On Tuesday, a bombshell report dropped in the New York Times that gave a detailed and damning account of the machinations behind President Donald Trump’s immigration policy. Most explosive of all, the report found that Trump told officials that they should be shooting migrants in the legs to slow them down during commotion at the border, contrary to U.S. law.
It was remarkable reporting that appeared to expose Trump’s brutality, ignorance of the law, disdain for human rights, and abuse of power. Arguably, the direction is an impeachable offense in its own right. But in light of the importance of the claims it contained, the piece also inspired sharp criticism.
The conversations the reporters Michael Shear and Julie Davis described in the story took place in March 2019 — but they were only published now, at the beginning of October. It’s not clear when the reporters learned of the most serious details in the piece, but the report is actually an adapted excerpt of their upcoming book, “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration,” which will be published on Oct. 8 — in one week. And some of the findings the excerpt confirms, such as Trump ordering border agents to break the law and deny entry to asylum-seekers, have previously been reported months ago.
All this strongly suggests that the Shear and Davis have had the information about Trump’s direction that migrants be shot in the legs, but they have been waiting to make it public until it would be advantageous for their book’s publication. Reporters keeping major details of their reporting a secret until publication of a book is quite common, but especially in this case, many argued that it should be unacceptable as a matter of journalistic ethics.
If you have pertinent, alarming, and corroborated information about the most powerful man in the world, some claimed, you have an obligation to make it public as soon as possible. You shouldn’t sit on it in order to optimize your book’s marketing.
Read some of the criticisms below:
gonna go ahead and say that if you know the president said in a meeting that we should be shooting migrants in the legs “to slow them down” you should not be saving that for whenever you book is scheudled to come out! https://t.co/5Da43LHwR7
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) October 1, 2019
No one should buy this book. Journos who sit on mega stories so they can hawk books should be shunned. They cease to be journalists. He sat on it for months. https://t.co/PpBDbW6waj
— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) October 1, 2019
This is a serious point. I understand people want to sell books, but I would argue that journalists have an ethical responsibility to not sit on material that directly bears on Trump’s fitness for office. https://t.co/fyyq0NR59l
— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) October 2, 2019
What’s the journalistic ethics of sitting on a story like this? In a news cycle that moves so fast and seemingly without consequence for Trump, I’m not sure it matters, but it feels off to hold a story like this for a book. https://t.co/KYXXcI2NVK
— Emily M. Farris (@emayfarris) October 2, 2019
‘Very good news’: Law prof praises Kentucky’s bipartisan compromise to allow everyone to vote by mail
The state of Kentucky was praised on Friday after a bipartisan agreement was reached to expand voting by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Any Kentucky voter wary of the risk of COVID-19 will be able to vote in the Nov. 3 general election by mailing in an absentee ballot. Voters will also have the option of casting a ballot in person during the three weeks leading up to the election, or waiting until Election Day," the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Friday.
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I'm as big a political junkie as they come. I love reading polls, monitoring their day-to-day fluctuations, like a fantasy sports bettor studying blocks of player stats. I not only watch politicians give speeches, I engage in blow-by-blow commentary by my fellow junkies on Twitter. I got caught up in this election's "veepstakes" and debating the various women under consideration by former Vice President Joe Biden as his future vice president, and it was satisfying to share my thoughts on the final choice, Sen. Kamala Harris of California. I've faithfully watched every episode of Crooked Media's YouTube series analyzing various campaign ads.