Asking Questions about Axing Questions

Just digging into the May 31-June 1 New York Magazine and Gabriel Sherman's “Axing Questions,” on the firing of NYT Editor Jill Abramson.


It starts with the theory of Abramson’s media footprint putting Arthur Sulzberger Jr. into a bit of a tizzy. “… her personal brand-building seemed to rankle her boss,” writes Sherman and adds that former CEO Janet Robinson was dismissed, in part, “owing to her own media footprint.”


What?  Is Sherman saying that they weren’t demure enough for Sulzberger? 


And Howell Raines, Judith Miller and Bill Keller were?  Please.


If Sulzberger was bothered by the self-promotion of Times editors he would have abandoned all of them and would not have walked to the edge of the cliff with Miller and Keller.


More interesting is Sherman’s theory about two angry men: Sulzberger and the new CEO Mark Thompson.


Thompson had just been hired and Abramson “made a journalist decision that complicated Sulzberger’s choice.”


Sherman goes on to describe Abramson sending Matthew Purdy to London to investigate “Thompson’s role in the Jimmy Saville scandal.“


Her relationship with the two men never recovered, writes Sherman.


Thompson, Sherman quotes a source, was “fucking pissed,” and Sulzberger was “livid.”


Two angry men.  One woman editor with integrity.  That sounds more like it.  In the end, they had the power to do her in.