Business

Talk Radio Giant Tells Hosts to Stop ‘Stolen Elections’ Rhetoric: Live Updates

talk-radio-giant-tells-hosts-to-stop-stolen-elections-rhetoric-live-updates

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock

Cumulus Media, a talk radio company with a roster of popular right-wing personalities including Dan Bongino, Mark Levin and Ben Shapiro, has warned its hosts to steer clear of misinformation about election fraud.

Brian Philips, an executive vice president of Cumulus, sent the stern memo on Wednesday, the same day that a pro-Trump mob rampaged through the halls of Congress. Addressed to employees working in the company’s programming and talent divisions, including those at its syndication arm, Westwood One, the memo’s first section appeared in bold typeface, with many words capitalized for emphasis.

“We need to help induce national calm NOW,” the memo began.

“Cumulus and Westwood One will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended,” it continued. “The election has resolved, there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’ Please inform your staffs that we have ZERO TOLERANCE for any suggestion otherwise. If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately. There will be no dog-whistle talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘civil wars’ or any other language that infers violent public disobedience is warranted, ever.”

The memo, which was first reported by Inside Music Media, underlined a statement at the end of the paragraph: “Through all of our communication channels, including social, we will work to urge restoration of PEACE AND ORDER.”

Cumulus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Levin, who has attacked Democrats and many Republicans who have not supported Mr. Trump, has tweeted about a “massive fraud pepetrated against the president” and promoted the Jan. 6 demonstration in the days leading up to it. On the Wednesday episode of his radio show, Mr. Levin, who also hosts a Fox News program on Sunday nights, criticized those who stormed the Capitol, but defended “people who are peacefully protesting” against “a stolen election” — a characterization that has been repeatedly debunked as false.

Mr. Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and a current Fox News contributor, is also an investor in Parler, a social media app popular with Trump supporters. In an appearance on Fox News on Monday, Mr. Bongino fulminated against the suspension of Parler by major technology companies, referring to “tech tyrants,” “tech totalitarians” and “the communists at Apple and Amazon and Google.”

Mr. Bongino, who hosts a podcast and has a popular Facebook page, has raised questions about “irregularities” in the 2020 election. On an episode of his podcast in November, he said, referring to the election, “Ladies and gentlemen, these claims that there are no evidence of fraud are utterly absurd.”

Cumulus owns and operates 416 stations across 86 markets, including WMAL in Washington, WNBM in New York and KABC in Los Angeles.

Parler said it had expected to gain millions of users this week after Twitter and Facebook barred President Trump.Credit…Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hours after it went offline on Monday, the social media start-up Parler filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Amazon of violating antitrust law and asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the tech giant from blocking access to cloud computing services.

Amazon told Parler over the weekend that it would shut off service because “a steady increase in violent content” on the site showed that the company did not have a reliable process to prevent it from violating Amazon’s terms of service. Amazon said it would ensure Parler’s data was preserved so that it could migrate to new a new hosting provider.

Millions of people turned to Parler after Twitter and Facebook barred President Trump following the riot at the Capitol last week. Apple and Google both kicked Parler out of their app stores at the end of the week, though users who already had downloaded the app could still use it. But the app relied on Amazon’s cloud computing technology to work.

Parler’s complaint was dated Sunday, before Amazon suspended Parler. But the suit was not filed with the court until Monday.

In the suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Parler accuses Amazon of terminating, not just suspending, its account — and said it should have received 30 days notice. It also argued that Amazon violated antitrust law by conspiring with Twitter, a major Amazon customer, to kick off Parler just as it was gaining broader appeal. It said it had 12 million users, and “expects to add millions more this week given its growth the last few days.”

Parler did not provide direct evidence showing Amazon and Twitter coordinated the response. Instead, it pointed to a December news release announcing a multiyear strategic partnership between Amazon and Twitter, and it made references to Twitter’s own challenges policing its content.

Parler said losing Amazon’s services would be a “death knell,” though other platforms popular with the far right and conspiracy theorists, like Gab and 8chan, have managed to recover after being terminated by hosting providers.

David J. Groesbeck, a sole practitioner intellectual property lawyer in Olympia, Wash., filed the suit for Parler. Amazon did not respond to an immediate request for comment.

JPMorgan Chase is halting all political donations from its PAC for six months.Credit…Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock

Big businesses often donate to both political parties and say their support is tied to narrow issues of specific interest to their industries. That practice became increasingly fraught last week, after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and some Republican lawmakers tried to overturn Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s win in the presidential election.

A flurry of companies have since reviewed political giving via their corporate political action committees, according to the DealBook newsletter:

  • Morgan Stanley is suspending all PAC contributions to members of Congress who did not vote to certify the results of the Electoral College, a spokesman said.

  • Marriott said it would pause donations from its PAC “to those who voted against certification of the election,” a spokeswoman told DealBook. She did not say how long the break would last or how the hotel chain would decide when to resume donations.

  • The chemicals giant Dow said it was suspending all PAC contributions “to any member of Congress who voted to object to the certification of the presidential election.” The suspension will last for one election cycle — two years for representatives and up to six years for senators.

