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Sunday, June 9, 2024

Democracy May Die In Darkness, But The Washington Post Dies Because of Sunlight.

The Washington Post, like many papers, is dying. Not because of the format, but for the content. 

I was reading an article on the resignation of Sally Buzbee as the managing editor of The Washington Puke, err Polk. She's held the job for three years and is not enthused with the way things are going in the future. The powers that be in the Post want to reorganize the "news" of the paper into three sections, with more video reporting and artificial intelligence (One would hope it replace the natural stupidity of the staff, but that remains to be seen.)

Now it's very understandable whey the people in charge of the paper want some change, it's been bloody over the last few years. Let’s start with: Why is Ms. Buzbee out after just three years?

It actually goes back five months, when Will Lewis was brought in by owner Jeff Bezos to be the new publisher and CEO. Just last month, Lewis told staff that the Post has suffered stunning financial losses in the past year — some $77 million — and that there had been a 50% drop-off in audience since 2020.

It sounds bad. Very bad. So what are they doing to stop the bleeding? Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Post publisher Will Lewis and Matt Murray, a former Wall Street Journal editor named to temporarily replace Sally Buzbee, met with reporters and editors at the Post on Monday to explain changes that had been outlined in a Sunday night email.

The plan includes splitting the newsroom into three separate divisions with managers who report to Lewis — one that encompasses the Post’s core news reporting, one with opinion pieces and the third devoted to attracting new consumersthrough innovative uses of social media, video, artificial intelligence and sales.
Well, it’s not like they haven’t noticed that people are not buying what they are selling (Full disclosure, I subscribe to the Washington Post digital edition and read it regularly). 

Washington Post will offer buyouts to cut staff by 240

The staff reductions come after Post leaders determined that recent revenue projections were overly optimistic

The Washington Post announced plans Tuesday to offer voluntary buyouts to its staff, in an effort to reduce head count by 240.

In an email to staff, interim CEO Patty Stonesifer wrote that The Post’s subscription, traffic and advertising projections over the past two years had been “overly optimistic” and that the company is looking for ways “to return our business to a healthier place in the coming year.”

The Post currently employs about 2,500 people across the entire company. A staff meeting is planned for 10 a.m. Wednesday to discuss the buyouts, which will be offered to employees in specific jobs and departments.

“The urgent need to invest in our top growth priorities brought us to the difficult conclusion that we need to adjust our cost structure now,” Stonesifer wrote.

That's not the problem. It's not the style of what you're doing, it's the substance. 

I draw your attention to a recent article in the Washington Post on Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. 

Several Pa. House Republicans boo officers who defended Capitol on Jan. 6

Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell were invited to Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives — but several GOP lawmakers booed and some walked out, Democratic lawmakers said.


Leo Sands


Two former law enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol from rioters during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection were jeered by state GOP lawmakers as they visited Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives on Wednesday, according to several Democratic lawmakers present.


Former U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn and former sergeant Aquilino Gonell were introduced on the floor Wednesday as “heroes” by House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D) for having “bravely defended democracy in the United States Capitol against rioters and insurrection on January 6.”


As the two men — both of whom were injured by rioters on Jan. 6 — were introduced, the House floor descended into chaos. According to Democratic lawmakers, several GOP lawmakers hissed and booed, with a number of Republicans walking out of the chamber in protest.


“I heard some hissing and I saw about eight to 10 of my Republican colleagues walk out angrily as they were announced as police officers from the U.S. Capitol on January 6,” state Rep. Arvind Venkat (D) said in a phone interview Thursday. “I was shocked and appalled,” he added. According to Venkat, the commotion lasted about five minutes. Fewer than 100 lawmakers, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, were present in the chamber before the chaotic scene unfolded, he said…


Something about modern events. Everyone has a cell phone with a camera (or as someone told me once, a “camera that you can make a phone call on”). The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has 203 members, of which 102 are Democrats. Not one of them recorded the event and put it out? I checked

YouTube, and found two reports on them, MSNBC and a local station. Neither had any video of the reported incident. 

I put a comment in the Washington Post article, explaining the issue:

Mr. Sands


Until this is fact checked beyond any possible doubt by actual independent sources (i.e., not the Washington Post), it's a lie. Show us the video. Please, if the majority of Republicans in the PA House were booing and turning their backs on these men, you expect me to believe the Democrats did not get their cameras out and video tape it? 


Yes, I used that word. This is a rag paper that lied about "Russian Collusion" with the 2016 Trump campaign. The Mueller Report said it was BS.


Didn't this paper spread the propaganda  of "Hands up! Don't Shoot!" after Officer Darren Wilson justifiably shot the thug criminal Michael Brown? 


Didn't this paper spread the lie Nicholas Sandmann instigated a confrontation with American Indian Nathan Phillips back in 2019? You know, the lies that you had to settle the lawsuit with this young man?


So no Mr. Sands, you and your paper do not get the benefit of the doubt for honesty. Prove it, or it's BS. Cynical? Not really. You've earned it. I think your former editor will agree with me. 

Forgot to add, “Didn’t this paper say Hunter Biden’s laptop was a non-issue? The same laptop that’s being introduced into evidence in his gun possession trial?”


The press (now more appropriated called the media) has a legitimate purpose, so important that the Founding Father’s put freedom of the press into the First Amendment. It is to hold the government accountable. Or, to borrow the phase from E.K. Hornbeck (played by Gene Kelley) in Inherit the Wind, “…it is the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Anyone more “comfortable” than the Bidens, the Clintons, or the Obamas. Don’t forget the comfortable on the other side of the aisle, like John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. 


Every one of the people are worth millions, and none of them had that wealth before they entered “public service,” I don’t see many media members questioning how Joe Biden can afford multiple mansions when he’s been a politician all his life. Or looking into how the “Big Guy” got money from the Chinese and the Ukrainians. I won’t hold my breath. 


Years ago I was in a discussion with a family member who was, at the time, an editor of the major newspaper in a medium sized city. He took an early buyout during their downsize (Wait, a paper had to get rid of staff? No!). Point I made was he is in a dying industry and if there is not a major change, it’s gone. Newspapers need to get away from “immediate” news (it will always be “yesterday’s news”) and show some actual journalism, deeper articles into more serious subjects. Let television and Internet handle the immediate stuff. He disagreed, but he also got out. I can’t blame him. 


As the Washington Post dies in sunlight (the best disinfectant), look at what it once was. It was second only to the New York Times in, to a great content, controlling what people knew. Papers cannot do that anymore, and for that we should all be grateful. They have shown themselves completely untrustworthily. If they are to survive, then it must rebuild trust with its readers, something that is practically impossible to do. But more to the point, they are unwilling to do. And that is why it will die in sunlight.