FBI Director Chris Wray: We Still Have ‘Grave Concerns’ About Nunes FISA Memo


This post is by Ken Meyer from Mediaite


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During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, FBI director Christopher Wray confirmed the reports about his apprehension over Devin Nunes‘ FISA memo. For the last few weeks, it was believed that Wray opposed President Trump‘s decision to release the memo, saying that it would give a partisan-charged “false narrative” about malpractice within his bureau. The memo came up during today’s hearing on global threats to the United States, and Wray expressed his “grave concerns about the accuracy of the memorandum.” Wray cited “omissions” as his top concern, explaining that he wasn’t sure how thousands of sensitive documents and bits of intelligence could be sufficiently condensed into Nunes’ brief memo. For the last Continue reading "FBI Director Chris Wray: We Still Have ‘Grave Concerns’ About Nunes FISA Memo"

MediaShift Podcast #257: Billionaire Owner for the LA Times; Twitter Bots Push #ReleasetheMemo; Next Generation Radio’s Doug Mitchell


This post is by Jefferson Yen from MediaShift


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In the news this week, there’s another billionaire owner of a major metro newspaper, this time Patrick Soon-Shiong buying the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune in a fire sale from Tronc. The #releasethememo hashtag had a big groundswell of support on Twitter, but a researcher found that Russian bots were helping it go viral. And Facebook’s Instant Articles feature has lost nearly half of its original partner publishers, but has gained 29 publishers who are pushing fake news, and making money from – and for – Facebook. Our Metric of the Week is the Invisible Audience, and we go one-on-one with Doug Mitchell, founder of NPR’s Next Generation Radio, who’s launching a mentoring program for newsrooms to increase diversity. Don’t have a lot of time to spare, but still want to get a roundup of the week’s top news? Then check out our Digital Media Brief below!

MediaShift
Continue reading "MediaShift Podcast #257: Billionaire Owner for the LA Times; Twitter Bots Push #ReleasetheMemo; Next Generation Radio’s Doug Mitchell"

House Intel Committee Votes Unanimously to Send Democratic Rebuttal Memo to White House


This post is by Ken Meyer from Mediaite


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House Intelligence Committee Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff addressed reporters on Monday night, announcing that they have voted to release a new memo that will supposedly rebuke the controversial memo Republicans released last week. Earlier tonight, the committee cast a unanimous vote to send their memo to the White House with a request to be publicly disclosed in the next few days. Congressional Democrats insist that this memo will offer context and information which will contradict the findings from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) about alleged FBI malpractice and FISA abuses against President Trump‘s team. As Schiff addressed the media, he said that his fellow committee members felt compelled to release their counter-memo in order to address all of the commotion caused by Continue reading "House Intel Committee Votes Unanimously to Send Democratic Rebuttal Memo to White House"

CNN’s Erin Burnett to Dem Rep.: Weren’t Democrats Being a Little Hyperbolic About the Memo Too?


This post is by Joseph A. Wulfsohn from Mediaite


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On Friday night, CNN host Erin Burnett confronted Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) about her party’s handing of the GOP memo’s release. Burnett mentioned to Speier, who sits on the House Intel Committee, how Democrats were “sounding the alarm” in the days leading up the controversial disclosure, saying that it would be “reckless” and “incredibly dangerous” if such information was made public. She also quoted House Intel Committee Ranking Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who warned the release of the memo could spark a “constitutional crisis” and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who claimed that President Trump “surrendered his constitutional responsibilities” for green lighting the “fake” and “horrible” release. “Was there just a little bit of hyperbole coming from Democrats on this?” Burnett asked. “I mean, all the names in there knew they were going to be in there.” Let’s just say Speier didn’t exactly answer the question. At Continue reading "CNN’s Erin Burnett to Dem Rep.: Weren’t Democrats Being a Little Hyperbolic About the Memo Too?"

