Newsweek Insider Tells How Magazine is Imploding

Good riddance.

It’s just a matter of time before Newsweek shutters its doors for good. It was already close before a cult leader bought the publication and gave it new legs, but those legs were shaky, more like the National Enquirer than a serious news publication. Now, the trouble is starting back up.

Federal investigators swarmed Newsweek’s headquarters last month to uncover allegations of fraud and this week, several top executives and a reporter were suddenly fired. 

In the meantime, Newsweek is carrying on its fierce anti-Trump campaign, publishing click-bait articles and fake news. The outlet also had to distance itself from an editor of the Pakistani edition after he heralded pedophilia as a producer of great art. But that doesn’t mean the editorial standards are high, Newsweek ran with this headline this week: “Donald Trump’s Hair Flaps in the Wind, Revealing His Scalp.”

One insider has already blown the whistle on the publication, calling the workplace environment “toxic” that has “descended into a content farm for last-resort clickbait.”

“Manufacturing rage for clicks is their current business model, and most people in the company fear imminent layoffs,” he said.

Now, yet another insider has come forward to give an exhaustive account of Newsweek’s troubles, many examples covered here at TruthRevolt. From Politico:

It was 3 a.m. on Saturday, and I was seething. Staring at my phone, I saw that my company, Newsweek Media Group, had put out yet another story that would require a correction if not a retraction. This time it was a story ripped from The Onion. We were treating the fake news as if it were real. OFFS, I tapped under a friend’s Facebook post after seeing it, short for Oh, For Fuck’s Sake. The headline in our sister publication, the International Business Times: “Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Set Up Wedding Registry at London’s Target.” Despite the late hour, I dropped a note to an editor who took the story down off the website. You can see the link on Google, but if you click, you’ll get “Error 404. PAGE NOT FOUND.” There’s no correction, which is what a normal news company might post.

It would be funny if there hadn’t been so many insane errors in recent months. An article in Newsweek on the girlfriend of the suspected Las Vegas gunman breathlessly purported to have discovered that she was married to two men simultaneously. (Not true.) One piece touted a new poll in Japan that showed its citizens were eager to go to war with North Korea—a startling headline that raised alarms in a region fraught with nuclear tensions, and where Tokyo’s occupation of the peninsula during the Pacific War is still raw. (Oops. Not true.) President Donald Trump can defend himself, but Newsweek ran a story following Charles Manson’s death that was both banal and a slur: They both use words to influence people. It had to be walked back. One of the most embarrassing for me as a political reporter is a story from January 2018 announcing that Hillary Clinton, she of the 2016 election, could still become president “if Russia probe finds conspiracy evidence.” What followed was a farfetched theory of Trump’s removal and Mike Pence handing the reins to Hillary, which seems a tad unlikely.

All of this was pretty demoralizing. I’ve spent more than 30 years in journalism—more than half of it at what were once the big three newsweeklies—Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report. (As far as I know, only one other person, Steve Smith, who also edited the Washington Examiner and National Journal, has managed this hat trick.) But the errors, which overshadowed Newsweek’s very good work, were only part of my middle-of-the-night fuming.

…Then on Monday, February 5, I reached my tipping point: The two respected editorial leaders of Newsweek, Editor in Chief Bob Roe and Executive Editor Ken Li, were summarily fired along with a strong reporter who was investigating the various Newsweek scandals. It was too much tsouris for me. I submitted a letter of resignation, probably marking the last time I work for a newsweekly. It’s possible in a few years, no one will.

When NewsWEAK finally shuts down, we will be right there to say good riddance.

H/T Legal Insurrection