Washington Post Mess Takes Another Turn

Publisher Will Lewis, incoming top editor implicated further in British media scandals
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2024 10:20 AM CDT
Washington Post Leadership Mess Takes Another Turn
This is an undated photo showing Will Lewis, publisher of the "Washington Post."   (Elliott O'Donovan/The Washington Post via AP)

It's probably not a good sign when a newspaper publisher declines to comment in an investigative story on the front page of his own publication. Such is the state of affairs at the Washington Post, where publisher Will Lewis—along with incoming editor and fellow Brit Robert Winnett—is embroiled in a deepening scandal about shady journalism practices in the UK. Coverage:

  • In the Post: Its investigation raises ethical questions about Winnett, a Lewis protege who's supposed to become the newspaper's top editor later this year. The lengthy story links Lewis to a man who has acknowledged using dishonest means to obtain info used by Winnett in stories.
  • No comment: Winnett, currently a deputy editor for the UK Telegraph, declined to comment to the reporters he's expected soon to be leading. Lewis, the current publisher, also demurred, resulting in what Axios describes as this "surprising sentence" in the piece: "Lewis declined to comment through a Post spokesperson in response to a list of detailed questions, including about the origins of the information for the 2004 stories."

  • NYT investigation: But wait, there's more. The New York Times also is out with an investigative piece, this one focusing on Lewis. It alleges that Lewis "used fraudulently obtained phone and company records in newspaper articles," and was more involved in the UK's long-running hacking scandal than he has previously acknowledged. Lewis assigned at least one article based on the hacked records, and Winnett wrote another, according to the story. Lewis declined to comment, and Winnett did not respond to written questions.
  • Fallout: The Politico Playbook reports that the Post newsroom is in turmoil, particularly since the Times story came out Sunday. "People are like, 'Do we really want to work here anymore?'" the outlet quotes a Post reporter as telling them. "People are freaked out." Not helping is that Lewis has been responding with "cockiness and intransigence," per the outlet. The big question: Will owner Jeff Bezos allow Lewis to remain in his position?
  • More context: Post editor Sally Buzbee resigned abruptly earlier this month, and friction with Lewis over the newspaper's coverage of him is believed to have factored in. At NPR, media writer David Folkenflik (who has previously disclosed Lewis' failed attempts to dissuade him from writing a story about all this) provides an in-depth look at the background.
(More Washington Post stories.)

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