By:
May 9, 2022

It was only a week ago today that Politico dropped its bombshell report — a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that five judges were prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade.

A spokesperson from Politico told CNN’s Oliver Darcy that it was the most-trafficked story in the outlet’s 15-year history. Even before this past weekend, the story had nearly reached 11 million views.

Dafna Linzer, executive editor of Politico, was a guest on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN and told host Brian Stelter that there were two issues to consider before publishing the blockbuster story: Was the document authentic and was it in the public’s interest to publish it?

“Once we knew it was authentic,” Linzer said, “we knew it was in the public interest and we were ready to go.”

Linzer, as you would expect, did not talk about the source of the draft opinion or how Politico obtained it, but she was 100% certain it was authentic.

She said, “I think we were all fully aware of just how unprecedented something like this is — to be able to peek inside internal deliberations of the Supreme Court, which is not exactly the most transparent branch of government. And getting a good sense of that, we understood … that it was a story, very much a Politico story actually, because it is as meaningful and as important to people across the political spectrum. People feel as passionate and invested in the outcome of this case regardless of their party affiliation.”

The latest interesting reads surrounding Roe v. Wade news

Live from New York …

“Saturday Night Live,” as expected, weighed in on the Roe v. Wade debate, starting with a cold open featuring host Benedict Cumberbatch and set in 13th-century England. It started with an announcer saying, “We now go to that profound moment of moral clarity, almost a thousand years ago, which laid such a clear foundation for what our laws should be in 2022.”

The skit also poked fun at the leak with Cumberbatch’s character saying, “Let’s be careful, the worst thing that could happen is that someone leaks this conversation to the town crier.”

Weekend Update also had several comments about the topic, including cast member Kate McKinnon playing Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

What about leaks?

No, this isn’t about Politico getting the Supreme Court draft opinion about Roe v. Wade. Late last week, The New York Times’ Julian E. Barnes, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt wrote this: “The United States has provided intelligence about Russian units that has allowed Ukrainians to target and kill many of the Russian generals who have died in action in the Ukraine war, according to senior American officials.”

The next day, NBC News’ Ken Dilanian, Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee reported, “Intelligence shared by the U.S. helped Ukraine sink the Russian cruiser Moskva, U.S. officials told NBC News, confirming an American role in perhaps the most embarrassing blow to Vladimir Putin’s troubled invasion of Ukraine.”

Then the day after that, New York Times’ opinion columnist Thomas L. Friedman wrote, “As a journalist, I love a good leak story, and the reporters who broke those stories did powerful digging. At the same time, from everything I have been able to glean from senior U.S. officials, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, the leaks were not part of any thought-out strategy, and President Biden was livid about them. I’m told that he called the director of national intelligence, the director of the C.I.A. and the secretary of defense to make clear in the strongest and most colorful language that this kind of loose talk is reckless and has got to stop immediately — before we end up in an unintended war with Russia.”

What about the media outlets reporting these stories? David French, senior editor at The Dispatch and contributor to The Atlantic, told CNN’s Brian Stelter that this is different from reporting on a story that could, as a result, jeopardize lives.

“What we’re talking about here is the conduct of a nation and the conduct of our intelligence agencies and … the most important, arguably, story in the world right now,” French said. “And I think what’s important here is that I’m seriously doubtful this is news to the Russians. If you’re talking about the ability of Ukrainians to uncanningly target key Russian military targets, that is something that logic suggests is sort of outside of the capability of the Ukrainian military acting alone.”

French continued, “I do think the main problem, as a practical matter with the leak, is the sense that the administration officials are bragging about it. That it’s something that they’re trying to throw into Russians face or … take political credit. … And that’s where it gets a bit more dangerous because what’s happening is they’re essentially dunking on the Russians in public, so to speak.”

First Lady Jill Biden greets Olena Zelenska, spouse of Ukrainian’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, on Sunday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

 

Notable journalism from Russia-Ukraine

Another journalist murdered in Mexico

Luis Enrique Ramirez, a veteran journalist and columnist at El Debate in Mexico, was found dead in the northwestern state of Sinaloa last week. Authorities say he died from multiple blows to the head. His body was wrapped in black plastic and left on the side of a highway. It has been reported by several outlets that Ramirez is the ninth media worker killed in Mexico this year.

