Breakfast Briefing, 9.7.2017: Former employee describes 'toxic, Machiavellian' culture at Bell Pottinger

Plus: the federal government decides not to fine United Airlines for the David Dao incident, Facebook acknowledges ad buys by a mysterious Kremlin-connected group, and the NFL (again) kicks off amid controversy.

A former Bell Pottinger employee has dished to The Guardian about what he or she calls the firm’s "toxic Machiavellian working culture," describing sexist conditions and an unfriendly environment for minority employees. About the agency’s client roster, the former staffer wrote in the guest op-ed, "The work we were doing was immoral, though not illegal." Amid doubts about whether the shop will survive the year, Bell Pottinger has brought on consultancy BDO as it tries to quickly engineer a sale.

The federal government has decided not to fine United Airlines over the David Dao incident. The Transportation Department said it did not find sufficient evidence that Dao’s civil rights were violated or that the airline violated the rights of customers bumped from flights, according to the Associated Press. Dao was forcibly removed from a Chicago-to-Louisville flight in early April in an incident that quickly went viral on social media.

Facebook has disclosed that a shadowy Russian organization with ties to the Kremlin bought more than $100,000 in ads over a two-year period. The ads, bought between June 2015 and May 2017, did not focus on specific candidates, but instead on hot-button issues such as gun control, according to The New York Times. Meanwhile, the fact-checkers hired by Facebook to rid the platform of fake news have said the company isn’t giving them enough information to do their jobs, according to Politico.

Tonight marks the NFL’s first game of the 2017 season, and as usual the league is beginning its slate surrounded by controversies. (Why is Ezekiel Elliott allowed to play in the first game of the season before serving a six-game suspension? Is Colin Kaepernick really just not good enough to make an NFL roster)? Will hashtag boycotts hurt the league’s bottom line, especially after a drop in ratings last year? Not if ad spending continues to rise on the pace of the past five seasons, according to Recode.

The good news for Sean Spicer: he undoubtedly has high name recognition. The bad news: that’s not a good thing. Spicer’s E-Score, which measures awareness, appeal, and attributes, is 13, according to Politico, putting him at the far low end of the one-to-100 scale. E-Score did not verify whether Spicer is actually "one of the most popular guys in Ireland," as he claimed in an interview with Axios this week.

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