Going Deeper on Michael Cohen (Like the FBI! )

on September 19, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America

Yesterday a reader asked me if we had a list of our key Michael Cohen articles and, if we didn’t, could I recommend a few key ones. First, I think this piece from 13 months ago remains the best look at Cohen’s backstory. To go deeper you can read this piece on Cohen, Sater and the Trump-Russia money channel, this piece on what the CIA and FBI knew about it before 2016, and the eye-popping details about Cohen’s childhood friend and later fellow Trump associate Felix Sater. If you missed it, I explained last night to subscribers why I don’t buy that yesterday’s events were about the Stormy Daniels case.

But I also wanted to tell you that in addition to story streams where we collect together all the articles about a given topic, like the Russia probe or voting rights, our team has been working on a series of new site features/functions which collect together not only stories on particular topics but also specific storylines.

One of our big focuses today is finding creative new ways to organize the news, create ways to allow readers to remain up to date consistently and quickly, and to illustrate (literally or figuratively) the threads that connect stories together over time. This to me is the central challenge for the early 21st-century news junkie, particularly the political news junkie. There is too much information. It comes in an increasingly wide range of qualities and reliabilities. Unless you literally do this as a full-time job it’s seldom possible to really keep up and be sure critical details and developments are not slipping past you. I see this as one of our critical tasks at TPM, mainly in Prime but across the public and subscriber-only parts of the site. So in addition to doing that in general, our editorial team is working closely with our design and product team to develop specific, named, recurring features which provide this service.

We’ve started with our Weekly Sum Ups, which we’ve now renamed Weekly Primers. We have similar recurring features in the pipeline. The thing I am most focused on is what I’ve always informally thought of as storylines and which we’ll be packaging as such in the near future. Organizing information around topics is great. But news stories happen as chronological progressions, actions by groups of people moving forward in time. Chronicling these stories, following them aggressively as they unfurl has always been TPM’s core thing. But visualizing these stories, capturing the thread as opposed to relying on readers to keep it all fresh or coherent in their heads, is my big thing now.

For now, those (above) are the key Cohen stories, read your Weekly Primers (Monday: Voting Rights; Tuesday: Obamacare/Health Care; Friday: Russia) and keep an eye out for these new features we have coming soon.