The New York Times devours itself

The New York Times devours itself

Reading the New York Times’ report on the defenestration of the paper’s executive editor, Jill Abramson, and the coronation, at a hastily arranged meeting Wednesday, of her replacement Dean Baquet, I could not escape the feeling that the Soviet press must have covered the comings and goings of Politburo members in much the same way.

There was the strange construction of the headline, “Times Ousts Jill Abramson as Executive Editor, Elevating Dean Baquet,” in which the identity of the man behind the ouster, Times owner Arthur Sulzberger Jr., was masked by his institutional affiliation, and in which Baquet was not promoted but—and here the metaphysical tone is intentional—“elevated” to his new position. There were the plodding, ceremonial, and forced statements for public consumption: “I will listen hard, I will be hands on, I will be engaged,” Baquet was quoted as telling his new underlings. “I’ve loved my run at the Times,” Abramson was allowed to reveal in a prepared statement.

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