Or rather, on this woman:
New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson was abruptly fired from the paper Wednesday, sources familiar with the news informed POLITICO.
Managing editor Dean Baquet will take over as executive editor, effective immediately…
“I choose to appoint a new leader for our newsroom because I believe that new leadership will improve some aspects of the management of the newsroom,” Sulzberger said. “This is not about any disagreement between the newsroom and the business side.”…
Throughout her tenure, Abramson suffered from perceptions among staff that she was condescending and combative…
The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta reported that Sulzberger had grown frustrated with Abramson after she pushed for more pay upon learning that her salary was significantly lower than that of her male predecessors.
Abramson apparently alienated some of those with jobs above her and below her. The key figure above her appears to have been Sulzberger. Among the ones positioned below her was the man who has ended up replacing her, Dean Baquet, an African-American who is reported to have been well-liked at the Times and in his previous job.
The Abramson firing has caused a big brouhaha and engendered many articles and much blog commentary. But perhaps the most informative is a piece that appeared in New York Magazine. It describes a situation in which Sulzberger never wanted Abramson anyway and gave her the job reluctantly at the outset, only to become more annoyed by her. Much of his annoyance seems to have stemmed from her bluntness in telling some people (one of them being Baquet, whom Sulzberger seemed quite tight with) that they weren’t doing their jobs all that well:
“Her relationship with Dean [Baquet] was never ideal,” a senior staffer said. The complicated relationship spilled into public when Politico published a controversial piece last April that detailed Baquet punching a wall in frustration after one encounter with Abramson — an outburst instigated by some front-page stories Baquet had approved, which Abramson critiqued with one word: “boring.”
The popular Baquet let it be known that he just might be leaving the Times for a more pleasant job elsewhere, and Sulzberger was loathe to lose a man he liked and felt he could work well with, as well as a member of a favored minority (black) which trumped even Abramson’s favored minority (female). Baquet seems to have played his cards exceedingly well.
Why care about the Times? After all, it’s an oft-lying servant of the Democratic Party and the left, and has been for quite some time. It’s also not doing so well financially. So this action is more or less the equivalent of arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Nevertheless the Times is still highly influential in shaping the opinions of vast numbers of people, and so what happens there still matters.
The Times’ hypocrisy is also hardly news. But here’s a particularly interesting example of it:
After a prolonged search in which the Times was without a CEO, casting an uncomfortable spotlight on Sulzberger, he finally chose former BBC director general Mark Thompson. After Thompson had been hired for the job but before he’d started, Abramson sent Matthew Purdy, a hard-charging investigative reporter, to London to examine Thompson’s role in the Jimmy Savile scandal at the BBC. Abramson’s relationship with the two executives never recovered. “Mark Thompson was fucking pissed,” a source explained. “He was really angry with the Purdy stuff.” So was Sulzberger. “He was livid, in a very passive-aggressive way. These were a set of headaches Jill had created for Arthur.”
In other words, Abramson did her job—if her job is supposed to be investigating important stories. If her job is supposed to be covering up for the Times and making all its decisions look good, and kissing the posterior of all the higher-ups there, then Abramson failed, big time.
This is unintentionally funny:
In his remarks, Sulzberger stressed that the shakeup was in no way a reflection of the Times’ editorial quality.
“It is not about the quality of our journalism, which in my mind has never been better,” he said. “Jill did an outstanding job in preserving and extending the level of excellence of our news report during her time as executive editor and, before that, as managing editor and Washington bureau chief. She’s an accomplished journalist who contributed mightily to our reputation as the world’s most important news provider.”
So it comes down to the fact that Abramson couldn’t get along with the rest of the guys, and they didn’t like her style. Which of course is their prerogative. Even Sulzberger doesn’t seem to be pretending otherwise.
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]DONATE
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