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 shocking developments in the Jimmy Savile child sex abuse scandal at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) raise disturbing questions about Mark Thompson, the former BBC director general who was named the new president and CEO of The New York Times Company in August. Given what has come to light thus far, Thompson is at the very least "guilty of gross professional incompetence" and at worst involved in "an indefensible cover-up," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell charged in letters sent yesterday to New York Times publisher Jill Abramson executive editor Jill Abramson and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
"If you did conduct a background investigation during the hiring process, what were your findings? If you knew about Mr. Savile’s alleged crimes while Mr. Thompson was director general, why did you decide to go ahead and hire him anyway?" Bozell inquired in the letters, which he is making public today, "because the public deserves to know the truth." "I want to give you the benefit of the doubt in this matter, and therefore the opportunity to respond," the Media Research Center founder added, concluding, "Your response will be reproduced in full." [You can find the Sulzberger letter pasted below and the nearly-identical Abramson letter is linked here ]
New York Times reporters Mark Landler and John Cushman Jr. covered President Obama's plea to women's voters disguised as a commencement address at Barnard College, a woman's college in Manhattan: "In Graduation Speech to Women, Obama Leaps Into Gender Gap." What the paper failed to bring up was that according to its own polling, the female "gender gap" is currently Obama's problem, not Mitt Romney's.
New York Times reporter Richard Perez-Pena wrote Tuesday about the low-brow fight that's broken out online between high-brow Columbia University and the women's college it's affiliated with, Barnard, over President Obama's politically motivated decision to speak at Barnard's commencement in May. Another wrinkle: Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson was the original graduation speaker at the women's school, but was bumped when Obama big-footed the invitation.
Occupy the New York Times! In January Times Watch noted that Times staffers who were members of the Newspaper Guild of New York were protesting the New York Times Co. for freezing pensions for some employees, even as it granted a $15 million golden parachute to former chief executive Janet Robinson after she departed in 2011. An open letter to Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has so far been signed by 592 Times staffers. (Photo courtesy of New York Post.)
Just don’t expect this particular battle between the “1 Percent and the 99 Percent” to appear in a sanctimonious liberal news report in the Times.
New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane devoted his Sunday Review column on the future of the paper's coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement (it ran before Mayor Mike Bloomberg ousted the OWSers from Zuccotti Park). Brisbane also quoted Executive Editor Jill Abramson sounding sympathetic to Occupy’s goals, promising to produce more stories on the group’s signature cause of income inequality.
Jill Abramson, the paper’s new executive editor, talked with the Times’s public editor Arthur Brisbane on Sunday, and touched on the paper’s perceived liberal slant. Abramson didn't quite deny it.
Brisbane: The legendary Times executive editor A. M. Rosenthal once told a colleague he felt the need to steer The Times to the right to compensate for the leftward political leanings of some staff. Will you do that?
"In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion. If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth." – Managing editor Jill Abramson as quoted by Times media reporter Jeremy Peters upon her ascension to the executive editor slot, replacing Bill Keller, in a story posted at nytimes.com the morning of June 2. The quote disappeared later that day and did not make it into the next day’s print edition.
David Mamet, Far-Right Playwright
"David Mamet explains his intellectual shift to the right. The far right." – Subhead introducing Andrew Goldman’s May 29 interview with playwright David Mamet in the Times Sunday magazine.
Ominousspeculation from Women’s Wear Daily (which has robust media reporting) about the management style of Jill Abramson, the New York Times’s executive editor in waiting -- she reminds one anonymous senior editor of the notorious Howell Raines!
Abramson also told an interviewer for The Guardian she was most proud of providing a "sceptical take on the motivations of" Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton. And could liberal feminist columnist and Abramson friend Maureen Dowd become the next Washington bureau chief?
Some time on Thursday, the New York Times scrubbed a very telling quote from its website. "In my house growing up," said the paper's new executive editor, Jill Abramson, "The Times substituted for religion. If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth."
Well isn't that nice. The paper's new head honcho was indoctrinated in Times-ology from childhood. When someone says they read the paper "religiously," we tend to think of it as a figure of speech. No so for Abramson. The paper was apparently her veritable scripture.
Does she still feel that way? Well, since being tapped for chief editor, Abramson said it was like "ascending to Valhalla."
