What About Rob?

rob winnett washington post
On this side of the pond, Rob Winnett’s impending arrival at The Washington Post is a source of considerable anxiety. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
June 14, 2024

In two months, Telegraph deputy editor Rob Winnett will leave London, where he has spent a lifetime burnishing his credentials as a tireless, scoop-hungry journalist, and move to America to become top editor of The Washington Post—the head of the paper’s “first newsroom” in evolving Post parlance. In media circles on his side of the pond, this is seen as significant news. Winnett, after all, is a minor legend on Fleet Street—a soft-spoken but ruthlessly determined newsman who led The Telegraph’s explosive investigation into the U.K. parliamentary expenses scandal and earned the sobriquet “Rat Boy” along the way. “He is highly regarded and thought of as the engine in the newsroom,” one veteran British media executive told me. For The Telegraph, this person said, “it is a big loss.”

On this side of the pond, however, Winnett’s impending arrival is a source of considerable anxiety. Two weeks ago, of course, Post publisher and C.E.O. Will Lewis was forced to rush out the news of Winnett’s appointment after executive editor Sally Buzbee determined that she’d rather resign than be reassigned to Lewis’s infamous “third newsroom,” focused on growing the Post’s digital audience through service journalism and social media. The Buzbee departure set off a rollicking media storm of epic proportions—“sugarcoat-it”-gate; the Times smoke bombs; renewed anxieties about Lewis’s role in the aftermath of News Corp.’s phone-hacking scandal; the Folkenflik sideshow; etcetera. And as the Post newsroom turned against their new C.E.O., Winnett became the new object of collective obsession.