Well, this is awkward.
The Washington Times management is putting thumb screws to the staff to get them to rat out the leakers to FishbowlDC. On the table for consideration: calling each staffer in one by one to ask if they have any knowledge of the leaking. As we already know, Chairman Tom McDevitt has been keeping staffers’ phone records under surveillance to see what calls are coming in and going out.
TWT‘s neverending bastion of bloated suits has, so far, refused to speak to FBDC for any of our coverage. One executive reached out but refused to speak on the record — that was more a lecturing kind of phone call. A teachable moment, some might say. “Don’t you just love a media company that has an absolutely strict policy against ever talking to the press ever?” asked a TWT insider.
The past few weeks has seen a rise in stories concerning The Washington Times as some 25 people were laid off on Friday. Last month, Executive Editor David Jackson warned that a restructuring was coming, but he left out key details — such as when and who. So staffers had to endure the holidays agonizing over whether they’d even have a job come the new year. To recap: Three days later, on Monday, TWT threw staff a newsroom party — oh boy! — and fed them sugary snacks (cookies, cakes and pies) to help ease the pain of an unstable newsroom filled with uncertainty. We’re told some remained at their desks out of loyalty to the departed. At the gabfest, they formally announced that John Solomon, the editor that left under angry circumstances in 2009, was returning full-time in addition to a plate-thrower named Ian Bishop (a real journalist with a favorable rep who comes to them by way of the New York Daily News.) Both men are assuming digital roles.
Here’s where things get strange….At the party, CEO Larry Beasley (a.k.a. “Evil Santa”), who drove up from Florida in his honking motorhome to take the job, joked that someone should… invite yours truly to the next staff meeting since FBDC is somehow getting the information anyhow. Then he said, get this, “but she wouldn’t have the guts to show up.”
So I did what any self-respecting reporter would do. I wrote Beasley and asked if I could attend the next staff meeting. Here’s what I sent him. So far, shockingly, no response. (Hi Beasley! Want to do lunch?)
Dear Larry,Just wanted to say how sorry I am that you didn’t think to invite me to the big newsroom meeting yesterday! I would’ve loved to be there, although I really feel like I was there in spirit. Also…you should know that I would’ve loved to have been invited. Just wondering if you’d consider inviting me to the next office meeting? To be sure, I’d show up. I think I can find New York Avenue on a map. I also take good notes. I’m nervy like that.Namaste,Betsy