July 19, 2022

Hey, everybody. I’m back from a summer break.

But, after returning from a trip to New York City with my wife, I realized I had picked up a souvenir: COVID-19. (It hasn’t been too bad, but I should have gotten an “I Heart NY” T-shirt instead.)

I’m easing back into the newsletter this week and I start today with a few notable media notes.

The latest from Uvalde

“Systemic failures.” That’s how a special Texas House committee described law enforcement response in a 77-page report about the mass shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24.

Nearly 400 officers, including some from federal agencies, were on the scene that day, but took an “overall lackadaisical approach,” according to the report.

The New York Times’ J. David Goodman and Edgar Sandoval wrote, “The findings represented the most complete outside account of what took place during the 77 minutes between when the gunman began firing inside the classrooms and when the police finally stormed in and ended the May 24 massacre that left 19 students and two teachers dead. But the report found that a flawless police response would not have saved most of the victims, who suffered devastating injuries when they were shot with a high-powered AR-15-style rifle by a gunman who had been waiting for his 18th birthday to purchase the weapon legally.”

Writing for CNN, Emma Tucker, Shimon Prokupecz, Dakin Andone and Peter Nickeas have “5 key takeaways from the Uvalde shooting report and video revealing failures in law enforcement response.”

Meanwhile, Prokupecz obtained police body cam video that hadn’t been seen publicly before now. It shows just how chaotic it was inside the school that day, and just how indecisive law enforcement had been.

MSNBC opinion columnist Frank Figliuzzi has a new column: “It’s time to talk about criminal charges for Uvalde police leaders.” During an appearance on Monday’s “Morning Joe,” Figliuzzi told co-host Mika Brzezinski that it wasn’t easy for him to write such a column because he used to carry a badge. He was the assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI and served 25 years as a special agent.

In his column, Figliuzzi wrote, “I instinctively give the benefit of the doubt to cops because I know they have one of the toughest jobs in our society. When I discuss police use of deadly force as a television analyst, I usually remind viewers that we weren’t there, initial appearances are often incomplete, and we need to wait for more facts.”

However, Figliuzzi wrote, “I watched the entire video. I heard the crack of over 100 rounds fired by the shooter. I watched through the perspective of a 25-year law enforcement veteran and as the former head of internal shooting inquiries for the FBI. I watched as a parent and grandparent. What I saw didn’t answer all of my questions, but it did prompt a new one: Was the Uvalde shooter the only criminal in the school that day? Because what I saw in that school video, in my professional opinion, may be a crime — by the police.”

The media has taken criticism for its relentless pursuit of the truth about what happened that horrific day, and the more we learn, the more we realize that many questions still remain unanswered. And that pursuit of the truth is more important than ever.

Meanwhile …

I read a piece on from Adam Charlton, the outgoing executive producer of “CNN Newsroom With Pamela Brown,” and found it heartbreaking. The headline: “The fear of gun violence is ending my American dream.” Charlton and his wife are from the United Kingdom but now live in the United States, where both of their children were born.

Charlton writes, “… the tragedy of modern America is that it is mired in a civil war. Two political tribes, talking past one another, which has supercharged a now violent culture fueled by the idolization of guns.”

You don’t have to be from another country to find the current state of affairs in this country disturbing.

Pulitzer Board stands by its awards

The Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2018 went to The New York Times and The Washington Post for their coverage of Russian interference in the U.S. election and its connections to the Donald Trump campaign.

Trump — and some of his supporters — have complained that the Times and Post should have their awards rescinded. Trump has repeatedly argued that the articles were based on “false reporting” and called the stories “no more than a politically motivated farce which attempted to spin a false narrative that my campaign supposedly colluded with Russia despite a complete lack of evidence underpinning this allegation.”

