Chronicling the highs, lows, quips, quotes, comings and goings of Washington, D.C. spokesguys and spokesgals

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Wash Times Hires PR Firm to Discredit Critics

Among other tidbits in The Nation's new feature piece on alleged tensions within the newsroom of the Washington Times: the paper's Editor in Chief Wesley Pruden has hired a PR firm to help combat critical news coverage of the paper's leadership (presumably including The Nation's article itself).
Pruden, [Managing Editor Francis] Coombs and [newspaper President Douglas] Joo are now operating like a troika to eliminate threats, real and perceived, to their continued control over the Times. "This is everything to them," a senior staffer said. "And they will do anything they have to in order to survive. It's slash and burn." Pruden has enlisted the PR firm Hill and Knowlton to attempt to discredit media reports alleging racist and sexist behavior by him or Coombs.

The Nation's piece goes on to describe an article that conservative mag Human Events had planned to publish an article by ex-Times employee George Archibald, "detailing instances of racism and sexism at the Times but that, under pressure from Pruden and Coombs, Human Events editor in chief Thomas Winter spiked the piece."

From the looks of things, the Wash Times' damage control on The Nation piece has already begun. FishBowlDC has leaked newsroom memos from both Pruden and Coombs directly and indirectly responding to the piece. Coombs calls the Nation piece "a desperate effort to undercut the fine work of the hundreds of men and women who have made The Washington Times one of the most powerful newspapers in America and the rest of the world."

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