White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany briefs the media Thursday. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

It's easy to dog the media. But stop for a second and reflect on everything we know thanks to the media — and often the media alone.

Driving the news: It was the media that gave light to the negligence of White House officials in containing the coronavirus. It was Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs who revealed Hope Hicks' positive test, with President Trump disclosing five hours later that he and the first lady had COVID.

It was the media that exposed that the president and top White House officials knowingly downplayed the danger of COVID.

  • It was Bob Woodward's recordings for "Rage" that capture Trump admitting he knew the coronavirus was deadlier than he publicly portrayed.

It was the media that exposed the president's fundamental misunderstanding of the facts around the coronavirus.

  • It was Jonathan Swan's "Axios on HBO" interview in which Trump said about the loss of American lives: "It is what it is."

It was the media that exposed the murkiness surrounding the president's finances and private business dealings. 

  • It was the N.Y. Times' Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire who exposed Trump’s tax data, showing he only paid $750 in federal income tax the year he entered the White House.

It was the media that amplified the warning of scientists and medical professionals to wear masks, wash hands and social distance, leading to widespread adoption of all three. 

  • The Houston Chronicle has for months been investigating the true numbers of coronavirus cases and warning signs, while local governments kept numbers and details about the virus obscure.

It was often the media that spotted misinformation on social platforms and forced quick corrections. 

  • It was NBC's Ben Collins who led investigations into the woeful failure of tech platforms to police misinformation that fueled the rise of QAnon.

It was the media that uncovered dozens of examples of gross abuses of power by leaders in business and government all year. 

  • It was ProPublica that investigated how New York City’s emergency ventilator stockpile ended up being auctioned off.

The bottom line: All of this came amid economic strife for the industry.

  • In the first six months of 2020, more than 11,000 newsroom jobs were lost.

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2020 - Economy & Business

Exclusive: Subscription podcast company Quake launches

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Quake, a subscription podcast company founded by media veterans, launched on Tuesday with $2.5 million in seed funding, executives tell Axios. It debuts with exclusive politics shows, and hopes to expand into religion, sports and possibly Hispanic media.

Why it matters: There's a growing trend of podcast companies poaching top talent to launch exclusive shows, which ultimately forces users to subscribe to more than one podcast company.

The cliffhanger could be ... Georgia

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1992, but Georgia's changing demographics may prove pivotal this year — not only to Trump v. Biden, but also to whether Democrats take control of the Senate.

Why it matters: If the fate of the Senate did hinge on Georgia, it might be January before we know the outcome. Meanwhile, voters' understanding of this power in the final days of the election could juice turnout enough to impact presidential results.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.