Hmm…The First to Have Nunes Memo Were All Conservative, Pro-Trump Media Outlets


This post is by Lawrence Bonk from Mediaite


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We all knew it was coming and now it’s here. President Donald Trump authorized the release of the Rep. Devin Nunes memo — which alleges the FBI was purposefully misleading regarding the Christopher Steele dossier, among other accusations — and it was made public just minutes later. As we waited with bated breath for the memo to finally, finally be released, news of its exact contents was clear to several media outlets, long before mainstream media stalwarts such as CNN and MSNBC filed their reports. So who got the memo first? Curiously enough, the first to have it were Trump-friendly Fox News and Trump-amorous Bryon York of the Washington Examiner. That might not come as a surprise — Fox News’ opinion arm has been amping up the memo for weeks, with Sean Hannity leading the charge with his #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag. As a matter fact, Hannity knew, almost within minutes, when Continue reading "Hmm…The First to Have Nunes Memo Were All Conservative, Pro-Trump Media Outlets"

White House on FISA Memo Release: Raises ‘Serious Concerns’ About FBI, DOJ Integrity


This post is by Ken Meyer from Mediaite


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The White House has made an announcement addressing the massive intrigue over President Trump‘s decision to release the House Intelligence Committee’s GOP memo on alleged FBI investigative malpractice. In the statement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders expresses “serious concerns” about what the memo says about how the Justice Department and FBI acquire FISA warrants. The Press Secretary says Trump gives thanks to the intelligence and law enforcement communities, and he is “especially grateful” to the “rank and file” members in both arenas who labor to protect American citizens and their constitutional rights.
“Minority members of the Committee have reportedly drafted a separate memorandum. The Administration stands ready to work with Congress to accommodate oversight requests consistent with applicable standards.”
Read the full statement below:

Outnumbered Gets Heated Over Nunes Memo: ‘That’s Horrifying!’


This post is by Ken Meyer from Mediaite


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Outnumbered was of many minds on Friday as its hosts on Fox News poured through the revelations from Devin Nunes‘s newly released memo detailing alleged FISA abuses against the Trump 2016 campaign. Lisa Boothe analyzed the memo with Howard Kurtz, today’s #OneLuckyGuy, and she determined that it proves the investigations into Trump have been “poisoned by politics.” When she received pushback from Jessica Tarlov, Boothe persisted by arguing that Michael Flynn wouldn’t have gotten in trouble if not for the Trump-collusion narrative, and the president has good reason to accuse his investigators of partisan bias. Melissa Francis focused on the part of the memo which stated that Andrew McCabe wouldn’t have sought a FISA warrant had it not been for Christopher Steele‘s salacious dossier. When asked if this development on the FBI’s integrity will increase pressure to fire Robert Mueller, Kurtz wasn’t sure since Continue reading "Outnumbered Gets Heated Over Nunes Memo: ‘That’s Horrifying!’"

Trump On if He’s Likely to Fire Rosenstein After Memo: ‘You Figure That One Out’


This post is by Lawrence Bonk from Mediaite


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President Donald Trump delivered brief remarks to reporters after declassifying the Rep. Devin Nunes memo, and referred to the FBI abuse alleged in the four-page document as “disgraceful,” adding that “a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves, and much worse than that.” Trump also gave a coy answer to a question on whether he had confidence — or if he was going to fire — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “You figure that one out,” he replied. As far as what happens next, the president told reporters that “Congress will do whatever they are going to do.” “Whatever they do is fine,” he continued. “Let’s see what happens.” Trump repeatedly tried to usher reporters out of the room, saying “thank you very much” several times as an indication that he was done speaking. Watch above, via CNN. [image via screenshot]Follow Lawrence Bonk (@sidescrollers) Continue reading "Trump On if He’s Likely to Fire Rosenstein After Memo: ‘You Figure That One Out’"

FBI Director Reportedly Against Memo Release Because It ‘Paints a False Narrative’


This post is by Caleb Ecarma from Mediaite


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After a viral hot mic episode last night in which President Donald Trump appeared to promise that he’d “100 percent” release the famed classified GOP memo accusing the so-called “deep state” of bias,  FBI Director Christopher Wray is reportedly saying not-so-fast. According to sources who spoke to Bloomberg, Wray informed White House officials the memo — which targets the FBI and Justice Department — should not be published as it is not fully accurate and it “paints a false narrative.” The document in question was created by House Intelligence Committee staffers and GOP lawmaker Devin Nunes, and seemingly looks to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential Trump-Russia election collusion. Although Wray has already read the full memo and still wishes for it to remain classified, the FBI doesn’t actually have the power to keep the information unreleased. Instead, a vote from the House Intelligence panel decides whether Continue reading "FBI Director Reportedly Against Memo Release Because It ‘Paints a False Narrative’"

