Ken Auletta at the New Yorker explains that Jill Abramson wasn’t fired from the New York Times because of gender, it’s just that she was so difficult. Oh well then.
Sulzberger has been, to say the least, an imperfect steward of the paper; he has presided over some disastrous investments (About.com) and disastrous appointments (Howell Raines). But he was surely smart enough to know that firing Abramson, the first female editor of the paper, would set off nightmarish publicity.
Hmm. Let’s think about this. Is Sulzberger smart? Yes. Must be. Because he’s Sulzberger. So is he smart enough to know that firing the first female editor of the paper would set off nightmarish publicity? Must be. See above. Would Sulzberger prefer not to have nightmarish publicity? Let’s think about this. Yes; yes he would. Anybody would, so he would. So does that mean he didn’t fire her because of gender? Let’s think about this. He didn’t want nightmarish publicity, and he’s smart enough to know firing her would cause nightmarish publicity, so I guess so, yes. Yes, that must mean he didn’t fire her because of gender. He must have done it for some really good reason, much better than gender, to overrule that thing about not wanting the scary publicity.
The suggestion that Sulzberger may have practiced a double standard in pay must be especially painful for him. He can be faulted for many things, but he has championed the traditional news values of the paper and prides himself on being a leader in diversity, showing a far more welcoming attitude toward gay and minority employees than previous publishers; he hired the first woman to lead the newsroom, and now the first African-American, and has made a point of urging diversity in general. And so it must have been especially galling for him to be at the center of criticism regarding gender, and it had to play a role in his finally coming out with such a sharp, counter-punching statement about Abramson’s management of the paper and its employees.
Ok. Ok. I see where this is going. He prides himself on diversity, and he fires the first woman editor…so that’s why he had to shit on her after he fired her. I see! It totally makes sense. He’s a good person (see above about diversity), and firing the first woman editor made him look bad, so that’s why he had to attack her after he fired her. Totally makes sense.
Almost from the start, Sulzberger and Abramson had difficult relations, which only frayed with time. Sulzberger, as he said in a public statement issued Saturday, heard repeated reports from people in the Times newsroom in the past few years that Abramson was given to repeated instances of “arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues.” In a review of her performance as executive editor, he even told Abramson, not for the first time, that the way she was said to treat colleagues could not continue. It is true that Abramson was not necessarily any more peremptory or erratic than male predecessors like Raines or A. M. Rosenthal. At the same time, she was working in a more modern atmosphere in which there is a greater expectation that executives will be more considerate.
Ohhhhhh that’s it. Now I get it. I was wondering about that. I’ve heard so much about the “management styles” of the men who had the job before any women could get it. I’ve heard it was so much not kinder and gentler than Abramson’s. But now I understand: she couldn’t get the job until later, and during the time it got later, the fashion for management style changed, and hers didn’t fit the fashion. It’s just a coincidence that she was the first woman editor and that the fashion changed the instant she got the job. Life is so funny sometimes.