Len Downie was executive editor of the Washington Post for years and years and years. Now he is the Vice President At Large. We don't know what that means except that it maybe gave him time to finish his novel, The Rules of the Game, which is a story of political intrigue, of fucking course. Also of fucking course: there is a newspaper editor in it! Uh oh! Time to name the thinly veiled real-life Post figures involved! The problem is there is like one easy-to-identify thinly veiled real person, and it's former Post editor Ben Bradlee, and the Bradlee character is a big brave hero, which is how everyone already publicly idolizes him. Actually it looks like all the journalists involved are big heroic hero types!
Shoe leather reporters get your tissues out. There's word that Len Downie, executive editor of the Washington Post, is going to accept a buy-out. Don't let the hairline fool you: He's old. At 65, he's just five years younger than Ben Bradlee was when he retired from the title. He's also just not that into the whole internet thing, and there's some pressure on the business end for an executive editor who knows how to Google. The buyouts don't start until mid-April, but Downie might have to make an announcement to settle the rumors. FishbowlNY is suggesting Jim Brady, the washingtonpost.com editor, as a replacement, which would make sense if the paper wants to be more webby. Other bandied names for the position: New York Times DC chief Dean Baquet, and Marilyn Thompson—who went back to the Post from the Times over the McCain story debacle.
Former Washington Post contract stringer and current Boston University journalism professor Chris Daly isn't the first former staffer to be trashed by WaPo executive editor Len Downie. (Downie suggested Daly was bitter at a current WaPo staffer because Daly had failed to earn a similar role for himself.) But hey, Downie said much the same about New Yorker staffer Jeffrey Goldberg in a 2005 dust-up over diversity hiring! "I'm sorry that someone who long ago failed to make the grade here would attack our diversity efforts," Downie wrote then. Sheesh, dude!
So, there was a huge (which is to say, tiny!) dust-up over a Washington Post story that ran on November 29. The story was about Barack HUSSEIN Obama and his "Muslim tie rumors" which are totally just that and so this journalism professor was like "Okay this story sucks!" (It kinda did! Mostly due to bad editing.) Then Romenesko linked to it. Everyone got upset and defended the reporter! Times reporter Ad Nags wrote a really nice note. But WaPo executive editor Len Downie wrote a really bitchy letter! The Times wrote about it. Trevor Butterworth at HuffPo went to town on "Bacongate"! CJR then criticized Downie's bitchy note! But inside this crazy-fest, at least two people were having a not-at-all explicit coded conversation!
So Wired editor Chris Anderson can publicly name and excoriate "lazy flacks" who waste his oh-so-precious time with their emails—but Tim Page, the Washington Post classical music critic, is not allowed to send private emails trashing idiot publicists. Last Wednesday, in response to a dumb email blast on behalf of D.C.'s second and fourth mayor Marion Barry, Page wrote back: "Must we hear about it every time this Crack Addict attempts to rehabilitate himself with some new—and typically half witted—political grandstanding?" Page has been "disciplined," says the Post, and also publicly shamed by Executive Editor Len Downie. In addition, Marion Barry employs the worst communications director working in politics today. When a question was posed to him about the Page situation via email, his first response was: "Who are you and why are sending emails to me?" Now that's talent.