Washington Examiner fires reporters while other journalists depart in the wake of the Weekly Standard’s sudden shuttering

Joe PerticoneThe Washington Examiner magazine.
  • The Washington Examiner fired at least two reporters on Friday despite adding new hires.
  • According to multiple current and former employees who spoke with INSIDER on the condition of anonymity, the Examiner parted ways with two of its news reporters, while keeping their commentary staff and announcing new hires in other roles.
  • The Examiner’s editorial director Hugo Gurdon told INSIDER the firings “have anything to do with ideology or partisanship. Any such suggestion is probably self-aggrandizing spin.”
  • A handful of reporters have also left the Examiner for employment elsewhere in recent weeks.
  • Clarity Media Group, which owns the Examiner, recently shuttered The Weekly Standard and terminated all staff.

WASHINGTON – The Washington Examiner fired at least two reporters on Friday, while also announcing several new hires.

According to multiple current and former employees who spoke with INSIDER on the condition of anonymity, the Examiner parted ways with two of its nonpartisan, straight-news reporters, while keeping their commentary staff and announcing new hires in other roles.

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The Examiner’s firings, which came in the same two-week span as rounds of layoffs hammered the media industry, were “in no way” because of financial strain, according to one former employee. Multiple sources speculated they were part of an effort to take the website in a more conservative and Trump-friendly direction.

A current staffer lamented to INSIDER that the publication is unrecognizable from what it used to be, saying there is a more right-leaning tone.

In an email to staff on Thursday evening, less than 24 hours before the reporters were let go, the Examiner’s editorial director, Hugo Gurdon, announced several hires and pledged more in the future.

“Having an extra editor will mean more attention can be given to commissioning and to copy, and it may mean some reporters will be supervised by a different editor than now,” Gurdon wrote. “These details will be worked out in coming weeks.”

“I will have more hires to announce shortly, as the Washington Examiner consolidates its position as the country’s biggest and most influential conservative news organisation dedicated to federal politics,” Gurdon added.

A spokesman for the Examiner told INSIDER in an email the departures “weren’t layoffs.”

“Layoffs are staff reductions. We’re increasing our staff,” the spokesperson said. “They were let go for other reasons and we don’t discuss individual personnel decisions.”

In a statement to INSIDER on Saturday, Gurdon said, “It is completely false to say that departures from the newsroom have anything to do with ideology or partisanship. Any such suggestion is probably self-aggrandizing spin. We report news straight and express a forthrightly conservative worldview on our comment pages. Like any ambitious and growing news organisation, we sometimes find it necessary to part company with members of staff, but that is because we are constantly looking for reporters and editors who produce compelling and engaging stories.”

Several employees have left the Examiner in recent weeks

The firings come after an exodus of editorial employees from the Examiner. Several reporters have also departed in recent weeks.

Business reporter Joe Williams left for Fox Business, Defence reporter Travis Tritten departed to be a senior reporter at Bloomberg Government, and White House correspondent Robert Donachie is now a spokesman for freshman Texas Rep. Chip Roy. On Friday, commentary writer Philip Wegmann announced he would be joining RealClearNews as a White House correspondent.

The high number of departures come a little more than a month after Clarity Media Group, the Examiner’s parent company, shuttered The Weekly Standard, a website and magazine, in December. The Weekly Standard was one of the few conservative publications that remained critical of President Donald Trump.

“For more than twenty years The Weekly Standard has provided a valued and important perspective on political, literary and cultural issues of the day,” Clarity Media president and CEO Ryan McKibben said in the statement in December. “The magazine has been home to some of the industry’s most dedicated and talented staff and I thank them for their hard work and contributions, not just to the publication, but the field of journalism.”

As a result, the entire Weekly Standard staff lost their jobs, as their owners refused to entertain any buyers.

Clarity Media also has begun expanding the Examiner’s magazine into a national publication, bringing on former New York Post op-ed editor Seth Mandel as executive editor.

(Note: This post was updated to include additional comment from Gurdon.)

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