to underpaying into the plans. Nonetheless, the voting public seems to have little sympathy for those who might be effected. Call it the I have mine syndrome, where too many of us get a little jealous of the fact that someone else might be able to retire and live out their lives with a small amount of dignity, while everyone else votes for politicians that want to privatize social security.

But some newspapers are dealing with the same pension problems. It is why the biggest trend in newspaper management a decade or so ago was union busting. But even where that approach may have succeeded, some of the companies still filed for bankruptcy protection.

In West Virginia, a Federal agency has just taken over Charleston Newspapers’ pension plan.

West Virginia Record, Chris Dickerson:

Federal agency takes over Charleston Newspapers’ pension plan

The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation recently sent letters to CN employees and retirees affected by the change…

…“A plan that does not have enough money to pay all benefits owed to participants and beneficiaries may be terminated only if the employer and the members of the employer’s ‘controlled group’ of affiliated companies each meet one of the distress termination tests,” the PBGC told The West Virginia Record. “Members of a plan sponsor’s controlled group are legally responsible for funding the pension plan.”

The PBGC said Charleston Newspapers was able to prove to PBGC’s satisfaction that unless the plan was terminated, the company would be unable to pay its debts when due and remain in business.

Does anyone actually believe that Sean Spicer is a holocaust denier? Come on, raise your hand. I thought so.

Now, does anyone believe Spicer is way out of his element as the administration’s press secretary? OK, thought so, you can put your hands down now.

NY Daily News, Editorial:

There’s only one thing more glaring than Sean Spicer’s ignorance

A White House press secretary’s one job is to communicate effectively, to contain more firestorms than he starts. Sean Spicer’s not any good at it. But to be fair to him, it’s in no small part because the foreign policy instincts of the man he works for are harder to understand than the Theory of General Relativity.

Tuesday, Spicer unfavorably compared Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s use of poison gas to Hitler, with the ahistorical and outrageous claim that “someone as despicable as Hitler . . . didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

…This is not Holocaust denial — don’t call it that — but you can only marvel at the ineptitude.

The Guardian, Peter Beaumont:

Anger and ridicule in Israel over Sean Spicer’s Hitler comments

Spicer’s assertion during the Jewish holiday of Passover provoked instant outrage on social media and from some Holocaust memorial groups, who accused him of minimising Hitler’s crimes.

Leading the charge was Yisrael Katz, a member of Likud, the party of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Katz holds the intelligence and transportation portfolios in the Israeli cabinet.

In an unusually strong intervention from a member of the rightwing government towards the Trump administration, Katz wrote on Twitter: “Sean Spicer’s statement that Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons is severe and outrageous. We have a moral obligation that supersedes policy considerations. We must demand that he apologise, or resign.”

Being president is proving highly lucrative for both Donald Trump, and now his wife, Melania.

Today, she accepted (what is reported to be) a $3 million settlement from the Daily Mail, the British tabloid that is almost universally reviled for their brand of journalism. The case filed had originally asked for $150 million.

Daily Mail:

Melania Trump – An Apology

The Mail Online website and the Daily Mail newspaper published an article on 20th August 2016 about Melania Trump which questioned the nature of her work as a professional model, and republished allegations that she provided services beyond simply modelling. The article included statements that Mrs. Trump denied the allegations and Paulo Zampolli, who ran the modelling agency, also denied the allegations, and the article also stated that there was no evidence to support the allegations. The article also claimed that Mr and Mrs Trump may have met three years before they actually met, and “staged” their actual meeting as a “ruse.”

We accept that these allegations about Mrs Trump are not true and we retract and withdraw them. We apologise to Mrs Trump for any distress that our publication caused her. To settle Mrs Trump’s two lawsuits against us, we have agreed to pay her damages and costs.

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