By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

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The Washington Post looks to local as a way of reviving its sagging fortunes

Photo (cc) 2016 by Dan Kennedy

I was intrigued to learn that embattled Washington Post publisher Will Lewis is thinking about expanding the Post’s local coverage as he seeks a way to turn around the paper’s declining fortunes. It’s an idea I’ve suggested a couple of times (here and here), so I’m heartened to see that the Post might actually move in that direction.

In Axios D.C., Cuneyt Dil reports that the product would be known as Local Plus and would be aimed at readers who are willing to pay a premium for newsletters and “exclusive experiences,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. If Lewis decides to head down that route, he’d be embracing the Post’s roots, harking back to a time when it had the highest penetration rate in the country and had more in common with large regional papers like The Boston Globe and The Philadelphia Inquirer than with The New York Times.

Of course, Lewis doesn’t have to choose since digital distribution means that the Post can continue with the national and international mission that owner Jeff Bezos set for it a decade ago.

In my 2018 book “The Return of the Moguls,” I tracked the Bezos led-transformation. Under the Graham family, from whom Bezos bought the paper in 2013, the Post was barely profitable and was accomplishing that mainly through cuts. The Grahams’ final play was to double down on local, unveiling the slogan “Of Washington, For Washington.”

Even in the early Bezos years, Post executives understood the value of local. For several years they offered two different digital products — a colorful, low-cost magazine-like app that contained no local news and that was aimed at a national audience, and a more traditional app that cost more and included all of the Post’s journalism, including local and regional coverage.

The Post’s major Bezos-era challenge has come since Donald Trump left the White House and a post-Trump-bump malaise hit multiple news outlets. The New York Times has been a notable exception, zooming to more than 10 million paid subscribers on the strength of its lifestyle offerings, including recipes, consumer advice and games. The Post, meanwhile, slid from 3 million to 2.5 million paid subscribers as of a year ago, and may have slipped more since then.

If the Post is going to start growing again, it has to find areas where it’s not competing head-to-head with the Times. I assume that’s what Lewis’ “third newsroom” comprising social media and lifestyle journalism comes in, although he hasn’t even begun to define what that will look like.

Local news, too, would be a smart move, and charging a premium for it makes a lot of sense.

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Johanna Dunaway tells us about her plans to create a local news database

Johanna Dunaway

On the new “What Works” podcast, Ellen Clegg and I talk with Johanna Dunaway, a professor of political science at Syracuse University. She is also research director of the university’s Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship in Washington D.C.

I got to know Johanna when we were both Joan Shorenstein Fellows at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2016. I wrote part of my book about a new breed of wealthy newspaper owners, “The Return of the Moguls.” Johanna wrote a paper that examined how mobile technology was actually contributing to the digital divide between rich and poor.

Dunaway recently received a $200,000 grant from the Carnegie Fellows Program to further her work on local news. Among other things, she plans on building out an expansive database that lists local news outlets throughout the United States. She also plans to examine whether the nationalizing of news contributes to the toxic quality of public discourse.

I’ve got a Quick Take on what has been a bad year so far for public broadcasting operations, with cuts being imposed from Washington, D.C., to Denver and elsewhere. In Boston, where “What Works” is based, GBH News, the local news arm of the public media powerhouse GBH, has imposed some devastating cuts. But they’ve also brought in new leadership that could lead to a brighter future.

Ellen looks at a new use of print by the all-digital Texas Tribune, the nonprofit news outlet based in Austin.

You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.

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Post notes: Buzbee’s departure, diversity concerns and a squishy-soft profile

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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Jeff Bezos is reinventing The Washington Post — again. And this time he’s on his own.

Jeff Bezos. Painting (cc) 2017 by thierry ehrmann.

Having tracked the rise of The Washington Post under owner Jeff Bezos, executive editor Marty Baron and chief technologist Shailesh Prakash in my 2018 book “The Return of the Moguls,” I’ve watched its dispiriting decline with sadness. On Sunday, that decline was underscored by Sally Buzbee’s departure as executive editor. CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy has the story.

Lest we forget, Bezos did not choose Baron and Prakash; rather, he inherited them from Graham family ownership after he bought the paper in 2013 for $250 million. And though Bezos had the good sense to keep them and give them the resources they needed, it was their vision that created a great digital, nationally focused news organization that was positioned perfectly for the rise of Trump. Maybe an early warning sign was that when Bezos did get to make a big hire, he chose Ronald Reagan apparatchik Fred Ryan as publisher. As Baron makes clear in his book “Collision of Power,” Ryan did not prove to be an inspired choice.

