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Perspective | Right-wing media could end the pandemic — without giving an inch in the culture war. Here's the script. – The Washington Post

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Phelan M. Ebenhack

for The Washington Post

Why aren’t conservatives pounding away that it was their guy who started the development of the vaccine? Such a strategy could encourage hardcore Trump supporters to get the shot, writes Sullivan.

No one took Geraldo Rivera very seriously last year when he proposed naming the coronavirus vaccine in honor of the just-defeated president.

“With the world so divided and everybody telling him he’s got to give up and it’s time to leave . . . why not name the vaccine ‘The Trump’?” suggested the former tabloid TV talk show host.

Geraldo might have been onto something — not because defeated candidates require an ego massage or because Trump needs anything else named after him but because such a label might have secured the goal that thousands of public-service announcements have failed to achieve: Greater conservative support for the vaccine.

Instead, of course, we’ve seen the complete opposite. Right-wing commentators and politicians have started yet another culture war over these lifesaving shots, finding ways to sow doubt and outrage at every turn.

Take Rob Schmitt, a prime-time host at the conservative network Newsmax, who recently declared vaccines “against nature.” Or Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who pulled out-of-context numbers from unverified sources to claim that “almost 4,000 people died after getting the Covid vaccines” (doesn’t mean that’s what killed them). Or his network colleague Laura Ingraham, who last week provided her prime-time platform to a cardiologist who falsely said the delta variant is not responsive to the vaccines, opining that there’s “no clinical reason to go get vaccinated.”

To be sure, Fox has run some pro-vaccine messages, notably from morning host Steve Doocy. But Carlson and Ingraham both revved up the outrage machine to take on a Biden administration effort that would promote the vaccine door-to-door. “Creepy stuff,” Ingraham called it, while Carlson told his 2.9 million viewers that it would “force people to take medicine they don’t want or need. . . the greatest scandal in my lifetime, by far.”

[Never mind Sean Hannity. Steve Doocy is the rare host at Fox actually promoting vaccines.]

Sadly, it seems to be resonating: At the Conservative Political Action Convention earlier this month, the audience actually cheered when pundit Alex Berenson (“the pandemic’s wrongest man,” according to the Atlantic) noted that the United States has missed its immunization goals. The result of this right-wing media rhetoric: Americans with conservative political views are far less likely to have been vaccinated or to say they plan to, and residents of red states are much more likely to be unvaccinated than their blue-state counterparts.

And now, just as case rates seemed to be under control, they are surging again — and this time, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

It didn’t have to be this way. And in theory, it still doesn’t. Conservative media could still save lives and spare viewers from suffering, without betraying its hard-wired impulse to toss red meat into the maw of the culture war.

What would that look like?

It could promote the cause of vaccination by tying it tight to everything that Trump claims to stand for.

“Get your American-made, America First vaccine, developed by American free enterprise under President Donald J. Trump,” joked Republican pollster and strategist Patrick Ruffini on Twitter recently, but he’s onto something.

Why aren’t conservatives pounding away that it was their guy who started the development of the vaccine under his overstated moniker Operation Warp Speed? For good measure, they could even trash the Biden administration for taking credit for their hero’s unbelievable wisdom and execution.

Trump himself would certainly be happy to play along.

“Operation Warp Speed and our decision to purchase billions of dollars of vaccine before it was even approved, has been ‘One of the greatest miracles of the ages,’ according to many,” Trump bragged in April.

[The media called the ‘lab leak’ story a ‘conspiracy theory.’ Now it’s prompted corrections — and serious new reporting.]

And just this week, he stirred the culture wars pot, pointing to Biden: “He’s way behind schedule, and people are refusing to take the Vaccine because they don’t trust his Administration, they don’t trust the Election results and they certainly don’t trust the Fake News, which is refusing to tell the Truth.” (Hmmm, I wonder who is doing more than anyone to diminish that trust?)

So why hasn’t right-wing media gone this route? Probably because there’s such a strong strain of contrarianism built in to the current conservative mind-set: Whatever the establishment says must be wrong.

If the elites — scientists, for example — think it’s good, let’s disparage it as bad.

There’s a calculation here, and a cynical one: It’s better grist for the culture war to oppose vaccination than to be a booster for it. Simply put, it plays better.

Still, one can dream of what could happen if Geraldo’s seed took root.

Crowded vaccination sites, overflowing with red MAGA caps and anti-Biden signs. Charlie Kirk and Marjorie Taylor Greene cheering from the sidelines. Tucker Carlson smiling smugly on screen.

