2020年10月23日 星期五

The Daily: Covering Political Hacks and Leaks Ahead of the Election

A look inside The Times’s strategy for fighting misinformation with “The EMAIL Method.”

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Happy Friday! Hang in there — only 11 days now until the U.S. presidential election.

We kicked off this week on The Daily talking to Latino voters in Arizona. Then, on Tuesday, we examined why North Carolina is so critical in the race to control the U.S. Senate; on Wednesday, we waded into the latest misinformation firestorm facing Big Tech; and Thursday’s episode asked: Is the Electoral College system broken? Today, we recapped the last presidential debate of 2020 (that mute button was a game changer).

If you want to escape the news, keep an eye out for this weekend’s Sunday Read, a story about Wesley Morris’s new quarantine mustache, and how growing it led him to a deeper understanding of his Blackness. You can also listen to The New York Times Podcast Club’s pick of the week: “Appearances,” a one-woman podcast about marriage and motherhood in an Iranian-American family.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

By Lauren Jackson

Over the summer, Jack Dorsey, C.E.O. of Twitter, made a commitment on The Daily.

Michael asked him how he might respond to the spread of false or misleading information on Twitter ahead of the 2020 presidential election. “We won’t hesitate to take action,” he said. “We should make that policy as tight as possible.”

Last week, those policies were tested when The New York Post published a controversial front-page article about Hunter Biden. The report, appearing just three weeks before the election, was based on material provided by Republican allies of President Trump. The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the evidence cited by The Post.


Twitter and Facebook determined the report dubious enough that they decided to limit access to the article on their platforms, to varying degrees. These decisions, and the ensuing backlash, were newsworthy, and our team thought hard about how to cover the controversy on the show.

“It was a tricky line to walk because we wanted to talk about how social media platforms are handling misinformation without spreading the misinformation ourselves,” the producer Eric Krupke said. “Still, we wanted to give listeners all of the context they needed to understand what they were seeing on Twitter and other social media sites.”

Ultimately, we called the tech reporter Kevin Roose to help us make sense of what was happening. In the episode, Kevin briefly mentioned the guidelines he and his colleagues Sheera Frenkel, Davey Alba and Ben Decker have developed to evaluate how The Times should cover political hacks and leaks. Some of you wrote in asking for more information about “The EMAIL Method,” so Kevin offered to explain what the acronym stands for:

EVIDENCE: Reporters and editors should independently verify the authenticity of hacked/leaked material.


MOTIVE: Reporters and editors should try to determine who obtained the material, how they did so, and why it is being leaked, and contextualize the hack-and-leak operation as fully as possible for readers.

ACTIVITY: Reporters and editors should try to trace the origins of the hacked/leaked material, and note how (and by whom) the material is being promoted online.

INTENT: Reporters and editors should be aware that they are often key targets of disinformation campaigns, and that those waging such campaigns often explicitly seek to bait journalists into covering them at face value.

LABELS: Reporters and editors should clearly identify all reporting that stems from hacked/leaked material.


By Desiree Ibekwe

When the Daily producers Austin Mitchell and Robert Jimison asked the reporter Jennifer Medina about the biggest election stories she had been thinking about, divisions within the Latino vote in Arizona were at the top of her list. So the trio headed off to the state for Monday’s episode of The Field.

Austin and Jenny outside the Latinos for Trump office.Robert Jimison

The majority of Latino voters in Arizona favor Democrats, and activists like Tomás Robles Jr., whom we spoke to in the episode, are hoping to turn the state blue in November.

But we knew this wasn’t the whole story.

“There’s a kind of assumption among some non-Latino people that Latino voters are almost entirely like the Tomáses of the world, which isn’t true at all,” Austin said. Thirty percent of Hispanic voters have declared an intention to vote for President Trump in the election.

“I think in general it’s often easier when we think of a group, any group we use terms like ‘suburban women’ or ‘Latinos’ or ‘older voters,’” Jenny said. “But all of those terms are imperfect and voters are actually more quirky than terms might allow you to believe.”

Outside the Latinos for Trump office in Phoenix, the team met Cruz Zepeta, a Mexican-American clad in pro-Trump garb. “I’m a Republican with a gay daughter, a Black grandson,” he said. Speaking with Cruz illuminated that divisions within the voting bloc may come down to two different ideas of the American dream. While Tomás was drawn to the Democratic Party’s support for group rights, Cruz emphasized a belief in individualism.

“These are such fundamentally different ways of viewing the world that it can be very difficult for the first group to see the actions of the second as anything other than a betrayal,” Jenny said in the episode. By talking with both Tomás and Cruz, we hoped to probe beyond political positions.

When the team left Arizona, Cruz sent Jenny a text. “Speaking with you was like a pressure release valve for me,” he wrote. “It felt good to be heard, thanks again.”

For Jenny, it is in these nuanced and complex stories that audio can work its magic best: “Hearing people’s thoughts as opposed to sound bites, which is often what you hear in politics, is really illuminating.”

Tomás Robles Jr., left, co-executive director of LUCHA, a social justice organization in Arizona, speaks with Robert and Jenny.Austin Mitchell

That’s it for The Daily newsletter. See you next week.

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