The Washington Post under Executive Editor Sally Buzbee has turned into a hot mess of sloppy, disingenuous reporting and psycho-dramas in the one year since Buzbee assumed her position at the Post. This past week while star reporter Taylor Lorenz embroiled the Post in an embarrassing controversy over an article on social media influencers covering the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial that involved numerous corrections and edits over whether Lorenz contacted subjects for comment before publication, the focus of Buzbee has been placating a female Post reporter with numerous issues, Felicia Sonmez, who has waged a five day online campaign over a retweet of a politically incorrect joke by a male Post reporter, Dave Weigel, who immediately deleted and apologized as well as fellow Post reporter Jose Del Real who temporarily deleted his Twitter account after sparring with Sonmez.
Buzbee issued a company email Tuesday afternoon that seemingly was leaked directly to CNN reporter Oliver Darcy that reiterated Post policy of not attacking fellow reporters. The statement referenced without specifics Weigel’s month-long suspension without pay for the offending retweet but made no mention of Sonmez’s reign of terror against her colleagues online or Lorenz’s latest controversy.
That was followed by Post reporter after Post reporter tweeting comments that read like ‘hostage’ statements on what a great place the Post is to work.
Dear colleagues, In this newsroom, we share many important common values: a belief in the power of journalism. Hatred of racist or sexist behavior, language or systems. A conviction that when people come together in good faith, with respect and trust, it creates an environment that enables each person to do powerful and important work. We also occasionally disagree: We come from different backgrounds and experiences, and we each see the world differently.
That combination of shared values and diversity of viewpoints is our greatest strength.
So today, the strongest of terms, I want to reiterate the importance of the following policies, which we will enforce:
We do not tolerate colleagues attacking colleagues either face to face or online. Respect for others is critical to any civil society, including our newsroom. The newsroom social media policy points specifically to the need for collegiality.
We also do not tolerate violations of our Policy Prohibiting Workplace Harassment and our Policy on Prohibition of Discrimination, which further set forth our expectations for employees and are designed to create an inclusive environment where all Post employees can perform their best work.
In the past year, we have enforced, through conversations, mediation and disciplinary measures, egregious violations of our social media policy, just as we have enforced our overall standards. As we have said, we plan to update the social media policy. Until then, the current policy remains in effect. It states: When it comes to your colleagues, be constructive and collegial: If you have a question or concern about something that has been published, speak to your colleague directly.
We respect and do not wish to inhibit any employee’s right to raise legitimate workplace issues. We know it takes bravery to call out problems. And we pledge to openly and honestly address problems brought to us. We moved quickly to show our intolerance for a sexist re-tweet sent by an employee last Friday.
To be clear: We will enforce our policies and standards.
Each day, this newsroom creates groundbreaking journalism that the world desperately needs. We also work each day to improve as a workplace: to be more inclusive, more fair, more rigorous, more ambitious. I am proud of each of you and your work.
My best, Sally
Buzbee’s email was timestamped 4:18 p.m. (EDT). Darcy’s tweet of the email was just three minutes later at 4:21 p.m.
New: @SallyBuzbee sends stern memo to WaPo staff, reiterating newsroom's values against "racist or sexist behavior" and saying that "we do not tolerate colleagues attacking colleagues either face to face or online." pic.twitter.com/E2bpiFCCyS
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 7, 2022
Within minutes numerous prominent Post reporters tweeted how much they love working at the Post. Many observers, including this writer, noted the comments were reminiscent of the famous Manchurian Candidate line “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”
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.”
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. https://t.co/IPrIzVd2Xv
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) June 7, 2022
Rosalind Helderman, “The Post is a place that is always striving to be better than it was yesterday. But it’s a collaborative institution with good people who work hard to do important journalism together. And I’m proud to work here.”
The Post is a place that is always striving to be better than it was yesterday. But it's a collaborative institution with good people who work hard to do important journalism together. And I’m proud to work here. https://t.co/wNnbXzwnyZ
— Rosalind Helderman (@PostRoz) June 7, 2022
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.”
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. https://t.co/lbI8hqsFQ9
— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) June 7, 2022
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.”
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. https://t.co/jecdY8wmYb
— Dan Balz (@danbalz) June 7, 2022
Matt Viser, “The Washington Post is a place of shared bylines and collaborative projects. It’s a newsroom of different perspectives and varied opinions. It isn’t perfect, but it is filled with great people doing great journalism. And I’m proud to work here.”
The Washington Post is a place of shared bylines and collaborative projects. It’s a newsroom of different perspectives and varied opinions. It isn’t perfect, but it is filled with great people doing great journalism. And I’m proud to work here. https://t.co/dDDHiDvkaI
— Matt Viser (@mviser) June 7, 2022
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. https://t.co/PEvwcCU5D3
— Amber Phillips (@byamberphillips) June 7, 2022
I know the Washington Post as a remarkably collaborative newsroom, filled with journalists and editors who may stumble at times, myself included, but are always working towards being better. I'm proud to work here. https://t.co/O0FZRJff73
— Michael Scherer (@michaelscherer) June 7, 2022
Joining so many of my colleagues in saying that I'm damn proud to work at The Washington Post, that we're better today than we were yesterday and the day before that, that we face challenges and overcome them.
I love my colleagues. Who's got it better than us? https://t.co/1VcDOCjkIR
— (((Jacob Bogage))) (@jacobbogage) June 7, 2022
The Washington Post newsroom is filled with collegial, collaborative and respectful journalists who do critically important work every day. I'm immensely proud to work here. https://t.co/CabYXQPJYG
— Amy Gardner (@AmyEGardner) June 7, 2022
Kevin Sieff, the Post’s bureau chief for Mexico and Central America, tweeted but later deleted, “Our newsroom is full of some of the smartest, most collegial people I’ve ever met. And their journalism is almost always better than their tweets. I’m proud to work at the Post.”
Twitchy commented on Felicia Sonmez still attacking her colleagues:
OMG, she’s still going: Twitter bully Felicia Sonmez targets ANOTHER WaPo journo because he called for kindness and professionalismhttps://t.co/MD6wdgwUsh
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) June 7, 2022
Perhaps Weigel will take his 30 days suspension to find a sane newsroom to ply his trade or perhaps start writing a new book on music to follow up his 2017 book on prog rock, The Show That Never Ends.