Scarborough Slams Memo: ‘Sleazy Political Purge’ to ‘Feed the Paranoid and Maniacal Desires’ of Trump


This post is by Aidan McLaughlin from Mediaite


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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough went off on Republican lawmakers after they voted to release the memo compiled by Rep. Devin Nunes that purports to show political bias that has tainted the Russia investigation. The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines regarding the the memo, and President Donald Trump is expected to approve its release this week — to the dismay of his own Justice Department, which has warned the release of the memo would be “extremely reckless.” “Nunes’s memo twists the truth and plays these crude political games with highly secret intelligence,” Scarborough said on Morning Joe. “Most of the Republicans who voted to release this controversial memo, that the Justice Department said would be extraordinarily reckless, had never even read the memo.” “And many who did read Nunes’ memo say that it falsely summarized a reality and it’s filled with all of these falsehoods and these misleading Continue reading "Scarborough Slams Memo: ‘Sleazy Political Purge’ to ‘Feed the Paranoid and Maniacal Desires’ of Trump"

2007 Obama Campaign Memo Published, Reveals How To Beat Hillary


This post is by J.D. Durkin from Mediaite


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Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 9.45.15 AMRyan Lizza of The New Yorker published a campaign memo from the staff of then-Senator Barack Obama as he prepared to take on Hillary Clinton. The memo details many of Clinton’s vulnerabilities that Obama could exploit favorably; the team believed that “Barack Obama is change. She is not” and “Change you can believe in” argued for for differences in content of character.

The Chief Strategist of the Obama election campaign David Axelrod confirmed the authenticity of the memo last night to CNN before the start of the Democratic Debate. As Lizza notes, “It offers a fascinating glimpse into campaign strategy, and specifically into the strategy used to defeat Hillary Clinton, who was then, as now, the Democratic frontrunner.”

One of the printed criticisms against Clinton even includes the lines:

From the war, to NAFTA, to Social Security, to her choice of baseball teams, Clinton is constantly shifting, dodging and Continue reading "2007 Obama Campaign Memo Published, Reveals How To Beat Hillary"

“Quartz is an API”: The path ahead for the business site that’s reshaping digital news


This post is by Zachary M. Seward from Nieman Lab


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Editor’s note: There are few more compelling digital journalism stories than the growth of Quartz, Atlantic Media’s business site. Though it was born with the advantage of a highly desirable target audience — the global business elite — it has still managed to do so much right: sharable content, visual distinction, global reach, smart advertising strategy, mobile-first design…all while maintaining high quality. It’s one of the few operations I recommend to the many people who ask me: Who’s doing it right? Below is a memo Quartz executive editor and vice president of product Zach Seward sent to the site’s staff earlier this month after a staff-wide meeting. It breaks a little news about Quartz’ future strategy; the HTML-devoted site is planning a native iOS app, and there are new efforts coming in video and podcasting. But beyond that, I think Zach’s vision of news-organization-as-API — a central content
quartz-slack-growth
quartz-original-office
quartz-brand-map
Continue reading "“Quartz is an API”: The path ahead for the business site that’s reshaping digital news"

The BuzzFeed Numbers Jonah Peretti Won’t Talk About


This post is by Peter Kafka from AllThingsD » Peter Kafka


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Jonah Peretti BuzzFeedLots of chatter in medialand today about BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti’s state-of-BuzzFeed memo, which is full of boast-worthy boasts: A ton of page views, a lot of employees, and a profit, to boot.

One thing that Peretti didn’t include in the memo: Any mention of how much money BuzzFeed is bringing in.

Which is odd. Because, from what I hear, those numbers are boast-worthy, too.

A person familiar with BuzzFeed’s operations tells me that the site had planned on generating $40 million in revenue this year. But, since sales are booming, they are on track to do something closer to $60 million in 2013.

That windfall, provided by advertisers entranced by Buzzfeed’s native ad pitch, is likely the main reason the site is in the black, though not by a huge margin.

Meanwhile, a different person familiar with BuzzFeed’s operations said the site expects to keep booming next year, and is projecting $100 million in sales for 2014, while averaging something like 150 million uniques (Peretti said his site did 85 million last month).

Since no one wants to talk on the record about this, and since all of those numbers are projections, feel free to take these with as much salt as you’d like.

