Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I pointed to the track record of Dean Baquet, who has ascended to the hallowed perch of executive editor at the New York Times, and observed that "someone who has clearly been a troubling and disruptive presence is now in charge."
Two incidents spanning seven years support my contention. The first occurred in 2006 at the Los Angeles Times, where Baquet, then that paper's editor, petulantly refused to make budget cuts the paper's Tribune Company parent demanded, took his complaints public in the paper itself, metaphorically barricaded himself in his office, and dared the Trib to fire him (they did, two months later). The second occurred in April of last year, when Baquet, now at the New York Times, got into an argument with now deposed Executive Editor Jill Abramson, "burst out of Abramson’s office, slammed his hand against a wall ... stormed out of the newsroom ... (and was) gone for the rest of the day." Now we learn from David Carr at the Old Gray Lady itself that, in essence, Baquet did an "it's her or me" number on Abramson (HT Ann Althouse) to grease the skids for her firing.
At the Politico, concerning Dean Baquet, the new Executive Editor at the New York Times, Dylan Byers wonders: "How will ... (he) handle the necessary digital transformation facing 'All the news that’s fit to print.'?" The better question is: How will he handle the financial constraints Times management will almost inevitably have to impose on a stagnant if not shrinking newsroom operation?
To say that Baquet didn't deal with such matters well when he was in a similar position at the Los Angeles Times eight years ago is an understatement. The working press seems to consider him some kind of hero for standing up to senior management at the Tribune Company, the paper's owner. The fact is that his childish, passive-aggressive posturing made his firing inevitable, and that he should have been sent packing months earlier than he was.
Politico media reporter Dylan Byers stirred up media indignation with an unflattering article Tuesday on Jill Abramson, the New York Times executive editor, "Turbulence at the Times", based largely on anonymous Times sources who snipe that Abramson is detached, brusque, and a "very, very unpopular" presence in the newsroom.
One Monday morning in April, Jill Abramson called Dean Baquet into her office to complain. The executive editor of The New York Times was upset about the paper’s recent news coverage -- she felt it wasn’t “buzzy” enough, a source there said -- and placed blame on Baquet, her managing editor. A debate ensued, which gave way to an argument.
In a 1,700-word report on conflict and office politics at the New York Times, the Politico's Dylan Byers omitted critical context about the apparent personality clash between Jill Abramson, the paper's executive editor, and Dean Baquet, its managing editor.
Byers could have remedied the situation by including these seven words at an appropriate point: "Baquet, who has a history of insubordination ..." This history is not a secret, as illustrated in the following writeup at the (I'm not kidding) New York Times in September 2006 (bolds are mine):
The New York Times so far has issued three corrections to reporter Eric Lichtblau’s August 15 front-page hit piece on conservative California Rep. Darrell Issa of California, but the paper won't consider a retraction because, as the Times's Washingtion bureau chief says: “The article was carefully reported, written, and edited, and we stand by the story both in its broad thrust and, except as noted, in its particular details.”
Lichtblau, who along with James Risen is notorious for printing the sensitive details of classified terrorist surveillance programs on the front page of the Times, is not known for his fairness to conservative subjects; his 2008 book “Bush’s Law” bluntly accused the administration of lying about the “war on terror” (quotation marks are Lichtblau’s).