The Mirror

‘Evil Santa’ rears his ugly CEO head at Washington Times

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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“Evil Santa” CEO Larry Beasley and “Christmas Conman” Editor-in-Chief John Solomon struck again at the Washington Times this week, laying off one-in-four news staff in what was disguised as a “re-organization,” The Daily Caller‘s Mirror blog has learned.

In what was referred to as  “an act of mendacity that is jaw-dropping even for a serial bullshitter like Solomon” — the layoffs were characterized  as a “hiring spree.”

The news was reported by FishbowlDC this morning. In the story, Solomon, whom FBDC quoted extensively, said, “The headcount at the TWT will not be reduced -and will, in fact, be expanded.” Gee, what a surprise. He didn’t name any of these so-called new hires.

It’s unclear how this, the second major round of holiday season layoffs in two years, comports with the paper’s expressed values of “faith,” “family” and “service.” Last November the newsroom was told they were cutting about a quarter of the staff — sure enough, some 20 layoffs arrived at the start of 2013.

This week, four reporters — investigative correspondent Jeffrey Anderson, Business reporter Tim Devaney, and Shaun Waterman and Kristina Wong from the national security team — got the axe Monday after what was described as brief, awkward meetings with Solomon. Two copy editors, one of whom is Lynn Pusey, were also shown the door. With the two library staffers laid off earlier this month, that makes 11 cut from a print and web news team which was 40-strong. The entire newsroom is now down to about 31 people and only about a dozen reporters are remaining.

The newsfloor is extra disgruntled about the recent firings because TWT wrote a big check to buy the Washington Guardian from Solomon. News of the purchase was announced to the newsroom as well as in a release back in July. A good question to ponder: Why does an operation that’s been laying off news staff need to buy his news site?

What’s important to understand here is that welfare from the Moonies is running out for TWT. The subsidy from the Moonie parent company starts getting cut every month next year beginning in January. Management has been ordered to get to zero subsidy next year — which sources explain is an impossibility at a place that burns money like TWT.

As the new year progresses, there will be constant pressure to cut costs as the paper’s cash flow gets smaller. So the long-suffering newsroom can look forward to a stressful 2014 in which the axe could come down on more of their heads at any time.

Those who are in the know about TWT insist that until the organization becomes less top heavy, they’re kicking the can down the road. If your mandate is to make money it’s very hard to make money when you’re firing the people who create the product that makes money (the reporters who write the stories) and yet retaining the people who don’t create anything, ie. the executives and the ansiliary employees.

“The business model changes every week with these clowns,” said a former TWTer.  “Nothing’s real over there, it just isn’t.”

Sources say Solomon, known to many reporters who have worked with him for his slimy tactics, tried to blame his subordinates for the mass firings, telling staff in their exit interviews that the decision to get rid of them had been made by managing editors Chris Dolan and Ian Bishop.

Beasley earned the dreadful nickname “Evil Santa” last Christmas when he announced a different slew of layoffs and put them off until January, leaving staff on pins and needles throughout the holidays. He also had a little insensitive Santa action going on in his office with a miniature Santa, all cute and clothed in the familiar red and white costume, perched on an end table holding a Christmas tree branded with the word “JOY.”

Astonishingly, in December of 2012, TWT beefed up security from one to three guards because of pending layoffs. In addition, they amped up surveillance of employees, meaning phone logs and emails, to try to track leakers. Executives were contemplating layoffs as early as March of this year.

The Mirror reached out to Solomon this afternoon.