May 12, 2017 Last Updated 9:54 am

One side of media world sees crisis, while Murdoch side shrugs and says ‘what’s the big deal?’

Morning Brief: French investigators have begun to look into the hacking of the Emmanuel Macron campaign and are finding not only ties to known Russian hackers, but also to the US far-right which helped spread the data on the Internet

The latest series of crises involving the president — we’ll simply call it Thursday — call into question whether the nation can have an actual constitutional crisis when almost half the nation is being told to ignore it all because it is fake news. For the part of America that consumes the Murdoch press — be it Fox News, The Wall Street Journal or the NY Post — the events of the past day or two are all about liberals making a fuss about nothing. The firing of the FBI director, like the counterespionage investigation, or the resignation/firing of Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, are non-stories.

This is what the Murdoch press does, it doesn’t report the news, it either makes it up via hacks (think News of the World) or conspiracy theories (think birtherism, death panels) or suppresses it in the interest of its political allies.

But over on the other side of the universe, things are spiraling out of control.

Following the firing of Comey, the White House kept it together briefly, keeping their story straight as to the reasons for the firing: it was due to the recommendations of the Justice Department. Then the president did an interview with NBC and did his best mob boss impersonation — no, he was going to do it no matter what, he’s the boss, after all.

This morning, he went on Twitter to lob a threat at the former director:

One almost, almost feels badly for his press spokespeople. Almost.

The Washington Post, Aaron Blake:

Trump just decimated the White House’s entire James Comey narrative

After they had spent nearly two days emphasizing that this was a decision Trump arrived at after receiving a memo and recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Trump just blurted out that he was going to fire Comey all along. Basically, he admitted the memo was a ruse and a political ploy.

And he even seemed to suggest he may have fired Comey because of the Russia investigation — which only makes his decision more controversial and runs counter to the suggestions of everyone who has spoken on his behalf in recent days.

HOLT: Did you ask for a recommendation?

TRUMP: What I did is, I was going to fire Comey. My decision. It was not . . .

HOLT: You had made the decision before they came in the room.

TRUMP: I was going to fire Comey. There’s no good time to do it, by the way.

HOLT: Because in your letter, you said, ‘I accepted their recommendation.’ So you had already made the decision.

TRUMP: Oh, I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.

The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt:

In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred.

As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.

Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not “reliable” in the conventional political sense.

Fox News, Sean Hannity:

Trump Derangement Syndrome grips Dems in wake of Comey firing

Deranged, liberal crackpots are at it again. They are using President Trump’s very sound decision to fire FBI Director James Comey to push all kinds of bizarre conspiracy theories.

It was to stop the investigation into Russian interference in the election. He put others up to it to settle a score. He fired Comey during a temper tantrum.

Well, actually, there is a very simple explanation, and Trump told it to anyone willing to listen.

“He was not doing a good job,” Trump told reporters Wednesday.

TIME Magazine, Elizabeth Dias: Vice President Mike Pence Met Privately With Top Russian Cleric
New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait: Trump Is Trying to Control the FBI. It’s Time to Freak Out.
The Nation, Ari Berman: Trump’s Commission on ‘Election Integrity’ Will Lead to Massive Voter Suppression
Haaretz, Barak Ravid and Amir Tibon: U.S. Ambassador Advises Israeli Officials: Trump’s Serious About Peace, Work With Him

The American media has a hard time focusing on a story for too long, especially if it involves a foreign nation. This is not a new phenomenon, so it shouldn’t surprise us that following the French presidential election that the story of the hack of the Emmanuel Macron campaign should recede into the background.

But it shouldn’t because, as Le Monde points out, it directly involves not only the Russians, but the US, as well.

Le Monde, Martin Untersinger and Damien Leloup:

“MacronLeaks”, offshore account: the shadow of the American neo-Nazis

(Translation) Friday evening May 5th. There are only a few hours left in the official campaign for the second round of the presidential election when information suddenly threatens to upset everything: tens of thousands of emails, hacked from the En marche! campaign – renamed La République en marche (LRM) since the election of Emmanuel Macron – have just been published on the Internet.

Where did these documents come from? Have they been collected by Russian hackers, like the e-mails of the 2016 Democratic campaign in the United States?

The investigation opened this weekend…

But one thing is already certain: whatever the origin of the documents, it was within the US far-right wing that their distribution was organized – with astonishing coordination.

The Guardian, Julian Borger: US official says France warned about Russian hacking before Macron leak
Reuters, Andrea Shalal: After Macron hack, German cyber agency reaffirms warning to parties

There is no question that publishers are desperate for revenue, what with print advertising continue to lose budget to digital. Some publishers have decided to throw everything at their readers, pop-ups, takeovers, the lot, in order to make a few more dollars. Others have agreed to host third party content in the form of small stories with bizarre headlines, hoping to lure their readers to click on the stories so as to earn a few pennies from the companies that create these schemes.

Taboola and Outbrain are but two of the companies that junk up many websites (see below), and one has to assume that their schemes work at least a bit, otherwise it is hard to see why an otherwise legitimate publisher would have their content mixed with their own.

But it appears that the issue of fake news sort of hits home for these services. After all, any reader who reads, say, Talking Points Memo, has to wonder what is real and what is fake when seeing these “Around the Web” features. So, Adam Singolda, founder & CEO Taboola, wrote a blog post attempting to argue against what he sees as fake news shaming.

Taboola, Adam Singolda:

The Unintended Risks of “Fake-News Shaming

I may be a contrarian here, but I’ve become equally concerned that ‘fake news’ is being used reflexively and without enough thought. This is not to deny the ugly reality of ‘fake news.’ I have been clear about the line which separates what will be rejected from Taboola and what is accepted.

The challenge, though, isn’t necessarily the worst offenders. That’s ‘easy.’ The challenge is in the gray, and that’s where it gets complicated. There’s a fine line between using the term ‘fake news’ as a sweeping indictment to discount legitimate or even satirical content, and using it to rightfully reject misinformation that intends to deceive or to drive certain agendas—political or even worse—medical

Home Page Photo: Latest cover from The New Yorker.

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