May 16, 2017 Last Updated 7:59 am

Media adapts to constant White House revelations; Security firms see similarities in ransomware attack that point to North Korea

Morning Brief: Chicago Sun-Times dedicates its front page to the news that it will likely be sold to their crosstown rival, and to an advertisement appearing inside the tabloid today that it agreed to run to satisfy the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice

The day ended like many others this year, with a news organization dropping a story that would dominate the evening cable news shows. Just another day, and it was only Monday.

The Huffington Post nearly wet its pants when the Post published its latest revelation

You would think that the White House would be used to this by now, with staff sitting patiently at their desk waiting for the other shoe to drop. By now they would have created two separate staffs: one in early to handle reaction to the president’s early morning tweets, the other to handle the news bombshells. If they haven’t been conditioned by now, they will be soon. It is, after all, Tuesday.

Tale of two tabs: Daily News leads with Post story, Murdoch’s NYPost finds a way to ignore it

The news media has already adapted. On Monday afternoon it was Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe who dropped the big story that the president had revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a meeting where the US press was banned, but the Russian news agency Tass was allowed into the Oval Office.

But this morning, it was White House reporter Ashley Parker’s job to monitor the president’s Twitter account for the reaction. It came, though it sounded less like the president tweeting than a subordinate tasked with responding through Twitter. At this point, we can tell the difference.

The Washington Post, Ashley Parker:

Trump acknowledges ‘facts’ shared with Russian envoys during White House meeting

President Trump appeared to acknowledge Tuesday that he revealed highly classified information to Russia — a stunning confirmation of a Washington Post story and a move that contradicted his own White House team after it scrambled to deny the report…

…“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” Trump wrote Tuesday morning. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

The Atlantic, Eliot A. Cohen:

The Terrible Cost of Trump’s Disclosures

If The Washington Post is right, President Trump divulged highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador at a jovial meeting in the Oval Office. Here is why this is appalling, beyond even this president’s usual standard…

…To a remarkable degree, the United States relies on liaison relationships with other powers with whom it shares information. If Trump has indeed compromised a source of information, it is not merely a betrayal of an ally’s trust: It is an act that will jeopardize a whole range of relationships. After all, the Director of Central Intelligence cannot very well say, “Don’t worry, we won’t share that with the president.”

The New York Times, David Brooks:

When the World Is Led by a Child

Our institutions depend on people who have enough engraved character traits to fulfill their assigned duties. But there is perpetually less to Trump than it appears. When we analyze a president’s utterances we tend to assume that there is some substantive process behind the words, that it’s part of some strategic intent.

But Trump’s statements don’t necessarily come from anywhere, lead anywhere or have a permanent reality beyond his wish to be liked at any given instant.

We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.

Were the Russians to blame for the late week ransomware attack? News reports are putting the blame on North Korea due to the fact that the code used in the attack is similar to code the Koreans have produced in the past.

This doesn’t sound very definitive to me, especially knowing that the US administration would like nothing better than to pin this one someone other than the Russians (and so are the Russians). But so far, at least, the reports are increasingly pointing the finger at Pyongyang.

The New York Times, Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger:

In Computer Attacks, Clues Point to Frequent Culprit: North Korea

Security experts at Symantec, which in the past has accurately identified attacks mounted by the United States, Israel and North Korea, found early versions of the ransomware, called WannaCry, that used tools that were also deployed against Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Bangladesh central bank last year and Polish banks in February. American officials said Monday that they had seen the same similarities.

All of those attacks were ultimately linked to North Korea; President Barack Obama formally charged the North in late 2014 with destroying computers at Sony in retaliation for a comedy, “The Interview,” that envisioned a C.I.A. plot to kill Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader.

Times of India:

Indian-origin researcher links ransomware attack to North Korea

As the world struggles to identify the cybercriminals behind the global ransomware attack that hit 150 countries, an Indian-origin security researcher working with Google has claimed that the hackers may have links to North Korea.

