Hypocrisy meters across the country detonate, as the New Yorker reveals that America’s liberal newspaper of record, the New York Times, violated every feminist talking point by paying female executive editor Jill Abramson less than her male predecessor… and dismissing her as “pushy” when she complained about it. This could not possibly get any funnier, unless the Koch Brothers hire Abramson and make a point of paying her the same wage as the man who previously held her new job.
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.
Sulzberger is known to believe that the Times, as a financially beleaguered newspaper, needed to retreat on some of its generous pay and pension benefits; Abramson, who spent much of her career at the Wall Street Journal, had been at the Times for far fewer years than Keller, which accounted for some of the pension disparity. Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Times, said that Jill Abramson’s total compensation as executive editor “was directly comparable to Bill Keller’s”—though it was not actually the same.
I was also told by another friend of Abramson’s that the pay gap with Keller was only closed after she complained. But, to women at an institution that was once sued by its female employees for discriminatory practices, the question brings up ugly memories. Whether Abramson was right or wrong, both sides were left unhappy. 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.”
Of course, there’s a lot more to the story, whose behind-the-scenes drama the New Yorker reviews in detail. But the point is that the New York Times wouldn’t care about any of those other details, if they were ripping into any other company for doing what they did to Abramson.
The entire point of Democrats’ dopey “War on Women” rhetoric, which the New York Times fully supports, is that nothing else matters when comparing the pay of men and women. Only hard, cold dollars and cents paycheck totals are to be considered. This produces easily-debunked, but often-repeated, absurdities like Barack Obama’s pet talking point about women making 77 cents on the male dollar. Evidently he got that idea by reviewing a New York Times payroll report.
We’ve also just suffered through a goofy left-wing crusade to ban the word “bossy” from the English language because it’s supposedly a sexist slur. But here’s the Times hierarchy, loaded with males, criticizing Abramson for being “pushy.” Maybe she was, but that wouldn’t stop the Times from mummifying the executives of any other company in outraged editorials for daring to characterize an ousted female manager that way. None of those heated editorials would have much patience for rational explanations of how the woman’s vision for the company disagreed with what the top brass wanted, or how her personal style seemed abrasive to those who worked under her. They wouldn’t want to hear any noise about a general drive to scale back excessively generous compensation packages in tough times, either.
After enjoying a frothy mug of schadenfreude over the pickle the New York Times finds itself in, we might reflect that this is really a story about cloistered liberals growing up, and learning how their ideology is a poor fit for the real world, where complex situations cannot easily be reduced to cartoons about patriarchy, sexism, and racism. Can you blame Abramson for wanting to be paid as much as her male predecessor? Was it utterly unreasonable for the top brass at the New York Times to offer valid reasons why he was paid more, or to say that they needed to control payroll costs in a time of financial crisis? Was it out of line for Abramson’s superiors to decide her abrasive manner was alienating the people beneath her, or that her plans for the newsroom were inconsistent with theirs?
The fun part will be when the folks at the Times, and other liberal writers currently stepping forward to defend them, forget how complicated these decisions are and giddily assault some private-sector operation outside of the sainted media-government axis for violating liberal dogma. It’ll probably happen before the last personal items have been cleared from Jill Abramson’s office.