Since Donald Trump left office, it’s been nothing but a downhill slide for the Post, which, according to the new publisher, Will Lewis, lost $77 million last year and about half its audience since 2020. Was that entirely the fault of Buzbee, a former Associated Press executive editor who took the Post’s helm after Baron retired in early 2021? Of course not. But it all happened on her watch, so it’s not a surprise that she’s leaving.

As Poynter media reporter Tom Jones points out, it’s not 100% clear that Buzbee was fired. It’s possible that she decided she wanted nothing to do with Lewis’ recently articulated vision, which includes having “AI everywhere in our newsroom,” according to Semafor media reporter Max Tani. Ugh.

The new executive team sets off some alarm bells. Lewis is a former publisher of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal who reportedly was involved in helping Murdoch clean up his tabloids’ phone-hacking scandal in the U.K. a dozen years ago, according to David Folkenflik of NPR. Buzbee will be replaced on a temporary basis by Matt Murray, a former editor-in-chief of the Journal. After the 2024 election, Murray will slide over to a newly created position creating service and social media journalism while the main news product will be under the direction of Robert Winnett, currently deputy editor of The Telegraph Media Group, a right-wing news organization. Media critic Dan Gillmor wrote on Mastodon:

The Washington Post is about to lurch sharply to the right politically as former Murdoch apparatchik solidifies his grip on the organization. Current editor Buzbee is out, and he’s bringing in people from Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal and the Telegraph (right-wing UK news org).

I’m willing to wait and see, in part because The Wall Street Journal remains a great newspaper notwithstanding its editorial page, whose right-wing orientation precedes Murdoch’s ownership. I’m deeply concerned about what Lewis has in mind with his artificial intelligence initiative, though.

For the second time since he bought it in 2013, Jeff Bezos is faced with the challenge of reinventing The Washington Post. He succeeded spectacularly the first time, with years of growth, profitability and influence. This time, though, he’s doing it with people he chose himself — and there are caution signs all over the place.

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‘Catch and kill’ isn’t new; plus, Facebook spurns news, and why the WSJ will miss Rupe

Three media tidbits for your Tuesday morning:

• Catch and kill. The National Enquirer’s practice of paying for stories and of deep-sixing articles in order to gain power and influence over someone — known as “catch and kill” — didn’t start with former Enquirer owner David Pecker. Nor was Donald Trump the first alleged beneficiary. I recommend “Scandalous,” a 2019 documentary about the Enquirer that is revealing and highly entertaining. Both Bob Hope and Bill Cosby were caught dead to rights in tawdry sexual affairs, and the Enquirer killed stories about those affairs in order to force them to cooperative in cheery feature stories. Pecker’s innovation was to politicize the practice.

• Facebook and news. Back when I was reporting my 2018 book, “The Return of the Moguls,” news organizations desperately sought to use Facebook as a way of distributing their journalism. News publishers liked to talk about “the barbell,” by which they would attract readers on Facebook (one end of the barbell) and try to get them to migrate to their own digital products (the other end of the barbell), where, it was hoped, they would become paying subscribers.

In the years since, Meta executives have decided news just isn’t worth it and have throttled journalism on Facebook and other products, including Threads and Instagram. How bad is it? The Washington Post has conducted a data analysis (free link) showing that “the 25 most-cited news organizations in the United States lost 75 percent of their total user engagement on Facebook” between the first quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2024. It’s further evidence that news organizations’ business models shouldn’t be dependent on giant corporations with their own agendas.

• The WSJ will miss Murdoch. Axel Springer, the right-wing German media conglomerate that took over Politico in 2021, has its sights set on The Wall Street Journal, according to Ben Smith of Semafor. Rupert Murdoch, through his control of the Fox News Channel and other outlets on three continents, may be the most malignant media magnate on the planet. But he’s been a surprisingly good steward of the Journal, which after 17 years of his ownership remains one of our great newspapers. At 93, he won’t be in charge too much longer. And here’s a quote from Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner that you might enjoy: “I’m all for climate change. We shouldn’t fight climate change but adjust to it.”

I’ll grant you that’s something you might see on the Journal’s editorial page even  now. Murdoch, though, has been better about not letting that bleed into the news pages than Axel Springer might be.

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Roger Fidler predicted the future of news delivery. But he missed a crucial piece.

The New York Times last week published a story by David Streitfeld on Roger Fidler, a digital journalism visionary who touted the idea of delivering news via tablet computers a good 20 years before such devices were even available. I wrote about Fidler in my 2018 book, “The Return of the Moguls: How Jeff Bezos and John Henry Are Remaking News for the Twenty-First Century.” An excerpt follows. It’s fascinating to look back at what Fidler got right and got wrong.