Liberal replaces liberal at the top of the New York Times masthead. The paper announced today that Jill Abramson would become the Times’ new executive editor as of September 6, replacing Bill Keller, whose liberal record at the paper Times Watch documented earlier.
Abramson likened the paper to holy writ, telling the Times's Jeremy Peters this morning that being named editor was like "ascending to Valhalla":
"In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion," she said. "If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth."
Abramson’s bias goes back to her days as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Commenting on Bill Clinton’s upcoming inauguration on C-SPAN's Journalists' Roundtable program of January 8, 1993, she enthused:
In a surprise announcement, Bill Keller is resigning as New York Times executive editor as of September 6. He will be replaced by Jill Abramson, the paper’s managing editor, Jeremy Peters reported on nytimes.com Thursday morning.
Keller will still write for the paper: "As for Mr. Keller’s plans, he said he was still working out the details of a column he will write for the paper’s new Sunday opinion section, which will be introduced later this month."
Abramson will be the first woman to run the Times newsroom in the paper’s 160-year history. For Abramson, the Times is holy writ:
NBC's Andrea Mitchell, in a piece aired on Thursday's Today about Virginia Thomas' call to Anita Hill, made a point of tying the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to "conservative causes" but offered no ideological label for Hill. Mitchell also offered two sound bites from Hill supporters, but only featured a brief clip of an old audio-book excerpt from Clarence Thomas expressing sympathy for his wife.
After the NBC correspondent noted that Hill and her "allies" claimed Thomas' request for an apology was "inappropriate" Mitchell aired Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree calling Thomas' behavior "bizarre." Mitchell also featured Jill Abramson, the New York Times reporter and author of the Clarence Thomas bashing book, Strange Justice, questioning the timing of the Supreme Court justice spouse.
Mitchell did play a clip of Clarence Thomas reading from his book My Grandfather's Son, in which the Justice relayed how the two "shared the pain" during his 1991 Senate confirmation hearings, but then went on to bemoan that this new controversy "interrupted the secluded life Hill now leads at Brandeis University."
It's clear that the Times hates the idea that corporations may have a say, however indirectly, in democracy. But one would at least think that a journalist comparing the perfectly legal corporation donation tactics of today to illegal fundraising by past political campaigns would look for the most recent examples. Perhaps the Clinton administration’s corrupt 1996 fundraising from China, or the indelible image of Al Gore raising money in a Buddhist temple.
Instead, Abramson traveled all the way back to 1972 to link the anonymous corporate donations of 2010 to that quintessential example of Republican corruption, Richard Nixon.
Even as Abramson briefly admits today’s allegedly Nixon-style fundraising is legal, she strained to set up a parallel between this pro-Republican election cycle and the illegal donations of 1972, specifically the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CREEP), and handily exploited a single loose link from the past to the present, one Fred Malek. Abramson began with Nixon:
To old political hands, wise to the ways of candidates and money, 1972 was a watershed year. Richard M. Nixon’s re-election campaign was awash in cash, secretly donated by corporations and individuals.
Appearing on the September 28 "Fox & Friends," Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher mocked the New York Times's admission that it was "slow off the mark" in reporting on the recent ACORN prostitution sting video scandal (audio available here):
It's just like [ABC's] Charlie Gibson days after the fact saying in an interview that he has no idea what ACORN is all about, that he was out yachting. These people just don't get it. When we say that they live in their little world somewhere between the corridors of Washington, D.C., and New York City, it's true.... When they see the real world, they see it through the lens of those right-wing zealots up to no good on Fox television.
"Fox & Friends" co-host Gretchen Carlson asked Bozell how the Times, which most certainly monitors cable news networks for breaking news, "how could they not be aware of those undercover videos?" Bozell answered:
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt's latest column tackles the ACORN scandal -- or as Times readers know it: "What ACORN scandal?"
In "Tuning In Too Late," Hoyt criticized the Times for its lack of coverage of the juicy ACORN imbroglio, an omission that has prodded the paper into creating a new semi-position. It's assigned an editor to monitor opinion media and catch stories like this earlier (apparently not a single television at Times headquarters is tuned to Fox News, where they could have caught it quite easily.)
