John Solomon, executive editor of Center for Public Integrity that includes the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, isn’t formally working for TWT anymore, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t involved in some back channel behind the scenes. There is heavy talk of an effort underway for him to return to the paper from which he resigned as executive editor in November 2009.
On Wednesday on the floor of the TWT newsroom, editorial staff were heard voluminously discussing a rumor that Solomon was returning to the newspaper. One school of thought by a TWT insider with a ringside view is that staff were discussing the situation loudly enough for TWT acting Editor Chris Dolan to overhear and react. The insider said Dolan had to have heard the conversation, but was not observed reacting to it in any way.
But talk is all Solomon says it is.
“That would be news to me,” he told FishbowlDC this afternoon in a phone interview. “I am happy with my job for the Center For Public Integrity and deeply involved in developing the center’s new media and business strategies and any rumors to the contrary and any rumors suggesting anything else are patently false. I have heard this [rumor] from the day after I resigned. Washington Post reported that I asked for my old job back. I don’t know if I should be flattered or what.”
But even Solomon agrees that the rumor is not so outlandish. Packard Media Group, a media management company part-owned by Solomon, visited TWT late last year to give a presentation to a small group of top staff. The proposal was to take over TWT advertising. Solomon was not present for the meeting. The proposal is said to still be alive. But there are many proposals on the table hoping to be accepted by TWT as the publication moves forward under its new ownership.
Another detail involves TWT President Thomas McDevitt. Sources told FishbowlDC that McDevitt said he speaks to Solomon daily and that he “doesn’t make a decision without talking to Solomon.”
Reaction to a potential Solomon return is mixed. “There’s people who got along with him really well,” the source, who wished to speak anonymously, said. “There were people he was nasty to and people new in the building who don’t know what to think. I don’t think there’s universal enthusiasm.”
We requested comment from Dolan. We’ll bring it to you should he reply.
> Update: The reporters discussing Solomon’s potential return were said to be horsing around. Dolan called FishbowlDC and remarked, “What the Washington Times insider apparently didn’t hear was the beginning of the statement that started with, ‘Let’s start a rumor.’ One of the reporters was fooling around in the newsroom. They were being boisterous and maybe they need more work to do.”