  • Shopify terminated online stores affiliated with President Trump. “Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our Acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause,” the company said in a statement.

  • Hallmark requested the return of campaign contributions its PAC made to Senators Josh Hawley Missouri and Roger Marshall of Kansas, both of whom voted against certifying the presidential election results. “Hallmark believes the peaceful transition of power is part of the bedrock of our democratic system, and we abhor violence of any kind,” the company said in a statement. “The recent actions of Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall do not reflect our company’s values.”

  • Airbnb condemned the violence in Washington, saying in a statement that it “will update its framework and withhold support from those who voted against the certification of the presidential election results.”

  • The Coca-Cola Company said in a statement that it would also suspend political giving: “These events will long be remembered and will factor into our future contribution decisions.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Boston Scientific and Commerce Bancshares are taking a similar, targeted approach to donation freezes. The newsletter Popular Information is tracking the responses of these and other companies that donated to lawmakers who challenged the election result.

Some big banks are pausing all political donations — to those who voted to uphold the election as well as to those who sought to overturn it — a tactic that is raising eyebrows. Goldman Sachs is freezing donations through its PAC and will conduct “a thorough assessment of how people acted during this period,” a spokesman, Jake Siewert, told DealBook. JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup also said they would postpone all campaign contributions.

Facebook will pause all of its contributions to political action committees representing either party for at least the remainder of the first quarter of 2021, the company confirmed in a statement on Monday, citing the need to review its policies. A spokesman for Microsoft confirmed that it would do the same.

Other companies, including Bank of America, FedEx and Wells Fargo, said they would review their corporate contribution strategy.

In other fallout, the P.G.A. of America said it would no longer hold its signature championship at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.; the social app Parler, popular among conservatives as an alternative to Twitter, went dark this morning after Amazon cut it off from computing services; the payment processor Stripe banned the Trump campaign from using its services; YouTube blocked Steve Bannon’s podcast channel; and the debate continues over tech giants’ influence over public speech.

Kate Kelly, Jenny Gross and Mike Isaac contributed reporting.

Banks are expecting heavy demand for the new round of loans, as the virus continues to surge and restrictions on activity are reintroduced.Credit…Mohamed Sadek for The New York Times

The Paycheck Protection Program reopens this week, and underserved borrowers — including women-led businesses and those run by Black, Latino and Asian owners and other minorities — will be first in line to tap the new funds, The New York Times’s Stacy Cowley reports.

Starting Monday, a group of specially designated institutions known as community lenders, which specialize in working with Black- and minority-owned small businesses, will begin accepting applications for new loans. The government said larger financial institutions and banks would begin processing loans “shortly.”

Giving community lenders a head start is intended to address complaints that the aid was not distributed equitably the last time around. Here are more details about the new program.

  • Borrowers were previously limited to just one loan, but the new funding will be available to both first-time and returning borrowers. Businesses will be eligible for a second loan if they suffered a sales drop of 25 percent or more in at least one quarter of 2020, compared with the previous year.

  • Second loans will be restricted to businesses with no more than 300 employees; initial loans are available to larger companies, generally those with up to 500 workers.

  • The Small Business Administration, which manages the program, said it would begin accepting applications on Monday from community lenders seeking loans for first-time borrowers. On Wednesday, those lenders will be able to submit applications from people seeking second-round loans.

  • The S.B.A. will no longer approve loan applications instantaneously, a move that previously allowed some borrowers to receive their loan funds just hours after they applied. Now approvals will generally take at least one day.

Twitter locked President Trump’s account on Friday after he posted tweets calling his supporters “patriots” and saying he would not attend the presidential inauguration.Credit…Twitter

In the hours and days after a mob of President Trump’s loyalists stormed the Capitol, the nation’s biggest tech companies began to shut down accounts that helped incite the rampage. In the days and weeks before the attack, President Trump had used his Twitter feed and Facebook page to spread the lie that he had won the November election. It was that falsehood that helped drive the mob from to the Capitol last Wednesday after a speech by the president.

Facebook said the risks were too great to allow the president’s posts. Twitter followed suit. The focus shifted to Parler, a favorite app for right-wing figures. Citing posts on Parler that encouraged violence and crime, Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores. Then Amazon stopped hosting it.

For Big Tech, the events of the past week raised tricky questions about politics, free speech and radicalization of people online.

How Parler, a Chosen App of Trump Fans, Became a Test of Free Speech

The app renewed a debate about who holds power over online speech after the tech giants yanked their support for it and left it fighting for survival. Parler went dark on Monday after Amazon’s web hosting platform shut down Parler’s account.

Stripped of Twitter, Trump Faces a New Challenge: How to Command Attention

The president became a celebrity through television, but Twitter had given him a singular outlet for expressing himself as he is, unfiltered by the norms of the office.