Hoyt summarized the video sting in which ACORN workers at several branches across the country were captured giving advice on child sex trafficking and tax evasion to a gaudy pimp and a hot-pants prostitute (actually conservative activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles). The tapes, whose gradual release were masterfully mediated by Andrew Brietbart at his new website BigGovernment.com, resulted in ACORN being cut off from federal funding and losing its ties to the Census Bureau and IRS. Yet the Times took little interest in the scandal and the consequences:
But for days, as more videos were posted and government authorities rushed to distance themselves from Acorn, The Times stood still. Its slow reflexes -- closely following its slow response to a controversy that forced the resignation of Van Jones, a White House adviser -- suggested that it has trouble dealing with stories arising from the polemical world of talk radio, cable television and partisan blogs.
Some stories, lacking facts, never catch fire. But others do, and a newspaper like The Times needs to be alert to them or wind up looking clueless or, worse, partisan itself.
This is quite misleading. The Times already monitors opinion media for story tips. It's just that they only monitor the left side of the blogosphere. Lachlan Markay provided some stark examples at NewsBusters on Sunday:
The New York Times announced today that it would appoint an editor to monitor 'opinion media'. In an attempt to respond to criticism that it has been too slow to pick up on stories first reported by conservative blogs and talk show hosts, the Times acknowledged poor coverage, but denied a political agenda.
The self-proclaimed 'paper of record' was extremely slow in picking up on two recent stories. The first, the 'trutherism' of former White House Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, was initially reported by Pajamas Media, and later by Glenn Beck on his Fox News talk show. The Times did not cover the story until after Jones had resigned.
Later, the Times neglected to report on the undercover sting operation that exposed ACORN for offering assistance in a bogus child prostitution ring. The Times reported on Congress's votes to de-fund ACORN, but neglected to mention the sting operation that inspired the votes.
When Glenn Beck reports that a top-level White House advisor has endorsed communism, accused 'white polluters' of poisoning minority communities, called his political opponents a**holes, and believes an American president was complicit in the slaughter of innocent civilians, Beck must have a hidden agenda. When the mainstream media fails to report these facts, it's all an honest mistake.
Or so one might gather from listening to CNN contributor and Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz. Kurtz continues to waffle between a cynical take on Glenn Beck's outing of Van Jones as a truther conspiracy theorist, and an apologetic approach to the mainstream media's virtual silence on the story until after Jones's resignation.
The Times's Managing Editor Jill Abramson offered a number of excuses for the lack of Van Jones coverage last weekend, chiefly that the paper's Washington Bureau was short-staffed. This did not stop the Times from sending two reporters to Boston for the weekend to cover the non-story of Joseph Kennedy II's Senate run (which he later said would not happen).
A top editor at the New York Times this week owned up to the paper’s lack of coverage of the controversy surrounding former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones. Rather than leaving it there, however, the editor noted the paper’s minimal online coverage, insisted that the Washington bureau was short-staffed, and suggested that Jones and his contentious positions really were not important enough to cover at length.
The Times did not print an article about Jones and his recently-discovered support of the ‘truther’ movement, which believes that the Bush Administration had foreknowledge of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, until Monday, when it ran a story on the front page.
“The Times was, in fact, a beat behind on this story,” admitted Jill Abramson, managing editor of the paper, in answer to a number of readers’ questions during an online Q&A session Monday. She went on to offer three excuses for the newspaper’s virtual silence on the controversy.
The Sunday Week in Review cover story by New York Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson, "Women On The Verge Of The Law," dealt with the just-concluded confirmation hearings of Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and how things have changed and not changed since the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings, which also featured the grilling of a minority woman, Anita Hill.
At least that's Abramson's strange take on the hearings: linking Judge Sotomayor with Hill, the law professor and former Thomas employee who accused Thomas of sexual harassment at the hearings that riveted the nation. The story's subhead: "After Anita Hill, a few things in Congress changed. Not all."
Abramson's thrust is that the all-white male Senate Judiciary Committee mistreated Hill and failed to take her anti-Thomas accusations seriously. That should surprise no one, given Abramson's "Strange" history: She is coauthor, with liberal reporter Jane Meyer, of the 1994 book on the hearings, "Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas," written when Abramson and Meyer were reporters for the Wall Street Journal.