The question of why, exactly, Jill Abramson was fired as the top editor of the New York Times has been dominating media circles since the paper announced her departure on Wednesday. While the news was initially steeped in mystery, several reports have painted a picture of continual clashes between Abramson and the two other key players in the Times hierarchy: publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and Mark Thompson, the CEO of the New York Times company.
The most explosive charge came from the New Yorker’s Ken Auletta, who reported that Abramson had recently complained to her bosses after finding out that she was being paid “considerably less” than her male predecessor, Bill Keller:
“She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect. Sulzberger is known to be believe that the Times, as a financially beleaguered newspaper, has had to retreat on some of its generous pay and pension benefits; Abramson had also been at the Times for many fewer years than Keller, having spent much of her career at the Wall Street Journal, accounting for some of the pension disparity. (I was also told by another friend of hers that the pay gap with Keller has since been closed.) But, to women at an institution that was once sued by its female employees for discriminatory practices, the question brings up ugly memories. Whether Abramson was right or wrong, both sides were left unhappy.