Talking New Media

Mueller subpoenas Deutsche Bank for Trump bank records; Australia’s competition watchdog to look at digital media landscape

Morning Brief: L.A. Weekly acquisition runs into advertiser backlash, while questions remain about what the new owners see as the new mission for the formerly progressive alt-weekly

The red line that one assumes the president would not tolerate Special Counsel Robert Mueller from crossing would be any investigation into his finances. Yet one also assumes that the motivation for working with the Russians during the 2016 election was not really about becoming president — what nation would commit political suicide by electing a reality TV star — but money. Money for Trump, money for Kushner, money, money, money.

Well, apparently that red line has been crossed. Look for fireworks.

Deutsche Bank is at the center of the Mueller investigation because it was the only bank willing to loan money to both Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. In fact, Kushner received a $285 million loan as part of a refinancing package for his Times Square property at a time when the bank was negotiating a to settle a federal mortgage fraud case which involved aiding a Russian money-laundering scheme.


Deutsche Bank receives subpoena from Mueller on Trump accounts: source

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked Deutsche Bank to share data on accounts held by U.S. President Donald Trump and his family, a person close to the matter said on Tuesday…

…Deutsche Bank, which has loaned the Trump organization millions of dollars for real estate ventures, said it would not comment on any of its clients.

Bloomberg, Steven Arons:

Mueller Subpoenas Trump Deutsche Bank Record

Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank stretches back some two decades and the roughly $300 million he owed to the bank represented nearly half of his outstanding debt, according to a July 2016 analysis by Bloomberg. That figure includes a $170-million loan Trump took out to finish a hotel in Washington. He also has two mortgages against his Trump National Doral Miami resort and a loan against his tower in Chicago…

…In July, Trump said in an interview with the New York Times that if Mueller examined his family’s finances beyond any relationship with Russia he’d consider it “a violation.” Mueller’s investigation had expanded to examine a broad range of transactions involving the president’s businesses, including dealings by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a person familiar with the probe told Bloomberg News after the publication of the Times interview.

The Hill: Trump’s lawyer sparks intense debate on obstruction of justice
BuzzFeed: The Trump Administration Is Mulling A Pitch For A Private “Rendition” And Spy Network

A friend of mine in the publishing business said of his own bosses “if the enemy were any smarter we’d all be in trouble.” What he was getting at is that while the industry is led by some of the stupidest people on the planet, it actually is better than if they actually knew what they were doing, because their goals are so bad.

Take what is going on at the L.A. Weekly. Acquired by a group of Orange County businessmen, what they apparently would like to create is some sort of libertarian alt-weekly version of the Orange County Register of the past. But if they had any actual publishing experience they would have known that they worst thing they could do would be to fire all the editorial staff, causing problems with meeting publishing deadlines, alienating advertisers, and filling the streets with angry journalists.

Like the story of New Times and the Village Voice, this too will not end well.

Los Angeles Times, Lauren Raab (warning, website is a mess, best to read with ad blocker):

LA Weekly’s new era starts with backlash; some advertisers step back

Since LA Weekly laid off most of its journalists last week and its new owners revealed their identities Friday, backlash has been swift and fierce. There has been outcry over the new owners’ political backgrounds and their plan to use articles by unpaid contributors. Former writers for the alternative weekly are spearheading a call for a boycott. A few advertisers have taken a step back.

On Monday, LA Weekly’s sales director, Chris Hubbert, sent an email to staffers and new managers with a list of topics to address at an afternoon meeting. Among the topics: “Advertisers pulling,” “Why everyone saw this coming except you” and “Social Media – Who’s [posting] and why, because this weekend was horrible and amateur.”

Australia has caught up to the rest of the English language publishing business in discovering that move from print to digital has a major obstacle in the big techs.

Of course, the Aussies are repeating the mistake of conflating the demise or poor results of a few digital media companies with an overall trend against digital media, but they are experiencing the many pains of having to compete against Facebook and Google.

Quartz, Hanna Kozlowska:

Australia’s competition watchdog wants to see if tech is destroying journalism

Australia’s governmental competition watchdog is stepping into the debate about the future of news media by launching a probe to determine whether Facebook and Google have disrupted the industry.

“We will examine whether platforms are exercising market power in commercial dealings to the detriment of consumers, media content creators and advertisers,” Rod Sims, head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced on Monday, Dec. 4. “Through our inquiry, the ACCC will look closely at the impact of digital platforms on the level of choice and quality of news and content being produced by Australian journalists,” Sims said, expressing a more global unease about the relationship between social media and publishers.

AdNews, Lindsay Bennett:

The digital media bubble is bursting

HuffPost’s mass redundancies, Snackable TV’s Sydney closure and Mashable’s rumoured exit from Australia is the first indication the ‘digital media crash’ has hit Down Under…

…Local sources believe the Australian market will be less impacted by the digital media crash in comparison to the US market, where ballooning valuations had been leading VC funding.

But that doesn’t mean Australian digital-only publishers will escape unscathed as they remain beholden to the iron grip of Facebook and Google, which is leaving little ad revenue for publishers to fight over. There is also increasing concern around the safety of programmatic, which is often the system used to book ads on digital sites.

A top media boss previously told AdNews that publishers are being “held to ransom”, forced to give away free content to Facebook and Google to reach an audience, but seeing little revenue return.

Crikey, Emily Watkins:

After failing to find its feet, HuffPost Australia closes

HuffPost Australia staff have cleared out their desks after a joint venture with Fairfax ended, the latest in a string of international changes.

Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (statement):

HuffPost closure ‘disrespectful’ to staff

MEAA has confirmed that the Australian edition of HuffPost has ceased publishing and all but a small handful of commercial and editorial staff have been made redundant.

MEAA members at HuffPost expressed disappointment at the way they had been treated by the company, including a lack of consultation and information about the future of the joint venture, despite repeated requests over the past few weeks.

“Members told us that they were better informed by reports about the publication’s future in other media than they were by their own employer,” said MEAA Media director Katelin McInerney. “They feel they were shown a lack of respect leading up to Wednesday’s announcement. In contrast to the bullish public statements by both companies, there will be very few opportunities for the staff to be redeployed within Fairfax.”

Home Page photo: La Vanguardia front page leads with news that Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena has withdrawn the European arrest warrant for Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and advisors Antonio Comín, Lluís Puig, Meritxell Serret and Clara Ponsatí ahead of the December 21 elections in the region. According to the newspaper, the judge said “the crime of rebellion for which the independence leaders are being investigated is, according to the Spanish penal code, a collective crime and can not be divided…”