Politico publisher takes over at WaPo

posted at 1:01 pm on September 3, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

When the news broke that Jeff Bezos had taken over the Washington Post, a lot of questions were raised. Did the man have a political agenda? Was it just a financial investment too clever for the rest of us to see? Opinions were flying on both sides of the aisle. This week Bezos made a move, and it looks like a significant one. The old publisher of WaPo, Katharine Weymouth, was shown the door and replaced with the founding editor of Politico, Frederick J. Ryan Jr.

“I don’t think there’s a better place to be in journalism than The Washington Post,” Ryan told his staff, according to Post media reporter Erik Wemple.

Ryan reportedly would not discuss any of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that led to his appointment.

While he was hesitant to divulge specific battle plans, Ryan pressed the importance of “winning the morning” by becoming the go-to source for political news and a look at the day ahead.

An interesting thing to note about Politico’s top dog, no matter the site’s ideological reputation, is that he served as Assistant to the President under Ronald Reagan and went on to take charge of the establishment and operation of Reagan’s Century City office, as well as working on the creation of the Reagan Library. So does this mean that the Post is set for – as the song in Rocky Horror went – just a step to the Right? Powerline doesn’t see that happening.

Should liberals worry that Ryan’s selection as publisher of the Post signals less leftism in the paper’s news coverage and less liberalism in it editorial page? I don’t think so.

Ryan co-founded Politico, which is about as reliably left-leaning as the Post. Moreover, those who have worked with various media companies owned by Ryan’s corporation say he’s a businessman above all else, and not one to attempt to influence the direction of coverage or editorial policy.

The Post depends on an overwhelmingly leftist readership, namely the inhabitants of Washington DC and its suburbs. It would be bad for business to disappoint that crowd, many of whose members already find their patience stretched by the Post’s generally responsibly liberal editorial page.

The Washington Post is a business and it only survives if it turns a profit. Ryan seems to be a businessman above all else. I think Powerline’s Mirengoff is on point here, noting that he will seek to make the business profitable. There are already Right leaning publications in DC keeping afloat (barely, in a largely liberal enclave) and the WaPo doesn’t need to compete with them. When push comes to shove, it seems a safe bet that Ryan will continue to deliver what the customers are buying.

Of course, I’d be happy to be proven wrong. Time will tell.


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Politico publisher takes over a WaPo

Who takes over the other one?

Schadenfreude on September 3, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Anonymous sources for everyone.

Cindy Munford on September 3, 2014 at 1:06 PM

I thought that’s where they all came from in the first place.

Bmore on September 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Where can I get my very own WaPo?

faraway on September 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

I would say that Bezos obviously has in mind in turning WaPo into a digital subscription offering through an outlet like Netflix in conjunction with a per issue offering through his own Kindle. look for him to seek a stake in another viable online outlet.

M240H on September 3, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Alternate headline: Gang of 500 plays musical chairs

faraway on September 3, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Cindy Munford on September 3, 2014 at 1:06 PM

My hello to thejackal is hung up in the mill. Lolz!

Bmore on September 3, 2014 at 1:08 PM

An interesting thing to note about Politico’s top dog, no matter the site’s ideological reputation, is that he served as Assistant to the President under Ronald Reagan and went on to take charge of the establishment and operation of Reagan’s Century City office, as well as working on the creation of the Reagan Library. So does this mean that the Post is set for – as the song in Rocky Horror went – just a step to the Right?

Not going to happen, look at the left-wing bilgewater that Politiho pumps out. I expect WaPo to be run more efficiently, but it will stay reliably far-left.

slickwillie2001 on September 3, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Bmore on September 3, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Why did you mention the guy who played Rob Petrie? Just kidding, send it to me in an email. Good job last night on the thread with the crazy person.

Cindy Munford on September 3, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Which Wapo?

BoxHead1 on September 3, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Where can I get my very own WaPo?

faraway on September 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

At Amazon.com. And it’s $10,000,000 off if you sign up for Amazon Prime.

Ward Cleaver on September 3, 2014 at 1:17 PM

Which Wapo?

