July 14, 2024
Failing WaPo Newsroom Revolts Against Rupert Murdoch-Linked CEO Sent to Rebrand

Failing WaPo Newsroom Revolts Against Rupert Murdoch-Linked CEO Sent to Rebrand

(Headline USA) Newly appointed leaders of the Washington Post were being haunted by their pasts, with ethical questions raised about their actions as journalists in London.

The attack by leftist newsroom journalists marks the latest attempt by legacy media to lash out as their business model fails following several years in which Trump Derangement Syndrome has led media consumers to question their credibility.

But even as readers and viewers flock elsewhere for their information, stalwarts in the press refuse, having abandoned their former commitment to objectivity, truth-seeking and other ethical principles, find themselves in a Lord of the Flies-type free-for-all, ready to savagely cannibalize any who dare defy their radical dogma.

Enraged at the selection of a new publisher with ties to NewsCorp founder Rupert Murdoch whose dual objective might have been to rehabilitate the newsroom’s far-left bias and modernize its content-delivery platforms, journalists at the Post appeared to have teamed up with colleagues from other leftist outlets to undertake a smear campaign that would force the embattled executives to resign.

An extraordinary trio of stories over the weekend by the New York Times, NPR and the Post itself outline alleged involvement by Post publisher Will Lewis and Robert Winnett, his choice as a news editor, in wrongdoing involving London publications.

The Post said on Monday that it had brought back its former senior managing editor to oversee the newspaper’s coverage of the matter.

Lewis took over as publisher earlier this year, with a mandate to turn around the financially-troubled newspaper. He announced a reorganization earlier this month where the Post’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, stepped down rather than accept a demotion.

The coverage revealed Lewis’s sensitivity about questions involving his role in a phone-hacking scandal that rocked the British press while he was working there. Lewis has maintained that he was brought in by Murdoch-owned newspapers to cooperate with authorities to clean up after the scandal.

Plaintiffs in a civil case have charged him with destroying evidence, which he has denied.

The public revelation of phone hacking in 2011 led to the closure of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid and sparked a public inquiry into press practices that curbed some of the worst excesses.

The British press has long been considered freewheeling in its pursuit of scoops, willing to tolerate behavior frowned upon by its American counterparts.

For example, when Lewis and Winnett worked at the Daily Telegraph in 2009, they cooperated on stories about politicians’ extravagant expense-account spending. They paid for data that revealed the spending, a reporting practice that would be considered a substantial ethical breach in the U.S.

The Times reported on Saturday that both Lewis and Winnett worked on stories in the 2000s that appeared to be based on fraudulently obtained phone and business records.

Both the Times and Post reported on a 2002 story article about British politicians who had sought to buy a Mercedes–Benz vehicle, which they intentionally described as the “Nazi’s favorite limousine,” based on information obtained by an actor who had faked a German accent to call a manufacturer who gave it to him.

The Post story delved into Winnett’s relationship with John Ford, the actor whose “clandestine efforts” helped uncover stories that included private financial dealings by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He was allegedly adept in “blagging,” in which a person misrepresents themselves to persuade others to reveal confidential information. That’s illegal under British law unless it can be shown the actions benefit the public.

Headlined “Incoming Post editor tied to self-described ‘thief’ who claimed role in his reporting,” it was among the newspaper’s most popular stories on Monday. Winnett was chosen by Lewis to take over the Post’s main newsroom after the presidential election.

It was an unusually harsh story for a news organization to write about its own leadership. In announcing that Cameron Barr, who left his position last year, would supervise the reporting, the Post said that “the publisher has no involvement or influence on our reporting.”

Other editors, including Buzbee’s temporary replacement Matt Murray, will also look over stories produced by the media team.

NPR’s story details several of these issues, along with Winnett’s supervision—when he worked at the Sunday Times in London—of a reporter, Claire Newell, who was hired as a temporary secretary in the U.K. Cabinet office, giving her access to sensitive documents that made their way back to the newspaper.

The Post said Lewis declined comment on the stories. Winnett, a deputy editor at the Telegraph in London, did not comment on the three most recent stories, and a message to the newspaper by the Associated Press was not immediately returned on Monday.

The internal turmoil within the Washington Post forced billionaire owner Jeff Bezos to chime in on the new hires: “The world is evolving rapidly and we do need to change as a business,” stated Bezos in a memorandum to the newspaper on Tuesday.

“You have my full commitment on maintaining the quality, ethics, and standards we all believe in,” he added.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote on X Monday. “Its leadership is now tainted in ways that are unrecoverable; time won’t heal the injury but let it fester,” referring to the Washington Post.

Lewis, a former publisher of the Wall Street Journal who is also vice chairman of the board at the Associated Press, has spent the past week trying to save his image and insist to Post staff members, that he is now in-charge of, that he understands and will live up to the ethical standards of American journalism.

The attacks on Lewis and Winnett seemed to mirror the newsroom revolt at leftist network CNN after CEO Chris Licht was brought in to repair its damaged image following the vendetta between his predecessor, Jeff Zucker, and then-President Donald Trump.

Zucker, who had worked with Trump when the latter stared on NBC’s The Apprentice may have had a personal grudge against him. For many of his on-air talent, however, and those behind the scenes, it translated into an ideological mission to actively push anti-Trump propaganda.

Licht promptly laid off several of the less credible personalities, such as Brian Stelter, and moved bombastic prime-time anchor Don Lemon to a platoon role on the network’s morning show alongside two female costars—until he, too, was fired.

Licht also brought on Chris Wallace, a Fox News star who had garnered a sterling reputation for his objective, news-like demeanor (perhaps because he was a liberal at an otherwise conservative network) to be the marquee name on a new streaming platform, and he encouraged a more moderate tone in coverage.

Unfortunately for the new CEO, the damage to CNN’s brand was not so easily repaired, and the shift wound up alienating the remaining viewers it did have. A final affront came when Licht invited Trump to participate in a town-hall event with new anchor Kaitlan Collins, herself an alumna of the conservative Daily Caller.

After Trump dominated the event, top leftist stars like Christiane Amanpour threatened to quit if Licht continued on as CEO.

Many smaller leftist sites, meanwhile, continue to fold, unable to reinvent themselves. After recently hiring a former New York Post editor in an effort to rehabilitate its brand, the far-left Daily Beast instead announced recently that planned major layoffs, with more than 70% of its staff expected to depart.

The far-left site Vice Media similarly declared bankruptcy recently, and Buzzfeed has faced major struggles as well.

In more traditional media, the Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated are among those that have suffered on the altar of wokeness.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press


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