November 1, 2021

We are now 299 days removed from the disturbing events on Jan. 6.

But the aftershocks from that day, as well as what it could mean for the future remain extant and substantial.

At the heart of the insurrection are colossal questions and consequences: trust in our elections, the peaceful transfer of power and, in what is not an overstatement, the future of our democracy.

On Sunday, The Washington Post published an exceptional three-part investigation about Jan. 6. It involved more than 75 journalists and included interviews with more than 230 people, thousands of pages of court documents and law enforcement reports, as well as hundreds of videos, photographs and audio recordings.

The package — called “The Attack” — is divided into three parts: “Before,” “During” and “After.” All are painstakingly reported and detailed.

In a statement, Matea Gold, national political enterprise and investigations editor, said, “An event of the magnitude of the Capitol attack demands deep and revelatory reporting. This newsroom-wide collaboration provides our readers with a definitive account of Jan. 6 and its lasting impact on American democracy.”

Here’s what the Post said some of the key findings include:

  • Law enforcement officials did not respond with urgency to a cascade of warnings about violence on Jan. 6.
  • Pentagon leaders had acute fears about widespread violence, and some feared Trump could misuse the National Guard to remain in power.
  • The Capitol Police was disorganized and unprepared.
  • Donald Trump’s election lies radicalized his supporters in real time.
  • Escalating danger signs were in full view hours before the Capitol attack but did not trigger a stepped-up security response.
  • Trump had direct warnings of the risks but stood by for 187 minutes before telling his supporters to go home.
  • His allies pressured Mike Pence to reject the election results even after the Capitol siege.
  • The FBI was forced to improvise a plan to help take back control of the Capitol.
  • Republican efforts to undermine the 2020 election restarted immediately after the Capitol attack.
  • False election claims by Trump that spurred the Capitol attack have become a driving force in the Republican Party.
  • Trump’s attacks have led to escalating threats of violence.
  • First responders are struggling with deep trauma.

It’s a stunning and extraordinary piece of journalism from one of the truly elite journalism organizations on the planet. It deserves your attention and time.

Traffic stops turn deadly

Here’s another exemplary project that deserves your attention. The New York Times with “Why Many Police Traffic Stops Turn Deadly” — written by David D. Kirkpatrick, Steve Eder, Kim Barker and Julie Tate. The Times’ investigative unit found that over the past five years, “police officers have killed more than 400 drivers or passengers who were not wielding a gun or a knife, or under pursuit for a violent crime — a rate of more than one a week.” The Times also found that only five officers have been convicted of crimes and yet local governments paid at least $125 million to resolve about 40 wrongful-death lawsuits and other claims. The Times writes that Black drivers were overrepresented among those killed.

The Times writes, “In case after case, officers said they had feared for their lives. And in case after case, prosecutors declared the killings of unarmed motorists legally justifiable. But The Times reviewed video and audio recordings, prosecutor statements and court documents, finding patterns of questionable police conduct that went beyond recent high-profile deaths of unarmed drivers. Evidence often contradicted the accounts of law enforcement officers.”

It’s all part of a package that also includes a chilling visual investigation, “Before the Final Frame: When Police Missteps Create Danger.” And the Times’ Mike McIntire and Michael H. Keller also found that many drivers were pulled over for things such as broken tail lights and tinted windows in their piece: “The Demand for Money Behind Many Police Traffic Stops.”

The Times’ Michael Levenson has a companion piece with the main takeaways from the investigation.

Big day at the Supreme Court

The Texas abortion ban goes back before the Supreme Court today. Two months after declining to act on Texas’ near-total abortion ban, the court will hear two cases. The Texas Tribune’s Reese Oxner writes, “The court will consider two suits against the law, commonly referred to as Senate Bill 8, which blocks abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. One is waged by the federal government, the other by a group of abortion providers and advocates. The Supreme Court’s review will focus on how SB 8 is enforced, not abortion rights themselves. It’s hard to predict what the court could decide, but its ruling will likely determine the future of abortion care in Texas and shape the legal battles to come.”

Here are some other pieces to catch you up:

Why Psaki stayed home

White House press secretary Jen Psaki. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not go on the European trip with President Joe Biden. On Sunday, we found out why. Psaki put out a statement saying she has tested positive for COVID-19.

