New Book Looks at Ongoing Shifts in News

Former New York Times editor says paper is 'anti-Trump'

The Story:

Jill Abramson has written a book, Merchants of Truth, about the changes in the news business in the last decade, one that offers important background material for understanding some of the headline political events of our day. Abramson worked for three years (2011-2014) as executive editor of The New York Times.

Background:

Abramson’s book has much to say about Jeff Bezos, the billionaire who founded Amazon.com and who bought the Washington Post in 2013. She believes that Bezos’ influence there has been positive, that he has helped that old-line newspaper adapt to the digital age.

Abramson writes that for a long time the Post kept a famous front page from 1974, the “Nixon Resigns” page, prominently displayed in its editorial office. But, she says, Bezos’ new regime has removed that, and the walls of that office are now dominated by “flat-screens displaying real-time traffic statistics on how many readers [are] looking at each story.” This change in decor serves as a symbol for her of a turning away from past glories toward the tackling of today’s challenges.

Bezos of course is in the headlines himself this week as he responds to what he charges was a blackmail effort at his expense by the company that owns the National Enquirer.

The Thing to Know:

Abramson’s book portrays President Donald Trump as having served as a catalyst for the revival of The New York Times and of old-line “mainstream” journalism in general. The Times in particular has learned not to be shy about its partisanship, to call out the President and to say that he has lied when in fact he has lied. That has been healthy for the paper, she believes.

Giuliani now says Trump never discussed Michael Flynn with Comey

‘There was no conversation about Michael Flynn,’ Rudy Giuliani said on CNN’s State of the Union show on Sunday, contradicting his previous position.

Donald Trump will deny having ever discussed former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn with former FBI director James Comey, if he is questioned about it in a sit down interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, according to the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Comey testified to senators in last year that Trump told him during an Oval Office meeting that he wished Comey would drop a probe into Flynn’s contact with Russian diplomats before Trump was sworn in as president. The conversation underpins any potential obstruction of justice claim that Mueller may bring as part of the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“There was no conversation about Michael Flynn,” Giuliani told Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union show on Sunday. “That is what he will testify to if he’s asked that question.”

According to Comey, Trump told him “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go” after he was informed of an FBI investigation into contacts between Trump’s transition team and Russia.

Giuliani’s comments on Sunday appear to contradict a previous appearanceon…

From abortion to affirmative action, how Trump’s supreme court pick could change America

Trump’s shortlist includes many judges who have stronger conservative credentials than Anthony Kennedy.

Donald Trump is considering which of his conservative picks for the supreme court he will to nominate to take the seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy this week. Whoever is chosen, their appointment, if approved, could upend legal precedent on key issues where Kennedy, arguably a moderate conservative, had been counted as a crucial swing vote.

Abortion

After Kennedy’s retirement, perhaps of greatest concern for the left is the question mark that now hovers over Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 supreme court case that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

During a pivotal reconsideration of the rights secured by Roe v Wade in 1992, Kennedy upset the anti-abortion movement by casting the crucial vote to uphold a woman’s right to choose. He defended it again 2006.

Trump’s shortlist has more conservative legal minds, many of whom have been open about their anti-choice views. William Pryor, an appeals judge on the 11th circuit, has previously called Roe v Wade the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law”.

Affirmative action

Kennedy has continued to evolve on affirmative action, which advances members of groups known to have experienced discrimination. Kennedy cast the fifth vote in the 2007 supreme court decision against Seattle and Louisville plans to use race to account for diversity and integration in schools. In 2016, however, Kennedy’s vote proved pivotal when the court upheld the University of Texas’s affirmative action programs, which used race as one of its admissions factors.

Trump’s justice department has sided with a group suing Harvard for allegedly discriminatory admissions process, which might signal the sort of perspective on affirmative action he could expect his nominee to hold.

LGBT rights

Kennedy might be best known for penning the majority opinion in Lawrence v Texas in 2003, which argued for respect for the private lives of a gay couple and subsequently all couples, same-sex or not. He followed that up with writing the majority opinion of the court in Obergefell v Hodges providing the legal basis for same-sex marriage.

But in 2000, Kennedy…