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Updated May 22, 2024, 12:27am EDT
mediaNorth America

Washington Post downplays Prince Harry’s allegations against Post CEO

Lance Cheung / USDA
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The Scoop

A top Washington Post editor instructed editors Tuesday night not to promote a story about a controversy involving the paper’s new CEO Will Lewis.

On Tuesday, a court in the United Kingdom ruled that Prince Harry could introduce new amendments in a lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. over phone hacking — including one alleging that Lewis, then an News Corp executive, was involved in a plan to delete emails regarding the phone hacking after the scheme was revealed.

The Washington Post published a detailed story about the ruling on Tuesday, noting Lewis’ role and his denials of wrongdoing.

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But in the hours after the story was published, editors sought to downplay it.

In an email to some staff Tuesday evening, newsletter chief Elana Zak issued a brief directive with the subject line “don’t distribute this story,” linking to Tuesday’s development.

“Please do not put this Prince Harry story in any of your newsletters,” she wrote.

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The email contained no additional information explaining why the paper did not want the story included in its newsletters. A Post employee familiar with the situation told Semafor after this story was published that Tuesday’s email was a result of some internal miscommunication between editors.

The Post declined to explain what happened but provided a statement from managing editor Matea Gold: “The Washington Post is committed to covering this topic – and all stories – independently, rigorously and fairly. We had routine discussions about the promotion of this piece across our platforms.”

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Know More

While the yearslong lawsuit has not dominated headlines in the US, Lewis’ appointment to the top job at the Washington Post and recent court filings have revitalized interest in the story in media circles. Prince Harry and 40 other plaintiffs have alleged that Lewis attempted to cover up executives’ role in the scandal by helping to justify the erasure of emails that could have contained details about the scandal. Lewis has denied wrongdoing publicly and to the Washington Post newsroom, and said that he was brought in after the scandal to “put things right.” He told staff he does not want to discuss the issue further.

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Lewis, the former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, replaced outgoing CEO Fred Ryan in November, with a promise to modernize the paper’s newsroom and stem recent business losses. Tuesday’s ruling is also awkward timing for Lewis, who is slated to unveil the latest part of the company’s new “Build It” strategy at a company-wide town hall scheduled for Wednesday morning, which he previewed in an interview with Semafor last year.

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