UPDATED, 5:57 PM: In round three of his coverage of l’affair Abramson, New Yorker media reporter Ken Auletta pulled back from his claim that the first female executive editor of the New York Times was ousted by publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. after raising issues about getting lower compensation than her predecessor. In a shocking post on Sunday evening at newyorker.com, Auletta wrote that, according to “extremely well-informed sources at the paper” — presumably Sulzberger himself or his proxy — “Abramson was, essentially, fired for cause, for lying to Sulzberger…” The linchpin issue, Auletta reports, was Abramson’s courtship of Janine Gibson, editor of the American edition of the Guardian newspaper, to run the Times’s digital operations.
It’s been widely reported that Abramson had the support of both Sulzberger and chief financial officer Mark Thompson, and that the deal was all but done to bring Gibson — a powerhouse journalist who had been chiefly responsible for the Edward Snowden revelations of the inner workings of the National Security agency — to the Times masthead at a level parallel to her managing editor, Dean Baquet. However, Auletta writes, that was with the “assurance she had squared Gibson’s rank and arrival with Baquet when, in fact, she had not. The sources say she misled Sulzberger when she said, in person and by e-mail, that she had consulted with Baquet about the offer to Gibson and had worked it all out in detail with him.” Gibson told Auletta that “Jill was explicit in our initial conversation when she told me, ‘The first thing I have to do is talk to Dean.’ I’m mortified that these discussions are in public and feel very strongly that Jill should not have been hung out to dry when she behaved honorably and was trying to do what she thought was best for the New York Times.”