July 13, 2017 Last Updated 4:44 pm

The Sun-Times gets a new owner, but no one is making money in the newspaper business in Chicago

Morning Brief: Opposition parties express outrage that Theresa May’s ‘great repeal bill’ specifically says the EU charter of fundamental rights will not apply after Brexit is enacted

The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division said yesterday that it would be closing its investigation into the acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times by tronc Inc., publisher of the Chicago Tribune after a new buyer emerged. The local, money losing tabloid will be acquired by an investor group led by a former Chicago alderman, with the support of a coalition of unions. The alt-weekly Chicago Reader is also part of the deal.

For Wrapports LLC, the owner of both papers, it is hardly a big payday. The final sales price is said to be a buck, though the new owners did need to show that they raised sufficient operating funds to keep the paper afloat for a while.

Had tronc really wanted to acquire the newspaper, it could have offered real money to do so. But the publisher of the Chicago Tribune already has the print contract for both papers, meaning that it would make far more money not being the owner than being the owner.

This in no way ends the farce that is the newspaper business in Chicago. Wrapports LLC, which acquired the Sun-Times in late 2011, was launched by Michael W. Ferro Jr., CEO of the private equity firm Merrick Ventures and Timothy P. Knight, former publisher of Newsday. The two named the company.

Shortly after the acquisition Wrapports scooped up the Chicago Reader. But within a couple of years the company sold off its suburban Chicago newspapers to Tribune Publishing.

Then, when Tribune Publishing needed money to try and expand in Southern California, Ferro invested $44.4 million in the crosstown rival, becoming that company’s largest shareholder. Soon, Jack Griffin was out as CEO and Justin Dearborn was in. Ferro then renamed Tribune Publishing the absurd ‘tronc’.

Last quarter tronc reported a loss as revenue fell 8.1 percent (ad revenue was down 13.1 percent), but the company was able to reported lower losses than the year before thanks to cutting costs. This means that no one is making money being in the newspaper business in Chicago.



There was more big news in Chicago media when it was announced that Keith Crain and family would become 100 percent owners of Crain Communications after brother Rance and his family sold their stake in the publisher (which is headquartered in Detroit but is big in Chicago due to its ownership of Crain’s Chicago Business.



The president in a whole lot of trouble, and with zero leverage with Congress, and little support from the public, said yesterday that he’d be “very angry” if the Congress doesn’t pass its highly unpopular health-care bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pledges to try once again, even going so far as to postpone the traditional summer recess two weeks to do it.

The president made his remarks to Pat Robertson of CBN News, one of the few media outlets the president could speak to without being bombarded with questions regarding Russia and the revelation that his son was working with the Russian government during last year’s presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, Breitbart published a column from Ann Coulter saying that the Congress would be better off passing no bill at all and letting Obamacare die on its own, a sign that Steve Bannon may already be preparing for another vote that does not go the president’s way.

The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, John Wagner and Kelsey Snell:

Trump: ‘I will be very angry’ if GOP senators don’t pass a health-care bill

I am sitting in the Oval Office with a pen in hand, waiting for our senators to give it to me,” Trump said. “It has to get passed. They have to do it. They have to get together and get it done.”

The president’s remarks also came amid concerns from conservative lawmakers and activists that McConnell’s revamped measure would not undo the Affordable Care Act aggressively enough.

Those worries, alongside lingering anxiety among centrist Republicans that the bill is going too far, threatened to leave the rebooted effort short of the votes it will need to pass next week, when McConnell hopes to bring it to a vote. He can only afford two Republican defections.

Breitbart, Ann Coulter:

GOP Rallies Behind Idiotic Bill

Republicans would be better off doing nothing. They can survive the ridicule for running against Obamacare through four election cycles and then not repealing it. They cannot survive a bill that does nothing to fix the actual problems with Obamacare.

The only explanation for the GOP doing something so stupid and unpopular is that it’s all about tax cuts.

Why can’t we get it through their heads that we didn’t elect Trump to cut taxes? Forty-five percent of people don’t pay any federal income tax — and they voted for Trump! Taxes on high earners (or “Hillary voters”) are at a historic low.



While the US muddles along, the UK is entering a firestorm as the government today published its EU withdrawal bill (PDF). Like the US, the UK just can’t help itself by saying it has made an enormous mistake, and so continues on a path designed to make Great Britain into Irrelevant Britain.

Already there is controversy with the published withdrawal bill for it leaves out the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Actually, it goes further than simply leaving it out, it states plainly that it is “is not part of domestic law on or after exit 20 day.”

The Guardian, Heather Stewart:

‘Great repeal bill’ human rights clause sets up Brexit clash with Labour

The government believes the charter, which interprets existing EU rights rather than creating new ones, will no longer be necessary after “exit day”, when Britain leaves the EU. But refusing to incorporate it will set up one of a series of parliamentary struggles as Theresa May tries to get the legislation through parliament.

The Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, who has said the passage of the bill in the autumn will be “hell” for the government, said: “The charter of fundamental rights is a cornerstone of what makes Britain what we are. I cannot understand what issue the government have with it. Is it the right to life, the ban on torture, protection against slavery, the right to a fair trial, respect for privacy, freedom of thought and religion, free speech and peaceful protest? These are not frustrations, these are integral to what it is to be British.”

The Telegraph, Laura Hughes:

Theresa May warned she faces ‘hell’ from opposition as Great Repeal Bill abandons EU rights charter

Labour has said that the charter is a red line issue and threatened to vote down the bill over the issue.

The Charter contains 50 “articles”, each one of which sets out the rights of citizens in the European Union. The “rights” range from the “right” of human cells not to be cloned to the “right” of workers to strike…

…Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said Labour would not support the bill in its current form.

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