Military-focused publication Task & Purpose is facing what one insider has described as a “mutiny,” after the site’s acting editor-in-chief publicly resigned on Wednesday over a conflict with website publisher Zach Iscol.
Adam Weinstein, a senior editor at the site, who had been serving as de facto editor-in-chief, said he quit after Iscol demanded a headline change over a story about the Veterans Affairs administration. Task & Purpose bills itself as a “news site for veterans, by veterans.” Weinstein said Iscol’s demand was part of a pattern of editorial interference from management.
Some personal news: I just resigned as acting EIC of @taskandourpose after our publisher reamed us out for his investigation and demanded the headline be changed, the latest in a series of such demands over our editorial content. https://t.co/Ds6WrNd5qG
— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) August 8, 2018
In a statement to TheWrap, Weinstein, a longtime national security and defense reporter who previously covered the beat for Gawker, said the root of the issue was management looking to make the site more appealing to conservative readers.
As an editor, I was facing intense pressure to make the site appear less “liberal.” I was not opposed to that in principle. We all wanted to foster a sense of community, but we also did not want to shy away from the important topics affecting the community. And I felt that a lot of that pressure was forcing us to do the latter, in ways that were led less by editorial vision than by more pedestrian goals. Ultimately, I didn’t think any reasonable editorial independence was possible, in this specific case or more generally.
The piece, a lengthy ProPublica investigation reporting on how the sprawling VA bureaucracy had secretly come under the control of a cabal of non-military Mar-A-Lago members, apparently rubbed Iscol the wrong way.
“The publisher did not want us to publish the ProPublica piece until he’d reread it and approved the headline,” said one insider who spoke with TheWrap. “He made his views on the story’s content clear — he thought it was premised on bulls– and without merit.”
A second insider told TheWrap of widespread editorial turmoil and said it was not the first time Weinstein had clashed with management.
“The dispute was the culmination of a series of sort of clashes,” he said, adding that Iscol was a first-time media executive and that more resignations could follow.
“There’s a case of mutiny in the air,” he said.
Iscol did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.