Politico Made NY Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson Cry
2:32 pm, July 31st | by Grace Rasmus
If you looked up “H.B.I.C.” in the dictionary (err… maybe try UrbanDictionary first), I’d be surprised if a picture of Jill Abramson, executive editor at the New York Times, didn’t show up. Abramson is the first woman to serve as the paper’s top editor in the its 160-year lifespan. Alas, life is not particularly easy when you’re a woman with power; Abramson came to this realization rather publicly when Politico published what some have called a sexist attack piece back in April.
Quoting anonymous former and current Times employees, Politico claimed that Abramson was widely considered “stubborn,” “condescending,” “difficult to work with,” “unreasonable,” “impossible,” “disengaged,” “uncaring” and “on the verge of losing the support of the newsroom.” One staffer confided to reporter Dylan Byers: “The Times is leaderless right now … Jill is very, very unpopular.”
Three months later, Lloyd Grove at the Daily Beast interviewed Abramson about her reaction to the hurtful comments, which she read online when she was home alone:
“I cried,” Abramson tells me. “I should say it went right off me, but I’m just being honest. I did cry. But by the next morning, I wasn’t completely preoccupied by it anymore. I had my cry and that was that. And [Times Co. chairman] Arthur Sulzberger came down and was very supportive. He basically said, ‘It goes with the territory. Don’t let it get to you.’ ” The publisher also invoked what he calls the Second Law of Journalism: “It’s not your fault. It’s just your turn.”
Male and female leaders are often faced with a double-standard: the classic Howard vs. Heidi Harvard study has shown that ambition and aggressiveness seem par for the course for male leaders, but those same characteristics often make identical female leaders “unlikable.”
The only person on record in the Politico piece is Dean Baquet, Times Managing Editor and Abramson’s second-in-command. He admitted to quarreling with her on occasion but was quick to point out the sexism in his co-workers’ comments.
“I think there’s a really easy caricature that some people have bought into, of the bitchy woman character and the guy who is sort of calmer,” he said. “That, I think, is a little bit of an unfair caricature.”