February 22, 2022

The Russia-Ukraine crisis turned more ominous on Monday as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia would recognize the independence of two territories in Ukraine — the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic — controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.

The Washington Post’s Rachel Pannett and Robyn Dixon wrote it’s “a move that Russia could use to justify an attack in those areas.”

As The New York Times’ Anton Troianovski and Valerie Hopkins wrote, it puts “Europe further along the path to what many fear could be one of the biggest conflicts in Europe since World War II.”

Putin then ordered military forces into those regions with what the Kremlin is calling a “peacekeeping” mission. CNN’s Ivana Kottasová and Tamara Qiblawi wrote, “It is unclear if Russian troop movements marked the beginning of an invasion of Ukraine that Western leaders have warned about for weeks. But multiple US and Western officials warned Monday’s move could serve as the opening salvo of a larger military operation targeting the country.”

This is, obviously, a fluid situation that is moving by the minute. The Washington Post has a live feed of the developments, as does The New York Times and CNN.

Meanwhile, here are some other notable pieces regarding the crisis:


An inconvenient Truth Social

Donald Trump speaking at a rally last month in Arizona. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

A social media platform backed by former President Donald Trump went live late Sunday and was available for download on the Apple App Store. It’s called Truth Social. However, access to it appears to be limited at this time.

The platform got off to a bumpy start as potential users reported delays and problems setting up their accounts. CNN’s Brian Fung wrote, “Users who downloaded the app Monday morning were greeted by a message inviting them to register for the service — but the signup process ended in a waitlist to access the platform that had already grown to more than 150,000.”

In a pretty clever tweet, The Washington Post’s Philip Bump wrote, “Trump’s Truth Unavailable.”

The New York Times’ Kara Swisher, who knows tech as well as any journalist, tweeted, “While it’s perhaps fun to dunk on #TruthSocial, the new Twitter clone from Trump for sign up glitches, it’s not uncommon for there to be tech jams when there is a lot of interest in an app. But I’m still signing up with my burner phone initially as I did with TikTok, because … 1. Possible security issues. 2. Possible privacy issues 3. Annoying marketing issues and 4. Anything this cloaked in secrecy (techies who are running it do not ID themselves?) gives me the willies.”

Appearing on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Devin Nunes — the former Republican congressman who is now CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group — said, “This week, we’ll begin to roll out people on the Apple App store. Our goal is, I think we’re going to hit it, I think by the end of March, we’re going to be fully operational at least within the United States.”

This is Trump’s big social media move after being booted off Twitter and Facebook. Trump and several other media companies are looking to start sites that don’t put constraints on their so-called free speech that Big Tech does. Last October, in announcing the idea of his new platform, Trump said, “We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced. … This is unacceptable.”

The New York Times’ Matthew Goldstein and Ryan Mac wrote, “Millions of users have signed up for these so-called alt-tech or alternative platforms, attracted by the promise of a space untethered by what they consider censorship of conservative voices. The business case for these companies, though, has already proved to be wobbly.”

Why is that?

Shannon McGregor, a professor of journalism and media at the University of North Carolina who has studied social media platforms, told The Times, “There is an audience and a market, but it is not huge. Most people don’t want a version of the internet where anything goes.”

Polk Awards

Winners of the George Polk Awards in Journalism, honoring journalists in 15 categories for their reporting in 2021, were awarded Monday by Long Island University. The awards were established in 1949 and are one of the more prestigious awards in journalism.

Some of the highlights:

  • In National Reporting, The Washington Post won for “The Attack” — a three-part series about the Jan. 6 insurrection.
  • In Foreign Reporting, Maria Abi-Habib, Frances Robles and the staff of The New York Times won for an investigation into the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
  • The international reporting award went to The New Yorker’s Ian Urbina for “The Secretive Prisons That Keep Migrants Out Of Europe.”
  • In Local Reporting, Corey G. Johnson, Rebecca Woolington, Eli Murray and the Poynter-owned Tampa Bay Times won for an investigation revealing unsafe conditions at Gopher Resource, a lead-smelting factory.
  • The award for State Reporting went to two reporters from the Miami Herald — Carol Marbin Miller and Daniel Chang — as well as ProPublica for “Birth & Betrayal.” That was a series that exposed the consequence of a 1988 law designed to shelter medical providers from lawsuits by funding lifelong care for children severely disabled by birth-related brain injuries.
  • CNN’s Clarissa Ward and her crew were honored for Foreign Television Reporting for their dramatic real-time coverage of the rapid rise of the Taliban as U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan.
  • The award for National Television Reporting went to A.C.Thompson of ProPublica, along with PBS Frontline and the Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program, for “American Insurrection.” It was a chilling look into the far-right extremist activity across the country.
  • Reporter Jeff Horwitz and the staff of The Wall Street Journal won the Business Reporting award for their “Facebook Files” series, which included internal documents from a whistleblower and exposed the dangers of the social media giant.

Here’s the complete list of winners, which also include awards for reporting in subjects such as military, environmental, medical, political and magazines, among others.

Neil Cavuto, thankfully, back on the air

Neil Cavuto, in a photo from 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Fox Business’ Neil Cavuto was back on the air Monday after more than a month and he explained why he had been out. He said he had contracted COVID-19 for a second time and had what doctors call COVID pneumonia. This after testing positive for COVID-19 previously in October.

“It landed me in intensive care for quite a while and it really was touch-and-go,” Cavuto said. “Some of you who wanted to put me out of my misery darn near got what you wished for. Sorry to disappoint you, but the vaccine did not cause that. That grassy knoll theory has come up a lot.”

Cavuto reminded viewers that his immune system is compromised because he had cancer and has multiple sclerosis.

“But let me be clear,” Cavuto said, “doctors say that had I not been vaccinated at all, I wouldn’t be here. It provided some defense, but that is still better than no defense.”

Cavuto went on to say, “This was scary. How scary? I’m talking ‘Ponderosa suddenly out of the prime rib in the middle of the buffet line’ scary. That’s how scary.”

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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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