The White House finds few are interested in press secretary role, while the president is reported to be considering limiting briefings and having reporters submit written questions rather than face live questions and possibly ban specific major outlets. Secrecy continues to be Senate Republican leadership’s approach to health care legislation, and even some in their own party – along with Democrats and citizen groups – are criticizing the lack of transparency on a bill that would affect millions. Industry insiders say sale of advertising for TV news and late-night shows is unusually strong, compared with prime-time programming.-Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer


DARE: Daily Alert on Rights and Expression

The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today


‘I’m Right Here!’ Sean Spicer Says While Toiling to Find Successor
The opportunity to take over behind the White House briefing room lectern would be the apex of a political operative’s career in any other presidency, a path to riches, fame, and power. However, no one has jumped at the chance to become President Trump’s new press secretary, leaving the president with his beleaguered frontman, Sean Spicer. The White House has solicited interest from a range of people, but there has been no real signoff from the only person whose vote matters: the president.

After weeks of secrecy, U.S. Senate to unveil healthcare bill
Republicans in the chamber have been working on legislation aimed at repealing and replacing major portions of the Affordable Care Act. Trump has urged the Republican-led Senate to pass a more “generous” bill than that approved by the House, whose version he privately called “mean,” according to congressional sources. If the bill is passed, an estimated 23 million people could lose their healthcare under the House plan, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

TV’s Trump Effect: Advertisers Focus on News, Late-Night Buys Ahead of Primetime
Advertisers are lining up in TV’s upfront negotiations to make advance commitments in news and late-night programs that are focused on the nation’s current stormy, politics-driven news cycle. The networks have certainly proven willing in recent years to bring advertisers deeper into news programs and late-night shows. As advertisers ponder digital and social media, they seem to be drinking from different glasses as they ponder how to pay for TV commercials.

Pennsylvania Radio Host Quits After He’s Ordered To Not Criticize Donald Trump
Bruce Bond, the host of a talk radio show broadcast Saturdays in central Pennsylvania, said he felt he had no choice after receiving the directive from one of his bosses at WTPA-FM. “The fact that my bosses would censor me and not allow me to talk about this stuff is ridiculous.” Bond had earlier posted a letter to him from the station’s general manager, Tim Michaels, “serving notice” that it was against policy to “speak disrespectfully” about the president.

How Battling Brands Online Has Gained Urgency, and Impact
Online campaigns against brands have become one of the most powerful forces in business, giving customers a huge megaphone with which to shape corporate ethics and practices, and imperiling some of the most towering figures of media and industry. Look at how quickly Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News host, was dispatched from the network after The New York Times dug into his history of sexual harassment settlements. The investigation inspired an online boycott against his advertisers, who, despite Mr. O’Reilly’s soaring ratings, began to drop him faster than day-old beef tartare.


Pro-Putin bots are dominating Russian political talk on Twitter
A bevy of actors have deployed fake, online personalities devoted to sharing pro-government content. Studies point to a significant update in the narrative around social media: Once seen as a tool of democratization and protest, it has now increasingly become a weapon wielded by established political actors and authoritarian regimes, simulating public opinion through memes and hashtag democracy.

Government Spying Allegations in Mexico Spur Calls for Inquiry
Nine victims of the spyware campaign have filed a criminal complaint with the Mexican attorney general’s office. They include lawyers looking into the still-unsolved disappearance of 43 students in 2014; a leader of an initiative to pass anticorruption legislation; and the journalist who uncovered a scandal involving the family of President Enrique Peña Nieto. The administration has also been under pressure to better protect journalists amid criticism that is more interested in preserving its authority than in enforcing the rule of law.

Venezuela poised for new violence after security forces fatally shoot protester, 17
Fabian Urbina died on Monday after security forces opened fire with handguns during clashes with demonstrators on a major highway in Caracas. Venezuelan law prohibits the use of lethal weapons during street protests, but the country’s security forces have been accused of increasingly repressive measures during three months of political turmoil.

Misguided Attacks on Al Jazeera
Qatar’s critics accuse the station of supporting Sunni Islamist terrorism and Iranian ambitions. But Saudi Arabia is hardly innocent when it comes to spreading Islamist extremism or supporting terrorist groups. In reality, by attacking Al Jazeera, the Saudis and their neighbors are trying to eliminate a voice that could lead citizens to question their rulers. The real reason it’s been labeled a terrorist group is that autocratic regimes see it as a populist threat.

Germany Raids Homes of 36 People Accused of Hateful Postings Over Social Media
Most of the raids concerned politically motivated right-wing incitement, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office. But the raids also targeted two people accused of left-wing extremist content, as well as one person accused of making threats or harassment based on someone’s sexual orientation. The raids come as Germans are debating the draft of a new social media law aimed at cracking down on hate speech, a measure deemed unconstitutional at a parliamentary hearing.

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