***

In the early 1990s, a Knight Ridder executive named Roger Fidler developed an idea that was stunningly close to the tablets and smartphones of the 2010s. I attended a conference at Columbia University at which Fidler outlined his vision for a digital tablet on which we would read newspapers and magazines — something he had been thinking about for the previous dozen or so years. The screen would have the same resolution as a glossy magazine; the devices would be flexible so you could roll one up and take it with you; and they would be so cheap that newspapers would give them away to eliminate the money-burning tasks of printing and distribution. How far ahead of his time was Fidler? Even as of 2017, we were nowhere near achieving any of those three goals.

Fidler also anticipated the choice and interactivity that would come with digital newspapers. For instance, he said that a subscriber might purchase a subscription to The New York Times’s international news, The Washington Post’s political news and her local paper’s regional news. And the tablet would have interactive capabilities so that you could, for instance, click on a restaurant ad to make a reservation. “It was not quite like Roger had descended from another planet, but he was saying some things that were simply very hard to believe at the time,” John Woolley, who worked with Fidler, said in 2012. “He had conjured up this idea of a tablet at a time when laptops were revolutionary. He was clearly a futurist. And he didn’t care what anyone believed. He never backed down.”

I have no notes from that conference, so I’m relying largely on my memory, as well as a video that Fidler put together when he was head of the Knight Ridder Information Design Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. The prototype in the video was simultaneously retro in that the display looked exactly like a printed newspaper and futuristic in its capabilities, which included better, faster interactive graphics than we generally see today as well as sophisticated voice controls.

But keep in mind Marshall McLuhan’s admonition that the medium is the message. Fidler envisioned a revolutionary leap forward in the way we interact with text, photography, graphics, audio and video. What he did not envision was that the digital future would be altogether different from what had come before and that we would use it in ways he could not imagine. In his talk at Columbia, he said that we’d download the content we had paid for by plugging our devices into, say, our cable television box before going to bed. In the video, he also raised the possibility of something that looked like a credit card that you could take with you and use to load more content onto your device if you were away from home. What he missed was that digital newspapers would be distributed via the open web rather than a closed system controlled by publishers. Fidler could see into the future in ways that were remarkable. But in 1994, he did not mention what would turn out to be the most revolutionary change of all. Even though he brilliantly anticipated the technological revolution that was to come, he failed to foresee the cultural revolution that would accompany it.

“For most people a newspaper’s like a friend,” Fidler says in the video. “It’s somebody you know who you have come to trust. Over the last 15 years there have been many attempts to develop electronic newspapers, and many of the technologists who have been pursuing these objectives assume that information is simply a commodity, and people really don’t care where that information comes from as long as it matches their set of personal interests. I disagree with that view.”

In fact, Fidler was wrong. Most news turned out to be so generic that it is difficult to imagine anyone would ever pay for it. As I am wrapping up this chapter in late March 2017, one of the big news stories of the day is the fate of President Donald Trump’s tax proposals following the Republican Congress’ failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act — a major plank in Trump’s platform. Entering “Trump taxes” at Google News brings more than 7.3 million results — the very definition of commodity news. More than 20 years after the narrator of Fidler’s video assured viewers that people wanted “a specific newspaper with a branded identity,” there are very few types of content that readers might be persuaded to pay for: certain types of local and investigative stories that no other news organizations are publishing; personalities that distinguish a paper from its competitors, such as popular columnists; and the intelligent judgment of editors regarding what news is the most important, what’s less important, and what can be left out of the paper altogether.

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How the NY Times over-interprets its reporting about billionaire media owners

Jeff Bezos. Photo (cc) 2019 by Daniel Oberhaus.

The New York Times has published a story (free link) that calls into question the rise of billionaires who own news organizations, noting that The Washington Post under Jeff Bezos, the Los Angeles Times under Patrick Soon-Shiong and Time magazine under Marc Benioff are all losing money. True enough. My problem with the story is that reporters Benjamin Mullin and Katie Robertson try too hard to impose an ubertake when in fact there’s important background with each of those examples. Mullin and Robertson write:

All three newsrooms greeted their new owners with cautious optimism that their business acumen and tech know-how would help figure out the perplexing question of how to make money as a digital publication.

But it increasingly appears that the billionaires are struggling just like nearly everyone else. Time, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times all lost millions of dollars last year, people with knowledge of the companies’ finances have said, after considerable investment from their owners and intensive efforts to drum up new revenue streams.

