August 16, 2022

Lots of links in today’s Poynter Report. Let’s get started with the news of the day.

Rudy Giuliani, once respected as America’s mayor following the attacks on Sept. 11, learned Monday of the potential consequences of his dedication to former President Donald Trump. Giuliani found out he is the target of a criminal investigation into election interference in Georgia.

Now, as The New York Times’ Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim point out, “Being so identified does not guarantee that a person will be indicted; rather, it usually means that prosecutors believe an indictment is possible, based on evidence they have seen up to that point.”

Fausset and Hakim go to to write, “Mr. Giuliani, who as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer spearheaded efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power, emerged in recent weeks as a central figure in the inquiry being conducted by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., which encompasses most of Atlanta.”

CNN’s Sara Murray and Jason Morris write, “The development for Giuliani marks the first time a close adviser to Trump has been notified he is a target in a criminal investigation into the then-President’s inner circle around the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. Both the Georgia grand jury and the Justice Department are investigating the post-election efforts to help Trump retain his office.”

There was more bad news in Trump world Monday as a federal judge ruled South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham must testify before a grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

Meanwhile, check out this whopper of an opening paragraph from The Washington Post’s Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron C. Davis and Amy Gardner: “A team of computer experts directed by lawyers allied with President Donald Trump copied sensitive data from election systems in Georgia as part of a secretive, multistate effort to access voting equipment that was broader, more organized and more successful than previously reported, according to emails and other records obtained by The Washington Post.”

The story continues: “As they worked to overturn Trump’s 2020 election defeat, the lawyers asked a forensic data firm to access county election systems in at least three battleground states, according to the documents and interviews. The firm charged an upfront retainer fee for each job, which in one case was $26,000.”

The point of highlighting this story is to show the superb hustle from news organizations — in this case, The Washington Post — to continue to debunk Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was rigged.

The Post story is an important read, which leads me to …

Why is this story still important?

Many readers might ask: “Why are we still talking about this? Trump lost. Who cares what he says now?”

The Washington Post’s Amy Gardner has a story with this disheartening headline: “Election deniers march toward power in key 2024 battlegrounds.”

Gardner reports some jaw-dropping numbers.

Of the 87 GOP nominees for battleground state offices with a say in election certification, 54 have raised questions about the veracity of the 2020 presidential election.

That includes 12 of 13 candidates in Arizona; 13 of 19 in Georgia; 10 of 16 in Michigan; 5 of 9 in Nevada; 10 of 19 in Pennsylvania; and 4 of 11 in Wisconsin.

Gardner wrote, “Had those candidates held power in 2020, they would have had the electoral clout to try something that the current officeholders refused: overturning the vote and denying Biden the presidency.”

Gardner points out that it’s not so easy for officials to actually pull off overturning a fairly held result.

“But,” Gardner wrote, “the experts agree on one thing: A close presidential contest that comes down to the outcome in states where officials are willing to try to thwart the popular will could throw the country into chaos. It would potentially delay the result, undermine confidence in the democratic system and sow the seeds of civil strife on a scale even greater than what the nation saw on Jan. 6, 2021.”

That’s why these stories continue to be important.

The latest from Ukraine

A man looks out from an apartment destroyed after Russian shelling in Nikopol, Ukraine, on Monday. (AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)

The war in Ukraine continues. Other stories in the United States — Trump, abortion, elections — have pushed the war off the front page and opening block of the network news, but it very much remains a story we need to follow. Journalists continue to do notable work, and here is some of the latest to catch up on:

Powerful story

The Atlantic’s editorial fellow Bushra Seddique has a powerful piece just out: “My Escape From the Taliban.” In her debut piece for The Atlantic, Seddique writes about the evacuation process and what it was like for the families who remain in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

Seddique writes about life before her country fell to the Taliban: “I was 21 and had recently started working for a newspaper, which had me traveling around the city reporting. I loved writing about people, especially the poor, whose voices were rarely heard. I wrote about how they lived, the problems they faced, the joy they experienced regardless.”

Then, after the Taliban took over, Seddique got a text from a German writer and friend who told her she had gotten Seddique and her two younger sisters on the list for a flight to Frankfurt. Seddique writes:

“‘What about my mom?’ I asked. She didn’t reply for a moment. ‘I was not able to get her on this flight,’ she answered. Please, I begged her: ‘My brothers are gone and my father is living with his second wife. She just has us, no one else, for God’s sake please do something.’ But there was nothing she could do. ‘These are the names that they offered me,’ she wrote. ‘I know it’s a terrible choice.’ She said we had 20 minutes to decide whether to stay or go.”

That was just the beginning of Seddique’s journey to get to the airport and out of Afghanistan.

Now living in Washington, D.C., Seddique writes, “No one is left to chronicle how Afghans are paying the price for the Taliban’s victory. Activists are arrested, and journalists are forbidden from reporting the truth. It is hard to be an exile, but it would be harder still to be silenced. I smuggled my laptop past the Taliban and carried it across continents to a free country so I could write this story, so I could tell you this.”

On that topic

Here’s another must-read story about fleeing Afghanistan: Los Angeles Times foreign correspondent Marcus Yam with “The things they carried when they fled Afghanistan.”

Yam, who also took superb photos for the piece, tells the story of four refugees who ended up in Paris and the objects they brought with them to remember what they left behind.

And one more. This one is a few days old, but well worth the time. The Washington Post’s Susannah George (with photos by Lorenzo Tugnoli) with “A year of peace in one of Afghanistan’s deadliest provinces.”

Alex Wagner takes over

MSNBC’s Alex Wagner. (Photo courtesy of MSNBC)

“Alex Wagner Tonight” premieres tonight on MSNBC at 9 p.m. Wagner is stepping in on Tuesdays through Fridays for Rachel Maddow, who is cutting back on hosting while working on other projects. Maddow is only hosting on Monday and special news days.

Wagner told The Hill’s Dominick Mastrangelo, “Anybody would be misguided if they tried to replicate what Rachel does. This is going to be a different hour of television. It’s going to be an evolution. I’m not sure that we’re going to have the same long write-through to start the hour. I think you’re going to see more interview-focused segments, and I think you’ll see field segments as well. We’re going to bring in some new stuff that’s reflective of my career and strengths as a journalist. The best thing you can do is make a show that is reflective and true and authentic to you as a host.”


The Daily Beast has launched a new brand called Obsessed, which will cover pop culture, including reviews, interviews, news and more on today’s streaming landscape. It will be led by Kevin Fallon, Marlow Stern and Allegra Frank.

In a release, Fallon said, “Entertainment isn’t one-size-fits-all — streaming has exploded, and it’s never been more fun to bond with our readers over all there is to rant and rave about. With Obsessed we are helping readers feed their fandom with everything from high-profile interviews to voice-y reviews with the sass and bravado you’ve come to expect from The Beast. This is truly content worth binging.”

It should be noted that Paramount + signed on as a launch partner.

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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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