Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Ben Smith’s column Sunday night, diving into the saga behind star correspondent Rukmini Callimachi’s reporting on terrorism, is the latest piece of criticism that the New York Times faces from within.

Why it matters: Recent examples of internal critiquing at the Times calls into question whether the Times and other companies should have eliminated the role of public editor.

  • Absent public editors, news giants are left to their readers, Twitter critics and internal voices to hold themselves accountable to their own editorial standards. The Times has established an online "reader center" which it says has helped it make smarter decisions and explain coverage better.

Other examples: Conservative opinion writer Bret Stephens published a critique on Friday of the company's lauded "1619" project for trying to reframe history. The New York Times Guild sent out a tweet denouncing the article, but quickly retracted it and later apologized for the mishap.

  • Earlier this year, the Times' editorial page editor James Bennet resigned after facing backlash from employees for green-lighting an op-ed by conservative Sen. Tom Cotton.

Be smart: A series of social change movements may have also empowered reporters to examine the standards and practices of their own companies.

Our thought bubble: The public editor role was meant to formalize critiques of a company from the inside, so as to avoid awkward disclosures and conflicts of interest. Smith notes that tension in his piece.

  • "Mr. Baquet and Mr. Kahn, I should note here, are my boss’s boss’s boss and my boss’s boss, respectively, and my writing about the Times while on its payroll brings with it all sorts of potential conflicts of interest and is generally a bit of a nightmare."

Go deeper

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.

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes. A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.