Oh, it would be maddening, of course, to see Trump credited with the solution to a crisis he helped create. But given the alternative — more death, more suffering and the endless spread of disease — I think I could live with it.

And, quite literally, so could thousands of others.

READ MORE by Margaret Sullivan:

I can’t quit you, Facebook, but I should. We all should.

The ugly roots of the violent global crackdown on journalists

Why it’s so important that UNC trustees give Nikole Hannah-Jones the tenure she deserves

For more by Margaret Sullivan visit wapo.st/sullivan

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Tencent tanks 10% after Chinese media calls online gaming 'opium' as regulatory concerns mount – CNBC

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In this article

A logo of Tencent is seen during the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, November 23, 2020.
Aly Song | Reuters

GUANGZHOU, China — Shares of Tencent and NetEase plunged on Tuesday after Chinese state media branded online gaming “opium” and likened it to a drug.

The article also called for further restrictions on the industry in order to prevent addiction and other negative impacts on children.

However, the article was deleted a few hours after publication.

Tencent shares closed around 6% lower, while NetEase closed down almost 8% in Hong Kong, with both companies clawing back some earlier losses. Tencent is one of the world’s largest gaming companies responsible for high-profile games like “Honor of Kings.”

NetEase declined to comment. Tencent was not immediately available for comment.

The article, by Economic Information Daily, a Chinese state-run publication that’s affiliated to the official Xinhua newspaper, said that online gaming addiction among children is “widespread” and could negatively impact their growth.

The article said that in 2020, more than half China’s children were nearsighted and online games affects their education.

The sentiment in the article is not that new. For a long time, the Chinese government has been concerned about the impact of video games on minors.

In 2018, Beijing froze new game approvals over concerns that gaming was impacting youngsters’ eyesight. In China, online games require approvals from the regulators.

In 2019, China brought in rules that banned those under 18 years from playing online games between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. and restricted the amount of time they could play.

“The article brought attention to gaming addiction among minors. It is reminiscent of older articles where video games were compared to digital heroin,” said Daniel Ahmad, senior analyst at Niko Partners.

“The timing of the article has raised concern among investors given the recent crackdown on tech companies and the education/tutoring sector.”

Tencent announces new measures

The article also called for more control over the amount of time children are playing games for and review content of games more stringently to reduce the amount of “improper” information shown to minors.

“For the next step, there should be stricter controls over the amount of time minors play online games. It should be reduced by large amount from current level,” the article said, according to a CNBC translation.

Both NetEase and Tencent have introduced measures to protect young players including real-name registrations to play games. Last month, Tencent introduced a facial recognition feature on smartphones to verify that the gamer is an adult.

But after the publication of the article on Tuesday, Tencent announced further gaming restrictions

It will reduce the amount of time those under 18 years old can play the company’s games on non-holiday days from 90 minutes to one hour and on holidays from 3 hours to 2 hours.

Tencent will also bar children under 12 years old from spending money in the game.

The gaming giant said it will also crack down on identity fraud to find minors who are using adults’ accounts to play games. These new measures will begin with Tencent’s “Honor of Kings” game and eventually roll out to other titles.

Tencent also called for the whole industry to discuss the feasibility of banning gaming for children under 12.

Ahmad noted that most revenue in China is generated by players who are 18 years old and above.

“If more measures come into place to prevent youth addiction to gaming, it won’t stop revenue generating gamers from playing,” Ahmad said.

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Media Beat: Aug. 03, 2021 | FYIMusicNews – FYI Music News

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Spectrum auction raises record $8.9B

Canada’s auction of 3500 MHz spectrum, which is key for next generation 5G networks, generated a record C$8.9 billion, with the country’s three dominant telecom companies accounting for more than 80% of the amount raised.

Out of 1,504 available licenses, 1,495 were awarded to 15 companies, including 757 licenses to small and regional providers, Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement on Thursday.

Preliminary results showed that BCE Inc spent C$2.1B, Rogers C$3.3B and Telus Corp C$1.9B. – David Ljunggren & Moira Warburton, Reuters

Michael Geist vs Steven Guilbeault, the latest round

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault was recently asked about his plans to mandate licensing of links to news articles on social-media sites such as Facebook. While the policy is often referred to as a link tax, Mr. Guilbeault insisted that it was not a tax, stating “some people think every time the government acts, it’s a tax. What I’m working on has nothing to do with tax.” Instead of a government tax scheme, Mr. Guilbeault explained that he intends to have the Copyright Board of Canada set a fee for the links to articles, backed by government power to levy fines for non-payment.

