A sleazy British hack won’t be the Washington Post’s new managing editor after all

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William Lewis, a British editor, was appointed the Washington Post’s new CEO last November, and he officially started work at WaPo in January. For months, there wasn’t a ton of gossip about WaPo’s new CEO and the newsroom was pretty much operating as it always did. Then Prince Harry won a motion in his years-long lawsuit against News UK/The Sun – in Harry part of the lawsuit, he could cite names of journalists and editors who worked for Rupert Murdoch’s British media outlets. Harry can and will pinpoint the individual criminality of various editors and journalists who worked for Murdoch from 2000-2012, basically. One of those names is William Lewis, who worked as an editor for the Times of London.

When Harry won that motion, WaPo’s managing editor Sally Buzbee told Lewis that the paper planned to cover the case thoroughly, even if he was implicated. He leaned on her to try to influence coverage or convince her not to run any coverage. Then he announced his plan to significantly demote Buzbee and she quit. All hell broke loose. Lewis quickly announced the appointment of Robert Winnett to take over Buzbee’s position, although Winnett was only scheduled to take over post-election. Since Buzbee’s exit, the New York Times, the Guardian, assorted media watchdog groups and the Post itself have all done deeper dives into both Lewis and Winnett. What they’ve found is shocking – the criminality, the years-long claims of hacking and paying for illegally obtained information, the uncited political work and on and on. So far, Jeff Bezos – who owns the Post – has not fired anyone. But now Winnett is waving the white flag of surrender. He will no longer wash up on American shores.

Robert Winnett, the British journalist recently tapped to become editor of The Washington Post later this year, will not take the job and will remain at the Daily Telegraph in London, according to a company email sent to Post employees Friday morning.

The change of plans comes after days of turmoil surrounding The Post, triggered by the abrupt exit of executive editor Sally Buzbee on June 2 and questions about past journalistic practices of both Winnett and William Lewis, The Post’s CEO and publisher.

Lewis had announced Winnett’s hiring when Buzbee departed just 2½ weeks ago, along with plans for a “third newsroom” that would be tasked with attracting new audiences. Under the plan, former Wall Street Journal editor Matt Murray came on board to run news coverage until Winnett’s arrival, at which point Murray would have handed the reins to Winnett and run the new division in November after the election. Murray took over June 3 and was introduced to the newsroom; Winnett, who oversees news coverage at the Telegraph as a deputy editor, had not yet met The Post staff and was almost entirely unknown in American media circles.

Lewis and Winnett have faced accusations in recent days of using unethical newsgathering practices in Britain, where they previously worked together at the Telegraph and the Sunday Times — London newsrooms that sometimes operate by different rules than their American counterparts.

Telegraph editor Chris Evans announced in a memo to his staff Friday that Winnett had pulled out of The Post job and would remain his deputy at the London paper. “I’m pleased to report that Rob Winnett has decided to stay with us,” Evans wrote. “As you all know, he’s a talented chap and their loss is our gain.”

Lewis confirmed that Winnett had withdrawn from the position, relaying the news “with regret” in a note to Post staff Friday morning. “Rob has my greatest respect and is an incredibly talented editor and journalist,” Lewis wrote, adding that an outside firm would be used to conduct a “timely but thorough search” for a replacement.

[From WaPo]

LMAO. Robert Winnett didn’t want the American smoke. All of these British hacks think they can break into the American market and bring their unethical behavior and criminality over here and no one will say sh-t. They believe they will be embraced, or worse, they believe that they can recreate the British newsroom climate in America. My hope/prediction is that Bezos will eventually tell Lewis to go, although I expect it will be couched in “William Lewis is choosing to go of his own accord.” When will that happen… it depends on the pressure being exerted outside of the Post, honestly. The New York Times is full of Trump supporters, but they’ve done a good job of being loudly outraged by Lewis and Winnett’s hirings and their past activities in the British media. Journalists on both sides of the pond enjoy some blood-letting within their own ranks, it appears.

Puck did a hysterically outraged story about how WaPo journalists decided “to investigate both Lewis and Winnett to see if they could unearth unflattering information about the two men’s history in the U.K.” in recent weeks. Puck is calling this a “coup.” What the Post has done so far – report on itself and create a Chinese wall between Lewis’s management and the real journalism being done – is not a coup, it’s just plain ethical journalism. And it honestly should have been done months ago. It’s a pretty half-assed “coup” to only investigate the sleazy new CEO after he marginalized and demoted the female managing editor for daring to report on his activities.

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43 Responses to “A sleazy British hack won’t be the Washington Post’s new managing editor after all”

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  1. equality says:

    Good to see some consequences. There need to be more consequences (like jail time) and more “journalists” suffering those consequences.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Yeah, I thought that was rich, the ‘different rules’ between the UK & American papers–as we’ve learned from the Levinson inquiry & more recently with Harry et al., the UK style is to gain info illegally.

