Mar 15, 2024

How we plan to cover the 2024 election.

How we plan to cover the 2024 election.
Photo by BP Miller / Unsplash

2024 is here. I'd like to talk about our plan.

I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”

Today is a special Friday edition.

The 2024 election season is officially here. And I'd like to talk about how we plan to cover it.

I was inspired to write this post after reading Slow Boring’s similar piece about their plans for 2024. Every media organization has a different role in our current political landscape, and I’d like to talk about ours. 

Major outlets like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are going to publish deeply sourced investigative journalism that takes huge teams and lots of money to produce. Other places, like Axios or Punchbowl, will do short-form and insider journalism. Network stations, like CNN and Fox News, will produce nightly punditry, or use their considerable resources to send international teams overseas and into war zones. And independent writers, like Noah Smith or Ryan Girdusky, will use their Substacks to commentate on policy issues through their own ideological lenses.

Here at Tangle, our role is to expose people to a wide range of opinions, to get them out of their media bubbles, and to offer intelligent, nuanced, thoughtful, and reliable information.

With the 2024 campaign kicking off in earnest, I'd like to talk a little bit more explicitly and directly about what we will — and won't — do as we head into this election. That way, you know what to expect and we have a roadmap to follow.

What we won't do

First, I think it's worth talking about what you are not going to find here at Tangle.

Many media organizations will endorse candidates in the presidential and congressional races happening across the country. We will not. We have never endorsed any candidate for any office, and we never will. Since our founding, our policy has been to focus on sharing arguments about the candidates in various elections without telling you who we think is the right or wrong person for the job. Plenty of newspapers, media organizations, and pundits are in the business of making endorsements — indeed, you'll see some of those endorsements shared in Tangle. But we are in the business of sharing arguments, side by side, offering our perspective on those arguments, and letting you decide.

In a similar vein, we are not going to broad-brush people or parties. We are going to zoom in and focus on the veracity of specific claims and the plausibility of specific policies that are relevant to each day’s topic, while also maintaining awareness about the context in which those claims are made or those policies are proposed.

We’re going to avoid bad arguments, like bothsideism or whataboutism. Fundamentally, our goal is to share representative and compelling arguments from a diverse set of viewpoints. But that doesn’t mean giving equal weight and equal space to every argument, and it doesn’t mean anytime one candidate does something bad we have to reference something bad another candidate did. 

We probably won’t be the ones breaking any major stories. Yes, we’ll tell you about important breaking news, but we are unlikely to go out and find it ourselves. Given that Tangle is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the largest city of a critical swing state, I'm sure there will be stories that fall into our lap — and we might even gain some insider information we can share with you. But on the whole, we're going to move slowly and deliberately. When we run original pieces, they will be thoughtful deep dives on pressing topics related to the election. Typically, we won't be the first people to tell you something. Instead, we want to be the most trusted place to report on the news. We do this to get the most accurate information (because the first story usually isn't the most accurate) and to give the various political pundits and journalists time to flesh out important details and formulate their arguments.

You're also not going to find fluff here. There are going to be a lot of very unimportant stories being made into huge deals across social media (or even on the homepages of newspapers and in the primetime TV lineups). We are going to use our best judgment to focus on what matters to our readers and do everything we can to avoid making mountains out of molehills. This isn't meant to be exclusionary or derisive about 2024 campaign narratives. Sometimes, horse-race polling matters. Sometimes, dramatic palace intrigue matters. Sometimes, there are even silly sounding stories that are actually valuable to address. But more often than not, those things aren't worth our coverage.

Finally, we aren’t going to be derisive about American voters or talk about groups of people like they are monoliths. “Black voters” don’t all experience our country the same. The “Rust Belt” isn’t a bunch of uneducated, out-of-work white people. We’re not going to reduce Trump and Biden supporters to the caricatures you may see on TV. We’re not going to speak in black and white terms. And we won’t assume we know everything. 

What we will do

Now let's talk about the fun stuff: What you will find at Tangle.

In our free newsletter and podcast, which comes out four days a week, you'll find the same things you are used to: Every day, we'll cover one big debate in U.S.-focused politics, with views from the right, left, and center. We'll present the issue in the most neutral language possible so you can understand the basic facts and the context for why we are covering it. Then we'll share six opinions from across the debate — usually, broken up into what the left and right are saying. Sometimes, though, we'll focus on different dividing lines,  like "pro-Israel" vs. "pro-Palestine," or by breaking up writers’ takes based on what country they are in, or simply by sharing the views of people who support a policy versus those who oppose it.

