It's not easy being New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, the first woman to lead the Grey Lady in its 160 year history. And because The Times is the paper of record, it's frequently the subject of criticism — which has been especially harsh as of late. But every once in a while, it's best to lead with your right hook, not your pen. Accordingly, the New York born-and-bred Abramson responded to her many critics in an interview with The Daily Beast's Lloyd Grove, highlights of which are below.
Politico Made Jill Abramson Cry
Politico's Dylan Byers wrote a hit piece in April with help from anonymous Times staffers, some current, some former, calling Abramson all kinds of nasty things, including but not limited to: "stubborn," "condescending," "difficult to work with," "unreasonable," "impossible," "disengaged," and "uncaring." The impression created was of a mutiny brewing in the Times newsroom over Abramson's managerial style. The last editor to be so thoroughly demonized was Howell Raines, he of the Jayson Blair scandal.
"I cried," Abramson tells Grove. "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." In part, she was able to get over the Politico hatchet job so quickly because she's been hit by a truck before. Literally:
[I]n May 2007, Abramson was hit by a truck near the Times building, and spent weeks in the hospital recovering from a broken hip and femur among other grave injuries. “I do think that almost being killed does help you keep in perspective small setbacks like a Politico story or a difficult personnel issue,” Abramson says with flagrant understatement. “Or maybe it’s just part of the aging process that I’ve gotten better at that.”
Nate Silver Was Kind of a Diva
Abramson also gave us a window into The Times' negotiations with star statistician Nate Silver, who will depart with his FiveThirtyEight franchise in August for the greener pastures at ESPN. Abramson led the intense negotiations to keep Silver; his departure for more money and a greater stake in non-political coverage was seen as a major hit for The Times's digital strategy.