BoxHead1 on September 3, 2014 at 1:16 PM

That one.

Ward Cleaver on September 3, 2014 at 1:18 PM

I’m not buying or reading anything that sympathizes with leftists, period. I hope “right” publications that aren’t conservative go under as much as I wish all the leftist crap rags would fold.

Diluculo on September 3, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Politico publisher takes over a WaPo

Oh no! You mean it’s a franchise?!

Mark Boabaca on September 3, 2014 at 1:30 PM

The Graham Family destroyed the WaPo with it leftist slant.

If Bezos and Ryan are smart they will turn WaPo I to a newspaper. You remember a thing thar reports news.

Not the Prog leftist meme.

glsmith36 on September 3, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Into. Not I

glsmith36 on September 3, 2014 at 1:32 PM

When push comes to shove, it seems a safe bet that Ryan will continue to deliver what the customers are buying.

How could Jazz Shaw write an article on heads rolling at the Washington Post and not note that the whole point of this exercise is that the customers have not been buying for some time? The paper has suffered from declining readership and declining revenue for years. The Graham family drove their paper into the ground, which is why the last remaining scion, Katherine Weymouth, was shoved out the door.

None of this means that WaPo will lurch rightward, but the idea that it will stick with its “Pravda on the Potomac” identity in order to stay profitable is a joke.

Politico isn’t exactly raking it in, either. I just read an article by Ross Asshat from 2013 comparing the two news outlets. Asshat says that Politico “made” $20 million in 2009, but the linked story states that revenue was $20 million, but operating profit was $909,000. WaPo revenue is over $500 million, much larger than Politico’s, but they lost $53 million in 2012. So A) Ross Asshat is a financial illiterate and B) operating profit is a meaningless figure, so Politico is likely taking in thin margins, if any at all. My guess is, since Politico went private, they are losing cash, but some lib billionaire is propping them up. Given Bezos’s close working relationship with CIA, perhaps that is all he intends to do with his new toy.

Joseph K on September 3, 2014 at 1:33 PM

The Post depends on an overwhelmingly leftist readership, namely the inhabitants of Washington DC and its suburbs.

Ever heard of the internet? This isn’t 1990.

It’s not a newspaper anymore, it’s a website that publishes a newspaper. A newspaper that will eventually cease to exist just like all newspapers.

So, Bezos knows that future is in world readership, not DC readership.

Moesart on September 3, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Politico publisher takes over a WaPo

Who takes over the other one?

Schadenfreude on September 3, 2014 at 1:03 PM

There’s at least 12 WaPo franchises in my city.

whatcat on September 3, 2014 at 1:38 PM

I live in the DC metro area, and I can tell you that I don’t read WaPo, unless I occasionally check their web site for weather or local crime.

I don’t think anyone really reads it. I don’t see a lot of people around here clamoring for it. I doubt that trend will shift. You can get the weather from any number of online sources. Their broader reporting is crap.

Maybe they should just stick to an all-local-crime and weather format.

Do they even make a profit? I thought that the only reason that they were still afloat was because of that Kaplan test-prep side biz.

Anyway, all I ask for in news is objectivity. I’m sick of having people tell me what to think. If they can start to deliver that, maybe I’ll give it a second look.

WhatSlushfund on September 3, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Moesart on September 3, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Good point.

WhatSlushfund on September 3, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Politico publisher takes over a WaPo

I prefer IHOP.

Bitter Clinger on September 3, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Joseph K on September 3, 2014 at 1:33 PM

This.

d1carter on September 3, 2014 at 1:48 PM

I live in the DC metro area, and I can tell you that I don’t read WaPo, unless I occasionally check their web site for weather or local crime.

I don’t think anyone really reads it. I don’t see a lot of people around here clamoring for it.

WhatSlushfund on September 3, 2014 at 1:39 PM

I subscribe to the WaPo and I can tell you without any reservations that the plastic sleeve the paper comes in makes an outstanding poop bag for walking the dog.

Seriously, I read parts of the WaPo but just skim through the very biased parts of the front page and Metro sections.