But, even if the numbers I’ve heard are spot-on, the bigger question for BuzzFeed is how sustainable all this is. Even if you assume that the site will continue to work its traffic magic — and Peretti and crew are really, really good at making things that people want to click on — its ads-that-aren’t-ads model is still a work in progress.

It’s hard to overstate just how buzzy BuzzFeed is in ad and media circles, which means that lots of folks are willing to take a flyer on BuzzFeed’s main offering: “Sponsored content” by “featured partners” that look just like BuzzFeed’s regular articles/listicles.* (From Gas-X: “Here are some more examples of what happens when people are presented with an easy choice … and blow it.”)

But all of those ads take lots of work to create, either by advertisers or BuzzFeed’s in-house staff. And it’s hard to rerun a “native” BuzzFeed ad on other sites, which means there will be a scale question on both ends. For now, though, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

* As many people in medialand know, but few tend to point out in articles about BuzzFeed (here is one excellent exception from New York magazine), the company sometimes buys traffic so it can get eyeballs on those native ads. Which is not out of the ordinary for Web publishers.**

** Here’s Peretti’s take on paid traffic (again, this number references the 85 million uniques he says he got last month):

Maddow: Concern About Drone Strikes Is Not About Killing Bad Guys, But ‘Who’s A Bad Guy?’


This post is by Josh Feldman from Mediaite


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Rachel Maddow continued to carefully examine yesterday’s publication of a Justice Department memo defending the legality of the United States government’s drone strike program. Maddow explained that the objection to the program is not whether or not the U.S. should be taking out citizens tied to al-Qaeda, but the exact definition of “bad guy” and what legal requirements need to be fulfilled before the president can order a drone strike on a U.S. citizen.

RELATED: S.E. Cupp, Steve Kornacki Battle Touré For Defending Drone Strikes: ‘That Was The Argument Under Bush’

Maddow summed up the information in the memo, namely that the Justice Department believes it is legal for an American citizen to be killed “on the president’s say-so.” She ran clips of Attorney General Eric Holder sidestepping the issue at a press conference. Maddow dryly mocked Holder’s non-answers, interpreting his answers as “[these are] facts that I cannot tell you, so I cannot reference them because I cannot tell you them but they are facts.”

Maddow then brought up a letter signed by eleven senators sent to the Obama administration voicing serious concerns with the DoJ memo. Deflecting any potential arguments that critics of the drone program are soft on terror, given that the most prominent American citizen killed by drone strikes was tied to al-Qaeda, Maddow explained exactly what people find objectionable about the drone program.

“With some exceptions, the broader moral and political and legal issue here is not an issue with U.S. forces killing bad guys. The issue here is ‘Who’s a bad guy?’ and how do you figure it out.”

Maddow said people need to know exactly which evidence and under what specific legal circumstances the president is able to order the death of an American citizen. She wondered if the news would be dealt with before the confirmation hearings of CIA director nominee John Brennan on Thursday.

Watch the video below, courtesy of MSNBC:

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Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac

When Good News Is Bad News: Google Reportedly Fires Raise Leaker


This post is by Peter Kafka from MediaMemo


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Some corporate memos are confidential.

And some memos are “confidential”–meaning there’s no real expectation that they’ll stay within the family.

You’d assume that Eric Schmidt’s memo to “Googlers” announcing big raises falls in the latter category. If that’s all Googlers, that’s some 23,300 people, so that’s pretty much the same thing as issuing a press release, right?

But Google thinks otherwise, says CNNMoney’s David Goldman. He reports that the company has fired an engineer who passed the information along to Business Insider yesterday:

Within hours, Google notified its staff that it had terminated the leaker, several sources told CNNMoney. A Google spokesman declined to comment on the issue, or on the memo.

I’ve gone ahead and asked Google for comment as well, but I’m not hopeful. (UPDATE: I can see the future! No comment from Google.) In the absence of one, I’ll speculate that Google was freaked out that the “leak” would cause it problems with Wall Street and/or the SEC.

But again, if that’s the case, that makes no sense–you can’t hand out big fat checks to 23,300 people and keep it quiet indefinitely.

And since the point of the raises is to keep Googlers happy in a hot job market–and presumably, to help recruit new Googlers–you’d think Google would want the “confidential” memo distributed. Right?

I gather that some of you agree with Google on this one. Since the company won’t talk, feel free to make their case for them in the comments below.