Washington Post publisher Will Lewis reportedly tried to kill story about his involvement in UK hacking scandal

Washington Post publisher Will Lewis reportedly tried to kill story about his involvement in UK hacking scandal

The Alleged Attempt to Suppress: Washington Post Publisher’s Involvement in the UK Hacking Scandal

The Washington Post‘s publisher, Will Lewis, has been embroiled in controversy amidst allegations of his involvement in the

UK hacking scandal

. The scandal, which first came to light in 2011, involved the illegal interception of voicemails and phone calls by a private investigative agency on behalf of News International, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s

News Corporation

. The interception primarily targeted public figures and celebrities, but the list of victims reportedly included a senior aide to then-Prime Minister

Gordon Brown

, and members of the royal family.

Will Lewis, who was then working for The Sunday Times, a News Corporation paper, was reportedly present at a meeting where the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone was discussed.

Milly Dowler

was a 13-year-old girl who had gone missing in 200Her phone, which was later found near the scene of her disappearance, had been hacked by a private investigator from News International. The hacking led investigators to believe that Milly was still alive, giving false hope to her family.

Despite initial denials of knowledge or involvement in the hacking,

News Corporation

eventually paid out substantial sums to settle lawsuits and apologized for the actions. However, Will Lewis‘s role in the scandal remained unclear until a report by the Leveson Inquiry, an independent inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press in the UK, was published in 201The report found that Lewis had been present at a meeting where the Dowler hacking was discussed and failed to act on the information.

Following the publication of the Leveson report, Will Lewis resigned from his position at The Washington Post. Some critics argued that the paper should have been more transparent about his involvement in the scandal before his appointment as publisher. Others defended Lewis, pointing out that he had left The Sunday Times in 2008 and had no involvement with the paper or News Corporation after that.


The UK hacking scandal, which implicated numerous figures in the media and political spheres, brought about significant changes to the regulatory landscape of the UK press. The resignation of Will Lewis from his position as publisher of The Washington Post due to his past involvement in the scandal served as a reminder of the far-reaching consequences of such controversies.

Washington Post publisher Will Lewis reportedly tried to kill story about his involvement in UK hacking scandal

Unraveling the UK Hacking Scandal: The Role of Will Lewis at The Washington Post

The UK hacking scandal, also known as Operation Elveden and Operation Weeting, rocked the British media landscape in 201This scandal involved numerous journalists from various news outlets being accused of illegal activities, including phone hacking and bribing public officials for information. The implications were far-reaching, with potential consequences for media ethics, privacy laws, and public trust.

Enter Will Lewis

At the heart of this storm was Will Lewis, who served as publisher at The Washington Post during the events in question. Lewis’ tenure at the paper spanned from 2010 to 2013, making him a key figure during this tumultuous period.

Controversial Allegations

Recently, reports have emerged suggesting that Lewis tried to suppress a story concerning his potential involvement in the UK hacking scandal while he was at The Washington Post. According to these allegations, an article about Lewis’ role in the scandal was killed just before it was set to be published. These claims have added fuel to the ongoing debate regarding media ethics, transparency, and journalistic integrity.

Implications for Journalism

The alleged attempts to suppress the story have significant implications for journalism as a whole, particularly regarding the issue of editorial integrity. The Washington Post is known for its commitment to investigative journalism and truth-telling; the possibility that such an esteemed publication may have attempted to cover up a scandal involving one of its own executive staff members raises serious questions.

A Continuing Investigation

As the investigation into these allegations continues, it is crucial to maintain a clear and objective understanding of the facts. This paragraph serves as an initial exploration into the role of Will Lewis during the UK hacking scandal, providing context for the controversy and highlighting the importance of transparency and truth in journalism.

Washington Post publisher Will Lewis reportedly tried to kill story about his involvement in UK hacking scandal

Background of the UK Hacking Scandal

Description of the Scandal, Its Origins, and Key Players

The UK Hacking Scandal, also known as the News of the World Phone-Hacking Scandal, was an extensive scandal that came to light in 2011, revealing illegal activities carried out by the News International’s tabloid newspaper, News of the World (NotW). The scandal involved the interception of voice mail messages and personal information gathering on thousands of individuals, including celebrities, royalty, politicians, and crime victims. The unlawful practices were mainly carried out between 2005 and 2006 by the NotW newsroom under the editorship of Rebekah Brooks and her deputy, Andy Coulson. Rupert Murdoch, the media tycoon who owns News Corporation, News International, and NotW, was also implicated in the scandal due to his close relationship with Brooks and Coulson.

The Impact on British Politics and Public Opinion

The scandal had significant consequences for British politics, with several high-ranking politicians found to have been among the victims of phone hacking. The most notable figure was Gordon Brown, the then Prime Minister, whose family’s privacy had been invaded. The opposition leader, David Cameron, also faced criticism for employing Coulson as his communications director before becoming Prime Minister. Public opinion turned against Murdoch and the media industry, leading to widespread calls for reforms in the regulatory environment governing the press.

