At 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, hundreds of Washington Post employees logged on to a video call for a pandemic-safe virtual farewell to Marty Baron, whose last day as executive editor is Sunday, February 28. Baron, who is retiring at age 66 after eight years at the Post and more than four decades in the news business, is a titan of the media world. Thursday’s pretaped video tribute to Baron was an A-list affair befitting journalism royalty, with remarks from the likes of Jeff Bezos, Steven Spielberg, Diane von Furstenberg, Lesley Stahl, Dean Baquet, Wolf Blitzer, and Lester Holt, as well as the Hollywood team that immortalized Baron in Spotlight: Liev Schreiber, Tom McCarthy, and Josh Singer.

“I know they’re bleeding out at The Washington Post already missing you so much,” said Spielberg.

“I am sorry he is leaving, as a reader,” said DVF, who also remarked that she emailed Baron almost every day during the election.

“In all seriousness,” said Bezos, “what you have accomplished over these last eight years is extraordinary. You’ve made the Post swashbuckling once again.”

Toward the end Post publisher Fred Ryan weighed in: “You have inspired our newsroom, our company, and many, many people around the world. To commemorate all you have meant to us and to journalism, we will be adding one of your oft-repeated quotes to the wall in the center of our newsroom. Your simple but profound words, ‘We’re not at war, we’re at work,’ will be an enduring reminder of your service to The Washington Post and to journalism.”

The previous afternoon, as the Post was celebrating its near-record-breaking four-prize win at the Polk Awards, I had my own video chat with Baron, who had agreed to an exit interview. Our conversation below was lightly edited and condensed.

Vanity Fair: Will you go back into the office again?

Marty Baron: Yeah, I have access until my last day, the last hour of my last day. So Sunday. Things are packed up, but I have to go remove them. But first I have to get a storage space.

It’s going to be weird, right? Leaving for the last time and with, like, no one around?

It is weird. You know, I’m not hugely sentimental, but I’ve invested so much of my myself in the Post. And so it’s weird to leave, and to leave with the newsroom entirely empty. Unfortunately, those are the times we live in.

Were my sources right that you had been thinking about staying around until it was safe enough for the newsroom to return in person?

Joe, whoever that source is, scratch him or her off the list, because I was not at all. I wondered, like, Where is this coming from? I never entertained the idea of staying till the place opened up, because I don’t know when it’s going to open up. I didn’t want it to be open-ended. I was just ready. And I had always talked about leaving shortly after the election. It made sense to wait through the inauguration because it was expected that the inauguration period was going to be worth sticking around for. But I didn’t imagine staying around forever. So I don’t know who told you that, but that person has no idea.

Okay, they’re dead to me! [Note to sources: kidding!] So four Polk Awards isn’t a bad way to go out.

Yeah, it’s really gratifying. And I think it shows the kind of work that this newsroom is doing, has been doing for, for years now. Very ambitious work, quite varied. It really does demonstrate the breadth and depth of the work that we do here.

When you look back at your time at The Boston Globe, you’re obviously going to be most remembered for the work the Globe did on the Catholic Church there. What do you want to be most remembered for when people look back on your time running the Post?

I think we’re gonna be remembered for our work on the Trump administration. And that’s what we should be remembered for, as well as a lot of other good work. But clearly the press was under attack. The Post was under attack. There was a persistent effort to subvert the role of the press in this democracy. And we did not waver in our work at all. We set out to get the facts about what was happening in this administration. We endured endless vilification for that, and yet we published what we were supposed to publish in an unflinching way. And so I feel good about that, and I think we should be proud of that. And I think that’s what this period will be remembered for.

What are your thoughts on the right way to cover Trump going forward?

We’ve talked about it, and I think what we have concluded is that we’re not going to cover his every utterance. There’s no reason to do so. On the other hand, if his actions are having a concrete effect on the political landscape, we must cover that. He is the most powerful person today in the Republican Party. He essentially controls the Republican Party, and notwithstanding the wishes of some readers, who detest Trump, that we completely discontinue covering him, we have to cover the political landscape, and we have to cover the Republican Party. And you can’t cover the Republican Party without covering Donald Trump.

I don’t know if you’ve talked about this, but did he ever reach out to you personally? Like, were there times when you got angry calls from him? And if so, when was the last time you had an interaction?

It was during his first year. He called me twice to complain about stories. I don’t recall the specifics. He was upset; he was angry. You know, he did all the talking. The so-called conversations went on for a long period of time, but he did all the talking, and at the end, I thanked him for calling and for offering his perspective, and it ended there.

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