By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business
A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Sally Buzbee has had enough. The Washington Post executive editor sought to rein in her newsroom with a memo on Tuesday that carried a far firmer tone than her note about “respect and kindness” from Sunday.
Buzbee started the new memo by reiterating The Post’s values against “racist or sexist behavior.” She then, “in the strongest of terms,” outlined rules that all staffers are expected to follow. “We do not tolerate colleagues attacking colleagues either face to face or online,” Buzbee wrote. “Respect for others is critical to any civil society, including our newsroom.”
The bottom line? Stop tweeting and focus on working! After all the recent episodes involving Felicia Sonmez, David Weigel, and other staffers, Buzbee wants buzz about the newsroom’s scoops, not its internal strife. “To be clear: We will enforce our policies and standards,” Buzbee wrote.
“I’m proud to work here”
Shortly after Buzbee’s memo went out to the newsroom, some of the most prominent reporters at The Post tweeted a version of this: The paper is not perfect, but they are proud to work for it. Here are just a few of those tweets:
>> Ashley Parker: “The Post is not perfect. No institution is. But I’m proud to work here. I love coming to work (almost) every single day, and knowing that my colleagues are collegial, collaborative and fun humans — not to mention talented journalists — who are always striving to do better.”
>> Dan Balz: “Collegiality and collaboration long have been hallmarks of The Post’s culture. It is filled with good and talented people who take their work seriously and who also enjoy each other’s company. We make mistakes and try to learn from them. I’ve felt proud and lucky to be here.”
>> Amber Phillips: “Working at The Washington Post, I’m in awe almost every day how such talented journalists, from all backgrounds, can also be so collegial and thoughtful and caring. I love working here, and I love helping improve it…”
>> Josh Dawsey: “No institution is perfect, including the Post. But the place is filled with many terrific people who are smart and collegial. I’m proud to work here…”
The tweets were designed to send a clear message that many staffers have had a positive experience. I’m told that no editors were involved in the effort and that it was an organic attempt amongst staff aimed at regaining control of the narrative about the paper — i.e., to shift the message away from the rabble-rousers…
Yet more infighting
That said, Buzbee’s memo failed to stop all of the infighting. Sonmez, the politics reporter who filed a lawsuit against the paper last year (which was dismissed in March) and has been extraordinarily critical of The Post leadership in the past few days, continued to tweet critically of the paper. Sonmez retweeted a person who mocked the efforts from her colleagues to voice pride in working at The Post. And she tweeted a screen grab showing she is still blocked by her colleague, Jose A. Del Real, who challenged her: “So I hear The Washington Post is a collegial workplace,” she sarcastically wrote. That prompted The Post’s Lisa Rein to quip back, “Please stop.” Sonmez replied and asked, “Do you have any idea of the torrent of abuse I’m facing right now?”
I checked in with WaPo spokesperson Kris Coratti to see what The Post’s leadership was doing about the matter. Coratti replied, “While we have not commented publicly, make no mistake, this is being addressed directly with the individuals involved.”
“I never expected that I could help set fire to The Washington Post”
Meanwhile, Tucker Carlson couldn’t resist weighing in on the topic on Tuesday, using the disarray inside The Post to attack the newsroom as one full of “triggered” employees. Carlson chatted with Cam Harless, the YouTuber who made the original sexist joke that David Weigel retweeted and which set off the chain of events that led to the current infighting.
While the two did both attack Weigel, they also said they believed he shouldn’t have been suspended. Harless said he could never have imagined what his tweet would do: “I never expected that I could help set fire to the Washington Post…”
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