Sally Buzbee steps down as executive editor of The Washington Post

The tumultuous times of The Washington Post continued Sunday night, with perhaps the biggest shakeup of all.

Executive editor Sally Buzbee has stepped down.

In a note to staff, relatively new publisher and CEO Will Lewis announced that Buzbee left the Post “effectively immediately.” Matt Murray, the former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is coming aboard the paper and will be executive editor through the 2024 election.

In his note, Lewis then wrote that after that, “Robert Winnett, Deputy Editor of Telegraph Media Group, will run news and features in a newly created role focused on our core offering.”

Lewis then announced something new. He wrote, “I am excited to let you know that later this year we will be launching a new division of the newsroom entirely dedicated to better serving audiences who want to consume and pay for news differently from traditional offerings. This third newsroom will be comprised of service and social media journalism and run separately from the core news operation. The aim is to give the millions of Americans — who feel traditional news is not for them but still want to be kept informed — compelling, exciting and accurate news where they are and in the style that they want.”

Murray will take over that division after the election, as Winnett takes over the core news division. David Shipley will remain head of the Post’s opinions section, which is separate from the newsroom. All three will report to Lewis, who was named publisher and CEO by Post owner Jeff Bezos late last year.

Buzbee’s sudden departure comes just two weeks after Lewis laid out a new plan for the future after telling staff the Post had lost $77 million over the past year, and had a 50% drop off in audience since 2020. He told staff in an all-hands meeting at the time, “To be direct, we are in a hole, and we have been for some time.”

The Washington Post’s Amy Argetsinger wrote, “The shakeup at the top of the Post is the biggest move by far from Lewis — himself a veteran of both the Telegraph and the Journal — since he took over as CEO in January.”

Buzbee joined the Post as executive editor in 2021 after a career at The Associated Press. She was the AP’s executive editor when she left to replace the legendary Marty Baron, who announced his retirement from the Post in January 2021. Buzbee was the first female editor of the Post, which was founded in 1877.

The New York Times’ Katie Robertson and Benjamin Mullin wrote, “The Post greatly expanded its editing ranks under Ms. Buzbee, announcing the addition of roughly 41 positions in 2021, and revamping its vaunted Styles section. The paper also shut down its Sunday magazine, a move that upset many of the newspaper’s feature writers. It has received six Pulitzer Prize awards since she joined, three of them this year.”

The suspicious timing (late on a Sunday) and the fact that Buzbee is leaving “effective immediately” would lead one to believe that this was not a cordial parting. In his note, Lewis mentioned the Post’s success, including the awards, under Buzbee and added, “Please join me in thanking Sally for all that she has done during her time with us.”

According to the Post, Lewis said, “Sally is an incredible leader and a supremely talented media executive who will be sorely missed. I wish her all the best going forward.”

Paul Farhi, a longtime media writer at the Post before taking a buyout late last year, tweeted, “What this ultimately means: The leading newspaper in the capital of the United States will soon have a British-born publisher and a British editor in chief. … On a very basic level: the new boss (Lewis, who started Jan. 1) gets to pick his own team. This is the new team — three people with no history at the Post now running the Post.”

I’m sure there will be more to follow up on this story in the coming days and weeks.

Donald Trump standing next to UFC president Dana White, left, at Saturday night’s UFC event in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

If you can’t ban ‘em, join ‘em.

In 2020, when Donald Trump was president, he tried to ban TikTok with an executive order. Trump — and he certainly was and is not alone — feared that the Chinese-owned app posed a national security threat. ByteDance, a Chinese company, owns TikTok, and there is worry that the Chinese government could force ByteDance to hand over data that would compromise U.S. users. TikTok said it has not shared U.S. data with the Chinese government and would never do so.

Still, there has always been that concern.

Trump’s plan to shut down TikTok ended after TikTok sued and the courts blocked Trump’s ban.

But the American fight against TikTok didn’t end there. Earlier this year, the House overwhelmingly voted (352-65) to force ByteDance to sell TikTok, or else it would be banned from app stores provided by, for example, Apple and Google in the United States. President Joe Biden signed the bill, although it still faces legal challenges.

When the government was working toward finishing what Trump started, he softened his stance on TikTok.

