September 1, 2022

I would refer to the news that broke in the wee hours of Wednesday morning as a bombshell, but when it comes to Donald Trump, that word has become a bit of a cliche.

Explosive? Game-changing?

Who knows?

But it certainly was something.

The Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett wrote it this way: “Former president Donald Trump and his advisers repeatedly failed to turn over highly classified government documents even after receiving a subpoena and pledging that a ‘diligent search’ had been conducted, leading to an FBI raid of his Florida home that found more than 100 additional classified items, according to a blistering court filing by federal prosecutors late Tuesday.”

Barrett added, “The filing traces the extraordinary saga of government officials’ repeated efforts to recover sensitive national security papers from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club …”

So the Post called it “blistering” and “extraordinary.” That covers it.

But, what does it all mean?

Well, for those looking to catch up, let me point you in the right direction.

First, in an excellent explainer, The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips had three takeaways from the government filing about what was hidden at Mar-a-Lago:

  • Prosecutors may focus on whether obstruction was committed.
  • There’s still no evidence Trump declassified any of this before he took it.
  • We still don’t know why Trump took — and apparently insisted on keeping — these documents.

Phillips wrote that the last takeaway — the why of it — is “one of the biggest mysteries of this whole saga.”

By now, you’ve likely seen the photo of the classified documents laid out on the floor at Mar-A-Lago. In another must-read Washington Post piece, Philip Bump has “The photo of classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, annotated.” Bump goes through the details, including what the security codes on the documents stand for.

CNN security correspondent Josh Campbell also had excellent analysis in this video explaining what was found in the photo, including the significance of those findings, as well as the markings of security clearance and what they mean. At one point, Campbell pointed out magazines next to classified documents, saying, “Now, you can store magazine covers in a sensitive compartment and facility. You can’t store classified information in a magazine closet.”

He also went through the very basics, including what “top secret” and “secret” meant.

Here are a few other notable pieces about Wednesday morning’s breaking news:

Chuck Todd and NBC respond

In Wednesday’s Poynter Report, I linked to a Daily Beast newsletter item that suggested Chuck Todd’s days as moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press” might be numbered. The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Cartwright wrote that new “MTP” executive producer David P. Gelles is “deciding what to do about” Todd and that NBC’s Kristen Welker might be the future host of the Sunday morning show.

It doesn’t appear Todd was bothered by the speculation. In fact, he even had a little fun with it. On Wednesday, Todd tweeted a link to about Mark Twain’s famous saying, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Meanwhile, an NBC News spokesperson told the Poynter Report: “We are immensely proud of Meet the Press – its legacy, its purpose, and its growth with new audiences. We are especially proud of Chuck’s leadership and continued commitment to engaging a whole new generation of viewers in ways the program’s Washington peers are only beginning to imagine. That’s been our focus since day one and it continues to pay off for the brand.”

As I wrote in Wednesday’s newsletter, I think Todd does a solid job on “Meet the Press,” which continues to be a must-watch each and every Sunday.

Young people and the news

Young people do follow the news. But their trust in the press is low, many have digital fatigue and they worry about misinformation.

Those are the general findings of the Media Insight Project, which was a partnership between the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

First off, how are we defining “young people?” In this case, it’s members of the Gen Z and millennial generations — meaning 16- to 40-year-olds.

The study shows that 79% get news daily. They (71%) often get their news from social media, but they (about 45%) also get it from traditional news outlets and follow a variety of topics, including “hard news.”

The Associated Press’ David Bauder writes, “The report pokes holes in the idea that young people aren’t interested in news, a perception largely driven by statistics showing older audiences for television news and newspapers.”

Michael Bolden, CEO and executive director of the American Press Institute, told Bauder, “They are more engaged in more ways than people give them credit for.”

They might be engaged, but they do have concerns and preferences about the news they consume. The report states, “Majorities, for instance, want news outlets to be fair to all sides, be neutral, and be accurate. They also want the news to provide diverse points of view, and to help people understand communities and people unlike their own.  At the same time, these Americans show unmistakable signs of news fatigue and are deeply troubled by misinformation online. Fewer 16- to 40-year-olds than seven years ago say they enjoy getting news, and they are talking less with friends and family about the news. Many also report feeling worn out by being online. And, overwhelmingly, Americans ages 16 to 40 worry about deception and misinformation. Fully 9 out of 10 feel misinformation is a problem.”

An encouraging sign is that about a third said they paid for at least one news product.

Gannett layoffs

We all knew that Gannett had extensive layoffs more than two weeks ago. Now we know just how extensive. In a companywide Q&A, Gannett CEO Mike Reed told staff that Gannett laid off 3% of its U.S. workforce, or roughly 400 employees. That’s what three sources confirmed to my Poynter colleague Angela Fu.

In her story for Poynter, Fu wrote, “CFO Doug Horne, who was also present at the meeting, told staff that in addition to the layoffs, Gannett would not fill 400 open positions. Executives said the company slashed its marketing budget and made other non-payroll cost reductions, according to two people at the meeting. Gannett also reduced its executive team from 10 members to seven as part of a restructuring announced in June. Spokesperson Lark-Marie Anton confirmed these announcements but declined to comment further on the meeting. She did not answer questions about who was affected by the layoffs or whether Gannett has more cuts planned for the near future.”

Fu added, “It remains unclear how many of the 400 layoffs were journalists and which newspapers and departments were affected. Poynter, which has been tracking the layoffs, has found at least 68 impacted newsrooms, including flagship paper USA Today.”

Ashley Judd shares her thoughts

Ashley Judd, left, and her sister, Wynonna Judd, speak during a tribute to their mother, country music star Naomi Judd, last May in Nashville. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Actress Ashley Judd wrote a guest essay for The New York Times on Wednesday, talking about the suicide of her mother — country singer Naomi Judd — earlier this year. The purpose of the essay was to speak out about laws that generally allow police reports, including interviews, from closed investigations to be made public.

Judd wrote, “Family members who have lost a loved one are often revictimized by laws that can expose their most private moments to the public.”

Judd recounted her story of giving four interviews with authorities as her mother was dying, writing, “And at a time when we ourselves were trying desperately to decode what might have prompted her to take her life on that day, we each shared everything we could think of about Mom, her mental illness and its agonizing history.”

Judd was quick to point out that police were simply doing their jobs, but she doesn’t want statements made when she and her family were “vulnerable” to be made public. She wrote, “This profoundly intimate personal and medical information does not belong in the press, on the internet or anywhere except in our memories. We have asked the court to not release these documents not because we have secrets. … We ask because privacy in death is a death with more dignity. And for those left behind, privacy avoids heaping further harm upon a family that is already permanently and painfully altered.”

She later added, “I hope that leaders in Washington and in state capitals will provide some basic protections for those involved in the police response to mental health emergencies. Those emergencies are tragedies, not grist for public spectacle.”

In a part of a Twitter thread, Judd wrote, “We have shared our story so openly, to raise awareness, reduce stigma, to help people identify, and make sure we all know we face mental illness together. What more do folks want us to give of our grief?”

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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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