Newsweek Editors Accuse Owners of Firing Staffers Over Story About Investigation Into Company



In a blistering note to readers, Newsweek editors accused the magazine’s parent company of firing two editors and a political reporter in retaliation for a story about a legal investigation into the company.
Editor Bob Roe, Executive Editor Ken Li and senior politics reporter Celeste Katz were all fired, according to a note Tuesday affixed to the story headlined titled “Why Is The Manhattan DA Looking at Newsweek’s Ties to a Christian University?” According to the note, Newsweek Media Group fired Li, Roe, and Katz “for doing their jobs,” and would have also fired reporters Josh Saul and Josh Keefe if an unnamed editor hadn’t intervened.
The story, credited to Saul, Katz, and Keefe, said Newsweek Media Group was tied to California’s Olivet University, which in 2016 sought to open a satellite campus in Dover, N.Y.
The university offered free advertising in Newsweek to county officials in Dover in exchange for tax breaks and construction permit approval, the story said. In 2017, Hudson Valley Regional Airport and Dutchess County tourism received, free of charge, 10 full-page spots worth $149,000, according to the story.
Now, Newsweek reports, the Manhattan district attorney’s office is investigating financial ties between the company and the university as part of “a long-running fraud probe.”
The editors’ note says that in addition to the firings, owners made numerous attempts to interfere with the story that “involved egregious breaches of confidentiality and journalism ethics.” The note said a Newsweek executive showed the subjects of the story a full draft prior to publication; reporters were asked to identify confidential sources during an on-the-record interview with the subjects; and sources were contacted by executives and questioned about their discussions with reporters.
According to the note, the magazine’s staff “resisted their efforts to influence the story,” and that “the reporters and editors involved in this story felt they would be forced to resign.” This prompted Newsweek Media Group to promise an independent review and “newsroom autonomy going forward.” As a result, the story “was written and edited Tuesday, free of interference from company executives.”
Roe, Li and Katz were let go on Feb. 5 amid reports that Keefe and Saul were also dismissed. In an email to employees later that day, company CEO Dev Pragad announced that IBT Managing Editor Nancy Cooper would take up leadership as “acting editor” of Newsweek.
Here’s the full editor’s note:
Note from the Editors: As we were reporting this story, Newsweek Media Group fired Newsweek Editor Bob Roe, Executive Editor Ken Li and Senior Politics Reporter Celeste Katz for doing their jobs. Reporters Josh Keefe and Josh Saul were targeted for firing before an editor persuaded the company to reverse its decision. As we continued working on the story, we were asked to take part in a review process which, we ultimately learned, involved egregious breaches of confidentiality and journalism ethics. We believe that subjects of the story were shown parts of the draft, if not the entire piece, prior to publication by a company executive who should not have been involved in the process. At an on-the-record interview with the subjects of this story, a company official asked editors to identify confidential sources. On-the-record sources were contacted and questioned about their discussions with Newsweek Media Group reporters. We resisted their efforts to influence the story and, after learning of the review’s ethical failings, the reporters and editors involved in this story felt they would be forced to resign. At that point, a senior Newsweek Media Group executive said the company’s owners would ensure independent review and newsroom autonomy going forward. This story was written and edited Tuesday, free of interference from company executives.

Matt Lauer has exited NBC’s “Today” show after allegations of sexual misconduct, which Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb announced on the show Wednesday morning. His departure leaves a big hole in the “Today” team. Here are some potential replacements. 
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Ann Curry
Fans are already lobbying online for the return of Ann Curry, who left “Today” in 2012. Since she’s a veteran, she’d no doubt easily slide back in to the role, but since there was reportedly conflicts with NBC higher-ups, we’re not sure how likely her return might be (or if she’d want the job). 
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Carson Daly
The host of “The Voice” is already a familiar face on “Today,” has plenty of experience with interviews and lots of charisma. Why not give him room to expand his journalistic chops with a higher profile role on the morning show?

Sam Champion
The “Good Morning America” weatherman has 25 years under his belt anchoring a major broadcast, so he has the experience needed for the role. He tweeted Wednesday morning after the Lauer news broke that “Network TV needs a good scrubbing!”
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Katie Couric
Couric is a beloved figure in American journalism and would certainly be a welcome face for viewers. She worked with Lauer for nine years on the “Today” show before she moved on.
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Meredith Vieira
Another “Today” alum, Vieira definitely has the experience needed to succeed in the role. The “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” host is deft in balancing small talk with the million-dollar questions. 
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Bryant Gumbel
The former “Today” anchor comes across as a class act, which is something the NBC News morning show could sure use a touch of right now. With no “Real Sports” going on right now, the guy who recently appeared on “Finding Your Roots” should return back to his roots. Should Gumbel come back to “Today,” we’d insist on Jerry Seinfeld granting him an interview while donning a puffy shirt.
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Willie Geist
The “Morning Joe” co-anchor also anchor’s “Sunday Today,” and has filled in for Lauer in the past. He’s got the experience and seems like a logical pick. 
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Al Roker
Roker’s lovable personality already delights viewers of “Today.” If Roker wanted to forgo his weatherman duties, we could see him moving into Lauer’s role. 
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Hoda Kotb
Kotb co-hosts “Today” show’s fourth hour with Kathie Lee Gifford, but she’s also done other segments for the NBC morning show, and we could definitely see her taking on longer interviews and expanding her hosting chops.
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Natalie Morales
Morales has defined her anchor abilities on “Today,” “Dateline” and “NBC Nightly News.” Her interviewing and hosting skills make her a great candidate to fill Lauer’s shoes.
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Josh Elliott
By many accounts, Elliott was actually brought in to NBC a few years back to eventually replace Matt Lauer on “Today.” That obviously didn’t work out, nor did his recent year at CBS News. But the “GMA” alum knows how to do these morning shows, so how about a little Lauer 2.0 Take 2?
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Tamron Hall
The current Investigation Discovery host has done almost every job NBC News has to offer — including hosting on the “Today” show. The former third-hour anchor could return for the first two, and maybe rub off in a positive way on her ultimate 9 a.m. successor, Megyn Kelly.
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Robin Meade
Alright, so Robin Meade is gainfully employed with her own morning show at HLN. But maybe it’s time to step up to the big (broadcast) leagues. The country music singer and former beauty queen knows her way around a TV studio, and nothing topples the patriarchy like a little girl power.
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Who will fill the shoes of the fired “Today” host?

Matt Lauer has exited NBC’s “Today” show after allegations of sexual misconduct, which Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb announced on the show Wednesday morning. His departure leaves a big hole in the “Today” team. Here are some potential replacements. 

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