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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times

Gannett Co. is spinning off its publishing assets into a separate publicly traded company.

The McLean, Va.-based broadcaster and publisher whose holdings include more than 40 television stations, USA Today, and 81 local newspapers, is the latest media company to separate its newspaper and television units.

Last year, Rupert Murdoch split his entertainment and publishing assets into separate companies — 21st Century Fox and News Corp., respectively. Earlier this year, Time Warner spun off its publishing company Time Inc. and this week Tribune Media completed a spinoff of its publishing assets including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times off into a new company called Tribune Publishing.

“These transformative transactions will give both the publishing company and the broadcasting and digital company enhanced strategic, operating, financial, and regulatory flexibility to pursue growth and consolidation opportunities in their respective markets, while delivering strong cash flow to build further upon Gannett’s long-standing traditions of award-winning journalism and service to our local communities,” said Gracia Martore, president and chief executive officer of Gannett.

Traditional publishing is seen as a more challenging business with limited growth compared to television and digital media. Investors and Wall Street analysts have been encouraging these spin-offs.

The new publishing company will be virtually debt-free, Gannett said. Existing debt will remain with the broadcasting and digital company. Both Time Inc. and Tribune Publishing were saddled with heavy debt loads after they were spun off.

Martore will be chief executive of the television and digital company. Robert Dickey, president of Gannett’s U.S. community publishing division, will be chief executive for the publishing company. Gannett said it expects the spinoff to be completed by mid-2015.

Gannett is also buying the 73 percent stake of Cars.com it didn’t own for $1.8 billion from A. H. Belo, the McClatchy Company, Tribune Media Company, and Graham Holdings Company. Cars.com is a popular site for people buying and selling cars.

In a related move, Tribune Publishing entered into a five-year affiliation agreement with Cars.com.

“Upon closing, this agreement will represent significant recurring revenue for our digital classified business,” said Jack Griffin, chief executive officer of Tribune Publishing. “We’ve had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Cars.com and this agreement ensures auto dealers in key markets will continue to benefit from the scale and reach of our prominent print and digital properties.”

Photo via WikiCommons

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Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]