NEW YORK - Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the New York Times and chairman of its parent company, is denying media reports that executive editor Jill Abramson's dismissal had to do with her complaints over unequal pay.
The Times replaced Abramson Wednesday and promoted managing editor Dean Baquet to executive editor. The decision was made due to Abramson's newsroom management, according to Sulzberger. Abramson had spent two and a half years in the newspaper's highest editorial position.
In a memo to New York Times staff on Thursday, Sulzberger said it is "simply not true that Jill's compensation was significantly less than her predecessors." He added that neither compensation nor any discussion about compensation played a part in his decision that Abramson "could not remain as executive editor."
The Times announced the abrupt management change on Wednesday, but didn't give a reason, which prompted a flurry of speculation in media circles.
In a blog post, New Yorker staff writer Ken Auletta quoted an anonymous "close associate" who said Abramson confronted the Times' "top brass" about her pay after discovering that both her pay and her pension benefits were less than that of her male predecessor, Bill Keller. The confrontation, Auletta wrote, "may have fed into the management's narrative that she was 'pushy.'"
"She found out that she was paid less than her predecessor was, both as managing editor when she was managing editor and when she was executive editor, and she went and raised that issue and then hired a lawyer to politely ask about that issue," Auletta said on "CBS This Morning" Thursday. "That fed into the narrative she was pushy."
In Thursday's memo, Sulzberger said that the only reason behind his decision to dismiss Abrams 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."
Abramson, 60, was the paper's first female executive editor. She joined the newspaper in 1997 after working for nearly a decade at The Wall Street Journal. She was the Times' Washington editor and bureau chief before being named managing editor in 2003.