New WaPo Publisher Was Part of 'Operation Save Big Dog'

Sources say Will Lewis, allies tried to save Boris Johnson's premiership; Jeff Bezos also weighs in
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2024 7:25 AM CDT
Bezos on WaPo Hubbub: 'Ethics at the Post Will Not Change'
Jeff Bezos arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar party on March 10 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Commotion at the Washington Post over its new publisher continues. Sources now say that Will Lewis suggested to former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other bigwigs at 10 Downing Street that they "clean up" their phones as those officials were investigated for the "Partygate" scandal during COVID. The claims suggest that Lewis' recommendations, offered in late 2021 and early 2022, "contradicted an email sent to staff at No. 10 in December 2021 [that] instructed them not to destroy any material that could be relevant to an investigation into the flagrant breaking of COVID lockdown rules by Johnson and officials who worked for him," per the Guardian. Other news on the Post-Lewis front:

  • A bid to save Boris: The paper also notes that Lewis was part of "Operation Save Big Dog," in which a group of allies "tried but ultimately failed to salvage Johnson's premiership." The Guardian looks more closely at Lewis and Johnson's past work and personal relationship. Reps for both Lewis and Johnson deemed the Guardian's reporting "untrue."
  • Bezos: The Post's owner has finally put in his two cents, via a Tuesday email to the paper's leaders, per Politico. "I know you've already heard this from Will, but I wanted to also weigh in directly: The journalistic standards and ethics at the Post will not change," Jeff Bezos wrote. "To be sure, it can't be business as usual ... The world is evolving rapidly and we do need to change as a business. But ... our standards at the Post have always been very high. That can't change—and it won't."

  • 'Third newsroom': That's one of Lewis' plans for the Post, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reports that the publisher "wants to create a new, specialized newsroom to do social media and service journalism," in addition to regular news and opinion pieces. "The Washington Post and all other news brands need to go where the young people are," one digital media consultant notes.
  • Getting meta: Rival New York Times takes a closer look at this "uneasy moment" for the Post, including the fact that it has to cover the drama. "The unfolding controversy has unsettled many Post journalists," the Times notes. "Some have discussed among themselves whether Mr. Lewis and [incoming editor Robert] Winnett share their ethics," per sources.
  • An 'unrecoverable' situation? New York Times journalist Nick Kristof thinks that's the case for the Post's current leadership, per the AP, which takes a look at the "extraordinary" coverage of the scandal.
  • Challenges, reactions: Axios looks back at the past few years of struggles for the Post, including declining readership, layoffs, and financial issues. Meanwhile, those who are still around are feeling the stress of the situation, with one employee calling the situation with Lewis "all-consuming," while another notes, "I think we're all just exhausted."
(More Washington Post stories.)

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