Is the Facebook saga coming to Disney+? All news media eyes are on Washington, as the Federal Trade Commission (see the Bureau of Competition), and 48 states and districts filed an antitrust suit against the social media and technology giant that could force it to divest Instagram and WhatsApp. This could have implications for future antitrust law. This is aside from the ongoing Section 230 debate.
Other highlights in our linkfest include a somber journalism prediction from NeimanLab, as well as some of our Movers & Shakers, an Axios eye on cross-border political influence, the continuing shakeup at Voice of America by Michael Pack, a high-powered gathering for policy ideas from the DealBook D.C. Policy Project and some interesting additions to the President-elect’s transition team.
- The AP’s SEC Correspondent Marcy Gordon and Law Enforcement Reporter Michael Sisak cite experts that think the government has a strong case against, and note President-elect Joe Biden has said the breakup of Big Tech giants should be seriously considered.
- Meanwhile, Politico’s Steven Overly found some new volunteers on the Biden-Harris Transition team website that weren’t there on Nov. 10:
- Zaid Zaid, a Facebook public policy official, joined the state department and international development teams.
- Christopher Upperman, a Facebook manager, was added to the Small Business Administration team.
- Rachel Lieber, a Facebook director and associate general counsel, sits on the Intelligence Community team.
- Deon Scott, a Google program manager and alum Of Obama’s Homeland Security Department, will serve on the DHS team.
- The NY Post’s Josh Kosman reports Facebook is bringing in white-shoe lawyers while the FTC has faced cutbacks. Though, Kosman writes that in the case of the FTC, insiders say its staffer Daniel Matheson — who graduated from University of Michigan Law School in 2004 — earned a scrappy reputation as he prosecuted an antitrust case against giant chipmaker Qualcomm.
- And if that’s not enough, TechCrunch reports Facebook’s being investigated in Germany for linking usage of its VR product, Oculus, to having a Facebook account.
- Perspective: NeimanLab, in its predictions for journalism in 2021, says Neither dual antitrust lawsuits against Facebook nor the DOJ’s monopoly case against Google will funnel money to news operations in 2021.
- Of course, the Facebook-journalism relationship is far from over. See: Reuters launches two new journalism diversity initiatives, in partnership with the National Association of Black Journalists, Facebook and CUNY’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.
Logging off Facebook news, our linkfest continues with the DealBook D.C. Policy Project and a shoutout to Axios and its first investigative piece:
- In early December, The New York Times convened a number of panels with experts to discuss the most pressing issues facing business, government and society; it’s publishing a special series of articles about these gatherings, covering climate change, Big Tech, U.S.-China relations, police reform and more. The experts include Representative Susan Brooks (R-IN, 5); Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ, 5); and Rohit Kumar of PwC, who was previously the deputy chief of staff to Sen. Mitch McConnell; and other Washington insiders. Here are the articles.
- ‘Suspected Chinese Spy Targeted California Politicians‘ Axios says the alleged operation offers a rare window into how Beijing has tried to gain access to and influence U.S. political circles.
- Movers & Shakers
- The Washington Post reported the head of the agency that oversees Voice of America removed the international broadcasting service’s interim director, veteran Elez Biberaj, in a move apparently aimed at asserting greater control over its editorial operations. Robert R. Reilly was announced as the replacement.
- CNN reports that Biden has tapped Susan Rice, who has contributed to CNN, to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council, a surprising move that gives the longtime national security veteran major influence over Biden’s “build back better” agenda that is expected to focus on racial injustice, immigration, health care and combating the coronavirus pandemic.
- CNN’s Brian Stelter wisely notes transitions in Washington often lead to turnover in the news business as well. Rashida Jones is replacing MSNBC President Phil Griffin, to become the first Black person to run a major cable news network.
- Veteran editors Akoto Ofori-Atta and Lauren Williams are teaming up to launch Capital B, a nonprofit news organization that will, in Ofori-Atta’s words, “report for and with Black people across the country on issues that matter most to us.”
- In other startup news, Business Insider reports John Heilemann and John Battelle‘s The Recount is expanding its coverage from politics to areas like technology and culture as it looks to grow its short-form video journalism.
- Business Insider, citing industry sources, reported that Susan Zirinsky, the producer who helped inspire the movie, “Broadcast News,” is dropping some big hints that she is unhappy with aspects of her role, leading to speculation that there may be changes at the top of CBS News.
- NYT highlighted four women that will work with the media in the Biden administration: Jen Psaki, Kate Bedingfield, Karine Jean-Pierre and Symone D. Sanders.
As the content here is refined for our audience of policymakers and private sector decision-makers — you’ll notice the lean to DC’esque coverage — we will still highlight news media trends. If you have insight, from white papers to commentary or just plain better sources (Pew Research Center dives into America’s understanding of news sources), please feel free to write.
— Megan Kashtan and Wayne McKenzie contributed to this report.