Last night was the annual dinner of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a black-tie affair that’s also a kind of tribal reunion for those of us who have spent careers in journalism. It’s usually devoted to raising money for, and paying tribute to, journalists who have been jailed, killed, or otherwise hampered in their efforts to report in oppressive regimes.
But last night’s comments repeatedly returned to the situation here in the U.S., where relations between President-elect Trump and the press – or what he routinely calls the “corrupt media” — have become increasingly tense. Hosts for the dinner included New Yorker editor David Remnick and CNN chief Jeff Zucker, both of whom warned that the fight for press freedom has moved “close to home.” Remnick, an unrestrained Trump critic, wrote yesterday of the unusual meeting between Trump and top press executives in which the President-elect accused CNN and NBC, among others, of spreading lies and fake news, and also complained about pictures used to portray him.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, one of the award winners of the evening, warned in her speech that journalism faces an “existential crisis,” not just because of Trump’s attacks, but also because of the rise of fake news sites, and the increasing difficulty of distinguishing fact from fiction on social media.
“We have to accept that we’ve had our lunch handed to us by the very same social media that we’ve so slavishly been devoted to,” Amanpour said. “The winning candidate did a savvy end run around us and used it to go straight to the people. Combined with the most incredible development ever –the tsunami of fake news sites – aka lies – that somehow people could not, would not, recognize, fact check or disregard.” You can read her full comments here.
Needless to say, those of us who gather at fancy press dinners deserve to be dinged for missing the intensity of the anger that drove Trump voters, whose ranks are thin – if not nonexistent – in most New York newsrooms. But a well-functioning press is still a necessary component of a free society. And how well the press can function in the era of Trump is one of many questions hanging over the months ahead.
Enjoy the holiday. News below.
• U.S. stocks hit record highs
Major U.S. stock indexes hit fresh record highs for the second straight session on Tuesday, with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index clearing new hurdles. For the DJIA, the index finished at 19,023.87, the first session it closed above 19,000. The average was led higher by gains for both Verizon Communications and Home Depot. At the S&P 500, the index also hit a record as nine out of 11 sectors closed higher, led by gains in telecom and real-estate stocks. Markets have swelled since the presidential election two weeks ago, as Donald Trump’s victory was viewed as positive for Wall Street.
• Facebook might accept censorship in China
While many analysts thought Facebook would never come back to China after its service was blocked there in 2009, it now seems that those observers underestimated the social network’s willingness to make concessions to Chinese authorities over terms that have kept it out. Facebook’s mission of making “the world more open and connected” is essentially at odds with China’s policy of censoring content the government finds objectionable. But of course, money talks. Facebook is reportedly working on a program to restrict stories from showing up in news feeds based upon a user’s geography, the New York Times reports, adding the tool was created to help Facebook get into China.
• Lufthansa pilot strike grounds flights
Pilots in Germany began a two-day strike on Wednesday, grounding hundreds of flights at one of Europe’s largest airlines in a long-running pay dispute. Lufthansa management has so far refused to budge from its insistence that, despite record profit in 2015, the airline has no choice but to reduce costs if it wants to stay competitive with leaner rivals such as Ryanair, on short-haul flights, and Emirates, on long-haul flights. The airline had to cancel 876 of roughly 3,000 flights that were scheduled for Wednesday.
• Merkel warns against trade isolation
Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Germans against turning to economic isolationism, saying she was disappointed that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would likely collapse after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said he’d withdraw from the trade accord. Now seeking a fourth term in next year’s German election, Merkel used a speech to the lower house of parliament in Berlin to acknowledge voters’ anxiety about globalization in Europe and beyond. She also expressed concern about election campaigns using fake websites to shape public opinion in ways that conventional politics is unprepared for. And though she didn’t address Trump by name, Merkel—the leader of Europe’s biggest economy—defended free trade and said she was “not happy that the trans-Pacific accord now probably won’t become a reality.”
• Weak printer sales hurt HP
HP Inc. reported a 2% sales increase for the latest quarter, the first quarter-over-quarter growth since the printing and personal computer giant split from its data-center specialist sibling Hewlett Packard Enterprise last fall. HP was boosted by higher sales of laptops and desktops, though—notably—printing business revenue dropped 8%. HP’s earnings guidance for the current quarter was also a bit lighter than Wall Street had anticipated, news that sent shares lower in after-hours trading Tuesday.
Around the Water Cooler
• Overtime pay regulation put on hold
A federal judge issued a nationwide injunction to block regulations set to qualify millions more Americans for overtime pay starting Dec. 1, delivering a blow to one of President Barack Obama’s signature workplace rules. The goal of the rule—which the Labor Department completed in May—was to help boost incomes for the middle class by forcing employers in industries such as retail and food service to either pay employees for extra hours worked or give them back personal time they had forgone by working those hours unpaid. But the injunction, issued by a judge in Texas, said the challengers to the rule made a sufficient case that the department’s “salary level under the Final Rule and the automatic updating mechanism are without statutory authority.”
The Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
• Nordstrom won’t stop selling Ivanka Trump goods
Department store chain Nordstrom, a target of the #grabyourwallet movement that urges people to boycott retailers that carry Trump products, says it intends to keep selling the Ivanka Trump line despite treats by some consumers to no longer shop there. A top executive at Nordstrom said the company would continue selling the brand, though he admitted that the retailer had heard from customers on both sides of the issue. “This is a sharply divisive subject. No matter what we do, we are going to end up disappointing some of our customers,” said co-President Pete Nordstrom in an email obtained by Fortune.
Summaries by John Kell, firstname.lastname@example.org