1. This Raycom-Gray merger is a big deal.
- Atlanta-based Gray Television is purchasing Montgomery-based Raycom Media for $3.6 billion.
- If approved, the merger would create the country’s 3rd largest TV conglomerate behind Sinclair and Nexstar.
- The increasingly-competitive TV market is turning to pay-tv services for revenue (YouTube TV, for example), and the more stations you own the more leverage you have to make that revenue count.
Why it matters
- Raycom owns five stations in Alabama markets: WBRC in Birmingham, WAFF in Huntsville, WSFA in Montgomery, WTVM in Columbus/Auburn, and WDFX in Dothan. Those first three have especially big news footprints in Alabama.
- Being headquartered in Montgomery, Raycom has a lot of staff working downtown. Hopefully those jobs remain when the dust settles.
- The Retirement Systems of Alabama is a big stakeholder in Raycom. There’s no word yet on what kind of stake RSA might have in Gray, or if that’s part of the deal at all.
- I doubt most viewers will notice much difference in coverage. It would be foolish for Gray to mess with successful brands.
- One thing Gray does well is localized coverage from Washington, D.C. They have a team of journalists on Capitol Hill reporting back to local stations about what’s happening in Congress and the White House.
- These stations and their viewers will benefit from that coverage, as will the Congressional delegation that won’t have to fire up the satellite to reach constituents back home.
- Read more in the Wall Street Journal HERE.
2. Shelby has Appropriations moving.
- That’s Sen. Richard Shelby and staff having a laugh with the one and only Paul Finebaum (click the image to go to Shelby’s Insta).
- Perhaps they’re in a good mood because the Senate is moving appropriations bills.
- A $145 billion combined appropriations bill funding the Energy Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs passed the Senate yesterday.
- The bill increases funding for veterans services by more than $5 billion, including $1 billion for the choice program that allows veterans to seek care outside the VA.
- A few months back I wrote about how Shelby was trying to fix how spending bills are done in the Senate in his new role as Appropriations Chairman. That work looks seems to be going well, judging by this early success.
“It is my hope that we will not be led astray down the path of delay and partisanship that results in yet another omnibus,” Shelby said, “That is no way to fund the government.”
- Watch Shelby’s speech from the Senate floor HERE.
3. We’ve all lost our minds.
- You can hardly get on Facebook or Twitter these days without being exposed to heated political debates.
- It has been that way for a while, really, but this immigration thing has sent people over the edge. It is having a real impact, especially on the political Left.
- One of the reasons Trump won the GOP nomination in 2016 was his ability to tap into how fed up voters were with Republican politicians not getting the job done.
- Bush, McCain, Romney, Ryan. None of these ever stood up to the left strongly enough, they believed. But Trump would.
- The same thing is happening with Democrats who are not satisfied with the empty gestures of Schumer, Pelosi, and others they feel aren’t fighting Trump hard enough.
- Many now prefer the politics of resistance, the kind that chases out Republican leaders from movie theaters and restaurants.
- It’s a pickle for politicians on the left, just like the rise of Trumpism was for ones on the right.
- Condoning and inflaming resistance politics carries real consequences for the party’s chances to take back Congress.
- Jonathan Martin captures this issue well in his latest New York Times piece, which is worth your time this morning.
4. Tariff trouble getting real.
Not long ago, President Donald Trump pointed to Harley-Davidson Inc. as an example of what was going to go right for manufacturing in America. Now, Harley seems to encapsulate a lot of what’s going wrong.
- The motorcycle maker is moving some of its production overseas.
- The reason? You guessed it. Tariffs.
- President Trump’s tariffs on imported goods from Europe have begotten European tariffs on American products.
- And so it makes more sense for Harley to manufacture the bikes they sell in Europe, in Europe.
- To understand more about how and why this happens, read automotive industry David Kiley’s piece in Forbes.
- President Trump is tweet-attacking Harley this morning and defending his trade policies.
- Also, last night in South Carolina, the president criticized Germany for ripping off the American auto industry. BMW employs thousands in that state.
- I’m trying to imagine what the reaction would be if he said the same thing in Tuscaloosa.
5. Sad news: inspirational softball player succumbs to cancer.
- Alex Wilcox, a Brantley native who fought a brave and inspiring battle with ovarian cancer, died yesterday.
- Despite her diagnosis at just 16 years old, Wilcox played through her treatments and used her ordeal to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and inspire others.
- She earned a softball scholarship to Mississippi State, where she play this past year.
- “Cancer didn’t win this battle,” Brantley softball coach Cindy Hawthorne told The Montgomery Advertiser. “God needed her with him. She’s a fighter until the end, as I knew she would be.”
- Read and share Alex’s story, as told by Stacy Long, HERE.
Bonus: Cool Photo of the Day.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate approves $145 billion measure to fund energy, veterans.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump trash talks restaurant that booted his press secretary.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House GOP struggles with immigration bill ahead of recess.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Police: man kills himself inside Anniston Lowe’s store.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Raycom-Gray merger would create 3rd largest TV group in U.S.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones still in the spotlight after nearly six months on the job.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – In city government, Bright and Roby occasionally ‘butted heads’.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Dothan police supervisor placed on leave during ALEA investigation.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Attorney General Steve Marshall is not the first to deal with tragedy on the campaign trail.
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Alabama Water Watch: Volunteers collect water data in citizen science organization.
DECATUR DAILY – Congressman: Housing immigrants on coast would be ‘inhumane’.
GADSDEN TIMES – The Gadsden Times: Supreme Court changes playing field for online sales.
ANNISTON STAR – Contributor Dan Puckett: The rising tide of intolerance in the United States.
AL.COM – As hundreds protest nearby, Sessions defends immigration policies.
AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: Peacemakers strive to rid neighborhoods of gun violence, may boost black church, too.
AL.COM – Jury selection ends first day in Drummond, Balch & Bingham bribery trial.
AL.COM – Why TVA is spending $1 million to improve Huntsville homes.
AL.COM – Will Mobile give $10 million to USA stadium project?
AL.COM – Bridgette Marshall death: Sympathy pours in for family of Alabama AG Steve Marshall.
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: A guided tour through the underbelly of Alabama politics.
AL.COM – Gray Television buying Raycom Media for $3.65 billion.
AL.COM – Contributor U. S. Rep. Terri Sewell: Let America vote again.
WASHINGTON POST – Feud over civility in politics escalates amid Trump insults.
WASHINGTON POST – The first layoffs from Trump’s tariffs are here.
NEW YORK TIMES – Found in a Courthouse Vault: A Paper Trail for Civil Rights History
NEW YORK TIMES – Sleeping on America’s Doorstep: A Dispatch From the Border
NEW YORK TIMES – Unidentified author: What My 6-Year-Old Son and I Endured in Family Detention