Elevating voices of truth
The feature you’ll be digging into today: TIME’s Person of the Year 2018: The Guardians and the War on Truth, which spotlights killed and imprisoned journalists Jamal Khashoggi, Capital Gazette staff, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. Writing the cover piece, Karl Vick tells the story of Khashoggi’s killing, highlighting the contrast to supposed strongmen of the world: “To see genuine strength, look to the spaces where individuals dare to describe what’s going on in front of them.” He adds, “In 2018, journalists took note of what people said, and of what people did. When those two things differed, they took note of that too. The year brought no great change in what they do or how they do it. What changed was how much it matters.”
TIME’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal explains How We Chose the Guardians, and Jodi Kantor says, “This feature could easily be a publicity stunt or an empty honorific. But @TIME’s choice is so meaningful, so moving, elevating voices of truth, helping them rise above the forces of corruption, violence, and chaos.” “Strong choice. The truth is under attack not just in America but around the world. In fact, journalists in authoritarian regimes yearn for the freedom reporters have here. A free press is the guardian of democracy -- everywhere,” notes Richard Stengel.
We also get a look behind the scenes with the Story Behind the Photos, by Katie Reilly, who spoke with cover photographer Moises Saman about his work on the piece as well as his own experience of being targeted for being a journalist. Saman traveled 30,000 miles in 17 days to photograph the issue. Heather Chin says she “Never thought such ceremonial honors would make me want to cry, but here we are.”
At the Capital Gazette, Sarah Meehan highlights the Capital Gazette staff among the Time Person of the Year honorees. Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith and Gerald Fischman were killed June 28 when a gunman broke into the newspapers’ Annapolis office.
Tim Stelloh writes about the issue for NBC News, Time’s 2018 ‘Person of Year’ is killed and imprisoned journalists (103,000+ shares), and Valerie Block calls the choice “A good call at the right time.” As Nolan McCaskill tweets, “The president calls them the enemy of the people. @TIME calls them Person of the Year.”
More from the POY issue
Find out why Robert Mueller was on the TIME Person of the Year short list, as Brian Bennett and Tessa Berenson write. On Twitter, Berenson offers this “Fun (or actually, the opposite of fun) social fact about Robert Mueller: when he hosts parties, he abruptly flicks the lights on and off in his house to tell guests it's time to leave.”
And Lucas Wittmann says it’s “Wonderful to have this excellent @Egangoonsquad essay as part of POY issue.” Read Jennifer Egan on why ‘We Need Writers More Than Ever. Our Democracy Depends On It.’ She points out, “It is imperative that journalists continue to call out falsehoods. But we must also understand that these exposés can help keep lies alive.”
In the category “red handed,” Maria Butina Pleads Guilty, Agrees to Cooperate With U.S. (21,000+ shares), reports Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast. On Twitter, Woodruff emphasizes, “Fyi, in case there's any confusion: Maria Butina has agreed to *fully cooperate* no holds barred.” Michael Weiss notes, “She will be under protective custody for the rest of her life. Shows just how scared she is to go back to Moscow.” We also discover “Another good reason for top government officials to avoid attending the National Prayer Breakfast: Avoiding Russian spies!” as Steve Sebelius tweets. And Marilyn Geewax offers this “Suggested headline: NRA Leaders Now Sweating Bullets”
Rosalind Helderman and Spencer Hsu of The Washington Post report on the story, Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina poised to plead guilty in case involving Kremlin attempts to influence NRA (86,000+ shares), writing, “Butina’s efforts to network with U.S. conservatives coincided with what the U.S. intelligence committee has said was an elaborate effort by the Russian government to interfere with the American electoral system and help elect Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.” But Jeff Miers points out, “They buried the lede: ‘the two attended a concert by the rock band Styx,’” which is just what this saga needed, because as Christopher Orr says, “Literally the only thing missing from the Russia story was an appearance by Styx. Domo arigato.”
At ABC News, Pete Madden, Katherine Faulders and Matthew Mosk write that, while it’s unclear what Butina’s cooperation might entail, federal prosecutors have reportedly notified Republican operative Paul Erickson that he is a target of an ongoing investigation. Something that seems kind of important: FBI investigators found a handwritten note by Erickson that said, “How to respond to FSB offer of employment?” Chris Megerian thinks, “This sounds like the kind of thing you shouldn’t be taking notes about.” FYI, the FSB is the Russian equivalent of the CIA.
At least a C+
“This isn’t something you see every day,” tweets Marty Kady. In an epistolary op-ed for The Washington Post, 44 former U.S. senators write to their Senate colleagues, We are former senators. The Senate has long stood in defense of democracy — and must again (57,000+ shares). Daniel Victor calls it “Inspiring: A group of U.S. senators worked together to reach the word count of their essay. Gotta think they squeeze at least a C+ out of this.” But Will Stancil explains: “I made a bot read 4,000 Jeff Flake speeches, and then made it write an op-ed. This is what happened.” Tweets Sam Haselby, “They can say whatever they like, but their history is wrong. The Senate stood for slavery. It stood for Jim Crow. It stood for McCarthyism. It’s not a democratic institution and these people are lobbyists now, working for anti-democratic groups.” Also, for the record, “It must be said, as others have, that this is really, really *really* poorly written,” notes Megan Murphy.
