It’s hugely important for our major news organizations to break themselves of the habit of obsessively focusing on what the president says – and instead devote themselves to exploring much more broadly what the White House is doing, and how, and why.

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RECENTLY

The biggest mystery remains: Why was the Capitol left unguarded?

Reporters should be aggressively pursuing this story, and operating under the assumption that Capitol Police leaders either were too racist to see the threat posed by Trump supporters, or looked the other way on purpose.

It took thugs roaming the halls of Congress for the media to speak the truth

It wasn’t until they could point to a guy with face paint and bison horns and a bunch of spittle-flecked bros waving flags that they could bring themselves to say something they were unable to say of people in power.

Mitch McConnell is no more credible or empathetic than Trump, but still gets indulgent press coverage

What political reporters need to do is shift some of their toxicity from Trump to McConnell, whose lies and machinations are much more consequential right now.

Political reporters want a fight with Biden? Fight for transparency!

If, after four years of completely failing to hold Trump accountable, the political press suddenly wants to prove how tough it is, there is a constructive way.

Red alert for reporters as Trump loyalists destroy the evidence on their way out the door

The news that CDC director Robert Redfield forced career staff to delete an incriminating email from a Trump political appointee is a red alert moment for Washington-based reporters, who should fan out to everywhere Trump loyalists could by trying to destroy evidence.

As Biden prepares, political reporters consider extreme GOP obstruction a given, rather than an outrage

The media is already circumscribing Joe Biden’s presidency by insistently positing extreme Republican intransigence and treating it as normal and inevitable.

TRUMP AND THE CORONAVIRUS

OBJECTIVITY

Namby-pamby political journalism isn’t going to reach the truth-deniers

More than 73 million people voted for Trump in the presidential election, suggesting that the strain of overt fact-rejection nurtured by the right wing is still very much with us -- and unlikely to succumb any time soon to more journalistic business-as-usual.

No, Americans are not hankering for more “objectivity” in journalism

A major new survey of public opinion about the news media is being misinterpreted by its sponsors to suggest that Americans don’t think there’s enough objectivity in journalism anymore. I think it shows the opposite.

EXPLAINERS

Horse race

Focus on tactics over substance takes all the meaning out of politics

Taking sides is the ultimate sin for political reporters. That’s why "who’s winning?” and “how are the optics?” are vastly preferable topics than “who’s right?” and “is that a good idea?”
A chart from the Shorenstein Center report "In the Shadow of Kerner: Fifty Years Later, Newsroom Diversity and Equity Stall".

Newsrooms are struggling to cover race

The role of race and racism in American politics has always been significant. These days, it is central to the political divide in our country. Understanding and being able to explain its complexities is essential to cover this moment coherently. And yet the gaze of our elite American newsrooms remains intractably white and male. So they fail.

TIMIDITY

AP, NPR and others suddenly sounding all tough on Trump, but it’s too little and too late

A few weeks of somewhat less mincing coverage of Trump means nothing. It does not mean lessons have been learned. It is no cause for optimism.

Trump threatens Social Security and Medicare and the press yawns

Maybe in a few weeks, it will become conventional wisdom that Trump’s vow to cut the payroll tax was an outrage, an act of impetuousness and malice and lunacy, a gift for his grifter friends. But for now, the news reports won’t tell you what you need to know.

The critical subtext for Trump’s rage against mail-in ballots is that he wants the minority to rule

Political reporters from our top news organizations aren’t falling for Donald Trump’s transparently deceitful campaign to demonize mail-in voting. But they're not putting this latest attempt at voter suppression in its essential context: as part of a massive Republican program to create the possibility of minority rule.

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Welcome to Press Watch, a collaborative project to monitor political reporting and encourage more responsible, informed and informative campaign and government coverage before the 2020 election. Please read more About This Site and be free with your feedback!

Dan Froomkin

Editor in Chief