Skip to comments.How the NYT called Jill Abramson — its axed executive editor — a bitch.
Posted on 05/15/2014 12:16:32 PM PDT by billorites
This "all the news that's fit to print" business is tricky... especially when you're firing your first-ever! female executive editor and replacing her with your first-ever! black executive editor. The fit-to-print article "Times Ousts Its Executive Editor, Elevating Second in Command" is some of the best raw material for interpreters of crafty text that I have ever seen.
How did the NYT call Jill Abramson a bitch? Well, it all started with the unfit-to-print image of the new executive editor, Dean Baquet, as the angry black man. I'm going to do a little editing and cut this text down to highlight the "angry black man" story buried within the plentiful neutral verbiage:
Ms. Abramson... had clashes with Mr. Baquet.... Mr. Baquet had become angered over a decision by Ms. Abramson to make a job offer to a senior editor from The Guardian, Janine Gibson, and install her alongside him in a co-managing editor position without consulting him. Note that the cause for anger is strong and blatant. That sentence is written to put Abramson clearly in the wrong and to give Baquet reason for his outrage. Someone is installed great verb! next to you, in a co-position with you and there has been no discussion with you about why this new work structure is needed? Anyone should read that as a message that you can't do your job right, and we don't even want to tell you; we're just going to work around you. When that is done to a black man, he can and should at least speculate that the disrespect has a racial component. (Remember when constitutional law professors at Stanford set up on the sly an extra constitutional law study program for students assigned to Derrick Bell's constitutional law class?)
The NYT article says about this incident the installation of a white female right next to Baquet "It escalated the conflict between them and rose to the attention of Mr. Sulzberger." Again, great verbs. No person is assigned the action, but things elevate they escalate and rise. Human agency evanesces. Do not be so racist as to perceive an angry black man, or if you do, know that he is righteously angry at the indignity, embarrassment, and insult visited upon him. But no, no, no, please do not dare to perceive the NYT as discriminating against the black man. Or... if you must... that lady did it. That lady who is gone.
Maybe this is how the world works these days (or how America works anyway). If there's any racism, it's lodged in one person, and that person is lopped off. (You know, the Donald Sterling routine.)
Now, we never heard a public peep out of Baquet, but I suspect that the way "It... rose to the attention of Mr. Sulzberger" is that Baquet laid it out for Sulzberger. The Times is going to look awful for what it did to the black man, unless that woman is out before the story breaks, and the black man who was humiliated when his white female superior diminished him with the installation of another white female suddenly trumps both of those ladies. Put the lid on this embarrassing story. Out with the woman and lock in her silence.
Ms. Abramson did not return messages seeking comment. As part of a settlement agreement between her and the paper, neither side would go into detail about her firing. Problem solved! No sexism or racism at the NYT. It's so intra-Times: Everyone has agreed with each other that no one is going to talk about it. What about us, the reading public? The leaks with undisclosed sources are already springing. I'm merely speculating based on the clues that are apparent in this wonderful NYT article.
Mr. Baquet thanked Ms. Abramson, who was not present at the announcement, for teaching him the value of great ambition and then added that John Carroll, whom he worked for at The Los Angeles Times, told me that great editors can also be humane editors. Let me paraphrase that: Jill was too ambitious. It sparked my ambition, and I played my hand and I won. And you know you'll be better off, because unlike Jill, I'm humane.
Meaner paraphrase: Jill was outrageously pushy, and it pushed me humane me to push back, and now you've got an executive editor who is not a bitch.
With Mr. Sulzberger more closely monitoring her stewardship, tensions between Ms. Abramson and Mr. Baquet escalated. In one publicized incident, he angrily slammed his hand against a wall in the newsroom. He had been under consideration for the lead job when Ms. Abramson was selected and, according to people familiar with his thinking, he was growing frustrated working with her. So there was a big blowup. What happened? It was "publicized," and we're given a link. Clicking, we see it takes us out of the pleasant environs of the New York Times, over to the rougher place that is Politico. Here is an article by Dylan Byers from a year ago, and it's by linking to Byers that the NYT has found its way to call Abramson a bitch. Here's where we find the NYT sources dropping the unfit-to-print bits:
More than a dozen current and former members of the editorial staff, all of whom spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity, described her as stubborn and condescending, saying they found her difficult to work with. If Baquet had burst out of the office in a huff, many said, it was likely because Abramson had been unreasonable. There was a scene between Abramson and Baquet, but everyone who knows them and is talking is saying it must be Abramson's deficiencies. What they saw was Baquet enraged enough to slam his hand on the wall, but everyone's saying he's not that kind of guy. If he acted out, the woman made him do it. (By the way, that's an excuse that demands the deployment of the cliché "as old as Adam.")
More from Politco's Byers:
Every editor has a story about how shes blown up in a meeting, one reporter said. Jill can be impossible, said another staffer....
At times, ["staffers"] say, her attitude toward editors and reporters leaves everyone feeling demoralized; on other occasions, she can seem disengaged or uncaring....
I think theres a really easy caricature that some people have bought into, of the bitchy woman character and the guy who is sort of calmer, [Baquet] said. That, I think, is a little bit of an unfair caricature. A bit! But there it is. The "bitchy woman." It's what the "staffers" believe. It's out of the mouth of Baquet and yet HE didn't say it. It's what those other people think, those unnamed people, those people who also think that he is "sort of calmer." He's not the angry black man, says the man apparently nobody thinks is angry, even though he burst out of a meeting and slammed his hand on the wall. He's the one everyone sees as calm, he says so himself. And he's even nice enough what a nice man! to say that the beliefs of the unnamed staffers whose caricatures he's characterizing are a bit unfair.
And that's how the NYT called Jill Abramson a bitch by linking out to Politico, where the new executive editor the calm and humane Dean Baquet is quoted paraphrasing the opinions of some people.
CORRECTION: The Politico article was a year and 3 weeks ago, not, as originally stated, 3 weeks ago. Also, in the 7th paragraph, I say "we never heard a public peep out of Baquet," but the quote discussed at the end of the post could be considered a peep. I'm just acknowledging, not correcting, that, because the "peep" that I say was not heard was an accusation of race discrimination, which I speculated may have been leveled in Baquet's private meetings with Sulzberger, after which (apparently) Sulzberger took to "monitoring" Abramson "more closely." The quotes Baquet gave to Politico do not play the race card.
How long before he's fired and the NYT replace him with its first-ever! transgender executive editor.
Let’s see if an Affirmative Action hire can fix the NY Times. So far, it hasn’t worked for the Presidency.
I'm sorry, what did the NYTimes axe her?
I think for a woman in a position like that at the NYT “Bitch” is a requirement.
I can’t wait...seriously..for Maureen Dowd’s column..
“all the news that’s fit to print.”
how about “We put the T in reason.”
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