May 8, 2017 Last Updated 9:57 am

Macron campaign hack fails to deliver votes to Le Pen; Shadowy US ties to Brexit campaign

Morning Brief: The Observer posts investigation into a ‘shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign’

In the November US election many voters told exit polls that a reason for voting for their candidate was to actually record a vote against the other candidate. Though most voters did not list it as the main motivation for their vote, voting against the other candidate still was a big factor in choosing how to vote.

In France, it may have been the deciding factor.

An exit poll released last night showed that 46 percent of Emmanuel Macron said that they were voting for the centrist candidate because they wanted to cast their vote against the far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen. That level of disgust with Le Pen led to a massive win for Macron. The 39 year old candidate won with a 66 to 34 percent margin, and will become France’s youngest president ever.

The victory comes just two days after the Macron campaign was hacked in an eerily similar attack as hit the Democratic National Committee last year. The hackers posted data from the Macron campaign online just hours before the mandatory news blackout was to go into effect. In the end, the hack may have motivated Macron voters far more than they did those of Le Pen, and some reports even suggest that the Macron campaign may have tricked the hackers by making available false user names and passwords, as well as false data.

The Guardian, Alex Hern:

Macron hackers linked to Russian-affiliated group behind US attack

The hackers behind a “massive and coordinated” attack on the campaign of France’s president-elect, Emmanuel Macron, have been linked by a number of cybersecurity research firms to the same Russian-affiliated group blamed for attacking the Democratic party shortly before the US election…

…New York’s Flashpoint Intelligence and Tokyo-based Trend Micro have shared intelligence that suggests that the hacking group known variously as Advanced Persistent Threat 28, Fancy Bear and Pawn Storm was responsible. The group has been liked with the GRU, the Russian military intelligence directorate.

Le Monde, Editorial:

Presidential: The demands of a victory

Who, a few months ago, believed in the hopes of Emmanuel Macron? He has successfully defied all the laws of politics by launching himself, without party, without experience of elected representative, without a clear position on the political scene , in this electoral campaign. He knew how to take advantage of each of his many blows, because he lacked neither luck nor talent, but above all because he was prepared by this intuition that the system in place and its dominant parties were on the edge Of collapse. He alone was able to coincide the “degagism” expressed by many voters with the generational renewal that he incarnates and the renovation of the public life to which he aspires.

For all defenders of democracy, this success brings good news: the defeat of the other side, demagogue and xenophobe, of this movement antisystem, carried by Marine Le Pen . Emmanuel Macron pushed ahead in the first round, well above the score promised by the re-start of his second campaign. With more than 66%, it not only achieves the second highest score of the V th Republic, after Jacques Chirac in 2002. It contains the FN candidate largely under the symbolic threshold of 40% of votes.

Libération, Gilles Fumey , Geographer, Sorbonne University:

Macron, a young president from an old country

Macron has booked his “ambition with the eyes of doe” (Lambron) for juicy business at Rothschild, where Pompidou and the old socialist bristler Emmanuelli, have preceded. Business, especially with Peter Brabeck, the former boss of Nestlé, whose dream was to privatize fresh water. At the same time, Macron confesses that a business banker is “like a prostitute.” And assures Nicolas Prissette “comes from the left”, to Philippe de Villiers “has never been socialist” while a former collaborator of the Elysee, quoted by Marc Endeweld,

Sharing with Chirac an overdose of self-confidence, Macron has am unusual relationship to time and space. He is seven times a grandfather without being a father. He does not do sports, except a bit of skiing and some boxing training during his stay in Strasbourg.



Meanwhile, in the UK and US, where the recent elections look to have been more successfully hacked, investigators and journalists are beginning to looking to the things each election seems to have in common — not just the activities of the Russians and independent hackers, but the money ties.

On Saturday, The Guardian’s Sunday cousin, The Observer, published a long piece on a “shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump” that may have influenced the results of the “Leave” campaign during the Brexit vote.

The Observer, Carole Cadwalladr:

The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked

To anyone concerned about surveillance, Palantir is practically now a trigger word. The data-mining firm has contracts with governments all over the world – including GCHQ and the NSA. It’s owned by Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of eBay and PayPal, who became Silicon Valley’s first vocal supporter of Trump.

In some ways, Eric Schmidt’s daughter showing up to make an introduction to Palantir is just another weird detail in the weirdest story I have ever researched…

…There are three strands to this story. How the foundations of an authoritarian surveillance state are being laid in the US. How British democracy was subverted through a covert, far-reaching plan of coordination enabled by a US billionaire. And how we are in the midst of a massive land grab for power by billionaires via our data. Data which is being silently amassed, harvested and stored. Whoever owns this data owns the future.



It appears as if Rupert Murdoch will see one of his deals fail to materialize. News reports are that Sinclair Broadcast Group is near completing a deal to acquire Tribune Media, the owner of WGN and other stations.

Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox was said to be interested in the local TV station owner, but with all the bad publicity surrounding Fox News, and with his sights set on completing a takeover of Sky News, he may have decided to lay low.

Tribune Media is, of course, the broadcast part of what used to be The Tribune Company. Unlike other media split ups, where the broadcast part thrives while the print side struggles, in the case of the Tribune break-up the broadcast side seems more intent to sell off its assets, and now itself. This final sale is sure to be a major payday for management.

Update: Sale confirmed, announcement here:

CNN, Brian Stelter:

Sinclair close to Tribune Media deal

Sinclair Broadcasting is on the verge of a deal to acquire Tribune Media, creating a local television behemoth, sources said Sunday. The $4 billion deal is slated to be announced on Monday morning.

Sinclair beat out Nexstar in the auction process, according to one of the sources. Another one of the companies said to be involved, 21st Century Fox, decided not to move forward with a bid, a second source said.



If this story doesn’t end up becoming a major scandal I will be shocked.

The Washington Post, Emily Rauhala and William Wan:

In a Beijing ballroom, Kushner family pushes $500,000 ‘investor visa’ to wealthy Chinese

The tagline on a brochure for the event: “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.”

And the highlight of the afternoon was Meyer, a principal for the company, who was introduced in promotional materials as Jared’s sister.

The event underscores the extent to which Kushner’s private business interests have the potential to collide with his powerful role as a top official in his father-in-law’s White House, particularly when it comes to China, where Kushner has become a crucial diplomatic channel between Beijing and the new administration.

The New York Times, Javier C. Hernández, CAO Li and Jesse Drucker:

Jared Kushner’s Sister Highlights Family Ties in Pitch to Chinese Investors

Jared Kushner has said that he has stepped away from the day-to-day business of his family’s real estate company while he serves as a senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Trump.

But Mr. Kushner’s relatives are working feverishly to solicit overseas money for projects in the United States, and they are highlighting their ties to Mr. Kushner as they court investors.

On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Kushner’s sister Nicole Meyer made a pitch to attract $150 million in financing for a Jersey City housing development, known as One Journal Square, to more than 100 Chinese investors gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Beijing.

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