The role of wealthy newspaper owners is something of ongoing interest to me. My last book, “The Return of the Moguls” (2018), focused on the Post, The Boston Globe and the Orange County Register in Southern California, owned by a rich Boston-area businessman named Aaron Kushner. At the time the book came out, the Post was flying high, the Globe was muddling along and the Register was failing; it eventually fell into the hands of the slash-and-burn hedge fund Alden Globe Capital. The Post’s and the Globe’s fortunes have since moved in opposite directions.

Here are the particulars that get glossed over in Mullin and Robertson’s attempt to impose an overarching framework:

• Bezos, who bought the Post in 2013, made deep investments in technology and built up the staff. The result was years of growth and profits, which only came sputtering to a halt after Donald Trump left the White House. Former executive editor Marty Baron, in his book “Collision of Power,” suggests that, over time, a disciplined approach to hiring became more lax. In other words, the Post got ahead of itself and is now in the midst of a reset. A new publisher, William Lewis, begins work this month, and we’ll see if he can articulate a strategy that amounts to more than “just like the Times only not as comprehensive.”

• Benioff bought a dog and, predictably, it’s going “woof woof.” Time was the largest of the Big Three newsweeklies, along with Newsweek and U.S. World & News Report; it’s also the only one of the three that still exists in a somewhat recognizable form. Newsweeklies succeeded because, pre-internet, you couldn’t get great national papers like the Times, the Post and The Wall Street Journal delivered to your doorstep. Not only is there no discernible reason for them to exist anymore, but the leading newsweekly these days, at least in terms of cachet, is The Economist.

• Not all billionaire owners are in it for the right reasons, and Soon-Shiong has proven to be an uncertain leader. Does he care about the Los Angeles Times or not? He’s built it up; now he’s tearing it down. He recently pushed out his executive editor, Kevin Merida, the most prominent Black editor in the country, and he’s done some truly awful things such as delivering Tribune Publishing’s papers to Alden Global Capital and more recently selling The San Diego Union-Tribune to Alden.

So what does that tell us about billionaire owners? Not much. As Mullin and Robertson acknowledge, some are doing just fine, including The Boston Globe under John and Linda Henry and The Atlantic under Laurene Powell Jobs. They could have also mentioned the Star Tribune of Minneapolis under Glen Taylor or, for that matter, The New York Times, a publicly traded company that is nevertheless under the tight control of the Sulzberger family. I don’t think the Sulzbergers are billionaires, but they are not poor.

At the moment, it seems that the only two viable models for large regional dailies is individual ownership by wealthy people who are willing to invest in future profitability and nonprofit ownership, either in the form of a nonprofit organization owning a for-profit paper, as with The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Tampa Bay Times, or a paper that goes fully nonprofit, as with The Salt Lake Tribune and The Baltimore Banner. The Banner is a digital startup that nevertheless is attempting to position itself as a comprehensive replacement for The Baltimore Sun. The Sun, in turn, was one of the Tribune papers that Soon-Shiong helped gift-wrap for Alden, and just this past week was sold to right-wing television executive David Smith.

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The late Joe O’Donnell was once part of a group that wanted to buy the Globe

There’s a small omission in The Boston Globe’s obituary of Joe O’Donnell. Bryan Marquard writes that O’Donnell was part of a group that once tried to buy the Red Sox, a prize that was ultimately won by John Henry. What the story doesn’t mention, though, was that O’Donnell also tried to buy the Globe itself. I made mention of it in 2007 in an article I wrote for CommonWealth Magazine, writing that there had been some talk the previous fall that the New York Times Co. might be getting ready to offload the Globe:

The speculation briefly reached a fever pitch last fall, when retired General Electric chief executive Jack Welch, advertising executive Jack Connors, and concession mogul Joseph O’Donnell spread the word that they would like to buy the Globe. But with Times Company chief executive Janet Robinson all but coming right out and saying the Globe is not for sale, talk of a Welch-led sale has died down.

Two years later, the Times Co. did try to sell the Globe, only to pull it off the market when it apparently couldn’t get the price it wanted. Then, in 2013, the Times finally sold the Globe to none other than John Henry, O’Donnell’s rival in the Red Sox sweepstakes. In my book “The Return of the Moguls,” I wrote that Connors was among the suitors who competed with Henry for the Globe; I did not record whether O’Donnell was part of that second Connors bid.

