ink-stained wretches

A Cheat Sheet to Anonymous New York Times Trash-Talk

Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, listens during a panel discussion on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012. The discussion, held across the river from the Republican National Convention, was sponsored by Bloomberg, the University of Southern California?s Annenberg Center on Communication, Leadership and Policy and the Institute of Politics at Harvard University?s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

According to this week’s New York Observer cover story, New York Times journalists despise the “largely irrelevant” editorial page so much that its editor, Andy Rosenthal, is being blocked from joining the cool kids’ lunch table. On the contrary, says the paper’s executive editor, Jill Abramson, “Rosenthal is my cherished colleague and the editorial page he runs (independently of the newsroom as has been true at The New York Times forever) serves as the good conscience of our readers, always topical and urgent and compelling, more so under Andy’s leadership than any editor I can name.”

In her statement, Abramson calls the article, which declared a “semi-open revolt” against the page based on interviews with “more than two-dozen current and former Times staffers,” all the negative ones anonymous, “the crazy rant of someone with an agenda, certainly not the view of the newsroom.”

There’s more, because Abramson knows personally how these things go:

As someone who has also been falsely portrayed recently,” she continued, “I can say as a voice of experience that this article bears no relationship to reality.”

Abramson, as those who follow members of the Times masthead like they’re the Yankees know, is referring to Politico’s takedown from last April, a piece roundly slammed as sexist and mean. But it comes with being in charge — here’s what else the nameless backbiters within the Times want you to think about their superiors:

Andy Rosenthal, editorial page editor
“… lazy as all get-out … a wrecking ball … extremely unpopular … bullying … a petty tyrant.” —New York Observer, “The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page”

Jill Abramson, executive editor
“… a source of widespread frustration and anxiety within the Times newsroom … stubborn and condescending … notably absent … demoralizing … disengaged.” — Politico, “Turbulence at the Times

Thomas Friedman, op-ed columnist
“… literally mailing it in from wherever he is on the globe … a travel reporter … a joke.” —New York Observer, “The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page”

Mark Thompson, CEO
“He’s holding the money, and that’s not making it possible for Jill to compete.” —Politico, “Top talent exits The New York Times

Out in the open, the mood is much different. “The piece is comically inaccurate and filled with basic misunderstandings about Andy, the Times, the structure and reporting lines at most reputable newspapers, and any number of other things,” said spokesperson Eileen Murphy to Capital New York in response to the Observer. “One wonders about the motivation or competence of a writer who would suggest that based on his conversations with 24 (current and/or former) of 1200 (current) newsroom staff, he could state that there is a ‘near universality of [a] view within the Times’ that the opinion pages have grown tired and irrelevant.”

Or, put another way, by a Times political reporter:

New York Times Fights Back Against Observer