You'll also find "My take," and occasionally "Our take." As many of you know, "My take" is an explicitly labeled section where I share my own personal view about the day's debate, or (in the event I'm not exclusively writing an edition) the Tangle team shares "Our take" as a whole. While I and we won't endorse candidates, our promise to readers is that we'll honestly and transparently share our views of the arguments, and we'll do it while trying our best to be fair, objective, balanced, and open-minded in our thinking. We don't play for any candidate, party or team, and we believe sharing our opinion openly is a way to build trust with our readership (and to offer our own unique contribution to the punditry space).

We’re going to be thoughtful about the stories we decide to feature in our newsletter. Our goal is to cover the issues that matter to you — the voters and our global audience. The stories that are going to help you make up your mind about who to vote for or who to support. We’re not going to act like a tabloid, but we also won’t be exclusively high-minded and wonky. Instead, we’ll do our best to cover it all: The policy prescriptions, the court cases, the debates. We’ll cover election outcomes (presidential and congressional) as well as the new polling. When it feels appropriate or important, we’ll cover the palace intrigue. Because story selection can be a form of media bias, we’ll be sure to cover stories that are resonating both in liberal and conservative spaces and do our best to flag stories that you may have missed.

On Fridays, in our members-only newsletters, you'll find unique and original content. We'll interview pundits, candidates, and people working on campaigns throughout 2024. We’re going to reach out to Biden and Trump’s teams, and their surrogates, and ask them to come talk with us. We’ll talk to historians, election experts, and other journalists about their work. If there is a major story that ties closely to the 2024 campaign, we’ll reach out to the people involved and try to get them on the record with a conversation. We’ll bring these people onto our podcast and YouTube channel and we’ll share the interviews as transcripts in our Friday newsletters.

We’ll give you a break from the drumbeat of the campaign, too. As always, we’ll end every newsletter with a good news story. On Sundays, we’ll lighten the mood with our new members-only Sunday newsletter, where we share comics, puzzles, reader essays, and other fun odds and ends. 

We’ll also do some original journalism. In 2020, I ended up on the front lines reporting on claims of election fraud. If (or when) claims of fraud pop up again this year, we’ll be right on top of them. More to the point, though, we’ll be keeping an eye out for novel stories like 2020’s election fraud narrative, and we’ll be sure to bring you unique and exclusive Tangle coverage of those stories as they emerge. This year, we’ll have the entire Tangle team on the ground in Pennsylvania leading up to and after Election Day. 

We’re going to be skeptical. Skeptical of policy proposals, promises, polling, pundits, and the politicians themselves. We’re going to ask questions and offer nuance, and we’re going to let the best ideas reign. If a candidate is saying something untruthful, we’ll say so. If we have evidence they are doing it intentionally, we’ll call it a lie. We won’t mindlessly spread misinformation, mainstream media propaganda, or parrot talking points from the candidates. 

We’re also going to ask for your feedback. We’ll share reader comments and reader essays. We’ll encourage you to discuss issues amongst yourselves in the comments section on YouTube and on our website. We’ll try, as best we can, to model humility and open dialogue in the way we hope the rest of the country will approach the difficult issues already at the center of the 2024 campaign. 

Finally, I’m thrilled to announce today that we are launching something brand new: Our limited podcast series called The Undecideds, which will follow five undecided voters up to and through Election Day. This will be your unique look into how a sample of America's voters who are unsure how they’ll cast their ballots are making up their minds heading into 2024. Every few weeks, we’re going to interview these undecided voters about what they’re thinking, what stories are resonating, and how they are thinking about their decisions. Then, we’ll share their stories with you (you can listen to our just-released trailer for The Undecideds here).

Join us

Since the last presidential election, our team has grown. In 2020, it was just our social media manager Magdalena and me. Tangle now has five full-time employees, a team of part-time editors, and a group of interns and college ambassadors. We are going to be covering the election not just from our Monday-Thursday newsletter, but in our members-only Friday and Sunday editions (become a member here). We’ll also be doing original reporting on our podcast, YouTube, and Instagram. It’s worth taking a few minutes to become a subscriber to support our work and follow those channels.

New interview.

Evan Roth-Smith, a campaign consultant and pollster who leads a polling project called Blueprint. Evan spoke with me about some fresh polling he and his team have done on the Biden vs. Trump matchup, as well as what issues voters are telling them are most important in this upcoming election. You can listen here.

Don't forget...

📣 Share Tangle on Twitter here, Facebook here, or LinkedIn here.

🎥 Follow us on Instagram here or subscribe to our YouTube channel here

💵 If you like our newsletter, drop some love in our tip jar.

🎉 Want to reach 96,000+ people? Fill out this form to advertise with us.

📫 Forward this to a friend and tell them to subscribe (hint: it's here).

🛍 Love clothes, stickers and mugs? Go to our merch store!

Subscribe to Tangle

Join 90,000+ people getting Tangle directly to their inbox!

Isaac Saul
I'm a politics reporter who grew up in Bucks County, PA — one of the most politically divided counties in America. I'm trying to fix the way we consume political news.