an ax-waving boss, dog pee on the carpet and Barry Diller ‘scurrying around’

Daily Beast staffers are bracing for the worst as the tabloid news site mounts a turnaround — fearing that their new boss is already sharpening the ax, even as she issues bizarre demands for staffing and stories, The Post has learned.

Former Hearst Magazines executive Joanna Coles — who along with former Disney bigwig Ben Sherwood were granted a minority stake in the Daily Beast from media mogul Barry Diller — barged into the site’s headquarters on Monday, the same day the deal was announced, sources said.

As the 61-year-old exec swiftly installed herself in the corner office of former Daily Beast CEO Heather Dietrick, staffers got a scary assignment: a one-page memo, due Friday, outlining who they are and how they want to cover their beats, sources said.

Joanna Coles, The Daily Beast’s new chief creative and content officer, is allegedly sharpening the ax in her first week on the job. Annie Wermiel/NY Post

“People understand the memo as telling Coles ‘Why I should keep my job at The Daily Beast,’” said a source close to the situation.

A source close to Coles told The Post on Thursday that the British-born editor often asks staffers to produce a one-page memo when she starts a new job in order to drum up fresh ideas.

Adding to the sense of dread, IAC’s billionaire chairman Diller made a rare appearance in the newsroom this week — “scurrying around” without mingling with the rank and file, according to a source.

“His mere presence is making people nervous,” the insider said.

Diller told The Post he came to the office “to say hello to Joanna Coles and Ben Sherwood and welcome them to the building.”

Coles and Sherwood are looking to squeeze profits from the Daily Beast’s Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in Manhattan’s posh Chelsea neighborhood.

According to a person familiar with the financials, the Daily Beast spends about $20 million a year — leaving the company with an annual net loss of roughly $6 million.

The presence of IAC chair Barry Diller in the newsroom ruffled feathers at The Daily Beast, as the exec is rarely seen on the editorial floor, sources said. REUTERS

The duo hit the ground running on Monday with a breakfast meeting with Daily Beast editor in chief Tracy Connor —  and Connor has been moping around the office ever since, according to sources.

Word on the street is that Sherwood and Coles are already looking to replace Connor, but that first, she will likely end up doing much of the dirty work of cutting staff before she leaves.

“She knows that the walls are closing in on her,” said a Daily Beast source. “She’s coming to grips with the fact that she will likely be fired.”

The tension has become so palpable that Connor’s dog —  who she has brought to the office everyday for years without incident —  peed on the carpet this week, according to a newsroom source, who added that dogs can “smell fear.”

Tracy Connor had breakfast with Coles and Ben Sherwood to
discuss the business.

“Unlike her dog, Pearl, who took a piss on the carpet because of stress, she seems more at peace with what she’s done during her tenure there,” a source said of Connor.

A spokesperson for the Daily Beast denied that job cuts are imminent.

“The speculation around personnel is patently false, new leadership hasn’t even been here a full week,” the rep said.

Meanwhile, Pearl’s spokesperson barked at The Post that “she grapples with shy bladder syndrome and is horrified by the unwanted attention.”

Jokes aside, the well-placed insider pointed to the stark difference between Connor — a highly regarded workhorse of an editor who eschews flashy events — and Coles, who dresses in designer labels, relishes hobnobbing with the rich and powerful, and who has compared herself to Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Connor’s dog, Pearl, must have smelled the fear in the newsroom, sources said, noting that the dog had a rare accident in the office. threads/@tracynoelconnor

“Joanna once told a friend of hers she’s better than Anna because she has the extra ‘Jo’ which makes her more cutthroat,” said a source with knowledge.

At an all-hands meeting Monday afternoon run by Coles and Sherwood, a source said a reporter asked Coles if she thought that The Daily Beast is “going to be like The Messenger” — the news startup that shut down in February after less than a year under media mogul Jimmy Finkelstein.

While Puck News reported over the weekend that Coles and Sherwood have earmarked $300,000 for a new editor in chief, a source told The Post that the duo won’t be able to spend wildly like Finkelstein, noting that Diller has a tight leash on the situation.

Insiders said Coles — who had been relentlessly pursued by Finkelstein to run the startup — told Beast staffers that she met with the billionaire in Palm Beach, Fla., before The Messenger’s launch and “knew it wasn’t going to work.”

Adding to staffer anxiety was the roaming presence of Coles’ assistant, a “guy with a beard” who was asking employees who they are and what they do at the company.

A text exchange viewed by The Post revealed IAC employees perplexed by Coles’ bulldozing first few days, with one writing that this “type of leadership isn’t really normal anymore” and that she should “give people a shot.”

Former Disney exec Ben Sherwood has taken on the role of publisher and chief executive officer of The Daily Beast. Getty Images

Meanwhile, some Beast staffers are rolling their eyes at what Coles has already done, which has included advertising on her Instagram that she is looking to hire a Lauren Sanchez correspondent.

Coles also raised eyebrows as she pushed out a vague story with no byline that reported Barron Trump may attend NYU for college.

Some employees likewise expressed chagrin when she asked for a story on Meghan Markle’s brand of jams and how to make your own — with one insider observing that Coles appears to be playing the part of a hard-charging editor while ignoring the Daily Beast’s reputation for muckraking, scoop-driven journalism.

For her part, Coles told The Post she’s “desperate to try Meghan Markle’s new jam.”

“I am British so I am obsessed by jams as all British people are. I like to stop my day at 4 p.m. for jam and scones,” Coles said, declining to offer more insight into her plans for the newsroom.

Coles and Sherwood addressed staffers at the Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in Chelsea and fielded questions about their strategy for the business. google

But Coles’ cheeky sense of humor so far has bristled some at the outlet.

“The entire thing is a massive cluskerf–k,” the insider griped.

Another palpable sign of fear across the newsroom, according to a source: Staffers showed up to work “dressed to the nines” on Wednesday, with normally denim-clad male reporters putting on ties.

Still, employees appeared more concerned about blending in than about raising their profiles, the source added.

“People are also very careful not to lock eyes with Coles,” the source said. “She will look at you and assign you some tasks.”