On Monday, the Pulitzer Board put out a statement saying that the awards will stand. The board never mentions Trump by name, but said it commissioned “two independent reviews of the work submitted by those organizations to our National Reporting competition. Both reviews were conducted by individuals with no connection to the institutions whose work was under examination, nor any connection to each other. The separate reviews converged in their conclusions: that no passages or headlines, contentions or assertions in any of the winning submissions were discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes.”

The statement concluded with, “The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes in National Reporting stand.”

Cover story

NBC’s “Today” show is launching its first-ever digital cover series today. The first cover is Issa Rae. It will run quarterly across and all of Today’s platforms, including broadcast, streaming and social.

Variety’s Brian Steinberg wrote, “The belief is that a series of deep-dive stories on newsmakers and cultural figures launched via the show’s digital channels will lure new audiences interested in lifestyle and consumer news.”

Libby Leist, senior vice president of “Today” and NBC News, told Steinberg, “We are definitely in a competitive space, and the advantage we have is the amplification of content across different platforms. Nobody else has a broadcast, a digital site, a streaming channel, radio shows from SiriusXM and a podcast and newsletters. We are really trying to age down our audience across the brand. … Digital and social platforms are a great way to do that, a reinvention of the ‘Today’ brand for newer and younger audiences.”

Man, it’s hot

A police officer gives water to a British soldier wearing a traditional bearskin hat, on guard duty outside Buckingham Palace, during hot weather in London on Monday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Here’s something I never knew before now: The best estimate is less than 5% of the homes in Britain have air conditioning. I learned that from The New York Times’ Daniel Victor, who wrote, “While a handful of days each summer are typically unpleasant, many Britons will say there simply aren’t enough difficult days and nights in the usually mild climate to make air conditioning a worthy investment. Many also view it as unnecessary and environmentally harmful, with a fan pointed at the bed considered to be just fine for a few nights per year.”

So why do I bring this up? Because Britain, and other parts of Europe, are experiencing what some authorities are calling a “heat apocalypse.” Temperatures are soaring into triple digits Fahrenheit with several spots setting all-time records. Britain had some spots reach 106 degrees on Monday. Parts of France got to 104 degrees and are expected to exceed that today.

And isn’t it interesting that on Monday, Prince Harry spoke at length about climate change before the United Nations General Assembly? CBS News’ Pamela Falk has more in “On Nelson Mandela Day at U.N., Prince Harry tells world leaders to ‘be brave’ in face of climate change and other crises.”

Poor decision

What in the world were they thinking? Someone at Fox Sports stepped in it Saturday night when putting together a graphic to run during the Yankees-Red Sox game of the week. With the game in New York City, someone thought it would be clever to superimpose the emblems of the two teams over top of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The graphic was immediately slammed on social media.

NBC News’ Carol Eggers tweeted, “Can someone tell ⁦@FOXSports never to do this again? Beyond offensive.”

The Big Lead editor-in-chief Kyle Koster tweeted, “I am calling for total graphic creation shutdown until we figure out what the hell is going on.”

Those are just two of dozens.

And Keith Olbermann went to extremes by tweeting, “FIRE. EVERYBODY. TONIGHT.”

A day after the game, Fox Sports put out a statement to several news outlets that said, “During last night’s telecast, we used poor judgment on the use of a graphic. We sincerely apologize and regret the decision.”

LIV Golf attracts top analyst

LIV Golf is controversial. The rival to the PGA Tour has attracted several of the world’s best golfers despite being backed financially by the Saudi government — a government with a poor human rights record and a belief that it was behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Now it has attracted a top golf analyst. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that David Feherty has left NBC Sports and will call eight to 10 LIV Golf events a year. In addition, Turner Sports NBA analyst and golf enthusiast Charles Barkley said last week that LIV Golf asked him to meet and he said he would.

Feherty is popular among golf fans after more than 20 years at CBS Sports and then seven more at NBC/Golf Channel. His offbeat style was a welcome and noticeable departure from years of traditional golf announcing full of stuffy and dry analysis.

Must-see journalism

Dr. Anthony Fauci. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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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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