Top NY Times Editor: Obama Administration 'Most Secretive White House' She's Dealt With

In an interview set to air Sunday on al-Jazeera America, New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson told the Arab network’s John Seigenthaler than the Obama adminisistration “is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering, and that includes — I spent 22 years of my career in Washington and covered presidents from President Reagan on up through now, and I was Washington bureau chief of the Times during George W. Bush's first term.”

She complained “The Obama administration has had seven criminal leak investigations. That is more than twice the number of any previous administration in our history. It's on a scale never seen before.” She also denied the Times had much of a liberal bias, but perhaps it had an important “cosmopolitan” tilt that needs to be shared:

SEIGENTHALER: The New York Times is often labeled as left-wing, liberal. How do you respond to that?

ABRAMSON: I respond to it by saying I think The New York Times represents a kind of cosmopolitan outlook towards the world and to this country and this city that may strike, you know, some readers as liberal because we have, you know, paid a lot of attention to stories like gay marriage, but these are newsworthy currents in our society.

But it's not liberal in the sense of being doctrinaire or tied to the Democratic Party in any way. You know, I've run many investigative stories and political stories that have made liberal political figures furious.

SEIGENTHALER: Right. But people also read the editorial page, and you get blamed -

ABRAMSON: Right.


SEIGENTHALER: Your news department gets blamed for what your editorial department says when they're viewing how - you know, whether the Times is a liberal paper or not, right?

ABRAMSON: Right. There's no question that the editorial stance of The New York Times is a liberal point of view.

Abramson was also asked if she’s broken the “glass ceiling” for women at the Times:

ABRAMSON: right now, the masthead of the Times — which is sort of an obscure newspaper term, but it's the list of the top editors that runs every day on the editorial page of the newspaper — it's 10 people, and it's half women right now, which is, you know, a development that I feel happy about. When I got this job in 2011 it's not like I said, "By 2013, it's going to be half women," but —

SEIGENTHALER: But it was a priority?

ABRAMSON: It was a priority to make sure that other women rose up along with me during this period, yes.

SEIGENTHALER: One African-American in that group of 10.

ABRAMSON: Yes, which is not enough.

SEIGENTHALER: Is that not enough?

ABRAMSON: Not enough. And I would like to see the progress that we've made on the gender line apply equally to race and ethnicity and sexuality and you name it.

Someone should ask: if all these quotas are meant to make the newsroom more diverse and knowledgeable across societal lines, where is the Times quota for conservative journalists? David Brooks does not count.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis