Book Bans Are Threatening American Democracy—Here’s How to Fight Back

From a Washington Post column by media columnist Margaret Sullivan headlined “Book bans are threatening American democracy. Here’s how to fight back”

When Suzanne Nossel came to PEN America in 2013, the free-speech organization’s long-standing participation in Banned Books Week struck her as slightly out of step with the times.

“It seemed so archaic,” Nossel, who serves as PEN’s chief executive, told me recently. But now, rather suddenly, “this is a matter of pressing national concern.

Almost every day we see a new story about conservatives attempting to stigmatize or outright remove a growing list of books from school or public libraries. A few examples from this latest front in America’s endless and exhausting culture war:

Are the Murdochs Steering Fox News Toward an Anti-Trump Direction?

From CNN’s Reliable Sources by Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy:

Fox News largely refrains from criticizing Donald Trump. But, in private, Lachlan Murdoch has denounced some of the former President’s behavior in harsh terms.

In private this year, the Fox Corp. chief executive has freely criticized Trump, saying that he disagrees with much of the way the former President behaves, sources tell me. Murdoch has gone so far as to tell people that he believes if Trump were to run again, it would be bad for the country,.

Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker: Inside the War Between Trump and His Generals

From a story in the New Yorker by Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker headlined “Inside the War Between Trump and His Generals”:

In the summer of 2017, after just half a year in the White House, Donald Trump flew to Paris for Bastille Day celebrations thrown by Emmanuel Macron, the new French President. Macron staged a spectacular martial display to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the American entrance into the First World War. Vintage tanks rolled down the Champs-Élysées as fighter jets roared overhead. The event seemed to be calculated to appeal to Trump—his sense of showmanship and grandiosity—and he was visibly delighted. The French general in charge of the parade turned to one of his American counterparts and said, “You are going to be doing this next year.”

Sisters in Resistance: How a German Spy, a Banker’s Wife, and Mussolini’s Daughter Outwitted the Nazis

From a Wall Street Journal review by Moira Hodgson of the book by Tilar J. Mazzeo titled “Sisters in Resistance: How a German Spy, a Banker’s Wife, and Mussolini’s Daughter Outwitted the Nazis”:

At the beginning of World War II Galeazzo Ciano (1903-1944), Italy’s foreign minister under Mussolini, began to keep a secret diary. Part of Hitler’s inner circle, he meticulously wrote down what he heard at meetings with Nazi officials. He recorded details of political squabbles and discussions of Germany’s war strategy. The diaries starkly exposed Nazi war crimes and would be used as crucial evidence in the Nuremberg trials in 1945-46.

Why Does the New York Times Prosper While Gannett Struggles?

From a story on poynter.org by Rick Edmonds headlined “Why does the New York Times prosper while Gannett struggles? Here are four reasons”:

The juxtaposition was striking.

Wednesday, The New York Times Co. reported typical net growth in its various digital subscription offerings of 180,000 and an operating profit for the second quarter of $76 million.

Thursday morning, Gannett, whose holdings include USA Today and more than 200 regional outlets, reported digital gains of its own – 120,000 more paid digital-only subscribers than the previous quarter. But it posted an operating loss of $54 million. Wall Street responded by taking the value of Gannett’s already battered stock down by roughly a quarter.

News Corp Posts Revenue Growth, Boosted by Dow Jones

From a Wall Street Journal story by Patience Haggin headlined “News Corp Posts Revenue Growth, Boosted by Dow Jones”:

News Corp said revenue increased by 7.3% in the latest quarter, thanks to continued strength in advertising and rapid growth at Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones & Co.

The New York-based media company, whose holdings include The Wall Street Journal, HarperCollins Publishers and news organizations in the U.K. and Australia, reported $2.67 billion in revenue in the quarter ended June 30, the final quarter of its fiscal year. The company swung to a net profit of $110 million, compared with a loss of $14 million in the year-earlier period, due in part to a higher tax benefit.

Russian Disinformation Spreading in New Ways

From an AP story by David Klepper headlined “Russian disinformation spreading in new ways despite ban”:

After Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the European Union moved to block RT and Sputnik, two of the Kremlin’s top channels for spreading propaganda and misinformation about the war.

Nearly six months later, the number of sites pushing that same content has exploded as Russia found ways to evade the ban. They’ve rebranded their work to disguise it. They’ve shifted some propaganda duties to diplomats. And they’ve cut and pasted much of the content on new websites — ones that until now had no obvious ties to Russia.

What We Know–and Don’t Know–About the Trump Raid

From a story on axios.com by Mike Allen headlined “What we know–and don’t know–about the Trump raid”:

Hours after the FBI searched former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, his supporters gathered outside in an impromptu rally: Trump flags flew, pickups roared and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” blared.

Why it matters: Trump and the American right mobilized to use the raid as a symbol of government overreach and “political persecution,” with a speed, fury and ferocity not seen since he left office.

The FBI and Justice Department have said nothing official about what happened. Republicans instantly moved to portray the raid as President Biden trying to hurt a potential 2024 opponent.

Axios’s Sale to Cox Marks Merger of New and Old Media

From a Wall Street Journal story by Alyssa Lukpat, Lillian Rizzo, and Jessica Toonkel headlined “Axios’s $525 Million Sale to Cox Marks Merger of New and Old Media”:

Axios, a digital news site known for bulletin-style articles, agreed to be acquired by Cox Enterprises Inc., the companies said, uniting new and old media companies amid a flurry of mergers in the publishing world.

The cash deal values Axios at $525 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

Axios, known for its motto “smart brevity,” was launched in 2017 by the people behind the buzzy Washington news site Politico. Axios primarily covers politics, business and technology, churning out stories and newsletters using its signature bullet-point style.

The FBI Search of Mar-a-Lago Instantly Became Entangled With Politics

From a Washington Post story by Philip Bump headlined “The FBI search of Mar-a-Lago instantly became entangled with politics”:

It wasn’t until the fourth sentence of Donald Trump’s lengthy statement revealing an FBI search of his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago that the former president suggested that politics were at play. From that sentence on, however, politics was inextricably entwined with the law enforcement action — precisely as Trump would probably have hoped.

Trump’s effort to paint the search as political covered multiple dimensions at once.