Psaki said members of her family had tested positive for COVID-19 last week and, because of her contact, the decision was made to stay home. She quarantined at home and tested negative Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, she tested positive. She said the last time she saw Biden was last Tuesday and that they were outside more than six feet apart and were masked.

She said in her statement, “Thanks to the vaccine, I have only experienced mild symptoms which has enabled me to continue working from home.” Psaki said she will return to the office at the conclusion of a 10-day quarantine, as well as getting a negative rapid test.

Three Gannett newsrooms successfully unionize as Politico staff announce union drive

For this next item, I turn it over to Poynter’s Angela Fu.

Journalists at the Asbury Park Press, the Courier News and the Home News Tribune in New Jersey are now officially part of the APP-MCJ Guild. They received the results of their National Labor Relations Board election Thursday.

The new unit is part of the NewsGuild, the largest union representing journalists. The NewsGuild has been on an organizing spree in recent years, launching successful union drives at more than 15 Gannett newspapers over the past two years. Earlier this year, workers at three other Gannett newsrooms in New Jersey — the Bergen Record, the Daily Record and the NJ Herald — voted to form the Record Guild.

Just one day after the APP-MCJ Guild announced its successful election, editorial staff at Politico and E&E News went public with their own union drive. The journalists are calling themselves the PEN Guild and say that 80% of 250 eligible members have indicated support for the unit, which is a part of the NewsGuild.

The PEN Guild is calling on Axel Springer, the German media company that acquired Politico and E&E News in August, to voluntarily recognize the union. On Friday afternoon, Politico editor-in-chief Matt Kaminski emailed staff to let them know that management had reached out to the NewsGuild to “discuss an agreement” for recognition.

This marks a break in management’s previous approach to unionization. In August, founder and publisher Robert Allbritton emailed staff a list of reasons not to unionize. “My strong wish is that most POLITICO journalists will conclude after studying this question that a union is not in the publication’s interests, our reader’s interests, or in the interests of individual employees,” he wrote.

Election Week

(Courtesy: NBC News)

Tuesday is Election Day. State elections are at the forefront. The most-watched race of the night will be the gubernatorial showdown in Virginia between former governor and Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe and Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin. New Jersey also will decide its governor between Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. There are notable mayor races in  New York, Boston and Minneapolis.

All the networks, including NBC, will have special coverage throughout the week. And, to get you ready, I’ll have a special interview with one of NBC’s big election night personalities in Tuesday’s newsletter. So check out tomorrow’s Poynter Report for that.

Cliche headline of the day

I have great respect for newspapers. I also have great respect for the challenges of working on intense deadlines. I worked in newspapers for more than 30 years as a sportswriter. And, hey, I like good pun headlines as much as the next guy. But, after the Atlanta Braves beat the Houston Astros on Saturday night to take a 3-1 lead in the World Series, the headline on one of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s sections was “Houston, You Have a Problem.”

OK, enough of the headlines taken from a movie (“Apollo 13”) that came out … 26 years ago. Variations of this famous movie quote have been used in headlines and ledes like a thousand times. Time to retire that one. Also, any sports headline that is a play on words for “Sleepless in Seattle” — such as “Winless in Seattle” or “Luckless in Seattle” or whatever.

Readers probably like it, and I’m probably being a curmudgeon and deadline writers and editors are probably like, “Hey, I had exactly 14 seconds to be clever, so gimme a break.”

But, I just had to get that out of my system.

Boston broadcasting legend dies

Former Red Sox player and broadcaster Jerry Remy, who died of cancer on Sunday, shown here throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a playoff game last month. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Sad news out of Boston. Jerry Remy has passed away at the age of 68 from cancer. Remy played 10 Major League Baseball seasons with the Angels and Red Sox, but was better known for calling Red Sox games for 33 years. He was from Massachusetts and was a fan favorite because of humor, good baseball analysis and his thick New England accent.

Remy had been battling lung cancer for years and missed much of the 2021 season while undergoing treatment. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Red Sox playoff game against the Yankees last month.

Here are some excellent articles about Remy. Chad Finn has the obit for The Boston Globe and Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy with “The legend of Jerry Remy started because he was a terrific baseball player.”

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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