Exited Washington Post Editor Clashed With CEO Over Coverage of His Ties to Murdoch Scandal

CEO Will Lewis argued with former executive editor Sally Buzbee over paper’s coverage of Prince Harry phone hacking case

Washington Post sign outside its headquarters.
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Weeks before the unexpected resignation on Sunday of Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzbee, she argued with CEO Will Lewis when he pushed back on the paper’s coverage of a scandal in the United Kingdom he is connected to.

According to The New York Times, in mid-May Buzbee approached Lewis about a piece the paper planned to run about Prince Harry’s phone hacking case in the UK which would have noted that Lewis himself could be named as a participant in the scheme. Lewis, NYT says, told her that this “did not merit coverage.”

After Buzbee informed him the outlet would cover the ruling anyway, “he said her decision represented a lapse in judgment and abruptly ended the conversation,” according to NYT. The Post published an article about the ruling after the judge added Lewis’ name to the case.

The conversation between Lewis and Buzbee took place in a conference room outside the Post newsroom. Lewis had previously denied any involvement in covering up alleged phone hacking while he worked as an executive for Rupert Murdoch.

Buzbee was reexamining her own role at the paper at the same time, according to the New York Times. In April, Lewis offered her the job of managing a new social media and service journalism department, which would include lifestyle coverage, a swap she considered a demotion from her role overseeing all parts of the news team.

Lewis’ changes at the Post included splitting the editorial team into three sections: a newsroom covering politics and business among other topics; an opinion section; and the new division proposed to Buzbee.

As part of the new role, Lewis told Buzbee she would have a say in the hiring of a new editor to head the news team.

The Post announced Buzbee’s resignation on Monday. Matt Murray, former editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, will fill the role through the 2024 presidential election. Robert Winnett, deputy editor of the Telegraph Media Group, will take over following the election’s conclusion.

Buzbee was the first female executive editor for the Post.

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