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NYT’s Jill Abramson has an unhappy newsroom? Hold Page One, boss.

New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson. (Evan Agostini / AP)

Somehow, Politico has gotten a number of New York Times employees to trash their boss anonymously, whispering that executive editor Jill Abramson is temperamentally challenged and unpopular in the newsroom. Having spent 10 years in NYT newsrooms, this floors me. (No. It. Doesn’t.)

The general response to Politico’s hot poop has been to wonder if a man in her position would have been so roundly trashed. And that, too, kind of cracks me up, because so many men in that position have been trashed, and on exactly the same grounds — that is, as condescending tyrants who aren’t very good with people.

In fact, except for a minute there after Howell Raines was finally run off and Joe Lelyveld returned to restore sanity — “As I was saying…” was his great opening line — I can’t think of an executive editor who hadn’t “lost the newsroom.” (If someone finds it, though, that’s a story.)

The one newsworthy nugget in the Politico piece is that Dean Baquet, the paper’s managing editor, apparently slammed his fist against the wall in front of his staff after an argument with Abramson. Baquet is so sunny and serene, that’s just a hair less surprising than reading that the Dalai Lama got drunk and threw a Reese Witherspoon “Don’t you know who I am?” hissy fit.

As for why anyone would see behavior like that as “endearing,” as Politico reports, the context is that it’s Baquet himself that people find endearing, probably because he’s been such a menschy manager that even at the Times, the newsroom can’t help but love him.

Melinda Henneberger is a Post political writer and She the People anchor spending this semester as a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center. Follow her on Twitter at @MelindaDC.



Melinda Henneberger has been writing about politics and culture for the Washington Post since 2011.



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Mary C. Curtis · April 24, 2013

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