May 29, 2017 Last Updated 8:04 am

Western alliance falling with a whimper and hardly a word of dissent; New alliance leaders continue attacks on the media

Memorial Day media brief: Private equity companies prepare to hear presentation from Fairfax Media chief executive as Australian publisher heads to auction block

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a time when American celebrates the sacrifices of its military personnel by discounting household appliances. Meanwhile, the western alliance, forged at the end of World War II has come ended, and in its place appears to be an alliance of autocratic states. Ho hum, few seem to care in the Congress and no debates on the subject appear to be scheduled, or even desired.

Bloomberg, Patrick Donahue:

Merkel Signals New Era for Europe as Trump Smashes Consensus

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave her strongest indication yet that Europe and the U.S. under President Donald Trump are drifting apart, saying reliable relationships forged since the end of World War II “are to some extent over.”

…“The times when we could fully rely on others are to some extent over — I experienced that in the last few days,” Merkel told supporters in Munich on Sunday, a day after the G-7 meeting ended. “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”

“Of course we need to have friendly relations with the U.S. and with the U.K. and with other neighbors, including Russia,” she said. Even so, “we have to fight for our own future ourselves.”

Der Spiegel, Peter Müller:

“The Germans are evil, very evil”

US President Donald Trump has complained bitterly about the German trade surplus on his meeting with the EU top in Brussels. “The Germans are bad, very bad,” said Trump. This was learned by the SPIEGEL from participants in the meeting.

Trump said, “Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US, and we’ll stop that.”

…According to a report from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, the EU side was terrified at the extent of the Americans’ lack of awareness of trade policy. Apparently, it was unclear to the guests that the EU countries concluded trade agreements only jointly. Trumps economic consultant Gary Cohn is said to have said in the conversation between the US and Germany tariff tariffs other than between the USA and Belgium.

One thing in common among the nations of the new autocratic alliance is a distain for a free press. In Turkey, Egypt and the United States, the theme is that the press is working to undermine the government. What exactly the press is supposedly working to replace it with it rarely explained.

Al Jazeera:

Egypt blocks financial newspaper website

Egypt has blocked the website of one of its most prominent financial newspapers, the paper’s owner said on Sunday, expanding a media blackout initiated last week to curb what authorities called support for “terrorism” and fake news.

The censorship of Al-Boursa, a widely read financial newspaper that generally avoids politics and reflects the views of a largely pro-state business community, suggests a more expansive attempt to control private media coverage.

CNBC, Javier E. David:

Trump blasts ‘fake news’ in new broadside against media, and condemns DC leaks

President Donald Trump, returning home from his first visit overseas, took aim at brewing domestic political pressures by denouncing leaks of sensitive information—and rumors of an administration shake-up as “fake news.”

OP Senator Bob Corker said on Sunday that he’d spoken with the president in a lengthy phone call, and conveyed his approval of a trip that “was executed to near perfection,” according to a statement released by Corker.

Calling the trip and the prep work of Trump’s aides “a remarkable success,” Corker added that Trump “has made great progress on the broad range of objectives his team articulated to me when I met with senior White House and State Department officials during their preparations.”

BuzzFeed, John Hudson:

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Accuses European Intelligence Services Of Infiltrating Turkish Media

In a conspiratorial rebuke of Western governments, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused European intelligence agencies of co-opting members of the Turkish press to undermine President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Cavusoglu’s remarks came after French and German leaders criticized the detention of European journalists in Turkey at a meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday. It is the latest example of plunging relations between Erdogan and Western leaders following last year’s failed coup attempt.

“This is the new trend in Europe,” Cavusoglu told BuzzFeed News in an interview. “The secret services of those countries are using journalists and also bloggers in Turkey.”

This is the week that the private equity companies are to head to Sydney to look at the books of Fairfax Media. The sales process really got rolling after Fairfax’s plans to merge with NZME in New Zealand was blocked by the country’s Commerce Commission. Soon thereafter TPG submitted an unsolicited bid for a major chunk of Fairfax Media, its digital real estate business and its Australian newspapers. Now, two US based PEs are bidding on the entire company and it looks increasingly possible that the big Australian publisher will end up in the possession of a private equity company — and we all know that will not end well.

The Australian, Darren Davidson:

TPG Capital, Hellman & Friedman visit Sydney for Fairfax talks

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg ­Hywood and his top management team will make presentations to private equity players bidding for the company for the first time this week.

But the status of the Hellman & Friedman bid team flying to Sydney this week remains unclear.

…A spokeswoman for Hellman & Friedman said last night that it was unlikely that any of its top executives would fly to Australia this week for the management presentations. Unlike TPG, Hellman & Friedman does not have a local office.

The Australian Financial Review, Max Mason:

Fairfax Media and NZME to appeal New Zealand merger ruling

Fairfax Media and NZME are challenging the New Zealand competition regulator’s decision to block a merger of the two companies in the High Court.

Earlier this month, the New Zealand Commerce Commission blocked the proposed merger, which was first flagged a year ago and had shareholder support.

At the time of the decision, Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood slammed the NZCC, stating it had failed New Zealand.

“This decision does nothing to address the challenge of the global search and social giants, which produce no local journalism, employ very few New Zealanders, and pay minimal, if any, local taxes,” he said.

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