Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the New York Times, was fired yesterday and replaced by her deputy. She was quoted — in 2011 saying that “growing up, The Times substituted for religion,” she said. “If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.”
When Abramson was promoted to executive editor, the paper’s management and Abramson herself repeatedly trumpeted this as an issue of particular significance to women. A quick perusal of Ken Auletta’s lengthy 2011 New Yorker profile of Abramson’s elevation uses the word “woman” 11 times, “women” 22 times, “female” seven times and “feminists” twice, and so on and so forth. Sample:
Abramson moved to the middle of the newsroom, where, reading from notes, she spoke into a microphone that reached her forehead. She singled out some of “my sisters on the business side and in editorial,” as well as the Times’ female pioneers. She listed some of the women who have inspired her and declared, “Strong shoulders are holding me up right now.”
In that same piece we learn that demography played a role in her selection as editor as “Sulzberger’s desire to see an African-American lead the paper with the first woman editor ‘was unspoken. Arthur wants that to be part of his legacy, and Jill is smart enough to know that.'” Abramson’s deputy and successor, Dean Baquet, is black.
So it’s fascinating to see how media types are taking the news that at least part of the tension Abramson had with higher ups was over pay:
Consider that this is the paper that loves to bash others on sex discrimination — the Times once ran multiple front-page stories on Augusta National Golf Club’s membership policies (male only) within only a few weeks. Even people sympathetic to the New York Times’ position on the issue thought it obsessive. If Sheryl Sandberg was pushed out of Facebook for being pushy or asking for a raise, the Times would be relentless in its coverage. Or we could just look at a few of the many tweets the New York Times account has sent out over equal pay:
Obama Signs Equal-Pay Bill http://tinyurl.com/c4yanz
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 29, 2009
There’s also Equal Pay for Women Denied, Again, How Can We Jump-Start the Struggle for Gender Equality?, Pay Gap Is Because of Gender, Not Jobs, Why Is Her Paycheck Smaller?, Why Has Salary Parity Still Not Happened?, Gender Pay Gap, Once Narrowing, Is Stuck In Place., To Address Gender Gap, Is It Enough To Lean In?, Happy Equal Pay Day!, and Possible Path to Closing Pay Gap. (Tweets and archival links found via John Ekdahl and Popehat) Shall I go on?
That this same media outlet would be accused of sexist treatment of its top female is just delicious. What’s particularly fantastic is how there’s no room to hide after years spent carrying water for partisan ploys to increase the size and scope of government under the guise of equal pay. When Sulzberger said, according to newsroom sources, that when women get to top management positions, they are sometimes fired, just as men are, the comment was described not as a truism but as “peak mansplaining” by one liberal journalist.
On that note, it’s worth looking at the following three tweets from Vox, the
propaganda outlet that “explains” news to the lowly:
And then, for some reason:
The final piece reads like Vox thinks its readers are struggling 2nd graders. Too late, Vox, as your previous Voxsplainers note. As you say, “What happened to Jill Abramson shows everything that sucks about being a woman leader!”
Sulzberger’s claim (that women can be fired just like men are) to the contrary, we live in an era where that’s becoming less true! And if Abramson’s promotion wasn’t just about putting the best person in the job but also and importantly about having an incarnation of female progress, her firing by the Times is no less significant. The Times fired all women. Jill Abramson fired; women hardest hit.