President to nominate Chris Christie’s personal lawyer for head of the FBI; Billions at risk in ABC News trial in South Dakota
Morning Brief: The president’s son, Eric Trump, calls opponents of the president “not even people” in escalating attack on the media and Democratic politicians
The next couple of days will be crazy filled with news, or filled with crazy news — but in either case, if you think the past couple of weeks were nuts, be prepared for the onslaught. On Thursday, for instance, the UK heads to the polls, while former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate intelligence committee.
So, better get started…
This morning the president tweeted he choice to fill the vacancy created when he fired James Comey:
I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI. Details to follow.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2017
Wray was served as assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division for about two years. But the interesting thing is that he served as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s personal lawyer during the Bridgegate scandal, meaning he probably doesn’t mind working for the corrupt. The question is whether he will be “loyal” to Donald Trump, or become an American Thomas Becket. The choices will be stark.
This morning ISIS terrorists successfully attacked Iran for the first time. Experts say the group has been attempting to attack Iran for a while, so the attack should not surprise, though the absence of such an attack has led many to think that ISIS was not interested in Iran. Not true, it turns out.
Twin attacks on the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum in the capital, Tehran, have killed at least 12 people and injured many more. The assault on the parliament building appears to be over, after hours of intermittent, audible gunfire there. A suicide bomber died at the mausoleum.
Iranian officials say they managed to foil a third attack. The so-called Islamic State group (IS) has claimed it carried out the attacks, which would be a first in Iran.
Last night the son of the president said that opponents of the president are not even people, in a rambling, angry exchange while on the Sean Hannity show on Fox News. You can see the video here.
The diatribe would not be worth mentioning were it not for the fact that the president has many times talked about how evil he considers the media. Now, with Republicans not only encouraging attacks against the press, but physically assaulting them, as well, one might ask just what the Trumps are willing to do to those they believe are “not even people.”
The Wall Street Journal recently decided to end the practice of allowing readers one free click onto stories on the website, hardening its paywall to encourage sales of digital subscriptions. The result, as Bloomberg noted, was a fall in web traffic.
But has it led to more subscriptions? Well, in early May, News Corp reported that average daily digital subscribers in the three months ended March 31, 2017 were 1,198,000, compared to 893,000 in the prior year, a nice jump. How much of that occurred in February and March is unknown, so we may have to wait until News Corp reports Q2 earnings in early August to see.
But News Corp kind of wants it both ways, its subscriptions and its traffic, complaining that Google does not treat paid websites as fairly as free ones.
After blocking Google users from reading free articles in February, the Wall Street Journal’s subscription business soared, with a fourfold increase in the rate of visitors converting into paying customers. But there was a trade-off: Traffic from Google plummeted 44 percent.
The reason: Google search results are based on an algorithm that scans the internet for free content. After the Journal’s free articles went behind a paywall, Google’s bot only saw the first few paragraphs and started ranking them lower, limiting the Journal’s viewership.
Executives at the Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., argue that Google’s policy is unfairly punishing them for trying to attract more digital subscribers. They want Google to treat their articles equally in search rankings, despite being behind a paywall.
On Monday, the Bill Cosby trial began. But a far more important trial for the media also began in South Dakota.
Beef Products Incorporated is seeking $1.9 billion in damages against ABC, but the judgement could grow to as much as $5.7 billion under South Dakota law. At issue is the claim that BPI lost 75 percent of its business after an ABC news report in 2012 regarding “pink slime” which the company was adding as filler to ground beef. The actual name of the product is LFTB, a product that many of the company’s largest customers stopped using in its ground beef.
BPI has since closed its plant in Waterloo, so the question is whether the jury will take it out on ABC, or be convinced that ABC’s broadcast was fair.
Opening statements were given Monday in the defamation lawsuit filed by Beef Products Incorporated against ABC Broadcasting and reporter Jim Avila for news reports that referred to BPI’s lean, finely textured beef as “pink slime.”
…“They published that LFTB was pink slime. They published that LFTB would fill you up, but it was not going to do you any good. They stated LFTB was a filler in ground beef. They published that it was more like gelatin than beef. They stated that LFTB’s protein comes mostly from connective tissue, and they published that LFTB was made from waste trimmings,” Webb says.
ABC’s attorney, Dane Butswinkus, countered that the production of BPI’s beef product was shrouded in secrecy, that the U.S.D.A. ignored studies raising concerns about the product, and that stories by the New York Times and other outlets criticized the LFTB before ABC ever aired a report in 2012.
“What you’ll see is, the cat started to come out of the bag. The air started to come out of the balloon, the secret started to slip away,” Butswinkus says. “And when did that happen? It started in 2009 — long before the first ABC report.