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A possible way forward for The Washington Post: Go local

Photo (cc) 2013 by Esther Vargas

Matthew Yglesias has some thoughts about the state of the media business and why there were so many layoffs in 2023 at high-profile news organizations like BuzzFeed (which closed its news division), NPR and Vox Media. There is very little new in his observations, but I was interested to see that he’s complaining about The Washington Post’s local coverage under Jeff Bezos. Yglesias writes:

What has bothered me, personally, about Bezos’ stewardship of the Post is that through the process of first growing and then shrinking the newsroom, he’s left coverage of local issues worse off than it was before. His aspiration upon taking over was to make the Post a “national and even global publication,” and during the growth years, his investment priorities reflected that. Perry Stein used to cover DC Public Schools, and I think DC residents with school-aged children really appreciated her work. But when she got a promotion, it wasn’t to do something bigger covering DC government or regional issues, it was to cover the Justice Department, where she’s churning out Trump trial stories.

When I was reporting on the Post for my 2018 book, “The Return of the Moguls,” the paper was in the midst of an enormous growth curve, briefly shooting ahead of The New York Times in digital traffic and consistently earning profits. Bezos’ vision of reinventing the Post as a national digital publication — leaving behind the Graham family’s “Of Washington, For Washington” marketing pitch — was a huge success. But the paper has not done well since Trump left the presidency, and is now losing money and circulation.

As Yglesias writes, and as I’ve written on several occasions, the Post’s current position as being pretty much like the Times only not as comprehensive just isn’t tenable in the long run. One thing it could do is reposition itself as being “of Washington, for Washington” while at the same time maintaining its commitment to national and international news. During the early Bezos years, the Post actually offered two digital editions. One included all of the Post’s journalism; the other was a cheaper, more colorful product that omitted local news and that was aimed at the national market. Clearly there were people at the Post back then who knew they could charge a premium for local. Why not embrace that again?

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Marty Baron on Trump, the media and the original meaning of objectivity

Marty Baron, right, with then-Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen. Photo (cc) 2017 by the Knight Foundation.

I downloaded Martin Baron’s book, “Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and The Washington Post,” on the first day that it became available. I expect it’s going to take me a while to read it, but I plan to review it once I’ve made my way through its 576 pages. The Post under Bezos and Baron comprise the longest section of my 2018 book, “The Return of the Moguls,” although — since it ends with Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory — I did not cover how the Post navigated the Trump presidency.

Based on what others are writing, and on interviews that Baron is giving during the early days of his book tour, it sounds like journalistic objectivity is a major theme of “Collision of Power.” Baron has written and talked about this before, as he did in an address this past spring at Brandeis University. And what his critics don’t give him enough credit for is that he subscribes to the proper view of objectivity defined by Walter Lippmann more than a century ago.

In Baron’s view, like Lippmann’s, objectivity is the fair-minded pursuit of the truth, not both-sides-ism, not quoting a variety of views and leaving it up to the poor reader or viewer or listener to figure it out. For instance, here’s Baron’s answer when he was asked by CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy about how good a job the press is doing in its coverage of the Republican Party’s meltdown into lunacy and authoritarianism:

I think the coverage of the latest chaos has been very good, based on what I’ve read. It portrays the Republican Party as Chaos Central, which it is. The party is proving to be ungovernable, and that is wreaking havoc on the country as a whole. The bigger issue is Trump. I’d like to see substantially more coverage of what a second Trump administration would do upon taking office. Who would be put in cabinet posts? Who would be put in charge of regulatory agencies?

No doubt Trump would embark on an immediate campaign of vengeance. Plans are already in the works. What would that mean for the FBI, DOJ, the courts, the press — really for all the institutional pillars of our democracy? Some stories have been produced, though not enough in my view. Those sorts of stories would serve the public better than yet-another interview with Trump himself. Look, the party that now levels evidence-free charges of “weaponization” of government openly boasts of how it would weaponize government against its perceived enemies.

I don’t want to copy and paste all of Darcy’s interview, so I’ll leave it at that. But do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. Baron touches on several other important topics, including Fox News, artificial intelligence and X/Twitter, and he’s got smart things to say about all of them.

Meanwhile, here’s a surprise: The Washington Post has published a long feature by former Post reporter Wesley Lowery on the oldest living survivor of the Tulsa Massacre, 109-year-old Viola Fletcher. Lowery, who’s now based at American University, left the Post in 2020 after he and Baron clashed over Lowery’s provocative tweets. It never should have come to that; Lowery, a gifted journalist, was essential for his coverage of the first Black Lives Matter movement and helped the Post win a Pulitzer Prize for its data journalism project tracking police shootings of civilians. My media ethics students are reading Lowery’s new book, “American Whitelash,” this spring.

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