May 27, 2014

Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson

Within my lifetime, The New York Times will close its doors for good. “€œIt’s not even a newspaper anymore,”€ Dennis Miller likes to say. “€œIt’s just a building acrobats climb.”€

So adding to the thousands of words already written about the dismissal of its first female executive editor Jill Abramson (allegedly for being “€œbossy”€ and/or demanding the same compensation as her male counterparts) seems as peevish and pointless as picking apart a condemned man’s last meal.

Especially because we can never really know what goes on behind closed doors, of either the bedroom or the office variety. Reading articles about places I”€™ve worked, people I”€™ve known, and events I”€™ve attended helped convince me long ago that journalism is mostly bunk.

“€œIf Abramson’s “€˜management style”€™ was a firing offense, can we talk about that time “€˜Pinch”€™ Sulzberger brought a stuffed moose to an all-hands staff meeting?”€

The Times itself contributed to my skepticism. This is, after all, the newspaper that won a Pulitzer for intentionally lying about Stalin’s starvation of a million Ukrainians; that manufactured and marketed the socially toxic urban legends surrounding Kitty Genovese’s murder; that ran hundreds of Jayson Blair’s fabricated stories”€”and got the dates of the moon landing and Martin Luther King’s assassination wrong (among many other things) in the paper’s Walter Cronkite obit.

That’s one of my favorites, because the writer’s excuse was that when she double-checked those dates, she wrote them down wrong. See, I once had this wacky idea that to get a job at The New York Times“€”the so-called “€œpaper of record”€”€”to begin with, you”€™d have to be the kind of person who wouldn”€™t need to look up dates like that in the first place.

Yet Alessandra Stanley still works”€”and makes mistakes“€”at The Times, and Jill Abramson does not. Not even her tattoo saved her.

Abramson has four tattoos, something you”€™d never guess by looking at her. One of them is”€”her words“€””€œthe amazing “€˜T”€™ in The New York Times newspaper,”€ one of the “€œinstitutions I revere.”€

While I”€™m no oil painting myself, being female, I can”€™t help but add that you”€™d also never guess by looking at her that Jill Abramson is, too. Wouldn”€™t it be hilarious if it turned out she technically wasn”€™t “€œfired for being a woman”€ because she wasn”€™t a woman to start with?


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