WaPo In Crisis: Staff REVOLT As Bezos Declares Major Overhaul

By Javier Sanchez | Wednesday, 19 June 2024 11:59 PM
Views 4.2K
Image Credit : Fox35 Orlando

In the face of mounting public criticism aimed at his newly appointed executives, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post (WaPo), has declared that the newspaper cannot continue with "business as usual," as reported by Ben Mullin of The New York Times.

The newly appointed WaPo publisher, Will Lewis, and his chosen successors for the outgoing executive editor, Sally Buzbee, have been the subjects of severe criticism. In response, Bezos reassured his staff in a company-wide email, stating that "the journalistic standards and ethics at the Post will not change." However, he also acknowledged the paper's declining subscriber base, which has halved since 2020, and a financial deficit of $77 million projected for 2023.

"Indeed, it cannot be business as usual at the Post. The world is evolving rapidly, and we need to adapt as a business," Bezos wrote in the memo.

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The memo also referenced the beleaguered publisher, Will Lewis, who has faced a surge of media criticism following his decision to replace Buzbee with former Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Matthew Murray on an interim basis, and with Robert Winnett, deputy editor of The Telegraph, after the November election.

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Lewis's appointments have been met with disapproval from the staff, with questions raised about the diversity of the candidates considered for these positions. "It sort of feels like you chose two of your buddies to come in and help run the Post, and we now have four white men running three newsrooms," Charlotte Klein of Vanity Fair quoted a staff member as saying.

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The Washington Post itself published a damning article on Sunday, accusing Winnett of using stolen materials for reporting during his tenure at the Sunday Times. This was followed by an article from The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday, which attempted to discredit Murray by highlighting a controversial story run by The Wall Street Journal in 2022, during Murray's editorship. The story alleged an affair between Elon Musk and Nicole Shanahan, the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin and current presidential running mate of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

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Musk's denial of the story led to a tense call between Murray and the reporters involved, during which Murray "launched profanities throughout the tense 45-minute call," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

A broad spectrum of critics, primarily from the left, appear to be pushing for the ousting of Lewis and his chosen editors. David Folkenflik of NPR, who previously accused Lewis of attempting to offer him an exclusive story in exchange for burying a decade-old phone hacking scandal involving media mogul Rupert Murdoch, recently claimed that Winnett will "never step foot in DC as WaPo editor."

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NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen criticized the Post's standards, the very standards Bezos pledged to uphold in his memo. "When Will Lewis and Rob Winnett declined to answer Post reporters' questions, they set a low standard for what the Post requires of itself," he tweeted.

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Adding to the chorus of criticism, New York Magazine contributing editor Kara Swisher referred to Lewis as a "hot mess" on her podcast, "Pivot." Her co-host, Scott Galloway, concurred, suggesting that if the newsroom is in open revolt, Bezos should fire Lewis.

Despite the onslaught of criticism, Bezos's decision to mention Lewis by name in the memo seems to indicate that the embattled publisher still enjoys the support of the Amazon founder.

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