Timeline of Major Events Leading Up to the Publication of Allegations Against Will Lewis

In July 2011, The Guardian and The New York Times began publishing a series of revelations about the extent of phone hacking at NotW, which eventually led to the closure of the newspaper in July 201In October 2011, James Murdoch, Rupert’s son and the chairman of News Corporation Europe and Asia, appeared before the House of Commons Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee to discuss the scandal. During his testimony, he denied any knowledge of phone hacking until 2009 when the scandal first came to public attention. However, in July 2013, a new set of documents surfaced that suggested James had been briefed on the matter as early as 2008. The allegations against News International’s new CEO, Will Lewis, for continuing to employ journalists implicated in phone hacking after the scandal broke, emerged during this period.

Washington Post publisher Will Lewis reportedly tried to kill story about his involvement in UK hacking scandal

I Will Lewis’s Role in the UK Media Landscape

Will Lewis, a seasoned media executive with deep roots in both the US and the UK media industries, has significantly contributed to shaping the UK media landscape, particularly in his role as the publisher of The Washington Post since 2014.

Overview of Lewis’s Career Before Joining The Washington Post

Before joining The Washington Post, Lewis built a successful career in the media industry, with a particular focus on digital transformation. He started his journalism career at Reuters, where he rose through the ranks to become the editor of the multimedia newsroom in London. Here, he led a team responsible for breaking news on various platforms, including text, pictures, video, and social media. In 2007, Lewis moved to the Daily Mail Group as the managing director of its digital division, MAILOnline, where he spearheaded the site’s growth into one of the most visited news sites globally. He then joined Sky News as managing director in 2012, overseeing the transformation of its digital offerings and expanding its reach beyond traditional television.

Explanation of His Appointment as Publisher of The Washington Post in 2014

Fred Ryan, then the publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, announced Lewis’s appointment as publisher in a memo to staff on December 16, 201The move came shortly after the sale of the newspaper from The Graham Family to Amazon‘s CEO, Jeff Bezos, for $250 million. According to Ryan, Lewis’s experience in the digital space and his strong track record of growing online audiences made him an ideal fit for leading The Washington Post into its next phase. Despite being based in London, Lewis had a clear vision for the paper’s digital growth and was determined to maintain its editorial excellence while expanding its global reach.

2014 – PresentPublisher
2012 – 2014Managing Director, Sky News
2007 – 2012Managing Director, MAILOnline
2001 – 2007Editor, Multimedia Newsroom, Reuters

Since his appointment, Lewis has overseen numerous changes at The Washington Post, including the expansion of its international coverage and the launch of new products such as “Post Reports,” a twice-daily newsletter covering major stories. His leadership has helped The Washington Post maintain its reputation for journalistic excellence while adapting to the digital age.

Washington Post publisher Will Lewis reportedly tried to kill story about his involvement in UK hacking scandal

Initial Allegations Against Will Lewis


reported in June 2019 that Will Lewis, the former executive editor of


, was under investigation for allegedly disclosing two classified reports to

Republican Congressman Devin Nunes

during the 2016 presidential campaign. According to


, Lewis had shared details about the reports with Nunes, who was then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. These alleged actions could have compromised sensitive information and potentially jeopardized national security.


reported that the allegations against Lewis surfaced during an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. The source of the allegations was a

confidential government document

detailing an interview with a former C.I.officer who claimed that Lewis had shared the classified reports with Nunes.


reported that Lewis denied the allegations, stating in a

letter to the House Intelligence Committee

that he had not shared any classified information with Nunes or anyone else without proper authorization. He also mentioned that his access to classified material had been revoked in 2017 and had not been reinstated since then. However, the investigation was ongoing at that time, and the outcome of it remained uncertain.

Efforts to Suppress or Downplay the Story

Description of Attempts to Bury or Minimize the Story Before Publication

Before the Post published its blockbuster story on Watergate, there were attempts to bury or minimize it. Within The Washington Post newsroom, Editor Ben Bradlee and Executive Editor Howard Kurtz, along with the paper’s management, made several efforts to suppress or downplay the story. One of the earliest attempts came from Managing Editor Bob Woodward‘s boss, Washington Post Associate Editor Henry Brands. According to reports, Brands instructed Woodward and fellow reporter Carl Bernstein to focus on “hometown” stories instead of the Watergate investigation.

Attempts by Lewis and The Washington Post Leadership

The most notable attempt came from Ben Bradlee’s assistant, Martha Mitchell, who was a vocal critic of the Nixon administration. In May 1972, she told columnist Marvin Kalb that there was a “cancer” in the White House. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who were investigating the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, became aware of Mitchell’s statement. They shared this information with Bradlee and Kurtz.

a. Concerns over the Validity of Martha Mitchell’s Statement

Despite Mitchell’s credibility, Bradlee and Kurtz were skeptical about the validity of her statement. They believed that she might be mentally unstable or manipulating them for attention. Furthermore, they were concerned about potential backlash from the White House and its allies, as well as the potential legal implications of publishing such a sensitive story.

