Jill Abramson, the first woman to hold the top editor’s job at the The New York Times, was suddenly and somewhat mysteriously fired Wednesday, amid allegations that she repeatedly clashed with the Times’ male bosses who considered her too “pushy.”
Though Abramson has not issued a public comment on her firing, she hit back today via her daughter’s Instagram account. With the caption, “Mom’s badass new hobby,” Cornelia Griggs posted a photo of Jill Abramson — clad in a tank top displaying her famous tattooed upper arm — wearing boxing gloves and punching a heavy bag.
And in a wry shot at Abramson’s critics, Griggs posted the photo with the hashtag “#pushy.”
On Wednesday, reports surfaced claiming that the impetus for New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. to fire Abramson stemmed from Abramson’s complaints that she was underpaid compared to her predecessor in the executive editor’s job, who was a man, Bill Keller.
But on Thursday, Sulzberger denied that a pay dispute played any role in his move to replace Abramson with Times Managing Editor Dean Baquet.
“Compensation played no part whatsoever in my decision that Jill could not remain as executive editor,” said Sulzberger in his Thursday statement regarding the firing of Jill Abramson. “Nor did any discussion about compensation. The reason – the only reason – for that decision was concerns I had about some aspects of Jill’s management of our newsroom, which I had previously made clear to her, both face-to-face and in my annual assessment.”
New Yorker magazine reporter Ken Auletta reported Wednesday that Abramson may have been fired over the pay dispute. On Thursday, Auletta reiterated that report in the New Yorker‘s online edition, but added that Abramson’s complaints about unequal pay were “clearly a last straw” in “a fraught relationship almost from the start of her tenure as executive editor, nearly three years ago,” between Abramson and Sulzberger — though it was Sulzberger who hired Jill Abramson in the first place.
“He saw her as difficult, high-handed, and lacking in finesse in her management of people at the paper,” wrote Auletta on Thursday. “She, in turn, was increasingly resentful of his intrusions into her command of editorial operations, and of his increasingly close relationship with Mark Thompson, the company’s C.E.O., who came from England and the BBC to run the business side.”
The last time Sulzberger had to get rid of a New York Times executive editor came in 2003, when he forced the resignation of Howell Raines, who presided over one of the most damaging journalistic scandals in Times history, when a young reporter named Jayson Blair was caught fabricating details in numerous stories, as well as plagiarizing from the work of others.
But under the 32-month reign of Jill Abramson, The New York Times suffered no such scandals or disgraces. The only issues that have surfaced involved a management style which was often described as “mercurial,” according to Auletta.