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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Why did Jeff Bezos bring Faux News savants to The Washington Post?

Former Rupert Murdoch "fixer" Will Lewis is the new publisher of The Post.He's not alone.
Jeff Bezos: A headache for The Washington Post

Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos seems determined to turn The Washington Post into a sad parody of Fox News. His decision hire Rupert Murdoch “fixer” Will Lewis as the paper’s new publisher and CEO is destroying the journalistic institution of Watergate fame, along with other questionable castoffs of British tabloid toxicity and trash.

I say this is a former contract reporter and photojournalist who contributed to the Post during my 23 years in Washington. What a disaster abd a sad turn for a legacy.

Reports The New York Times :

Will Lewis, now the publisher of the Washington Post, was in full crisis mode in 2011. Then an executive at a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, he was an intermediary to the police detectives investigating a British phone-hacking scandal that had placed the company’s journalists and top leaders in legal peril.

For years, reporters at News Corporation’s best-selling British tabloid had landed scoops by paying public officials and illegally listening to the voice mail messages of royals, politicians, celebrities and even a murdered girl. Mr. Lewis was supposed to cooperate with police, identify wrongdoing and help steer the company through the crisis.

His role, he would later say, was as a force for good. He wa s“draining the swamp.”

But confidential documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with people involved in the criminal investigation show that, almost from the beginning, investigators with London’s Metropolitan Police were suspicious of News Corporation’s intentions, and came to view Mr. Lewis as an impediment.

The police suspected that News Corp. was trying to “steer the investigation into a very narrow remit” by pointing the finger at a few journalists “while steering the investigation away from other journalists and editors,” one of the lead detectives wrote in a previously undisclosed internal summary of events.

Scotland Yard detectives were shocked to learn that the company had deleted millions of internal emails, despite notices from a lawyer for an alleged phone hacking victim and the police explicitly asking that any documents related to the investigation be preserved, according to police records and interviews with investigators.

And while the company took steps to save some relevant emails amid the deletions, the police were deeply skeptical of one of Mr. Lewis’s explanations for those deletions — especially since he admitted it couldn’t be corroborated.

The Times reporting fills out a portrait of Mr. Lewis at a crucial moment. A British career journalist who became a crisis manager at News Corp., he was thrust into a dual role as liaison to the authorities and, perhaps more important, as the protector of the Murdoch empire’s interests.

In other words, Lewis was trying cover for his boss, the notorious Murdoch and himself. Murdoch repaid Lewis with a top job at The Walll Street Journal, the once-fabled journal of the American economy that is now all but destroyed by Murdoch’s ownership.

Eyebrows went up in January of this year when Bezos hired Lewis as the new CEO and publisher of The Post and endorsed Lewis bringing in another tabloid Murdoch henchman Robert Winnett, who was heavily involved in the email and hacking scandal and other questionable actions.

Winnett never arrived the Post. Investigations by The Time showcased his lies and decaptions and he changed his mind and decided to toninue as a tabloid operative in London.

Lewis, however, is still in place and Bezos appears confortable with turning an American journalism landmark over to tabloid propagandists. Lewis is also adding other former Murdoch disasters to the Post payroll.

Several Pulitzer Prize – winning journalists have left the Post in disgust and others are talking with news outlets, including The Times.

“You have to walk carefully at The Post,” says one reporter. “The hatchets are out and the legacy of this paper is the target.”

Sources say canelled subscriptions to the Post, already rising, are doblibg and tripling, adding to a $77 million last posted by the publication in its latest financial filing.

The Times report adds:

Today, Lewis is again under pressure. His handpicked editor, Robert Winnett, abruptly withdrew from the job last week after news reports linked him and Mr. Lewis to British news-gathering practices that would be considered unethical in the United States.

High-profile lawsuits are also moving forward in London, brought against News Corp. by Prince Harry and other victims of hacking. The claims have not yet been tested in court but they include new details about Mr. Lewis’s role in the scandal. The episode has attracted even greater interest since Mr. Lewis tried to suppress news coverage of the litigation.

Journalists inside and outside The Post have questioned why he would do that if his role in the scandal had merely been to clean house.

Lewis closing ranks around himself.

“Any allegations of wrongdoing are untrue,” he said in a statement. “I have no further comment to make.”

Neither does Bezos.

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