When Bill Keller stepped down as New York Times executive editor to write columns, the big news was obviously Jill Abramson's promotion as the first female editor of the nation's leading paper, as well as the promotions and newsroom realignments that come with any new regime. But for those on "columnist row" on the 13th floor of the paper's midtown Renzo Piano-designed office tower, where the Op-Ed columnists toil and give us frequent contributions to our Five Best Columns, there was one big specific question: Where is everyone going to sit?
However D.C.-based Dowd does not use the precious space very often, a source at The Times told us.* After this story was published, Dowd's office contacted The Atlantic Wire to say that our source was incorrect about the frequency in which Dowd travels to New York: "in the past six weeks, Maureen worked from that office for three of them, and in fact travels there at least once a month. Additionally, it is not a corner office." This isn't uncommon of columnists not based in New York City. Paul Krugman, Ross Douthat and David Brooks aren't based in New York City either, but they have less grand workspaces for when they visit the Times Building. Danielle Rhodes Ha, director of communications at The Times, told us, "We don't discuss seating or office arrangements." That went for Dowd, Rosenthal, and the rest of the Op-Ed staffers who did not return our calls.
When Bill Keller stepped down as executive editor and started writing a column this month, they needed to find a place to put him. By that time the Op-Ed page had already welcomed former political reporter and food critic Frank Bruni in May, and Bruni had been assigned Dowd's old space. So where did the paper's former top editor end up? Well, our source's description didn't evoke the grandeur of Herbert's old space. Keller's new office is on par with those of columnists Bruni, Mark Bittman, and Charles Blow, but it's a "windowless inside office," our source said, that "looks into a hallway."
*Correction: This story originally included a source's estimate of the frequency of Maureen Dowd's visits to the New York Times Building that her office says was incorrect.