Column: Premature Progressive Panic Over The Washington Post

News & Politics

For weeks now, The Washington Post has been plagued by internal turmoil over some top new hires. It started with new publisher Will Lewis, a former Rupert Murdoch employee who quickly attracted “opposition research” from NPR media reporter David Folkenflik, a man who reports incessantly on Murdoch like the mogul’s a James Bond villain — at taxpayer expense.

This caused a predictable ruckus among leftists, both inside the Post and outside. Since the paper is owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, the Posties treat the newspaper like a charity and not a business. They don’t seem to care that the Post lost $77 million over the past year and had to offer buyouts to several hundred staffers to address the losses.  

The subscribers were in revolt in a web chat with Post media blogger Erik Wemple. Wrote one: “What’s the best way for subscribers to let Jeff Bezos know we don’t like how he’s hiring so many men from Rupert Murdoch’s empire to be in charge of The Washington Post? Many people are simply canceling their subscriptions, but I’m wondering if we have better options.”

And this one: “What is a meaningful reaction to Will Lewis as Washington Post’s CEO and publisher, given the allegations of his spiking news stories as well as his choice of two White men to co-lead The Post news operations?” 

Too many Caucasian chefs in the kitchen?

This was only matched in intensity by grumpy liberals demanding to know from Wemple why the Post passed on that epic saga of the Alito family house flags.

Folkenflik and other party-line enforcers of leftist ideology in news rooms – including the old CNN crew of Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy, as well as Washington Post veteran Margaret Sullivan – have been agitating to get these new staffers removed (some before they start) because they were ruining staff morale. They’re treating Lewis & Co. like New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet, who was deposed by a “news room” revolt because he published a guest essay by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton.  But Bezos put out a memo that suggested no one is going anywhere and pledged to maintain “the quality, ethics, and standards we all believe in.”

For his part, Politico media writer Jack Shafer wasn’t buying the panic that the Post could soon become a “right-wing tablet.” He said “douse that thought with flame retardant. None of the new Lewis crew seem to tilt that way.” But everyone can get territorial in mass communications, just as the Left tore their collective hair out over Elon Musk taking over Twitter.

It’s simply implausible that the Post will stop reading like a partisan rag, always highlighting scandalous Republicans and aggressively downplaying anything damaging or divisive to Democrats. The Post under the new publisher recently described an explicitly pro-Hamas protest surrounding the White House as “largely peaceful,” despite the smoke bombs and vandalism of statues.

This is still the media outlet that splashes a colorful feature across the top of the Style section on how “Jill Biden works the senior circuit.” Reporter Kara Voght touted Jill on the campaign trail with her “singsongy voice honed from decades of teaching” and “sinewy calves” from “pounding the pavement in trendy On Cloud running shoes.”

Voght didn’t score an interview with the First Lady, so instead she ran a pile of gushy quotes from Biden voters. “To see her be a pillar of her family is inspiring,” said one fan in Green Bay. 

At the Post, that translates into maintaining “the quality, ethics, and standards” of a promotional Democratic Party broadsheet. 

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