Jill Abramson is a former executive editor of the New York Times. She made her name in 1995 with a book, co-written with Jane Meyer, taking Anita Hill’s side in the matter of Clarence Thomas — a battle she’s still waging after all these years.
The 1995 book was called “Strange Justice.” But Abramson seems a little strange herself. John ridiculed her for keeping a Barack Obama doll in her purse and calling on it for comfort in the distressing Age of Trump.
Things ended badly for Abramson at the New York Times. It sacked her in 2014.
Before she was fired, Abramson had hired a lawyer to complain that her salary was not equal to that of her predecessor, Bill Keller. Her complaint seemed specious, as I tried to show in a post called Jill Abramson and the Road to Misery.
Now, Abramson has written a book in which she says the Times’ news pages have become “unmistakably anti-Trump.” Some may file this under “sour grapes.” I file it under “no sh*t, Sherlock.”
Abramson presents her non-revelations in a forthcoming book called “Merchants of Truth.” According to this report by Howard Kurtz, Abramson “invoke[s] Steve Bannon’s slam that in the Trump era the mainstream media have become the ‘opposition party.’”:
“Though Baquet said publicly he didn’t want the Times to be the opposition party, his news pages were unmistakably anti-Trump,” Abramson writes, adding that she believes the same is true of the Washington Post. “Some headlines contained raw opinion, as did some of the stories that were labeled as news analysis.”
In the Post’s case, we need to change “some” to “most.” I don’t read enough of the Times to know whether the same alteration is warranted in its case.
Abramson says the extent of the bias expressed by Times reporters in their work correlates with age:
Abramson describes a generational split at the Times, with younger staffers, many of them in digital jobs, favoring an unrestrained assault on the presidency. “The more ‘woke’ staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures; the dangers of Trump’s presidency obviated the old standards,” she writes.
Abramson hasn’t worked at the Times since Trump burst on the political scene, so I assume she’s basing this account on second-hand information and/or inference. However, it has the ring of truth — indeed, obvious truth.
Outlets like the Times have slanted the news in favor of liberalism for decades. But the new generation of journalists, as a group, is more unabashedly partisan than its predecessors. It makes less pretense of objectivity.
The Times’ anti-Trump bias has been good for business, according to Abramson:
“Given its mostly liberal audience, there was an implicit financial reward for the Times in running lots of Trump stories, almost all of them negative: they drove big traffic numbers and, despite the blip of cancellations after the election, inflated subscription orders to levels no one anticipated.”
I can’t tell from Kurtz’s account whether Abramson is arguing that financial considerations are causing the Times to become ever-more biased or whether financial gain is just a happy byproduct of the bias. At a minimum, I think we can say that the Times’ editors have a financial incentive not to restrain the rabid anti-Trump stories its “woke” reporters produce. But I doubt they would want to, in any event.
The floodgates are open and there is no turning back.