A former New York Times executive editor has slammed her former employer for being “unmistakably anti-Trump,” while invoking Steve Bannon’s claim that the mainstream media has become the “opposition party” united against the president, according to Fox News.
Jill Abramson, who led the Times from 2011 to 2014, knocked the newspaper for exploiting financial incentives to bash Trump and says that the bias has eroded the paper’s credibility.
In her upcoming book, “Merchants of Truth,” Abramson puts the news industry under a microscope – at times defending her former employer, while levying harsh criticism for her successor, Dean Baquet.
“Though Baquet said publicly he didn’t want the Times to be the opposition party, his news pages were unmistakably anti-Trump,” writes Abramson – who says the Washington Post is no different. “Some headlines contained raw opinion, as did some of the stories that were labeled as news analysis.”
Citing legendary 20th century publisher Adolph Ochs, Abramson said “the more anti-Trump the Times was perceived to be, the more it was mistrusted for being biased. Ochs’s vow to cover the news without fear or favor sounded like an impossible promise in such a polarized environment.”
Abramson describes a generational split at the Times, with younger staffers, many of them in digital jobs, favoring an unrestrained assault on the presidency. “The more ‘woke’ staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures; the dangers of Trump’s presidency obviated the old standards,” she writes.
Trump claims he is keeping the “failing” Times in business—an obvious exaggeration—but the former editor acknowledges a “Trump bump” that saw digital subscriptions during his first six months in office jump by 600,000, to more than 2 million. –Fox News
“Given its mostly liberal audience, there was an implicit financial reward for the Times in running lots of Trump stories, almost all of them negative: they drove big traffic numbers and, despite the blip of cancellations after the election, inflated subscription orders to levels no one anticipated,” she writes.
Abramson’s criticism of the Times is nothing new – as the paper had long faced accusations of bias. But Abramson’s words “carry special weight,” notes Fox, “because she is also a former Times Washington bureau chief and Wall Street Journal correspondent specializing in investigative reporting.”
That said, Abramson did praise the Times’s Baquet for backing off a controversial anti-Trump story, resulting in a nasty spat with one of his editors.
Abramson, who had her share of clashes with Baquet when he was her managing editor, sheds light on a 2016 episode when Baquet held off on publishing a story that would have linked the Trump campaign with Russian attempts to influence the election.
Liz Spayd, then the Times public editor, wrote that the paper, which concluded that more evidence was needed, appeared “too timid” in not running the piece, produced by a team that included reporter Eric Lichtblau.
Baquet “seethed” at this scolding, Abramson says, and emailed Lichtblau: “I hope your colleagues rip you a new a*****e.”
Baquet wrote that “the most disturbing thing” about Spayd’s column “was that there was information in it that came from very confidential, really difficult conversations we had about whether or not to publish the back channel information. I guess I’m disappointed that this ended up in print.
“It is hard for a journalist to complain when confidential information goes public. That’s what we do for a living, after all. But I’ll admit that you may find me less than open, less willing to invite debate, the next time we have a hard decision to make.”
Lichtblau soon left the Times for CNN, where he was one of three journalists fired when the network retracted and apologized for a story making uncorroborated accusations against Trump confidante Anthony Scaramucci. And the Times soon abolished the public editor’s column. –Fox News
Abramson is also critical of Trump himself – calling his attacks on the media a “cheap way of trying to undermine the credibility of the Times’s reporting as something to be accepted as truth only by liberals in urban, cosmopolitan areas.”
She is also critical of the way the Times broke the Hillary Clinton private email scandal, saying the paper “made some bad judgment calls and blew its Clinton coverage out of proportion,” adding that Clinton was “wary of me,” and “was secretive to the point of being paranoid.”
The former NYT boss also acknowledged her own mistakes.
When then-publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. was considering promoting her to the top job, he told her over lunch at Le Bernadin: “Everyone knows there’s a good Jill and a bad Jill. The big question for me is which one we’ll see if you become executive editor.”
She admitted to him that “I could be self-righteous when I felt unheard, I interrupted, I didn’t listen enough.”
It was a heated battle with Baquet that led to her ouster in 2014. He was furious upon learning that she was trying to trying to recruit another top journalist—Abramson says an executive ordered her to keep it secret—who would share the managing editor’s title.
Sulzberger called her in, fired her, and handed her a press release announcing her resignation.
Abramson says she replied: “Arthur, I’ve devoted my entire career to telling the truth, and I won’t agree to this press release. I’m going to say I’ve been fired.” –Fox News
Abramson concludes; “I was a less than stellar manager, but I also had been judged by an unfair double standard applied to many women leaders.”