April 19, 2017 Last Updated 7:48 am

Georgia election results in no winner, both sides crowing; Osbourne decides he’d rather be newspaper editor than an MP

Morning Brief: Politico Media reporter to head new initiative to track press freedom issues in the US — needed, it seems, in response to new president’s vocal distain for the media

The special election in Georgia ended in an odd result: with both sides crowing and claiming victory. The president immediately went on Twitter to proclaim victory, an odd claim in that the top Republican running, Karen Handel, received only 20 percent of the vote.

But Democrats, too, crowed about the results, saying that their guy, Jon Ossoff, came close to the 50 percent mark he needed to win outright and avoid a runoff. He didn’t, however, ending up the night with 48.1 percent of the vote, and when the votes of all Democratic candidates are added together, they still show that only 48.9 percent of the district’s voters supported a Democrat.

Now there will be another election, this time on June 20, just weeks after the UK goes to the polls (which itself is weeks after the French go to the polls).


Across the pond, parliament is debating the merits of holding that election. The prime minister needs a two-thirds vote to approve the June 8 election, something she should get as the leader of Labour has come out in favor of the snap election. The Scottish National Party wants an election of their own, but won’t be getting it, for now.

Meanwhile, the ex-chancellor, George Osbourne, has decided that being a newspaper editor is better than being a member of parliament. Imagine that.

Actually, I think Osbourne wants nothing to do with working out the details of Brexit, something that could be a stain on the party in control for years to come.

Evening Standard, Joe Murphy:

George Osborne quits as MP saying he is leaving Westminster ‘for now’

George Osborne today announced he is quitting as an MP but will carry on “fighting for that Britain I love” as editor of the Evening Standard.

In a letter revealing his decision to Conservatives in his Tatton constituency, he said he was thrilled to be taking charge of “a great newspaper”.

Explaining his decision to step down, he said: “At the age of 45, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life just being an ex-Chancellor. I want new challenges.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to edit the Evening Standard. I’ve met the team there, and their energy and commitment to this great newspaper are positively infectious.”

The Guardian, Business Live:

Morgan Stanley: Risk of disorderly Brexit has fallen

Morgan Stanley has predicted that the snap general election means Britain is almost certain to leave the single market.

But it also reduces the risk of a disorderly Brexit (assuming the polls are right, and the Conservatives win a larger majority).

That’s according to a new research note from MS on the general election. Here’s the highlights:

Why it virtually rules out staying in the single market: On Brexit, we expect the “sovereignty” red lines on UK control over borders, courts and laws, which were set out in the Lancaster House speech, to be put into the Conservative manifesto, effectively ruling out a Remain or EEA outcome. A Conservative government would then imply leaving the single market: either a WTO-like outcome where the UK re-establishes national control but at the cost of economic barriers with the EU, or a “clean Brexit” FTA outcome where the UK re-establishes national control while avoiding major barriers to business with the EU.



Politico is deemphasizing its media coverage, moving personnel around, though still continuing its e-newsletter and Politico Media brand. But this move may have helped Peter Sterne decide to jump at a new opportunity: heading up a new web initiative, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

The initiative was announced in early March and will be led by a single reporter. The effort is backed by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Index on Censorship, and is in response to the attacks on the media made by the new president. It is, sadly, made in anticipation of rough days ahead for American journalists.

Poynter.org, Benjamin Mullin:

U.S. Press Freedom Tracker will keep tabs on the safety of journalists in America

Sterne, who will begin as a reporter for the Freedom of the Press Foundation on May 1, will collect information on journalist arrests, border stops, searches and seizures, leak prosecutions and subpoenas demanding that reporters testify on their confidential sources. It is hoped this data will then be cited in official reports, news stories, legal briefs and even congressional testimony, Sterne said.

He’ll also be writing feature stories and trend pieces on press freedom issues as the opportunities arise.

“When I heard about the Freedom of the Press Foundation job and this idea of building this website to collect this data that could be used by so many people, I was really attracted to that idea,” Sterne said. “And I felt like it was a good way to use my journalism skills but do something outside of journalism.”



I don’t know whether this article is to be believed – it purports to be a translation of an interview that appeared on Russia’s Bumaga news outlet with someone who worked as a paid Internet troll. If the interview is bogus we can all forget all about it. But if more revelations appear concerning Russia’s efforts to influence not only last fall’s election, but elections around the world, one might want to bookmark this for later reference.

The Moscow Times, Katie Davies:

Revealed: Confessions of a Kremlin Troll

Following in the footsteps of other former employees, Lyudmila Savchuk and Olga Maltseva, more of the Kremlin’s online army are now coming forward to tell their stories of working 12-hour shifts in Russia’s most controversial office.

Russia’s Bumaga news outlet spoke to one former troll about his life in “the factory” – and why the industry just isn’t what it used to be.

We wrote about 200 comments and 20 news posts for various fake pages each day. At the “factory,” there were many different teams writing on different topics and targeting different websites. At the end of 2016, I know for sure that there were departments dedicated to the Ukrainian crisis and the U.S. elections. Due to my disclosure agreement, I can’t really talk about which department I worked for…

…People who work as trolls don’t really like their profession. But now things are changing: with “the factory” appearing so much in the media, the management is starting to scale down their workforce: I was fired. Now they are recruiting people who really believe what they are writing. You need to prove that you are a patriot in order to write comments for money.

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