  2. Brassy Rebel says:

    Meanwhile, Bezos is strangely quiet about all of this. I guess he’s just too busy being papped with Lauren Sanchez.

    • Eurydice says:

      I saw a headline this morning that Bezos had to interrupt his Mediterranean holiday to deal with this issue, such a nuisance. He’s being pummeled in the press.

    • DK says:

      Between filling the interim post with a guy from the WSJ and this mention of a “third newsroom to attract new audiences,” it’s clear WaPo is intentionally on the path to becoming a right-wing newspaper.

      And Bezos is on board with that strategy (if he’s not the one who dictated it in the first place).

      So he’s not going to drop Lewis willingly, and even if he does, I hope everyone stays vigilant about the replacement Bezos picks.

      Because we are all just watching WaPo not just die a slow death in terms of being a legitimate news source, but we are watching “democracy die in the darkness” as it transforms to a misinformation machine.

      • Yvette says:

        @DK … “… but we are watching “democracy die in the darkness” as it transforms to a misinformation machine.”

        This is what I think (this is all just my own opinion) they mean by a ‘third newsroom to attract new audiences ‘ as well. I think the intention was to create a ‘Daily mail/Sun’ environment where articles and headlines contain information that is twisted, embellished, and sometimes simply made up in order to sway public opinion and collect clicks. And let’s not forget the BOTS.

        There have already been a peppering of British media professionals hired in American media outlets, mostly writing pointed opinion pieces, as well as those who enjoy a cross-Atlanta double career working for Murdock and other extreme right-wing organizations–like the Heritage Foundation. What I’ve noticed is that some British media outlets often point to articles or opinion pieces written by British journalists in American media outlets to claim that it represents how ‘Americans’ feel.

        I’m glad some American and British media outlets and newsrooms are pushing back on this. I know we have ‘yellow journalism’ here in the U.S. as well and our tabloids do a booming business, but I think Americans read it more for entertainment purposes (and there had better be at least a grain of truth or they will be sued). When you’re not reporting/publishing true facts or investigating facts to keep the powerful in check then you’re creating propaganda.

        “Propaganda (Oxford language dictionary): information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.”

        “Propaganda (Merriam-Webster dictionary): the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.”

      • BeanieBean says:

        I found that worrisome, too. As I’ve watched The NY Times no longer be the paper of record, I thought at least we still had The Washington Post. This ‘third newsroom’ stuff sounds ominous.

  3. sevenblue says:

    Wow, the guy is a criminal and they are still singing praises to him. Also, the NPR reported that Will asked them not to report about his criminal activities in exchange of an interview about WaPo and they refused, Puck got the story. So, Puck’s take about this situation isn’t surprising. Let’s see if they are gonna find even worse man for the job.

  4. Amy Bee says:

    Good. I think Lewis will hold on for now but when the evidence comes out in the court case in January he will have no choice but to step down.

    • ML says:

      Lewis might have also been responsible for Winnett choosing to stay in the UK if he’s trying to save his own job. I’m glad Winnett didn’t get the job at WaPo. The Britsc and this is really unusual in Europe, seem to allow illegal news-gathering practices. I don’t get that entirely, but i can imagine that Winnett feels more at home where he doesn’t need to acclimate to a new culture.

      There’s no world in which Bezod is clueless about Lewis and how he works. Either he’s decided that Lewis is still better for his bottom line than anyone else (maybe why Winnett is taking the fall?) or he’s debating where the profits will come from if he hires somebody else.

  5. Sydneygirl says:

    I hope this is the first sign of pushback re: the influx of scumbag British journalists.

  6. Anon says:

    I am concerned with Sally Buzbee. Proud of her for being an upright ethical journalist, worried on the effects on her life. Google reports she is 59. I hope she has been able to find other comparable employment. Because as someone of a similar age practicalities like COBRA is expensive, lapses in retirement funding are problematic. In my life I’ve seen women in particular sidelined for less.

    • ML says:

      Excellent point! I hope she’s going to be okay. I have a ton of admiration for her ethics!

    • WithTheAmerican says:

      Yes it’s completely uncool what they’ve done to her, all for being a good journalist.

      But COBRA isn’t her only option being in an ACA (Obamacare) area, she’ll be able to get excellent insurance for pretty cheap compared to COBRA.

    • Andrea says:

      She won’t have to pay COBRA, there is Obamacare. And extremely affordable.

    • ljnd says:

      I’m exactly her age – last time I was laid off, I was able to set up a consulting business that I parlayed into full time work in a completely different industry. I love learning new things, and I’m better off now than I would have been if I’d stayed in my old industry. So that’s also a possibliity – reinvention.

    • bisynaptic says:

      Yes, her situation is worth knowing, as she’s one of the heroes of this story. They reported that she “retired”, IIRC. Don’t know what exactly that means for her.

