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WaPo's CEO Tells His Staff, 'People are Not Reading Your Stuff' Mere Months After They Failed to Take Down Dave Portnoy's Pizza Fest

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI. Getty Images.

It's a bit on the nose that the slogan of The Washington Post is "Democracy Dies in Darkness." Because you can't help but point out the exact same thing can be said of once proud, successful media outlets with long and distinguished traditions of breaking historic news stories. Newspapers die in the darkness of the public's disinterest. 

Which is exactly what's been happening at WaPo over the last few months. Where this noble institution once enjoyed the respect of a national readership, from the humblest among us to the most influential people walking the halls of power, there is now only apathy. And if I had to pin down the exact date they lost the public's trust, I'd say September 20th, 2023 is as good as any:

It's a timeworn cliche, but nevertheless true, when we say it's easier to win someone's trust than it is to regain it after you've lost it. Which WaPo most certainly did when the editors made a conscious decision to ignore the thousands of actually corrupt, scandalous, criminal activities taking place in their own city every day, and instead train their crosshairs on a self-made media mogul trying to help hard working American business owners promote their pizza restaurants and show people a good time. 

Since then, it's been all downhill at the Post:

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And that hill down just got a lot steeper. WaPo's Executive Editor was just forced out. Followed by their CEO taking a flamethrower to the entire staff who complained about how he's running the place:

Source - When Washington Post publisher Will Lewis and new interim executive editor Matt Murray met with staff Monday, the newsroom was still coming to terms with the abrupt exit of Sally Buzbee, who had led the paper since May 2021. …

Senior editors close to Buzbee didn’t know this news was coming, according to two sources familiar with the situation. “We found out on a Sunday evening in an email. That’s not how well-functioning companies announce major personnel news,” one staffer told me. “What the fuck—that’s how I feel right now.” …

At one point Lewis was asked whether he was intentionally bringing in people who come from a different culture than the Post. “We are losing large amounts of money. Your audience has halved in recent years. People are not reading your stuff. I can’t sugarcoat it anymore,” Lewis said. “So I’ve had to take decisive, urgent action to set us on a different path, sourcing talent that I have worked with that are the best of the best.” …

“Don’t we need our brilliant social journalists and service journalists as embedded in our core product to make sure that people are actually reading the thing that’s out at the center of the mission of the Washington Post?” one staffer asked, to which Lewis replied, “You haven’t done it. I’ve listened to the platitudes. Honestly, it’s just not happening.”

Listen, I'm not saying there's a direct cause-and-effect between the Post's attempt to blow up Pizza Fest and the fact their audience has been cut in half. Wait. Scratch that. This is exactly what I'm saying. Their ship might have begun leaking money before that. But the hull burst wide open once Dave exposed them for the corrupt, morally compromised, dishonest yellow journalists they are. You simply cannot get caught trying to destroy an event built to help small businesses and expect to recover from that. As the man said, I can't sugarcoat it.

That one Tweet has 47.5 million fooking views. With 112,000 likes and 18,000 shares. The Post hasn't had that level of engagement in the last year on all its platforms combined. What percentage of 47.5 million people watched that video and then decided WaPo was a news organization worthy of their trust? I'm putting that number at 0.0%. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. "False in one thing, false in everything."

And the real kick in the head about this is the timing. I mean, it's not like we're in a slow news cycle. History is being made all around us on a daily, if not hourly, basis. It's an election year. With two Presidents running against each other. One of them just got convicted of 34 felonies and might be going to jail. The other has a son who's on trial for felony gun charges. We've got two wars going at once, either of which could go nuclear at a moment's notice. The highly controversial architect of America's Covid response is being dragged before Congress. The government is sort of suggesting UFOs are real. The world's most popular entertainer is dating a winner of three of the last five Super Bowls. If you're in the business of gathering news and reporting information, business should be BOOMING. Instead, WaPo is hosting gripe sessions. Basically doing the old, "Shootout in the Life Boat." While it slowly goes out of business.

Let this be a lesson to WaPo and the few remaining legitimate Journos in the country who still have a shred of integrity. If you want to survive in the current climate, try sticking to reporting on things that actually matter to your audience. Stuff that affects their lives and the future they want for their children. That doesn't include attacking a festival built around a shared love of pizza by the slice. And for sure, it's not good for business to go to war with a man who can easily destroy you. It seems like The Washington Post has learned that lesson the hard way. And too late to save themselves.