Sally Buzbee. Photo (cc) 2018 by Collision Conf.

I’m reading everything I can find about the still-unfolding story of what’s next at The Washington Post, and I think it makes sense to hold back until the picture comes more clearly into focus. Here, though, are a few bullet points of note:

• It sounds like Sally Buzbee could have stayed as executive editor, at least for a few months, if she’d been willing to accept the reduced role that publisher Will Lewis envisions under his three-newsrooms idea. New York Times reporters Benjamin Mullin and Katie Robertson report that Buzbee told senior editors in advance of her departure, “I would have preferred to stay to help us get through this period, but it just got to the point where it wasn’t possible.”

• Lewis presided over a staff meeting Monday that devolved into a “shit show,” according to Matt Fuller and Tara Golshan of NOTUS. Particularly outspoken was political reporter Ashley Parker, who pointed out, “Now we have four white men running the newsroom.” Lewis responded, “I’ve got to do better.” Well, this was his chance, and now all the top jobs have been filled. NOTUS, by the way,  is part of the Allbritton Journalism Institute, begun recently by Robert Allbritton, the former publisher of Politico, part of a family whose members are ancient rivals of the Post going back to the long-gone Washington Star.

• Check out this squishy-soft Post feature on the new top editors, Matt Murray and Robert Winnett. I don’t want to judge the Post on one article, and in fact this story on Buzbee’s departure is straightforward and reasonably tough. But I’m reminded of some of the brutally candid stories the Post produced after Jeff Bezos announced in August 2013 that he was buying the paper. As I wrote in my 2018 book “The Return of the Moguls”:

Indeed, within days of the announcement that he would buy the paper, the Post published an in-depth examination of Bezos and Amazon that could fairly be described as warts and all — he was described as “ruthless” and a “bully” in his dealings with competitors and a boss who was known for launching “tirades” that “humiliated colleagues.” An infamous story was repeated about Amazon stationing an ambulance outside one of its Pennsylvania warehouses during a heat wave rather than installing air conditioning…. Shel Kaphlan, Bezos’s first employee, who left Amazon after his role within the company was marginalized, was quoted as saying, “I saw him just completely destroy people on several occasions.” Kaphlan added that he felt “nauseous” at the prospect of Bezos owning the Post and the possibility that he would convert it “into a corporate libertarian mouthpiece.” If there is an example of newspaper reporters’ sucking up to the new boss, well, this was surely its opposite.

As is his custom, Bezos refused to cooperate with the team of reporters who worked on that story. But the national investigative reporter Kimberly Kindy, who was among those journalists, told me there were no repercussions from Bezos after publication. “I don’t think that we have shied away from covering him. And he certainly has invited us to,” she said.

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