WaPo Reporters Run Hit Piece On Their Own Editor Before He Takes Top Job

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Reporters at the Washington Post ran a hit piece Monday on their own incoming editor, who is slated to join the paper in the fall.

Four reporters authored the article questioning the journalistic record of Robert Winnett, who will be joining the Post as executive editor after the 2024 presidential election in November. The story accused Winnett of collaborating with self-described “thief” John Roberts following his 2010 arrest for his attempt to steal a copy of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s memoir.

The reporters, citing draft chapters of a never-published book Ford wrote in 2017 and 2018, accused Winnett of connecting Ford with a lawyer who would “sort [Ford] out,” according to the outlet. Winnett allegedly assured Ford that his “clandestine efforts” would never be publicly known due to the “remarkable omerta” of British journalism.

Ford and Winnett allegedly met for Chinese food along with a Sunday Times colleague named Claire Newell, who was arrested in 2004 for allegedly passing government papers to the outlet while temporarily working in the Cabinet Office, the Post wrote. Monday’s Post story accuses Winnett of arranging for Newell to pass confidential leaks to the Sunday Times, citing a 2008 book by British investigative journalist Nick Davies documenting journalistic malpractice in the United Kingdom.

A passage in Ford’s unpublished manuscript allegedly details how he shared confidential materials about British officials while Winnett worked with the Sunday Times after collecting the material through “dishonest means,” according to the Post. Ford also claims to have changed a businessman’s bank password and adopted false personas in calls to government agencies in order to obtain restricted information, the outlet reported, citing Ford’s unpublished writings. (RELATED: Dishonest WaPo Reporter Caught Completely Off Guard During Recorded Call With Dave Portnoy)

A Sunday Times editor reportedly acknowledged these practices and said it was done to serve the public interest.

The WaPo reporters also reported that their review of Winnett’s actions reveals “an apparent overlap between Winnett’s stories and individuals or entities that Ford said he was commissioned to target.” This use of “deceptive tactics” to produce news stories is a violation of “core ethics policies,” the Post journalists wrote.

“In Britain, ‘blagging’ — using misrepresentation to dupe others into revealing confidential information — has been a known feature of a certain brand of tabloid journalism, especially before a public reckoning over press ethics began in 2011. Blagging has been less frequently documented in the broadsheet titles where Winnett and Lewis built their careers,” the article reads.

The Post story went on to criticize the paper’s CEO and publisher William Lewis, who tapped Winnett for his upcoming role at the outlet and referred to him as a “world class” journalist, according to the outlet.

“Lewis’s own journalistic record also has come under scrutiny,” the article continued. “The New York Times on Saturday reported that Lewis, as an editor at the Sunday Times in 2004, had assigned a reporter to write a story about a prominent businessman that the reporter believed was based on hacked phone records.” The ex-reporter, Peter Koenig, told The New York Times that Lewis was a talented editor but that his “ambition outran his ethics.”

The Post journalists also accused Lewis of attempting to suppress reports about a civil court battle in London regarding evidence of the alleged phone hacking. In May, a judge allowed plaintiffs to air claims that Lewis and other individuals were involved in a plan to delete millions of emails allegedly connected to the hacking. Lewis has denied all wrongdoing and is not a defendant in the lawsuit, the outlet reported. (RELATED: WaPo Head Sally Buzbee Out In Massive Shakeup)

The article goes on to describe how Winnett and Lewis worked together on an investigation into “phony expenses by members of Parliament” while employed at The Telegraph in 2009 by paying £150,000 to a private investigator looking to sell the material, the outlet reported.

Daily Beast reporter Corbin Boiles, citing unnamed sources, claimed that WaPo “managing editors Matea Gold and Scott Vance signed off on the [the story’s number-two] slot [on the Post’s homepage] and a push notification for the story.”

Winnett’s hiring followed the abrupt departure of the former executive editor Sally Buzbee, who stepped down from her position on June 2. She will be succeed in the interim by former Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Matthew Murray until after the 2024 election, at which point Winnett is set to replace him.