Leaving aside the semantic debate over what constitutes a government tax, my Globe and Mail op-ed argues that the comments are notable because when it comes to addressing the concerns associated with the large technology companies, Canada should be working on taxation. Mr. Guilbeault has said his top legislative priority is to “get money from web giants,” yet rather than focusing on conventional tax policy, his preference is to entrench cross-subsidy programs that keep the money out of general tax revenues and instead allow for direct support to pet projects and favoured sectors.

Northern Canada may be a popular destination at the end of the world

Islands with low population density, particularly those with distinct seasonal changes, fared the best with New Zealand topping the list compiled by Global Sustainability Institute.

 Iceland, U.K., Australia (specifically Tasmania) and Ireland made up the rest of the shortlist where it would be best for society to restart after a collapse.

Northern Canada, while not on the shortlist, could act as a “lifeboat” in the event of societal collapse due to climate change and extreme temperatures, but survival would rely on maintaining agriculture and renewable energy sources to keep the population alive. – Brooke Taylor, CTV News

Cancel culture chic is worrisome to the majority of US electorate, study shows

Religion and politics are never polite subjects to discuss in mixed company. But imagine if what most people consider to be merely a social faux pas became the reason you were fired from your job, sued, or had all of your personal information spread publicly on the internet. Simply because someone at the table disagreed with whom you voted for.

For most of American history, this response would be unfathomable.

But it happens every day.

Journalists and editors get fired for printing differing opinions—even if they don’t agree with that opinion themselves. Small business owners get sued or fined for following their conscience. Workers get fired for social media posts from their youth. Not even Abraham Lincoln is safe when the mob is on a warpath.

The danger and destruction of cancel culture is far-reaching and, if we aren’t careful, it could become a defining characteristic of American culture for posterity.

It’s a popular issue with the talking heads on cable news, but the Center for Excellence in Polling wanted to see what a diverse population of the United States thought of “canceling” people for their beliefs.

The results paint a very different picture than the woke elites would have you believe.

Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times

Started almost two decades ago with a stated mission to “provide information to Chinese communities to help immigrants assimilate into American society,” The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet. – Brandy Zadrozny & Ben Collins, CNBC News

How to defend yourself against NSO spyware attacks

There may be no such thing as perfect security, as one classic adage in the field states, but that’s no excuse for passivity. Here, then, are practical steps you can take to reduce your “attack surface” and protect yourself against spyware like NSO’s. – The Intercept

CNN’s interview with Tom Walker (aka Jonathan Pie) takes an unexpected turn, 11/19

[embedded content]

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Reese Witherspoon’s Media Company Hello Sunshine Reportedly Sells for $900 Million – Vanity Fair

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“This is a meaningful move in the world because it really means that women’s stories matter,” Witherspoon said of the sale to a media firm backed by private-equity group Blackstone Group Inc.

Reese Witherspoon’s five-year-old media company, Hello Sunshine, is expanding its reach. The starry entity, which was founded by Witherspoon in 2016, has been sold to a media firm backed by private-equity group Blackstone Group Inc, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Hello Sunshine has reportedly been valued at $900 million, people familiar with the deal told WSJ.

The company, which has already spawned a film and TV production company, its own VOD network (complete with Witherspoon’s first-ever talk show, Shine on with Reese), and book club, centers on stories by and for women. Hello Sunshine has produced films such as Gone Girl and Wild and shows including HBO’s Big Little Lies, Apple’s The Morning Show, and Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere. “I’m going to double down on that mission to hire more female creators from all walks of life and showcase their experiences,” Witherspoon said in a statement. “This is a meaningful move in the world because it really means that women’s stories matter.”

Reports began to circulate last month that Hello Sunshine was considering a sale and could receive a $1 billion valuation. The currently unnamed media partnership between Blackstone and Hello Sunshine will be headed by former Walt Disney Co. executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs. Hello Sunshine is the first acquisition for the firm, which will retain Witherspoon and her company’s Chief Executive, Sarah Harden, as members of their board. Blackstone is reportedly shelling out more than $500 million in cash to purchase shares from Hello Sunshine’s investors.

The sale of Hello Sunshine to Blackstone is “part of a plan to build an independent entertainment company for Hollywood’s streaming era,” WSJ reports. It comes amidst a time when high-profile stars like Scarlett Johansson are bucking against the idea of their films debuting simultaneously on streaming and theatrically. Like projects of Hello Sunshine’s past, its upcoming slate includes adaptations of popular novels—the film Where The Crawdads Sing and Amazon series Daisy Jones and The Six.

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— Sign up for the “HWD Daily” newsletter for must-read industry and awards coverage—plus a special weekly edition of Awards Insider.

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