By:
November 15, 2022

Donald Trump supposedly will have a “special announcement” today — and the buzz is he will announce he is running for president in 2024. Reportedly, some in the Republican party want him to delay his announcement, and some are hoping he never announces it.

With Trump, nothing is a given. For all we know, his special announcement is that he will have a special announcement next week, or next month, or next year.

But let’s assume — because all signs point to it — that Trump does indeed announce he will run for president in 2024.

What does this mean for the media? Vanity Fair’s Charlotte Klein has a smart piece: “‘There’s always a risk of him being trolled’: A Donald Trump 2024 bid will test if the media’s learned anything since 2016.”

Klein talks with journalists to see how they might cover another Trump run for president.

Philip Rucker, the deputy national editor for The Washington Post, told Klein, “Our guiding principle about covering Trump is that we’re gonna cover a Trump campaign the same way we’d cover every other presidential campaign, which is seriously, rigorously, comprehensively. We’re gonna let our coverage of this campaign be guided by our reporting, not by any assumptions or preconceived notions about outcomes.”

I don’t want to give away too much of Klein’s story — you should read it. But I did like this quote from an unnamed reporter at a major news organization: “‘Trump speaks at a rally’ is no longer a story. There’s less interest in chronicling his every thought and private utterance and more interest in how he is shaping the country.”

One can’t deny or ignore Trump’s influence. He would immediately become the favorite to be the Republican nominee in 2024. Or, at the very least, one of the strongest contenders. A sizable chunk of the country (i.e. millions of voters) still are devoted to the former president, and what he does is news. He must be covered.

Some will argue that lies about the 2020 election or the Jan. 6 insurrection or taking documents from the White House that he wasn’t supposed to is not news and should not be amplified. Neither should other false claims and baseless allegations. I would argue that we’ve long passed the point of giving Trump’s false allegations about the 2020 election any air at all.

But, an argument can also be made that Americans should know what Trump is saying, even the dangerous rhetoric. Consider that, based on midterm election results, many voters rejected Trump’s thoughts and many of the candidates that he endorsed. Instead of looking at it as giving oxygen to his rants, it’s more like shining a light on his thinking — even if it’s alarming, especially if it’s alarming.

Amplifying everything Trump says is irresponsible, but so is ignoring everything he says. A fine line must be walked, and once again, the media will be put to the test by Donald Trump.

One last note (for today) on Trump’s possible announcement. Today’s “The Daily” podcast from The New York Times features a conversation about Trump with Times’ reporter Maggie Haberman.

Pence’s strong words

ABC News’ David Muir, left, interviews former Vice President Mike Pence. (Photo courtesy of ABC News)

In Monday’s newsletter, I teased the interview ABC “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir did with former Vice President Mike Pence. Parts aired on Monday’s “Good Morning America” and “World News Tonight,” as well as an hour-long primetime special on Monday.

Pence talked about Trump’s words on Jan. 6, 2021, telling Muir that they were “reckless.”

Muir asked Pence about Trump tweeting during the insurrection that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.” In Trump’s mind, Pence should not have certified the 2020 presidential election won by Joe Biden.

After Muir’s question, Pence paused for more than 10 seconds then said, “It angered me. But I turned to my daughter who was standing nearby, and I said, ‘It doesn’t take courage to break the law. It takes courage to uphold the law.’ The president’s words were reckless. It’s clear he decided to be part of the problem.”

Muir asked Pence about what Trump was doing at the White House during the insurrection, but Pence said, “David, I was at the Capitol. I wasn’t at the White House. I can’t account for what the president was doing that day. I was at a loading dock in the Capitol where a riot was taking place.”

Pence was speaking with various people during that time, including the  acting defense secretary, the joint chief of staff, the acting attorney general and the chief of Capitol police. Muir asked Pence, “Why wasn’t (Trump) making these calls?”

Pence said, “That’d be a good question for him.”

Pence, by the way, has a new memoir out called “So Help Me God,” which focuses on Jan. 6. Geoffrey Kabaservice has a review for the The Washington Post: “Mike Pence highlights his heroic hour, and sidesteps the rest.”

Midterm reflections

Over the past day, there were several notable stories surrounding the midterm elections that deserve your attention. I thought I’d pass a few of them along:

Twitter trouble

Not long after Elon Musk took over Twitter, the social media company decided to let anyone become “verified” if they were willing to pay eight bucks a month. In the past, the blue check mark verification was a way to let users know that the account with the blue check mark was authentic. Users could be sure that the person (or company) was who they said they were.

So it was only a matter of time before there were problems by allowing anyone to get a blue check mark. Someone posed as ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter and tweeted that an NFL coach had been fired when he had not. Another posed as LeBron James and tweeted that he wanted to be traded by the Los Angeles Lakers. Politicians and other celebrities became victims of fake tweets. Fortunately, none of it had serious consequences — at least as far as we know.

Until Twitter itself got burned. An account made to look like pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co tweeted, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.”

The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell wrote, “By the time Twitter had removed the tweet, more than six hours later, the account had inspired other fake Eli Lilly copycats and been viewed millions of times.”

Harwell added, “Inside the real Eli Lilly, the fake sparked a panic, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Company officials scrambled to contact Twitter representatives and demanded they kill the viral spoof, worried it could undermine their brand’s reputation or push false claims about people’s medicine. Twitter, its staffing cut in half, didn’t react for hours.”

So Musk and Twitter got their $8, but they might have ultimately lost millions. Harwell wrote that late last week, “… Eli Lilly executives had ordered a halt to all Twitter ad campaigns — a potentially serious blow, given that the $330 billion company controls the kind of massive advertising budget that Musk says the company needs to avoid bankruptcy. They also paused their Twitter publishing plan for all corporate accounts around the world.”

There was more, as politicians such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders used the fake tweet to point out the high cost of insulin. And now other advertisers are considering putting their relationship with Twitter on hold. The Verge’s Mia Sato reported, “Omnicom, one of the world’s biggest ad firms, representing brands like McDonald’s, Apple, and PepsiCo, is recommending clients pause spending on Twitter, according to an internal memo obtained by The Verge.”

Media tidbits

Hot type

The Associated Press’ Jim Mustian and Joshua Goodman with “DEA’s most corrupt agent: Parties, sex amid ‘unwinnable war.’”

The man who inspired the Tom Hanks character in “The Terminal” has died — in the airport where he lived much of his life. Check out this fascinating obit of Mehran Karimi Nasseri in The New York Times from Eduardo Medina.

From the staff of Vox: “All of the 2022 National Book Award Finalists, read and reviewed.”

More resources for journalists

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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