I tell this old newsroom tale to my students: An angry editor sees a cub reporter coming into work. “I sent you to cover a concert,” says the editor. “Why didn’t you file the story?” The cub reporter says, “The concert hall burned down.”
Sometimes the story you set out to cover is not the one you find.
This passage from this Politico story explains how a story that was supposed to be about an unjust termination turned into a glimpse into Donald Trump’s habit of tearing up paperwork.
Young agreed to speak to POLITICO after this reporter contacted him to inquire about his termination. He then put this reporter in touch with Lartey, whose story of his dismissal — and the work he was asked to do during his final year of work under the Trump administration — corroborated Young’s account.
Both men originally agreed to speak to POLITICO for a story about why they believe they were unfairly terminated from jobs they expected to hold onto until they retired. Both said they were forced to sign resignation letters without being given any explanation for why they were being dismissed.
In the course of explaining what their work at the White House entailed, however, both described in detail the process of taping back together scraps of paper that the president had ripped up and thrown out. Both said they were happy to discuss the oddity of a job they began to view as a sort of punishment.
They did not, however, approach a reporter with the intent to leak embarrassing information about the president.