The Washington Post will not bring on Robert Winnett as its editor-in-chief after the report raised ethical questions

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Washington Post Headquarters.


The Washington Post said Friday that British journalist Robert Winnett, who was slated to take over as editor-in-chief, will no longer join the publication. He was caught in a week-long crisis Over ethical questions.

“I am saddened to share that Robert Winnett has stepped down as editor of The Washington Post,” Will Lewis, publisher and chief executive of The Post, told staff in a Friday morning memo.

Winnett, who was tapped by Lewis this month to join The Post following the November election, will now be deputy editor of London’s Telegraph newspaper. The decision comes after Winnett’s journalistic integrity was questioned 3,000-word front page expose Published by The Post, it reported that Winnett had previously used the material from a self-described “thief.”

Word comes that Winnett will no longer be joining The Post A publication owned by Jeff Bezos The turmoil has engulfed the serious journalistic ethics questions facing Lewis, a former Rupert Murdoch lieutenant accused of helping the right-wing media mogul cover up senior executives in a decade-long UK phone-hacking scandal.

Lewis has denied wrongdoing but has recently tried to suppress stories on the matter, according to private accounts Sally Busbee, former managing editor David Folkenfilik, media reporter for The Post and NPR. The allegations have been revived by the suit of Prince Harry and other high-profile figures, due to be heard in court early next year.

Amid questions about Lewis’ role in the phone-hacking scandal, additional reporting has raised concerns about his journalistic integrity. The Guardian published a story this week alleging that Lewis once instructed then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “wipe” his phone during the so-called “Particate” scandal. Lewis and Johnson denied the report.

Inside The Post’s newsroom, morale is low as employees express concerns about Lewis’ behavior and the future direction of the newspaper under his leadership. Interviews this week with a dozen Post employees and others familiar with the newspaper’s inner workings revealed workers increasingly dismayed by the situation, some looking for jobs elsewhere.

Patience is also wearing thin for owner Bezos, who has yet to face the crisis in a meaningful way. In a brief note to top newsroom leadership on Tuesday, Bezos reiterated his commitment to “very high” standardsBut so far no meaningful steps have been taken to assuage his newsroom fury.

A spokesman for Bezos did not respond to requests for comment Thursday when asked if the Amazon billionaire planned to take any additional steps to right the ship. So far, Bezos has said he supports the controversy-plagued publisher, having been hired in a key role at The Post in January.

Lewis told staff in his Friday memo that he would “immediately begin a new search” for a new teacher. Matt Murray, a former top editor at The Wall Street Journal who was brought in to take over on an interim basis after the ouster of Lewis Busby, will continue in his role, Lewis said.

Lewis’ memo laid out The Post’s future plans and suggested he would remain at the paper despite staff concerns. This week, two Pulitzer Prize-winning Post journalists went on record calling for leadership changes at the newspaper.

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“I don’t know a single person at the Post who thinks the current situation of publisher and new editor will last,” said David Maraniss, who has worked at The Post for nearly five decades and won two Pulitzer Prizes. The newspaper wrote in a candid Facebook post. “Maybe some, but very few.”

Even Maraniss encouraged Bezos, writing that he “wasn’t meant for that position or he would understand.”

Scott Higham, another Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at The Post, echoed Maraniss’ call for Lewis to leave the paper.

“Will Lewis needs to step down for the good of The Post and the public,” Higham responded in a comment on Maraniss’ post. “He’s lost the newsroom and can’t win it back.”

Independent corporate governance experts have also said Lewis should be shown the door.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor and senior associate dean for leadership studies at the Yale School of Management, told CNN on Monday that Bezos should fire Lewis.

Sonnenfeld, who has advised U.S. presidents and several corporate leaders, said that if he were to advise Bezos, he would tell him that Lewis had “lost the ability to lead” and that it was “time to clean house.”

“This is a tragic melting of the conscience of American journalism that brings shame to the Katharine Graham, Ben Bradley, Marty Baron legacy of collaboration, courage and integrity,” Sonnenfeld said. “Bezos needs to hire a talented, experienced editor that journalists admire and trust.”

This story has been updated with additional developments and context.

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