The Associated Press’ Jill Colvin, Will Weissert and Meg Kinnard wrote, “Trump said earlier this year that he still believes TikTok posed a national security risk, but was opposed to banning it because that would help its rival, Facebook, which he continues to criticize over his 2020 election loss to Biden.”

Trump told CNBC at the time, “Frankly, there are a lot of people on TikTok that love it. There are a lot of young kids on TikTok who will go crazy without it.”

After Biden signed the bill to force ByteDance to sell TikTok, Trump wrote on his Truth Social, “Young people, remember: Crooked Joe Biden is the one that wants to take your TikTok away from you.”

Over the weekend, Trump decided to embrace TikTok by joining the app. In a video on — where else(?) — TikTok from the Ultimate Fighting Championship fight in New Jersey, Trump said it was an “honor” to join the app. UFC president Dana White introduced him in the video and said, “The president is now on TikTok.”

That was Saturday night. But Sunday morning, Trump had picked up more than 1.1 million followers and the video had more than 1 million likes and, by Sunday afternoon, more than 38 million views.

It should be noted that Biden’s campaign, although not Biden himself, is on TikTok. That account only has about 336,000 followers.

In a statement, Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said, “We will leave no front undefended and this represents the continued outreach to a younger audience consuming pro-Trump and anti-Biden content.”

Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said in a statement, “We refuse to cede any ground to Biden and the Democrats. We will get President Trump’s winning message to every voter possible. He has already gained significant ground with young voters and this is another way to reach them.”

Last Friday’s Poynter Report recapped media coverage in the immediate aftermath of Trump being found guilty on all 34 charges in his hush money trial.

But what about the next day, after Trump gave a teleprompter-free, 40-minute, take-no-questions speech?

The three main cable news networks — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — all carried Trump’s remarks live, as did NBC. The other two main networks, ABC and CBS, did not interrupt regular programming. However, CNN, MSNBC and NBC all cut away from Trump’s remarks while he was still speaking.

The New York Times’ Michael M. Grynbaum wrote, “Mr. Trump began by speaking in his usual discursive, dissembling manner. He unleashed a litany of false statements about his Manhattan trial, attacking witnesses, calling the judge the ‘devil’ and falsely accusing President Biden of being involved in the prosecution.”

NBC bailed about 20 minutes into Trump’s remarks, with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt saying on air, “We were told this was going to be a news conference.”

NBC News had two legal analysts go over some of Trump’s words and fact-checked him in real time. Holt, at one point, said, “There is no evidence that Biden was behind any of this.”

The Associated Press’ David Bauder wrote, “Both CNN and MSNBC immediately told viewers that some of what Trump had said was misleading or flat-out false.”

On air, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said, “Clearly, without a teleprompter, he’s raging against almost everything.” MSNBC had an on-screen graphic that read, “Trump Post-Verdict Remarks Riddled With Lies and Attacks.”

Fox News, as well as conservative network Newsmax, carried Trump’s remarks in full. Writing for the Times, Grynbaum reported, “The New York Times, on its website, had a livestream of Mr. Trump’s appearance for about six minutes before cutting the feed and continuing to publish written updates on its blog.”

You had to assume that an unfiltered Trump was going to go on an unhinged and lie-laden rant, so why did the responsible news networks carry his speech? Because, as Holt explained, there was initially a belief that Trump was going to take questions.

Rupert Murdoch has tied the knot. Again. The 93-year-old media mogul — and man behind Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, among many other media outlets — married for the fifth time over the weekend. He married 67-year-old Elena Zhukova, a retired molecular biologist. The marriage comes about a year after Murdoch called off his brief engagement with Ann Lesley Smith.

The Murdoch-Zhukova ceremony took place at Murdoch’s California vineyard and estate. The Associated Press reported that Zhukova’s ex-husband is Alexander Zhukov, a billionaire energy investor and Russian politician. Their daughter, Dasha, was previously married to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who used to own the Premier League football club Chelsea.

Last September, Murdoch stepped down as chair of Fox Corp. and executive chairman of News Corp. His son Lachlan is now in charge, although Rupert still serves in an emeritus role.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at [email protected].

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