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Love Among the Bylines
Summertime and the living is steamy at the Washington Post. In addition to reporting the news, journalists in the newsroom on 15th Street are hooking up, getting hitched, having little Posties.
The latest pairing is Pulitzer Prize–winning special-projects reporter Barton Gellman and WMD specialist Dafna Linzer. The romance bloomed in the Post’s New York bureau; she gave birth to Benjamin Moses this spring.
Love in the newsroom is complicated and sometimes troubled. Take Lynn Darling and Lee Lescaze, a torrid union that destroyed his Post career in the 1980s and became the subject of Necessary Sins, her memoir published in May.
The most famous Post couple has to be Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, whose romance scandalized the newsroom in the 1970s. The reigning power couple today is Susan Glasser and Peter Baker. She’s assistant managing editor for national news; he covers the White House—which means she’s his boss.
Then there’s Marie Arana, editor of Book World, married to Jonathan Yardley, the Post’s top book columnist. Which means she’s his boss.
“We don’t have a policy about spouses working together,” says Tom Wilkinson, the Post’s personnel chief, “but in practice we don’t want one spouse supervising the other.”
When the situation arises, another editor supervises the spouse, including performance and salary reviews. “A little awkward,” Wilkinson says, “but it seems to work.”
Post reporters who work amid the married power couples emphasize “awkward.” In the case of Glasser and Baker, national editor Bill Hamilton handles Baker.
“If anyone thinks she goes easy on me, they don’t know Susan,” Baker says. “If anyone thinks I don’t speak my mind if we disagree, they don’t know me.”
Glasser came to the Post in 1998 as deputy national editor for investigations. A few months later, the Monica Lewinsky scandal led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Glasser edited Baker’s White House reports. Parsing phrases about sex in West Wing hallways, they fell in love. They married in September 2000, moved to Moscow, and returned in 2004. They wrote a well-received book about their time in Russia, Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the End of Revolution. Baker went back to the White House; Glasser rose to become his editor —again.
“We’ve been partners personally and professionally our whole relationship,” Baker says. “It’s been great for us. If I were married to an insurance agent, what would we talk about? It’s natural that people who share the same passions would gravitate toward one another.”
Back in the 1980s, reporter Margaret Shapiro gravitated to, and married, Fred Hiatt. Shapiro has since left the Post staff; Hiatt is editorial-page editor. Editors Jeff Leen and Lynn Medford are married; ditto Steve Barr and Lexie Verdon, Alan Sipress and Ellen Nakashima, Kevin Merida and Donna Britt. Workplace columnist Amy Joyce and Virginia editor Steven Ginsberg are married and expecting. Baseball beat writer Barry Svrluga married Metro reporter Susan Kinzie. On the foreign beat, Molly Moore and John Ward Anderson are based in Paris; Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan are together in London.
The Post does have an antinepotism rule: It won’t hire anyone married to a Post staffer. Not a problem. Wall Street Journal reporter Dan Morse, then based in Atlanta, proposed to Post business reporter Dana Hedgpeth. Then he took a Post reporting job. Then he married Hedgpeth.