Amazon, Apple and Google Cut Off Parler, an App That Drew Trump Supporters

The companies pulled support for the “free speech” social network, cutting the service off from its users just as many conservatives are seeking alternatives to Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter Permanently Bans Trump, Capping Online Revolt

The president’s preferred megaphone cited “the risk of further incitement of violence.” It acted after Facebook, Snapchat, Twitch and other platforms had placed limits on him.

Facebook Bars Trump Through End of His Term

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said the risks of Mr. Trump using the service were too great.

In Pulling Trump’s Megaphone, Twitter Shows Where Power Now Lies

The ability of a handful of people to control our public discourse has never been more obvious, writes our columnist Kevin Roose.

A World Wrestling Entertainment event in Riyadh in 2019. George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, who spent more than a decade at WWE, announced the formation of a new investment firm.Credit…Fayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

George Barrios and Michelle Wilson — the former co-presidents of World Wrestling Entertainment who abruptly left the company a year ago — are announcing a new project: Isos Capital Management, an investment firm focused on media, entertainment and sports. The DealBook newsletter was the first to report the new venture.

Mr. Barrios and Ms. Wilson are veterans of the sports and entertainment business, including more than a decade at spent WWE. “We feel really proud of everything that was accomplished during our tenure, so we’re excited about the next chapter with Isos,” Ms. Wilson said. After WWE, they both considered several opportunities — including chief executive roles — but decided instead to continue working together.

The new fund will look at companies at all stages of development, with a focus on new technologies that keep fans and subscribers engaged. “There are spaces — whether it’s video gaming, e-sports, sports betting — that will drive fan engagement, and that digital transformation will really become the vehicle to make that happen,” Ms. Wilson said. She and Mr. Barrios declined to comment on other details about the fund.

As money has poured into the industry and deal-making has picked up, the fund’s founders believe their experience and contacts set them apart; at WWE, they led the company’s aggressive international push and signed content deals with USA Network and Fox Sports, among others. The company’s media division has helped counteract declining performance in its live performance unit in recent years.

“Capital is important, but it’s fungible,” Mr. Barrios said. “What Michelle and I bring is expertise, credibility and a global network.”

  • Stocks on Wall Street and in Europe fell on Monday, a day of consolidation after the markets began the year with a rally to record highs.

  • The S&P 500 fell about 0.4 percent in early trading, while the Stoxx Europe 600 index dipped by 0.7 percent and the FTSE 100 in Britain by 1 percent.

  • Twitter tumbled nearly 6 percent, recovering from a drop of 11 percent, after the social media company on Friday permanently banned President Trump, who had more than 88 million followers, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.”

  • Boeing fell 2 percent following Saturday’s crash in Indonesia of a 737-500 series passenger carrying 62 people. The Sriwijaya Air flight fell into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta.

  • Last week, U.S. stock markets pushed higher after Democrats won two Senate seats in Georgia, clinching control of the upper house of Congress and increasing investors’ expectations of more fiscal spending. The markets continued to rise even after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday. Democrats, pointing to Mr. Trump’s inciting of the mob, have taken steps to remove Mr. Trump from the presidency.

  • Bitcoin fell to less than $31,000 on Monday, down 27 percent from a record high of $41,962 reached on Friday. The cryptocurrency has surged substantially in recent weeks; just a month ago its price was below $20,000.

  • “Bitcoin’s parabolic rise is unsustainable in the near-term,” Scott Minerd, the global chief investment Officer of Guggenheim Partners, an investment company, wrote on Twitter. “Vulnerable to a setback. The target technical upside of $35,000 has been exceeded. Time to take some money off the table.”

Nothing has stopped the stock market’s momentum over the last year: not the pandemic, not record unemployment and not the Capitol riot.

But don’t take that as a sign that the market is envisioning a calm and prosperous six months ahead, writes The New York Times’s Jeff Sommer. Instead, the rally simply reflects the greed of bullish investors. Here’s what’s fueling the high hopes:

  • Interest rates remain extraordinarily low, and the Federal Reserve and other central banks have said they are determined to keep short-term rates low. When rates are low, stocks and other risky assets are comparatively attractive.

  • The pandemic is the main cause of global economic troubles and it will eventually end. With vaccinations underway, Wall Street hopes that growth in most regions and sectors will surge later this year, along with rising corporate profits.

  • With Democrats sweeping the two contested Senate seats in Georgia, the chances of at least some further economic stimulus have increased. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will most likely be able to deliver more aid to people in need and to local governments, which is expected to increase economic growth.

  • Truly sweeping legislative changes will be difficult, if not impossible, given the Democratic Party’s razor-thin margin in the Senate and reduced majority in the House. Some increased spending is likely, but this slim grip on power implies that big tax increases on wealthy investors and rich corporations may not happen soon.

  • The election may have delivered something close to a Goldilocks alignment for the stock market. Mr. Biden’s cabinet picks so far suggest that he will govern as a centrist, and the market historically has fared well under Democratic presidents who do not have sweeping control of Congress. The possibility that the Biden administration will usher in a more efficient and inclusive government, with more spending and only moderate changes otherwise, is seen as a sweet outcome for stocks.

0 Comments