Nov 9, 2017

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

Greetings from LA, where I took part in a really great discussion on the future of journalism. Spoiler alert: Finding enough good business models to support it is challenging, but a free press is really important.

And, don't forget: Sinocism's Bill Bishop, one of the smartest minds on China, is moving his weekly must-read newsletter to Axios. Starting tomorrow, Bill will bring his new Axios China subscribers commentary and analysis on the most important U.S.-China news of the week. Sign up for the newsletter here.

Now, why is it again AT&T has to sell CNN?

In telling AT&T it may need to sell the Turner division that owns CNN in order to buy Time Warner, the Justice Department has raised more questions about its own motivations than it has raised about the deal itself.

The intrigue: So far the exact antitrust rationale for the deal is unclear. As my colleague David McCabe points out, opposition goes against years of precedent in allowing such deals.

  • For example, Comcast was allowed to buy NBC Universal, which owns cable and broadcast channels.
  • At the same time, President Trump's dislike for CNN is very clear and some people have speculated this may be related.

The bottom line: This puts the onus on regulators to explain just why they are now worried about the deal. There are reports that even some of the Democrats who want want the deal blocked fear the motivations behind the DOJ opposition.

Some worthy takes:

  • Democratic FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel: "Wait, are we really going to make the @TheJusticeDept use antitrust law to force the sale of a cable channel because the President doesn't like its news coverage? You can dislike consolidation but still find this extremely disturbing if true."
  • Recode: "Trump wants to punish CNN by breaking up the AT&T/Time Warner deal."
  • Richard W. Painter, ethics advisor to former President George W. Bush: "Exactly what the Founders feared when they drafted the First Amendment."
  • Atlantic: "Is Donald Trump Using the DOJ to Crush CNN?"
Sean Parker: Facebook was designed to exploit human "vulnerability"

Sean Parker, the founder of Napster and former president of Facebook, says the thought process behind building the social media giant was: "How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?"

Buzz: My colleague Mike Allen interviewed Parker yesterday at an Axios event and writes how Parker gave him a candid insider's look at how social networks purposely hook and potentially hurt our brains.

"That means that we needed to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever...It's a social validation feedback loop...You're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology...[The inventors] understood this, consciously, and we did it anyway," Parker told Mike.

Watch: Check out the video clip here.

Twitter and Facebook to weigh in on new ad disclosures

Twitter and Facebook tell us they plan to submit written comments on political ad disclosures to the Federal Election Commission as part of a formal proposal on internet disclaimers. The comment period ends today, and the FEC will make the comments public shortly thereafter. Google declined to say whether it would submit comments.

Why it matters: During testimony on Russian election meddling on Capitol Hill last week, Google, Twitter and Facebook all committed to working with regulators on crafting new online political ad disclosure rules. Proposed legislation would require all political ads running online to disclose who is paying for the ads, similar to the requirements for political ads running on TV and radio.

Public pressure: FEC commissioner Ellen Weintraub sent letters to the CEOs of the companies this week asking for their feedback on practical solutions. "Given the prominence of Google in the public discourse of this nation, it is important that the Federal Election Commission hear from you," she wrote in the letter to Larry Page.

Wealthy coastal investors less fearful about tech's impact

Whereas our Axios-SurveyMonkey poll found considerable fear about the potential of new technologies to kill jobs, a new survey of wealthy types in California and New York showed that group is significantly more optimistic about tech's impact.

The findings: A new survey from CTBC Bank found 72% of respondents in that demographic think technology and automation will have a positive impact on the national economy, while just 7% forecast a negative impact.

  • "These people are less fearful of being displaced," noted Noor Menai, CEO of CTBC's US operations. The survey focused on people with a $1 million or more of investible assets, a group that can afford to take a more long-term view.
  • "In the long run it is good for everybody," he said. "Lives will be better but in the short term there is some disruption."

Our thought bubble: Not everyone sees disruption as a good thing. A person's view of how technology will impact his or her future largely depends on their economic circumstances and where they live, underscoring the divide between the rich coastal areas and many other parts of the country already feeling left behind by the advances and growth of the technology industry.

Take note

On tap: Web Summit wraps up in Lisbon...Earnings reports include Nvidia.

Trading places: Yesterday we noted that AMD graphics unit head Raja Koduri was leaving the company. Well, now we know where he is headed — to AMD's longtime rival Intel, where he will be chief architect.

ICYMI: Motherboard took a deep dive into Wikipedia and found that just 1% of editors are responsible for more than three-quarters of content...Pokémon Go creator Niantic is working with Warner Bros. on a Harry Potter-themed mobile AR game...A self-driving shuttle in Las Vegas had a crash on its first day of expanded testing, but it appears the humans, not the autonomous vehicle, are to blame...Roku stock rose 20% in after-hours trading following a better-than-expected earnings report...Meanwhile Square shares slipped a bit despite topping estimates for both sales and adjusted earnings.

After you Login

It's not just the tax bill that singles out Warriors star Stephen Curry. Check out these public transit buses in Nairobi, Kenya.

Ina Fried