According to Neel Mehta’s discovery, the “Lazarus Group” that works on behalf of North Koreans may be behind the attack as in the past, it has used the same coding and tools as those used in “WannaCrypt” – the software used in the current hacking into the Microsoft operating software, BBC reported on Tuesday.

“Neel Mehta’s discovery is the most significant clue to date regarding the origins of WannaCrypt,” the report quoted Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab as saying.

The problem all B2B publishers have these days is trying to keep the attention of their readers when all hell is breaking loose out in the world, in general. There have been many days of late where the web traffic chart for TNM suddenly takes a nosedive due to some breaking story, almost always about the White House.

Last week, on the day the president fired FBI Director James Comey, the chart took such a sharp dive lower that it looked similar to some of the charts I would see last summer when DDoS attacks took this site offline.

Yet one writer sees the crazy news as good. Roy Greenslade, who until recently wrote a media column for The Guardian, is now blogging for IPSO, the UK media regulator. He believes that the new president has brought to the forefront the issue of ‘fake news’ and says that it “is time for mainstream media, which has been routinely derided by the online community throughout the past decade or so, to go on the offensive. Newspapers must put trust at the heart of their USP, unique selling point.”

IPSO, Roy Greenslade:

Why we have Trump to thank for raising awareness of fake news – and how newspapers are fighting back

Here are words I never expected to write: thank you Donald Trump. No, I’m not joking. During the US presidential election campaign, he raised public consciousness about “fake news” by referring continually to its pernicious existence…

…Over the past nine months or so, those two words have gradually become a common catchphrase, a part of the everyday dialogue between people trying to come to terms with what they are reading, seeing and hearing.

This increasing public concern offers traditional news organisations a wonderful opportunity to halt the march of social media. Aware that Facebook, Twitter and their ilk have an Achilles heel they must attack it by wielding the sword of truth.

Yesterday afternoon, as an example of a story getting buried by new revelations about the new president, the big story here in Chicago was the sale of the Chicago Sun-Times to crosstown rival the Chicago Tribune. I doubt anyone is surprised by the news, the Sun-Times has been struggling as many other metro papers have, especially those unfortunate enough to the second daily.

But it is important to point out exactly what the situation is here in Chicago. One paper is owned by an oddly named company named Wrapports that has been selling off assets to the Tribune for the past few years, while the owner of the Tribune is the former head of Wrapports and has renamed Tribune Publishing to an equally odd name, tronc.

Today, the Sun-Times front page is dedicated to a column written by Jim Kirk, where he points to an ad running elsewhere in the paper announcing the upcoming proposed sale to tronc, and giving any other prospective buyers 15 days to make a counter bid.

Kirk, like the publishers at tronc newspapers, has the combined title of editor and publisher, the publisher position being eliminated and the editors given the second title. It is a self-defeating way to save a few bucks, but one being employed throughout the newspaper and magazine industry now that much of the industry has come to believe that readers will pay the freight going forward. But when you hear that print media is losing its ads to digital media properties, ask yourself if the losses aren’t very much deserved.

Chicago Sun-Times, Jim Kirk:

To our readers:

In Tuesday’s edition of the Chicago Sun-Times, you will see a full-page advertisement announcing that we are looking for new ownership of the newspaper that will commit to keeping the Sun-Times publishing as an independent news source for Chicago…

…By entering into discussions with Tronc, top management has said that it intends to continue operating the Sun-Times as a separate news operation, which means that an independent Sun-Times will continue to produce the award-winning journalism you’ve been accustomed to seeing daily.

Shortly after entering into discussions, Wrapports and Tronc voluntarily informed the U. S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, about the possibility of a transaction and have been working closely with officials to insure a potential combination protects the public interest.

Therefore, the Antitrust Division requested that we run an advertisement to announce that the Sun-Times and other Wrapports’ assets were for sale. This allows other potential bidders who were not previously contacted to come forward in the event there was interest. Any potential buyer would have 15 days to discuss a possible combination. If no viable partner emerges, Tronc and Wrapports intend to continue pursuing a deal to successfully close the transaction.

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