Happy Nomad on September 3, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Anyone who reads many of the comments to articles over at WaPo knows their audience swims in a cesspool of leftist depravity. If they moved a hair to the right their readership would have a collective hissy fit and very likely wet themselves from sheer indignation.

novaculus on September 3, 2014 at 1:52 PM

The Post is almost unreadable now. I lived in DC for 20 years and read it every day until I left in 2004. Even with its liberal editorial slant, I found that the paper was not trying to steer the debate by picking and choosing what news to cover.

That all changed in 2006 with its incredibly slanted coverage of George Allen’s reelection campaign in Virginia. The Post set out to smear Allen and remove him from contention for President in 2008. And it succeeded. That went to its collective head and it’s been downhill from there. The Post has been almost as big a cheerleader for Barack Obama as the New York Times, and that is saying something. Its 2012 opening campaign story about Mitt Romney’s high school hijinx, and the infamous “N—–town” smear of Rick Perry, were utterly disgraceful pieces of pure slime. And can we forget how the Post spawned Ezra Klein and the JournoList in 2008?

The hometown paper of Congress should have been screaming at 150 decibels for the last 4 years about Harry Reid’s catastrophic reign as Senate Majority leader. But he plays for their preferred team so they won’t utter a peep of criticism other than the occasional tut-tut editorial when he does something exceptionally bad.

I go back to DC occasionally, and if I even bother to pick up a copy of the Post I might find one or two stories other than sports that are worth reading.

Surely Fred Ryan has seen the same things I have and can fix it.

rockmom on September 3, 2014 at 1:55 PM

novaculus on September 3, 2014 at 1:52 PM

LOL…I love to go over there and hit the hornets’ nest occasionally.

d1carter on September 3, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Anyone who reads many of the comments to articles over at WaPo knows their audience swims in a cesspool of leftist depravity.

novaculus on September 3, 2014 at 1:52 PM

We generally call that Maryland.

You’re right. The people that bother commenting at the WaPo are (to be charitable) unhinged beyond all repair, bless their hearts.

Happy Nomad on September 3, 2014 at 2:06 PM

We generally call that Maryland.

Happy Nomad on September 3, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Too funny.

Cindy Munford on September 3, 2014 at 2:14 PM

When push comes to shove, it seems a safe bet that Ryan will continue to deliver what the customers are buying.

Really? If they are buying so much of it why was WAPO failing and why did it get sold? Stick to politics Jazz, your ability to analyze business is seriously lacking.

earlgrey on September 3, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Like putting Bill Clintoon in charge of a girls school….

viking01 on September 3, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Happy Nomad on September 3, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Yeah, there’s not much to choose from around here. VA is the least bad option. At least open carry is legal here. (in theory)

WhatSlushfund on September 3, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Warren Buffett is also seeking profits in the decline of newspapers, having bought most of Media General’s once formidable array of papers in slightly smaller cities.

But it’s like tiger and elephant preserves: it can delay the inevitable, but only for so long.

Adjoran on September 3, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Let’s hope Ryan doesn’t keep the status quo. According to Journalism.org, circulation was 832,332 in 1993 dropping to 484,685 in 2013. In the meantime, metropolitan population jumped from 4.2 million to 5.9 million. There is a reason residents are not reading what is written in the Post. It satisfies the ultra liberals, but not the general population.

Getting back to local focus and dumping the left-leaning journalism could help. I’m not talking about the editorial page, but the writing in what are supposed to be objective stories but still manage a slant.

Buffet bought smaller local papers, determining local news was the place to find value. Maybe Bezos plans to follow suit. Hard to argue with the returns the Oracle of Omaha manages.

lvtaxman on September 3, 2014 at 6:37 PM

Katharine Weymouth? Pffft.

I prefer her auntie Tina…

MaxSplinters on September 3, 2014 at 7:38 PM

So basically you’re saying that GM hired someone from Buick to run Chevrolet? Yeah, that’ll shake things up…

Knott Buyinit on September 3, 2014 at 7:53 PM