Jarrett Stepman (Daily Signal)

The Washington Post is melting down and the reason might surprise you.

Actually, no it won’t. Just kidding. The Washington Post is melting down because it leaned hard into the Year Zero cultural revolution that’s completely transformed almost every elite institution in the past several years and the newspaper is now bleeding money.

People are no longer buying what they’re selling.

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What’s happening at the Post is a microcosm of a much larger and more significant phenomenon. More on that later.

First, let’s review what’s happened at the Post this week.

Publisher and CEO William Lewis announced Sunday that the newspaper would remove Executive Editor Sally Buzbee, hired in 2021 from The Associated Press.

Buzbee is being replaced by former Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Matt Murray, who will remain in an interim capacity through the 2024 election cycle, according to Fox News.

Buzbee decided during her tenure that The Washington Post wasn’t nearly left wing enough and chose to limit the publication’s appeal to the same demographic as NPR’s.

The result was that the newspaper found a way to lose $77 million last year amid collapsing readership numbers.

NPR gets taxpayer dollars (rather shamefully, in my mind); the Post doesn’t. So, the higher-ups looked at the Post’s dwindling readership and catastrophic financial losses and decided enough was enough.

“We are going to turn this thing around, but let’s not sugarcoat it. It needs turning around,” the Post quoted Lewis as saying. “We are losing large amounts of money. Your audience has halved in recent years. People are not reading your stuff. Right. I can’t sugarcoat it anymore.”

The people who run The Washington Post seem to understand that there is a crisis—losing lots and lots of money being the prime indicator. The question is, do they understand what the real source of that problem is?

The response to Buzbee’s removal dropped hints about the deeper, underlying issue with the Post and other institutions that decided to replicate the culture and power structure of American higher education.

The Post’s issues aren’t just the result of changing social media algorithms or mundane difficulties finding revenue streams.

Instead, they come from the fact that the newspaper chose to prioritize DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) over everything else and to empower a militant clique of employees who seem to think that promoting their agenda is a privilege that doesn’t have to adjust to reality.

According to Vanity Fair, after the announcement of the Buzbee ouster one reporter complained that “we now have four white men running three newsrooms.”

The Post will reportedly be subdivided into three newsrooms. One for news, one for opinion, and one for “service and social media journalism,” which I imagine will be the loony bin.

Vanity Fair reported that the Post had a meeting Monday about the shakeup and it went about how you would expect, with employees obsessing over diversity initiatives rather than the journalistic merit of the new editors.

The New York Times had more, worth quoting at length:

During the meeting on Monday, the executives were grilled by reporters at the Post on the lack of diversity in the hires replacing Ms. Buzbee — Mr. Murray, Mr. [Robert] Winnett and Mr. [David] Shipley are white men.
According to a recording obtained by The New York Times, one of The Washington Post’s star political reporters, Ashley Parker, asked how the newspaper had arrived at its decision, adding that one skeptical interpretation might be that Mr. Lewis was simply hiring his associates to help run the Post.
“When you were here before, you talked very movingly about how you care about diversity—and people talk about diversity—but then when push comes to shove, they say, ‘Well, I looked around and I couldn’t find anyone,’” Ms. Parker said.
In response, Mr. Murray said that diversity would be a “constant commitment” at the Post, adding that he had “the most diverse masthead that the Journal had ever had” during his years as the top editor at The Wall Street Journal.

It’s clear that the DEI today, tomorrow, and forever folks aren’t going to let go, nor will they accept a direction that doesn’t entirely align with their narrow political ideology.

The people who foisted left-wing dogma into every corner of The Washington Post’s newsroom aren’t used to not getting their way.

The question is: Will the new management be able to make a genuine pivot? It’s doubtful.

It appears that those in charge of The Washington Post—whether Buzbee or the new bosses—are unwilling to fundamentally challenge the central tenets of DEI. At no point are they willing or able to say, “My commitment is to running the best, most effective newsroom regardless of the race, gender, or background of our reporters and editors.”

Instead, we get a quasi-religious kowtowing to the “constant commitment” to diversity.

Maybe that will change in the coming days, but the early returns aren’t great.

As independent writer Wesley Yang noted in a post on X, several other massive media companies have been given this choice in the past: Go woke or go broke. They chose to go broke.

This may seem surprising, but from an individual perspective, this has often been the “right” decision.

It’s far easier to jump ship from one failing newspaper or corporation and hop on to another as long as one maintains commitment to the overarching left-wing faith. That’s how the game has been played.

Rebuking or even wavering in commitment to DEI has been a one-way ticket to never working in an elite, “mainstream” institution ever again. It’s better to fail or demonstrate outright incompetence than to question orthodoxy and risk excommunication.

Welcome to life in the USSR.

This is in many ways the heart of the problem, not just for The Washington Post but for our country and even Western civilization more broadly.

In the interlocking world of elite institutions, where even the gap between what is governmental and what is private has become blurry, ideological gatekeepers determine who is promoted and who is denied employment, who is worthy of praise or destruction.

The Washington Post has acted as one of the more prominent gatekeepers.

But it isn’t 2020 anymore.

Although most elite institutions remain as compromised as ever, the “racial reckoning” and DEI revolution have created a serious and determined “populist” backlash.

Huge numbers of Americans, even ones who have generally found themselves on the Left, are tired of the nonsense. They are tired of being fed a constant diet of left-wing agitprop and refuse to live by lies.

The prophets of DEI made huge profits, but now a critical mass of Americans are on to the scam.

This doesn’t mean the revolutionary fever has entirely broken, or that everything will now return to normal. Far from it. We will continue dealing with the profound and terrible consequences of what this ideology has done to our society for a long time to come.

What it does mean is that the power of DEI gatekeepers has waned. The revolution has literally been eating itself, as similar movements have in the past. And now there is a serious counterrevolution—both legal and political—to reduce their poisonous influence on our society.

Christopher Rufo, the conservative activist and commentator who has perhaps done more to produce this turnaround than anyone else, described this moment succinctly.