Why the Orlando Sentinel un-endorsed Trump on Tuesday, plus an AP jail investigation and a binge-worthy murder podcast

Your Wednesday news roundup

June 19, 2019
Category: Newsletters

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June 19, 2019

Good morning. Here we are, the morning after President Donald Trump launched his re-election campaign. And that’s where we start — in Orlando, where Trump wasn’t the only one making news.

Trump’s kick off, down the street from a kiss-off

The Orlando Sentinel ran an anti-endorsement of the sitting president as he rallied for re-election.

On the day President Donald Trump kicked off his re-election campaign in Orlando, one newspaper said it will not endorse him. That paper just happened to be down the street from where Trump was speaking.

In a scathing takedown, the Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board wouldn’t say which candidate it was endorsing, but it already knows who it won’t endorse: Trump.

The board, which operates independently of the newsroom, wrote:

“Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent.

Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies. 

So many lies — from white lies to whoppers — told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity.”

The Sentinel’s editorial also said, “Trump’s successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency.”

The Sentinel seized the moment, even though we’re 17 months before the 2020 presidential election and a year before we even know for sure who he will run against.

“It wasn’t your typical rally,” Sentinel opinions editor Mike Lafferty told me by phone Tuesday afternoon. “Somehow the idea emerged that maybe we could just go ahead and put down our markers as to where we’re going to head next year. We already had come to the conclusion based on the first couple of years of the administration that we weren’t going to be able to endorse him, so we thought we might as well go ahead and say that while there was some attention focused on Orlando.”

Lafferty said it’s possible the board won’t endorse anyone in 2020. In fact, the Sentinel did that in 1980 when it refused to endorse either Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter.

Lafferty also said it’s possible, although unlikely, Trump could handle a national emergency with such grace and effectiveness that the Sentinel would walk back its non-endorsement. Lafferty also admitted that it’s not an easy decision to endorse or, in this case, not endorse, a candidate.

“But, it just didn’t seem to make sense to put off what seemed inevitable,” Lafferty said.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Lafferty said reader reaction to the Sentinel’s stance was running about “50-50.” You can read more here.


A quiet tragedy

An Associated Press investigation explored the jail/suicide phenomenon that’s the leading cause of death of inmates.

Melany Zoumadakis clutches a photo of her daughter, Tanna Jo Fillmore, who killed herself in jail in 2016, after repeatedly calling her mother, saying she was being denied her prescription medicines. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Here’s a shocking claim from an Associated Press investigation: Many U.S. jails fail to stop inmate suicides. AP reviewed 165 lawsuits involving suicides or attempted suicides and found:

  • A third of inmates allegedly weren’t given their prescription medicines.

  • Inmates often weren’t checked on regularly.

  • More than half of suicides or attempts happened in the first week and about 80% were still awaiting trial.

  • Clothing, bedsheets and shower curtains were often used and some inmates were given razors despite warnings that they might harm themselves.

The most recent study conducted five years ago showed that suicide is the leading cause of death for people incarcerated in the United States: 50 for every 100,000 inmates. That’s 3 ½ times the general population. The full report — a joint investigation by The Associated Press and the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service, written by AP’s Sharon Cohen and University of Maryland student Nora Eckert — also includes the personal stories of families affected by these suicides.

Walk the rainbow

A New York Times story explores the city’s gay history through a walking tour that can be traversed virtually or in real life.

Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

I cannot recommend this enough: To celebrate Gay Pride Month, The New York Times has a walking tour of 11 landmarks in gay New York, from Harlem to the West Village. The cool part is you don’t have to actually be walking through New York to enjoy it.

The piece, which uses historical and current photographs and audio, is narrated by Times reporter Pierre-Antoine Louis, who says in the introduction, “Once I discovered this side of New York, it changed my life. Not only did I start feeling more comfortable being my gay self, these spaces helped my friends and I understand that we were not alone.”

This is the kind of work that sets the Times apart from most news outlets, yet it’s the kind of journalism that can be replicated by other media organizations.

Your next binge

An NPR podcast explorers the history of a murder in Selma, Alabama, more than 50 years after it happened.

Screenshot, NPR

In 1965, right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, a white minister was murdered in Selma, Alabama. Three men were tried and acquitted. For more than 50 years, the truth was buried. Now, in an amazing podcast and companion piece by NPR called “White Lies,” the real story is revealed. (The pod has been out a while, but now you can listen to six of the seven episodes before the last one is released next Tuesday.)

A lot of what NPR uses, which adds incredible detail to this narrative, is from 1965, including images and language that might be disturbing. But it is can’t-miss journalism.


Policy questions

NBC’s Harry Smith has a series of one-on-ones with the Democratic presidential candidates.

Photo courtesy of NBC News.

“NBC Nightly News” is in the midst of a series called “My Big Idea” where correspondent Harry Smith interviews the top democratic candidates about a single policy idea they’re proposing. The interviews, each just a couple of minutes long, will run up until the first Democratic debates June 26-27.

So far, Smith has spoken to Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg. Amy Klobuchar is scheduled for tonight’s “NBC Nightly News,” with Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang scheduled for later this week.

And the winner is …

The 2019 Edward R. Murrow Awards — recognizing excellence in audio, video and digital reporting — were announced Tuesday by the Radio Television Digital News Association.

ABC News was the big winner, taking home the award for overall excellence in the network television category. In the Radio Network category, CBS News Radio wonfor overall excellence. The Seattle Times won for overall excellence for large digital news organizations.

Hot type

A list of great journalism and intriguing media.

Michelle Beadle in 2015. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)

  • New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand writes that Michelle Beadle’s time at ESPN is in peril because she is viewed as a “bad teammate.”
  • Lots of useful info in Ren LaForme’s latest “Try This!” digital tools newsletter, including how to fix your noisy video chats and improve your newsletters.
  • Reuters’ M.B. Pell with the infuriating story of how a U.S. Air Force landlord falsified records to get bonuses while families waited on much-needed repairs.
  • ProPublica’s Annie Waldman finds that “Walton foundation, a staunch supporter of school choice and Teach for America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school.”

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

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Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that the jail suicide investigation by The Associated Press was a joint project with the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service, and that one of the authors was a student.