After uproar over ethics, new 'Washington Post' editor won't take the job


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  hallux  •  3 weeks ago  •  7 comments

By:   David Folkenflik - NPR

After uproar over ethics, new 'Washington Post' editor won't take the job

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Beset by crisis,   Washington Post   Chief Executive and Publisher Will Lewis' pick to be its lead editor, Robert Winnett, has withdrawn from the job as Lewis seeks to salvage his own tenure at the newspaper.

Lewis said he would start a process to name a replacement — steps he did not take in announcing his old friend Winnett to the job less than three weeks ago. The ethical records of both men have come under withering scrutiny in recent days.

Lewis worked with Winnett at the   Sunday Time s in Britain in the early 2000s. After Lewis was named the youngest editor in the   Daily Telegraph's   history, he hired Winnett there. The two men, both Brits, worked hand-in-glove and won accolades in the U.K. for their scoops.

Yet   NPR , the   New York Times   and   the Post   have reported on a parade of episodes involving both men in conduct that would be barred under professional ethics codes at major American news outlets, including the   Post .

The incidents include paying a six-figure sum to secure a major scoop; planting a junior reporter in a government job to obtain secret and even classified documents; and relying on a private investigator who used subterfuge to secure people's confidential records and documents. The investigator was later arrested.

Neither Winnett nor Lewis has responded to requests by journalists — including at the   Post —   for comment on these episodes. The   Post   had set up a dedicated team to report on the two men under Cameron Barr, a retired senior managing editor at the paper.

"It is with regret that I share with you that Robert Winnett has withdrawn from the position of Editor at The Washington Post," Lewis wrote in a message to the   Post   newsroom Friday. "Rob has my greatest respect and is an incredibly talented editor and journalist."

Winnett is currently deputy editor at the Telegraph Media Group in the U.K., where he will stay. "He's a talented chap and their loss is our gain,"   Telegraph   editor Chris Evans said in a memo.

The move does not resolve the status of Lewis, who is also contending with allegations in Britain that he helped protect executives at Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids following a massive hacking scandal years ago. Lewis has been named in court documents filed by lawyers for Prince Harry and other victims.

I wrote about   those accusations   in December, just before Lewis started at the   Post . He had pressured me not to publish the story, and even offered me an exclusive interview if I dropped it. He also tried to discourage the   Post   from coverage.

A distrustful newsroom

Journalists throughout the paper have told NPR they are outraged, saying the two men's actions, while illustrative of the ferociously competitive world of British newspapering, violate principles held dear at the   Post .

A highly regarded   Post   writer and associate editor, David Maraniss, recently expressed disgust in a Facebook post. He contended that the scandal that has erupted this spring around Lewis and Winnett is worse than the revelation that a Pulitzer Prize-winning account was fabricated by Janet Cooke, a junior   Post   reporter fed by the hunger of her editors to land a story.

"The troubles of today are more serious by many orders of magnitude," Maraniss wrote on a Facebook page for former   Post   staffers. "The staff is rightly and fearlessly investigating and questioning the acts of its publisher and supposed next editor whose refusal to answer all questions is inexcusable and unacceptable."

"The body," Maraniss wrote, "is rejecting the transfusion." Another retired Pulitzer-winner, Scott Higham, chimed in on Maraniss' post that Lewis needed to resign.

Winnett's brief-lived association with the   Post   even started inauspiciously. Lewis revealed Winnett's appointment abruptly on a Sunday night early this month, apparently to foreclose being scooped by   The New York Times. 

It coincided with the ouster of the   Post 's then-executive editor, Sally Buzbee. She had declined to accept a diminished role assigned to foster new forms of journalism, new products and new revenues for the paper.

Winnett was absent and his name was barely mentioned in a contentious meeting with a stunned newsroom the next day. He was to start the role after the November elections. Winnett never stepped foot in the Washington newsroom as editor.

Lewis had asked former   Wall Street Journal   Editor-in-Chief Matt Murray to run the newsroom until Winnett took over, and then permanently take the job Buzbee had rejected. Murray h as been seen since as a calming force, according to  Post   journalists.

Murray also has close ties to Lewis. When the latter was publisher of the  Wall Street Journal , he promoted Murray to the top position there in 2014. Lewis has named other close associates to top jobs in the  Post 's corporate hierarchy in his five months since becoming chief executive, including chief growth officer, chief strategy officer and new hires as his chief of staff and personal director of communications.

And yet in a few short weeks since that announcement, it became increasingly clear that the choice of Winnett for the permanent newsroom editor role was unsustainable.

A message from Jeff Bezos

Post   owner Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, picked Lewis to help reverse the paper's foundering financial performance. The company lost more than $100 million in 2022 and $77 million last year. Its digital audience dropped by 50% from 2020.

Bezos issued a statement earlier this week to reassure staffers. "I know you've already heard this from Will," Bezos wrote to   Post   employees on Tuesday, "but I wanted to also weigh in directly: the journalistic standards and ethics at The Post will not change."

He made no reference to Winnett. In less than a week, the Lewis pal who was to lead the paper's news reporting in the future was history. Lewis' own fate at the paper rests in the hands of his owner. Bezos' statement has been interpreted in myriad directions, as it acknowledged Lewis' role but gave no commitments to the future.


jrDiscussion - desc
PhD Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    3 weeks ago

This story although several months old is still too premature for anything other than immature fault bestowing egressions.

Split Personality
Professor Guide
1.1  Split Personality  replied to  Hallux @1    3 weeks ago

Updated to reflect Sally Buzbee being forced out on June 3 2024.

Not sure this British squirrel Lewis will survive his own chaotic start at the Post.

Professor Principal
2  Kavika     3 weeks ago

The past can come back to haunt you.

PhD Principal
2.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Kavika @2    3 weeks ago

Everyone in an ego driven newsroom has a full set of knives.

Greg Jones
Professor Participates
3  Greg Jones    3 weeks ago

More reasons than ever to never trust the leftist press. 

PhD Principal
3.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Greg Jones @3    3 weeks ago
More reasons than ever to never trust the leftist press. 

The editors in question were both Murdoch hires. Tossing out shit for the mere sake of it demeans only oneself.

Split Personality
Professor Guide
3.2  Split Personality  replied to  Greg Jones @3    3 weeks ago

It would appear that you did not read the whole article.

Color me shocked jrSmiley_30_smiley_image.gif


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