Outside of war zones, Mexico has been considered the most dangerous place for journalists. Reporters Without Borders reports nearly 50 journalists have been killed in Mexico over the past five years.

Reuters wrote, “Ramirez had previously been on the receiving end of ‘aggressions’, Juan Vazquez of Article 19, a human rights organization dedicated to press freedom, told Reuters.”

What’s next for Jen Psaki?

This will be Jen Psaki’s final week as White House press secretary. As was reported last week, deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will take over for Psaki.

While not a done deal, Psaki is expected to go to work for MSNBC later this year. Could she end up in the coveted 9 p.m. time slot that used to be hosted regularly by Rachel Maddow? Maddow is currently only hosting on Mondays as she transitions to other projects.

I’m hardly alone in thinking this — for example, CNN’s Brian Lowry has said this as well — but doesn’t that seem like a big jump, from White House press secretary to one of the most coveted chairs in cable news? Psaki is a big name, of course, and you want a big name in that slot.

But while Psaki is graceful under pressure on a daily basis as White House press secretary, it still feels like a stretch to have her as Maddow’s permanent replacement.

The Los Angeles Times’ Stephen Battaglio reported last month that Psaki also will have a presence on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service.

Chuck Todd’s move

NBC News announced last week that Chuck Todd’s “MTP Daily” is moving from MSNBC to NBC News NOW. It will be called “Meet the Press NOW” and stream daily at 4 p.m. Eastern starting June 6.

In a statement, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim said, “Chuck was one of the first broadcast anchors to see the massive potential of streaming, and bringing ‘Meet the Press’s’ daily franchise to NBC News NOW reinforces the platform’s status as the destination for news on streaming.”

Variety’s Brian Steinberg wrote, “Todd’s exit from MSNBC comes as that cable outlet is de-emphasizing straight-news programming and playing up shows anchored by commentators, analysts and political experts.”

New MSNBC host Symone Sanders, on the debut of her show “Symone” on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of MSNBC)

Opening show

Symone Sanders, a former senior adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris, debuted her new MSNBC show over the weekend, interviewing First Lady Jill Biden.

Sanders said on air, “Before my first show ends, a few things about me. You may know me from my work in politics. The presidential campaigns of Senator Bernie Sanders and President Biden or advising Vice President Harris. … I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to sit at the table where big decisions were made. I built a successful career speaking for other people, but now I have something to say.

“As a little girl growing up in North Omaha, Nebraska, I used to talk into a spoon or a hairbrush pretending to be a news anchor. Donna Burns was her name. Now, I stand here in the D.C. bureau with a show named after me. It’s a full circle moment and I’m filled with gratitude.”

She added, “I know I have a responsibility. I promise to bring you an inside look at important political stories that impact you — I’m not just talking about here in Washington … but across our country where it’s all going on. We’re going to get insight from some heavy hitters, plus we are going to talk culture.”

Media tidbits

  • The Associated Press’ David Bauder with “Detailed ‘open source’ news investigations are catching on.” As Bauder describes it, open-source reporting is “using publicly available material like satellite images, mobile phone or security camera recordings, geolocation and other internet tools to tell stories.” And we’ve seen plenty of excellent examples in recent weeks in coverage of the war in Ukraine.
  • The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple with “Tucker Carlson, workplace menace.”
  • The longest of long shots in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby pulled off the shocking upset. I love this overhead camera work of Rich Strike’s come-from-behind stunner.
  • The Pulitzer Prizes will be announced this afternoon. Poynter will have extensive coverage, as will my Tuesday newsletter.

Hot type

The New York Times’ Matt Richtel spent more than a year reporting: “Hundreds of Suicidal Teens Sleep in Emergency Rooms. Every Night.”

From Sunday night’s “60 Minutes”: “Former defense secretary Mark Esper: President Trump suggested shooting protesters, missile strikes in Mexico.”

The Washington Post’s Katie Shepherd and Joe Heim with “The lucky few to never get coronavirus could teach us more about it.”

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

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

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