Bezos Succession Questions & CNN’s Max Spat

Jeff Bezos remains committed to growing and globalizing The Washington Post—the mystery, which has become a parlor game in media circles these days, is who he will task to do it.
Jeff Bezos remains committed to growing and globalizing The Washington Post—the mystery, which has become a parlor game in media circles these days, is who he will task to do it. Photo: Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
October 4, 2023

On Monday evening, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., the fourth inheritor to Adolph Ochs’ Times Co. heirloom, and the paper’s former publisher, hosted an intimate gathering at his West Side penthouse to celebrate the launch of Marty Baron’s new memoir, which chronicles his time atop The Washington Post amid the TrumpBezos era. On a rooftop terrace overlooking the park and midtown, Times chairman A.G. (Pinch’s son) and executive editor Joe Kahn commingled with incoming CNN chief executive Mark Thompson, NBCUniversal News Group chairman Cesar Conde, and The New Yorker’s David Remnick. There were plenty of other swells: philanthropic people, foundation types, and even Liev Schreiber, who famously portrayed Baron in Spotlight. Inevitably, some of these conversations turned to media topics du jour: Thompson’s plans to resuscitate and reinvent CNN, the Post’s search for its next C.E.O., the Times’ myriad achievements, etcetera.

Talking with sources about the party, it occurred to me that we are at a particularly pivotal moment in American journalism. In the last decade, the Sulzbergers, with the help of Thompson and Meredith Kopit Levien, have established the Times as the preeminent, always-on multimedia news-and-lifestyle brand for educated center-left America. CNN and the Post, which are arguably the only two institutions with the brand equity and pseudo-centrist editorial ambitions to vie with the Times in this space (for the time being, anyway), are both on the cusp of new regimes. In CNN’s case, as I’ve reported, all indications are that Thompson will strive to transform the network into a robust, digital-first news brand just as he helped transform the Times. At least, that’s David Zaslav’s idea.