New York Times reporter-cotton candy maker Sheryl Stolberg defended her Sunday puff piece on Washington Post publisher Katherine Weymouth, who with her rock-hard body and newspaper “royalty” family have run the Post into a situation so desperate they had to be saved by Jeff Bezos.
Stolberg complained to Politico that the Graham family “kept their secret from an entire newsroom of their own journalists [and] they kept it from me.”
In response, Weymouth chuckled to the Huffington Post, hey, I didn’t plan the timing of the sale and the timing of the Gray Lady’s article:
The Times contacted us and Sheryl said we’re going to do this profile with or without you. So you can cooperate or not. And she had a good reputation, so we cooperated and obviously we didn’t know if this transaction was going to happen or when it was going to happen or when her story was going to run.
So the fact is, she made — I know she’s getting criticized, I think a little unfairly — she made clear to me from the beginning that this was going to be a personal profile that would run in Style and it was not a business story. So I never had to lie to her. We didn’t discuss whether the Post would, you know, my children would take it over or whatever. It was a personal profile and it that is what it was.
It’s not like we were going to leak it to the New York Times…Let’s be serious here. If anybody was going to have this story, it was going to be us.
As fellow PJM columnist Michael Walsh writes at NRO, in response, “It’s not often that the zeitgeist whups both of the newspapers the Right loves to hate — the Washington Post and the New York Times — upside the head with a righteous shillelagh simultaneously, but (as Mattie Ross says in True Grit) it did happen.” After quoting from the Times’ puff piece on Weymouth, which was published Sunday on dead tree with the sentence, “Now, in an exceedingly difficult climate for newspapers, Ms. Weymouth is charged with saving the crown jewels,” Michael writes:
So Monday she sold the paper — gave it and a handful of other properties away, really — to Jeff Bezos for $250 million cash money. Not to Amazon, which Bezos founded in his garage and turned into a marketing and publishing powerhouse, but to Bezos himself, personally. I guess the One Percent really is the personification of all evil and inequality in this country — until it comes time for one of them to bail out a liberal institution.
Anyway, talk about instantly disposable fishwrap. The liberal fantasy world, media division, that the Times and the Post both inhabit and limn: “media-politico-Hollywood love fest,” check; socialite, check; power dinner, check; airy Craftsman home, check; single mother of three, check; lawyer, check; Harvard and Stanford degrees, check; cameo appearances by Vernon Jordan and Lally Weymouth, check; obligatory reference to the Hamptons, check — has come crashing down. With the fire sale of the Boston Globe and some other media properties by the Times, the euthanizing of Newsweek, and now the sudden heave-ho given to the flagship enterprise of the Washington Post Co., the old order indeed passeth.
One has to read in full the Times’s puff piece by Sheryl Gay Stolberg on one of the members of its exclusive club of family-money and bien-pensant progressivism — really rich folks, down for the struggle! — to get a sense of just how out of touch with reality these people are. They’re like the effete late–Roman Empire poets, impotent capons peeling grapes and arguing the nuances of internal rhyme as the big ugly Germans come crashing through the gates, barely bothering to look up as Alaric’s axe meets their heads.
As is often the case, the Post’s lack of reality proved to be its undoing, John Podhoretz writes in the New York Post (a paper that never takes itself too seriously, unlike the rococo bourgeois hauteur of the WaPo and the crosstown Gray Lady):
The Washington Post was once both a great and hateful newspaper.
The depth and breadth of the paper’s news coverage in the 1970s and 1980s was remarkable. It was well-written, well-reported, thorough, an educated reader’s dream in some ways.
But those qualities went hand in hand with its grotesque self-infatuation and an unimaginably obnoxious sense of its own importance. More than any other institution, it was the Post that typified the tone of the American media that the public came to loathe in the 1980s.
The Post knew what was best: To wit, liberal social views and liberal politics. And it sneered at anyone who might have thought otherwise, from the front page on back.
Was there a crime wave? Pity the criminals; they had it rough. Were communist regimes around the world oppressing hundreds of millions? Tut-tut, you warmonger.
The Post’s utter refusal to be even minimally respectful of conservatives and Republicans was a mark of its blind arrogance.
You might think The Washington Post would have felt itself duty-bound, as the leading paper in the nation’s capital, to write about the GOP in a neutral tone. What’s more, much of the paper’s circulation area was in Republican Virginia, so you might think the Post would want to be careful about insulting its own readers and their views.
Nope. Ben Bradlee, its editor, was an unabashed liberal. He loathed Ronald Reagan, he hated conservatives, and everybody knew it, and almost everybody at the paper was liberated to follow his example.
As Jonathan S. Tobin writes at Commentary, “The Washington Post once lorded it over the media world of the capital with a sneering liberal prejudice that was emblematic of the bias that characterized the mainstream press of the pre-Internet era:”
But like every other daily that stopped being a cash cow when classified and other forms of print advertising began to dry up, the Post is just another remnant of what Rush Limbaugh aptly termed the “dead tree” media. Yet instead of soul searching about how such publications must change or die, what we have gotten instead today is a non-stop orgy of praise for a paper and a management team that have obviously failed to keep up with a changing environment. While we don’t doubt that publisher Donald Graham has his fans, the notion that he is the second coming of Sister Teresa—the official story we’ve been getting from the Post’s editors and columnists as they troop to MSNBC to sing his praises—is a bit much to take. Even more egregious was Post superstar Bob Woodward who sought to console his fellow staffers by saying that Bezos wasn’t another Rupert Murdoch. The Post should be so lucky.
After all, unlike the family that owned the Post, Murdoch has generally gone from success to success in the media business and even those of his properties that are not financial powerhouses have been kept going in the name of providing alternate viewpoints to mainstream liberal echo chambers.
The willingness to take a shot at this outsider even at a moment when one of the flagships of the liberal establishment is changing hands tells us everything we need to know about the self-infatuation of the Post’s inner circle.
I would chalk it up to a weird form of “Progressive” Stockholm Syndrome, which is all the more sad to see after so many members of the Post’s juicebox mafia turned on Woodward earlier this year because he accurately pointed out that the Sequester was Obama’s idea. And yet, Woodward still feels obligated to demonstrate his leftwing bona fides, even after it was painfully obvious how many younger employees at the Post and (former) sister publications despise him.