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As with any such upheaval, there’s a history behind it. Several weeks ago, I’m told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs. “She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect.
A third associate told me, “She found out that a former deputy managing editor”—a man—“made more money than she did” while she was managing editor. “She had a lawyer make polite inquiries about the pay and pension disparities, which set them off.”
David Folkenflik confirms ...
10. I can now report that I have independently confirmed that Abramson did indeed challenge corporate brass over what she saw as unequal pay
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) May 14, 2014
There are clearly other issues at stake, as Auletta's article confirms - one of which being the fear that Abramson's successor Dean Baquet would get snagged away by Bloomberg. But if it wasn't just that Abramson found out that she was paid significantly less than her male predecessor and one of her male deputies and then got fired over it, that does seem to have been a significant part of the equation. And that's just thermonuclear. The 'additional' potential issue that this behavior confirmed Sulzberger's and Thompson's perception that she was "pushy" does not sound like something that will help management's case.