WaPo Staff In Mutiny Over British Publisher Pick By Owner Jeff Bezos

The building of the Washington Post newspaper headquarter is seen on K Street in Washington DC on May 16, 2019. - The Washington Post is a major American daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C., with a particular emphasis on national politics and the federal government. It has the largest circulation in the Washington metropolitan area. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Inside the Post, the conversation among reporters we surveyed last night centered on whether new Publisher Will Lewis could continue leading the publication.

Post reporters have responded to the allegations that Lewis breached the wall between the business and editorial sides of the paper with more aggressive reporting on him. “The only way to fix what he broke is to double down on transparency about the whole thing,” one Post reporter told Playbook.

The latest attempt landed yesterday at 9:32 p.m. with a piece by Sarah Ellison and Elahe Izadi: “Post publisher draws more scrutiny after newsroom shake-up”

The article confirmed two things: First, it matched previous NYT reporting that Lewis told former executive editor SALLY BUZBEE that a proposed Post story tying Lewis to accusations of covering up evidence in the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal in the U.K. “did not warrant coverage and that publishing it represented a lapse in judgment.”

Second, and more generally, it revealed that the clash between Lewis’ London-bred rough-and-tumble sensibilities and the Post’s more high-minded culture is even more profound than previously suspected: He can’t seem to figure out where his Fleet Street smarts are necessary and refreshing and where they are toxic and self-defeating.

What had Posties especially gobsmacked last night was Lewis’s defense. Ellison and Izadi report that Lewis said in an email that he “did not pressure her in any way.” They continue:

“He acknowledged Buzbee had informed him of plans to publish a story but that he was ‘professional throughout.’ He also said he doesn’t recall ever having used the phrase ‘serious lapse in judgment.’

“He described a process, which he said was common, of asking about a story and offering thoughts or input ‘if appropriate,’ and making clear that the decision to publish ultimately rested with the editor.

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