The jokes, they write themselves:
The speaker is Fred Ryan, publisher of the Washington Post, in a note to staff about stepping down from that job and taking a new one. Presented without comment. pic.twitter.com/YO5FT7v2Wk
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) June 13, 2023
Here is his full memo:
Dear Washington Post Colleagues,
Nine years ago, I was honored to be selected by Jeff Bezos to be Publisher and CEO of The Washington Post. Working with Jeff and the exceptional team at The Post has been an incredible experience and enormously gratifying.
Together, we have accomplished one of the most extraordinary transformations in modern media history. We have evolved from a primarily local print newspaper to become a global digital publication. We’ve added significantly to the tremendous team of journalists, engineers and business experts and have taken The Post through multiple years of profitability. We’ve launched an innovative new technology platform that is powering hundreds of other news sites around the world.
During this time, we have won multiple awards for exceptional journalism, including 13 Pulitzer Prizes, and we’ve twice been named “The World’s Most Innovative Media Company” by Fast Company.
As I have shared in conversations with many of you, I have a deep and growing concern about the decline in civility and respectful dialogue in our political process, on social media platforms and more broadly across our society. Many of us can recall an era when people could disagree without being disagreeable. Political leaders on opposite sides of the aisle could find common ground for the good of the country. Today, the decline in civility has become a toxic and corrosive force that threatens our social interactions and weakens the underpinnings of our democracy. I feel a strong sense of urgency about this issue.
As a result, I have decided to leave my position at The Post to lead the nonpartisan Center on Public Civility that is being launched by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. Jeff is personally providing support for the planning and design phase of this new initiative and supports my decision to make this move.
In order to provide advice and counsel during this transition, I have agreed to remain as Publisher of The Washington Post until August 1. Jeff will announce a new interim CEO later today. It is an exceptional individual that I hold in the highest regard.
In the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to spending time with all of my friends and colleagues across The Post to convey my deep appreciation for your many impressive contributions to our success. I am committed to providing my full support as the interim CEO charts the course of this transition and the bright future ahead for The Post.
With my deepest appreciation to each of you,
Yes. A former Reagan appointee is upset about the tone and the toxicity and the lack of civility, so he is moving on to the… Reagan Foundation to do who knows fucking what. Let’s put aside the inherent lack of incivility of all the things that Reagan and his administration did, and how you can basically trace a DIRECT fucking line from every problem we have today in this country back to something that started or was implemented during the Reagan years. I don’t need to go over them all, they have been discussed by smarter people over and over and over again. But in the off chance there are any youngs out there in the reading audience, click those links and learn where a lot of this shit started.
Where was I? Ahem. The thing you need to understand about respectability politics is this- it is ALWAYS practiced by the HAVES. It is always used to defuse righteous anger. It is always used to deflect from the problem at hand. It is always practiced by those who benefit from the status quo. It is always a tool of oppression. And it is always, always, always, swallowed hook, line, and sinker by the fucking dimwits in our failed media experiment.
It was a running joke for the last few decades of blogging that you could murder someone so long as you didn’t swear while doing it. The attempts by the networks and “respectable news” to shut out or ignore bloggers because they were pottymouthed were legendary. Hell, our own lexicon has entries on Blogger Ethics Panels and High Broderism and America’s Concern Troll, to name a few of the iterations. How many of you remember the lifetime network ban of Marci Wheeler from MSNBC for saying “blowjob:”
A more recent example is the Tennessee Three:
Last Thursday was a shameful day in the Volunteer State. Just days after six people — three of them only nine years old — were murdered in an elementary school, three Democratic lawmakers joined a group of protesters demanding their legislature act. Rather than listen and engage, the Republican supermajority in the Tennessee House of Representatives voted according to party lines to expel two of their colleagues from the chamber. It is not lost on me that, of the three legislators whose expulsion was brought to a vote, the two young Black men were expelled, while the white woman survived the vote.
These men, state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, represented majority Black districts in Nashville and Memphis, respectively. If made permanent, the expulsion would have left over 139,000 constituents without their duly democratically elected representation, leaving them disenfranchised and without a voice in their state’s legislative process. Over half of these constituents are Black.
It’s why they don’t like protests. They deflect the murder of civilians by police by blathering on about riots and property destruction. This has always been the case, will always be the case, and when someone comes at you with respectability politics or tells you to be civil, you need to recognize what they are doing- they are telling you to sheathe your righteous anger, to recognize who you are and that you are one of the ignorable little people, and they are trying to maintain the status quo, which ALWAYS fucking benefits them.
Tell them to go fuck themselves and yell louder.
The good news about all of this is that this is, to a large extent, a byproduct of a foregone era when Republicans and Democrats could, to a degree, work together to achieve things. That era is for the most part over, because it is increasingly clear that one of the two major political parties is clinically fucking insane and run by nihilistic nutters. But still, older members of the media and the elsewhere still pine for the days of yore, and we still get this nonsense bubbling up from time to time about decency and civility. Fortunately, however, the new generations of Democrats are young enough that Republicans have been insane, destructive lunatics their entire lives. People being elected today were in kindergarten when Michelle Malkin was stalking Graeme Frost examining his countertops or screaming about Rachel Ray’s scarf being a terrorist hijab.
But it still exists. So watch out for it.
Fucking hell I need an editor.