As for the situation in the White House, Katie Rogers highlights, “Among other things in this piece with @maggieNYT & @anniekarni, Trump, who hates doing his own dirty work, tried to arrange for Ayers to fire Kelly.” The latest reporting by Rogers, Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni at The New York Times reveals, After Ayers Turns Down Chief of Staff Job, Trump Is Left Without a Plan B. A lot of people are highlighting this part: “One senior administration official said that Mr. Kelly was known to have kept written notes about Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump and the things that they had done or requested, which he conspicuously left on his desk in view of his staff.” Also getting noticed, the 62% turnover rate for senior aides. Rob Price calls it, “The White House game of musical chairs, quantified.” Meanwhile, Jack Dickey tweets, “There are a lot of references in this article—’Trump family members,’ ‘his children,’ ‘the Trump children,’ ‘Mr. Trump’s children in the White House’—that are... incomprehensible? (Not least because the last of them refers, literally, to Ivanka+Barron.)”
“Meanwhile, in the real world outside of WH chief-of-staff news →” Nancy Cook directs you the reporting by Coral Davenport of The New York Times: The Trump administration is preparing to unveil a plan that would weaken federal clean water rules that were put in place “to protect millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams nationwide from pesticide runoff and other pollutants.” Because of course they are.
In a story co-published by ProPublica and The Atlantic, Paul Kiel and Jesse Eisinger take a look at How the IRS Was Gutted. Tweets Eric Umansky, “Republicans have been gutting the IRS. Who's benefiting? The rich.” Adds Michael Grabell, “Remember this article by @paulkiel & @eisingerj the next time someone asks ‘But how are we going to pay for that?’”
And new scoop from Kenneth Vogel at The New York Times, Targets of U.S. Sanctions Hire Lobbyists With Trump Ties to Seek Relief. As Josh Dawsey tweets, “Great story by @kenvogel on all the Trump associates making huge $$$ by working for controversial foreign governments. Giuliani told us earlier this year he just stopped by Congo party to see friends!”
Self-dealing and bigotry
For their new story in Tablet Magazine, Leah McSweeney and Jacob Siegel investigated the Women’s March, and as Siegel tweets, “It did not come up roses.” After reading this piece, Erin Biba tweets, “I don't really wanna talk about it right now to be honest because I have a million feelings and I don't feel safe expressing them but for those who asked for a link.” Lahav Harkov explains, “Basically, all the rumors and the screen shots sent around on social media are backed up with even more evidence, adding up to the Women’s March leadership being antisemitic, corrupt and self-serving. No one who’s been paying attention is surprised.” Nick Confessore calls it “A devastating @tabletmag article about self-dealing and bigotry within the Women’s March national organization, doubling as a close study of movements — and how people don’t just accidentally end up in charge of them.” Miriam Elder sums it up well: “Yikes.”
Alan White “*taps mic* HOLY SHIT.” He’s reacting to the scoop from Alberto Nardelli and Alex Wickham of BuzzFeed News that Theresa May Told Top EU Officials She Intended To Pull The Brexit Vote 24 Hours Before She Told Senior Cabinet Ministers — a revelation that Stuart Millar says is “Significant given that Number 10 line was to deny it.” As Janine Gibson tweets, “Sometimes you look back 24 hours and wonder how you could’ve been so naive.”
In Theresa May Should Admit Brexit Failure, Accept Second Referendum, the Bloomberg Editorial Board writes, “Facing a historic defeat for her Brexit deal in Parliament, British Prime Minister Theresa May has, almost unbelievably, managed to make things worse.”
Sky News has ongoing live coverage as the PM holds talks with European leaders.
A few more
In a new “Price of Climate” piece for The Wall Street Journal, Russell Gold explains why Harvard Has Been Quietly Amassing California Vineyards — and the Water Underneath. “It's like Chinatown, only real and right now,” tweets Matthew Rose.
Bill Wasik links to “A stunning piece of reporting and writing by @JeffreyEStern.” That’s A Tragedy in Yemen, Made in America, Jeffrey E. Stern’s piece for The New York Times, produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center. Tweets Jake Silverstein, “The president insists on the economic benefit of US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia when defending the kingdom. Here’s @JeffreyEStern with a disturbing report on how some of those weapons, traced to a plant in Arizona, kill civilians in Yemen.”
Sources tell John Ruwitch and Michael Martina of Reuters that former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig has been detained in China. Tweets Isaac Stone Fish, “Michael Kovrig is an excellent analyst and a good guy. I hope this is a short ordeal.”
From the Columbia Journalism School, the 2019 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award Winners Have Been Announced, with a record number of wins for programs by and about women. FRONTLINE PBS won the first Gold Baton awarded in a decade, and CNN and WNYC each won two awards. Congrats to all the winners!
And we’ll wrap up here: Tis the season for the Bloomberg Businessweek Jealousy List, Bloomberg Businessweek’s annual list of “articles we wish we’d thought of first. Journalism so good it makes us question our career choices.”