  7. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    Oh to have another Woodward and Bernstein.

    Or Deep Throat

    Sounds as if maybe they already do and they’ve chosen to remain “deep background” as the saying goes.

  8. Jais says:

    Good. I’ll be happy when Lewis goes too.

  9. Digital Unicorn says:

    Its only a matter of time before Lewis goes – he’ll be told to resign but then again Bezos just might fire him for the PR value. I can’t imagine Bezos is happy with the dragging he’s getting about this.

    • Scorpio says:

      I just recently rewatched All the Presidents Men with my family. I am confused. How is some editor from a hack right wing UK Murdoch paper supposed to run the Washington Post given a history of editors like Bill Bradlee? The man was woefully unqualified and unconnected. He never even showed up post announcement.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        He did a stint at WSJ so I’m guessing that’s how he was considered qualified.

        where are all the right wingers complaining about immigrants coming to the US to steal our jobs? oh wait . . .

      • Vernie says:

        @PottymouthPup – gah, your comment is perfection! I hope you see my comment because yours is one of the best I’ve seen in 10+ years here. Brava!

      • Deering24 says:

        Wa-Po has been in the right-wing’s sights since Watergate. It was only a matter of time before dark money-types did a takeover. Fox News was only the beginning…

  10. Blithe says:

    Good. The Post is still — IMO — only a pallid shadow of its former self, but this is a pretty major shift in a good direction. I hope that Buzbee lands on her feet, and that Lewis soon slithers out as well.

    I’m curious about the “new audiences” that they supposedly want to attract — after working extremely diligently to alienate quite a few of their prior old audiences. Bezos now has an unprecedented wealth of information about anyone who has ever shopped at Amazon affiliated businesses— from what we read, what we eat, what medications we take, to how we prioritize our purchases and life priorities. What Amazon does —and potentially could do — with this information makes me very nervous. The subtle and not so subtle influences of a major news source muddled into this mix makes me even more concerned.

    • bisynaptic says:


    • Scorpio says:

      I could be wrong but the editor who just quit was not the one who was at the WSJ, correct? I believe the current acting managing editor who was brought in to run the third newsroom has a WSJ background.

      The other one wasn’t even a managing editor of the relatively small uk-based Telegraph, he was just known for his British investigative journalistic. In what world does that make you qualified to run the Washington Post. Oh wait, he is Lewis’s buddy. Got it.

      It’s confusing as you have three British editors with similar bland names coming in from Murdoch run publications, who all used to work together.

  11. PC says:

    Good! It’s bad enough Newsweek has Jack Royston on payroll as a reporter and the morning shows use the likes of Tina Brown and Robert Jobson as experts. We don’t need any of those British trash personalities as CEOs or editors at major news organizations. Let them go work for the National Enquirer. That’s all they’re good for. The sooner Lewis is out the better. And to save democracy, I also don’t think Rupert Murdock should be allowed to purchase any more American news outlets.

    • Carrie says:

      @PC. Could not agree more. The absolute shite breakfast shows on Aus TV use the likes of Blob Jobson as well. 🙄

  12. martha says:

    Reports about his side-gigs are what’s going to finally do him in – maybe? (1) WJL Partners – his PR firm he’s supposedly separated from, but can’t resist keeping his hand in. (2) unpaid PR gigs for Tory politicians (“Operation Big Dog” FFS. (3) The News Movement – a bullshit-aimed-at-young-people startup he’s “stepped down from” but is a main shareholder in.

    Problem is that NONE OF THIS IS A SECRET (same as ALL THE HISTORY of his shit-journalism practices with Murdoch) and Jeff Bezos and WaPo board don’t seem to care.

    I retain a certain fondness for my old hometown newspaper and have a subscription (Watergate was fun for a nerdy teenager!), but COME ON.

    • bisynaptic says:

      Fingers crossed this will all become public knowledge.

    • Scorpio says:

      Martha, I find the Johnson consulting which got him some sort of title, interesting. I bet there is more there than just the “clean your phones” suggestions. It’s a pity the UK press generally won’t call out each other more, no doubt because most of their hands and papers aren’t clean.

  13. TN Democrat says:

    I hope Harry can expose more of this type of corruption/collision before he has to settle with Murdoch. Why hasn’t Bezos/the WAPO board fired this rota criminal yet? Buzbee hopefully sues the pants off everyone.

  14. Nic919 says:

    This reminds me of when piers Morgan tried to enter the U.S. market to replace Larry king but failed.

  15. bisynaptic says:

    Go, Harry!

  16. Pinniped and Poodle says:

    Is Bezos a Rupert Murdoch wannabe?

  17. SarahCS says:

    And the Torygraph is gloating about getting to keep him.

    I don’t agree with the Guardian on everything but this is why I do have a paid version, they seem to be all we have left of actual journalism over here.