Behind The Scenes

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September 25, 2019 4:40 p.m.
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Around 2:30 p.m. last Thursday, TPM investigative reporter Josh Kovensky and I were having a conversation through instant message as I edited one of his articles. In the middle of this, he suddenly wrote “HUH.”

Then: “I just had a breakthrough.”

I continued editing, and he started working on something new. I soon learned what that breakthrough was.

The story of Kovensky’s realization illustrates just how knowledgeable our reporting team is and how our members make their tireless work to report on and analyze the news possible. (So if you’re not a member, please take a moment to join.)

And read on about his big hunch.

It feels like a month ago, but on that day (just last week!), we were in the midst of muddling though the mystery surrounding an intelligence community whistleblower. Reporting had revealed that the whistleblower’s complaint involved the President making a promise to a foreign leader. But which leader?

Earlier that day, the Washington Post had published a list of people the President had spoken to in recent weeks. But, Josh had realized, a name was missing from that list.

On July 25, Trump had spoken to the newly elected president of Ukraine. Ukraine had provided a readout of the call. The White House hadn’t.

Josh knew this because, ever since joining TPM last year from the Kyiv Post, an English-language newspaper based in Ukraine’s capital, he had chronicled the political happenings in the country.

When Zelensky was elected, he wrote about it for Prime.

When Giuliani started sifting for dirt in the country and got the U.S. ambassador to the country fired, he wrote about it for Prime.

And when Trump called Zelensky, he wrote about it for Prime.

It was sheer luck (maybe) that this topic we had been chronicling became a major plot point in the Trump presidency, ultimately leading Democrats to take unified steps toward impeachment.

But the story shows the key analysis we provide. Both before the whistleblower complaint, and since it ballooned into a full blown presidential scandal, Josh Kovensky and the rest of the TPM team has been tirelessly chronicling this story. Kovensky has tapped into his knowledge of Ukraine, and Tierney Sneed has been on Capitol Hill taking lawmakers’ temperature. And for our members, we’ve been able to go deeper, showing what our reporters are interested in, and what predictions and takeaways are bouncing around their brains.

Kovensky’s stroke of inspiration at 2:30 p.m. last Thursday quickly became a post.

By 9 p.m. that evening, the Washington Post had confirmed Josh’s hunch. By the following Tuesday, Pelosi was calling for impeachment.

It was a big, big story. TPM was onto it, and Josh and the rest of our team have continued to report on and analyze this ever-evolving story.

So if you’re not a member already, please consider joining to support the work we do.

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