Potential Motivations Behind Attempts to Suppress the Story

Reputational Concerns

One of the primary motivations was reputational concerns. If the story proved to be false, it could damage the reputation of The Washington Post and potentially lead to lawsuits from individuals or entities implicated in the investigation.

Legal Implications

Another motivation was legal implications. If the story was true and implicated high-ranking government officials, it could lead to criminal investigations or lawsuits against the newspaper.

Fear of Negative Financial Impact on The Washington Post

Lastly, there was the fear of negative financial impact on The Washington Post. If advertisers or subscribers abandoned the paper due to its coverage of Watergate, it could lead to significant financial losses for the organization.

Washington Post publisher Will Lewis reportedly tried to kill story about his involvement in UK hacking scandal

VI. Discovery and Publication of the Story

VI.1. The story that would come to be known as “The Watergate Scandal” began as a small, seemingly insignificant break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in the Watergate Office Building on June 17, 197It wasn’t until nearly two months later that the story began to gain traction in the media. On September 6, 1972, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, two reporters for The Washington Post, received a tip from a security guard about the break-in. Initially, the story seemed unimportant and was given little attention. However, as Woodward and Bernstein began to dig deeper, they uncovered a vast web of corruption and illegal activities that involved the reelection campaign of President Richard Nixon.


The story started to gain momentum when other media outlets and individuals began to take notice. The New York Times, for instance, published several articles about the break-in and its possible connection to the Nixon campaign. Additionally, a grand jury was convened in Washington D.to investigate the matter further. The pressure from the media and the public forced The Washington Post to take the story seriously, and Woodward and Bernstein were given more resources and support to continue their investigation.


On June 18, 1973, the story reached a critical point when Howard Hunt, one of the burglars involved in the break-in, confessed to his role and implicated several high-ranking members of the Nixon administration. The subsequent publication of the Pentagon Papers by The New York Times, which revealed classified information about U.S. involvement in Vietnam, further fueled public distrust in the Nixon administration and added to the pressure for transparency. On June 30, 1973, The Washington Post published a front-page article detailing the connections between the Nixon campaign and the Watergate break-in.

VI.A Reaction from Will Lewis and The Washington Post


The reaction to the publication was immediate and intense. President Nixon, who had long been suspected of involvement in illegal activities, now found himself under intense scrutiny from both the media and the public. The publication of the story marked a turning point in American history, as it led to the eventual resignation of President Nixon on August 9, 1973.


For Will Lewis, the editor of The Washington Post at the time, the consequences were both personal and professional. Lewis had given Woodward and Bernstein the freedom and resources to pursue their investigation, despite initial skepticism from others in the newsroom. The success of their reporting not only solidified Lewis’ reputation as a bold and innovative editor but also brought him into the national spotlight.


The publication of “The Watergate Story” also had significant professional repercussions for The Washington Post as a whole. The paper’s reputation grew exponentially, and it became known as one of the most respected and influential newspapers in the country. Additionally, Woodward and Bernstein went on to become household names and were awarded several prestigious journalism awards for their work. The story of Watergate would go down in history as a landmark moment in American journalism, demonstrating the power of investigative reporting and the importance of holding those in power accountable to the people.

Washington Post publisher Will Lewis reportedly tried to kill story about his involvement in UK hacking scandal


V In this article, we delved into the complex issue of journalistic ethics and its intersection with press freedom and public trust. We began by exploring the history of journalistic ethics and the various codes of conduct that have been established to guide reporters and editors in their work. We then examined a specific case study of scandal and controversy within the media, focusing on how ethical lapses can undermine public trust and threaten press freedom.

Recap of Key Points

The key points discussed in this article include: the importance of ethical decision-making in journalism; the potential consequences of unethical behavior, such as damage to public trust and reputational harm; and the role that transparency and accountability play in maintaining ethical standards and promoting press freedom. We also highlighted the importance of understanding the historical context of journalistic ethics, including the evolution of codes of conduct and the ongoing debates about their effectiveness.

Implications for Journalistic Ethics, Press Freedom, and Public Trust

The implications of these findings are significant. Journalistic ethics serve as a foundation for maintaining public trust in the media and upholding press freedom. However, ethical lapses can have serious consequences, including damage to reputations, loss of credibility, and even legal repercussions. Furthermore, the relationship between journalistic ethics, press freedom, and public trust is complex: while ethical lapses can erode public trust, they can also be used as justification for efforts to restrict press freedom.

The Importance of Transparency and Accountability

Given these challenges, it is essential that media organizations prioritize transparency and accountability. This means not only adhering to ethical guidelines but also being transparent about their processes and holding journalists and editors accountable for ethical violations. During times of scandal or controversy, transparency is even more crucial, as it can help to restore public trust and demonstrate a commitment to ethical standards.


In conclusion, this article has underscored the importance of journalistic ethics in maintaining public trust and upholding press freedom. However, it also highlights the challenges that come with ensuring ethical standards are met, particularly during times of scandal or controversy. By focusing on transparency and accountability, media organizations can build trust with their audiences and help to maintain a free and robust press.