The CEO of the New York Times told Jill Abramson that he hoped she’d stay on as executive editor “for some more years” just before tensions between her and management imploded.
The Daily Beast obtained an email from Times CEO Mark Thompson to Abramson, dated April 28, that discussed recruiting Janine Gibson, a senior editor for The Guardian, to the newspaper as a managing editor. Parts of that email were also published Thursday by the New Yorker’s Ken Auletta.
“I told her there really was a new spirit in the newsroom and she buys that and has been impressed by what’s been achieved recently,” Thompson wrote, as quoted by the Daily Beast. “She reveres you and will need convincing that you’re going to sign up for some more years as Editor. I told her I was doing my best to persuade you that you should!”
The Times cited those efforts to recruit Gibson in its own report explaining Abramson’s firing. People within the company who were briefed on the situation said Dean Baquet, the former managing editor tapped to replace Abramson, was peeved by what he saw as an effort to install Gibson as his co-managing editor without his input.
The Daily Beast reported that Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. learned Abramson “had hired a labor and compensation attorney” to investigate a potential pay disparity between her and her male predecessors the same day Thompson sent the email about wanting Abramson to extend her tenure.
Sulzberger and the Times have argued that Abramson’s inquiries about compensation did not factor into the publisher’s decision to replace her. However, a Times spokeswoman has reportedly said the hiring of a lawyer was “part of a pattern that caused frustration.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.