Schadenfreude: New York Times Bullwinkle Edition



Bullwinkle:   You just leave it to my pal Rock. He’s the brains of the outfit.
General:   And what does that make you?
Bullwinkle:   What else? The executive.

As the New York Times revenue base continues to collapse and it prepares for a much smaller future, it is only natural that members  of the top management at America’s holy writ of contemporary liberalism would be made to walk the plank.  So it was that Executive Editor Jill Abramson was fired by Publish Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger, Jr. this week.  However, Abramson has not gone quietly:

New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. felt he had no choice but to hit back at Jill Abramson late Saturday after being attacked in the media for sexist motives in dismissing his executive editor.

Sulzberger sacked Abramson after concluding that her managing editor, Dean Baquet, would have quit otherwise and that this would have been devastating to the paper, says a Times executive with knowledge of the situation. Instead, Sulzberger elevated Baquet to be the paper’s first African-American editor.

The final straw was Sulzberger’s conclusion that Abramson had misled him by not informing Baquet that she planned to bring in another journalist, the Guardian’s Janine Gibson, and give her the same title of managing editor, the executive said. That was viewed as a sign of disrespect to her deputy. Baquet complained to Sulzberger about being blindsided shortly before Abramson’s dismissal.

The Abramson firing has played out amid allegations of sexism after leaks to the New Yorker that her $500,000 salary was less than that of her male predecessor, Bill Keller. Sulzberger, who had already put out a statement saying that she was actually earning 10 percent more than Keller in her last year, issued a toughly worded second statement on Saturday.

Go here to read the rest by Howard Kurtz.  The New York Times accused of sexism, does it get any better than that!  Well, yes it does, for those of us who like our schadenfreude served up in large portions.  The upper reaches of the management of the paper has apparently been more than a bit daft for quite some time:

Ed Driscoll at PJ Media gives us this bizarre incident:

By 2003, it was obvious that the New York Times had gone off the rails, between the firings of Jayson Blair for serial fabulism and Howell Raines for hiring him — not to mention Raines’ obsession with the Augusta National Golf Club, while a slightly larger story was unfolding in America: 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the dawn of the Global War on Terror.

But the clincher was the Moose. You remember the moose, don’t you?

At a 2003 meeting to reassure hundreds of troubled and irate Times staff members that everything was under control, Sulzberger suddenly displayed a stuffed toy moose. “He commented that unhappy Times employees should ‘talk to the moose,’ ‘deal with the moose,’” wrote one journalist, “and he also urged employees to ‘put their moose on the table.’” Sulzberger then handed the moose to Executive Editor Howell Raines, who put the stuffed toy aside next to his chair.

“You’re sitting in the room with giants in the business,” one Times reporter, appalled by Sulzberger’s toy moose, told New York Magazine. “It was mortifying.” “Its use struck some in the audience as a tone-deaf and patronizing gesture,” reported the New York Daily News. “It wasn’t just embarrassing,” wrote journalist John Ellis. “It was embarrassing and pathetic.”

For days thereafter, pundits pondered why the 52-year-old publisher had brought a toy moose to such a serious meeting. Eventually they discovered that Sulzberger is a huge fan of psychological motivation techniques. The moose is akin to the expression “the elephant in the room,” a big topic that people are reluctant to acknowledge or talk about.

“My father and his generation were defined by the Great Depression and World War II, and it created a very strong command-and-control culture,” Sulzberger has said. “My generation is defined more by revolutions…. We deal with the moose.”

To amplify Pinch’s comments, his father, Arthur Ochs “Punch” Sulzberger (1926-2012), who grew up in the dynasty that owned the New York Times, enlisted in the US Marines in 1944, serving in the Pacific Theater, and accompanied MacArthur to the surrender of Imperial Japan. His son deploys a stuffed moose during critical business meetings.

Go here to read the rest.  Mr. Driscoll directs us to a piece by James Lileks of the Minneapolis Star Tribune in which he speculates about Eisenhower using the moose management technique:


Patton: Dammit, Ike, I –

Eisenhower: uh uh uh, George. I don’t see Mr. Moose. I hear moosey feelings, but the table looks pretty mooseless to me.

Patton: (fingers pearl handle of his revolver) (drops a dirty, wet rag on the table) That’s my moose. It fell under the tank treads. Sir, about Normandy –

Eisenhower: What did you call you moose? You’re supposed to give it a name!

Patton: As soon I saw it was under the treads, I named it Monty.

Go here to read the rest.  For a business enterprise to be prosperous it always helps if the people at the top are not complete lunatics.



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  1. Mr. McClarey,

    You have put a smile on my face that will not go away for the rest of the month.

    “As soon as I saw it was under the treads, I named it Monty.” ROFLOL!

  2. It was a dozen years ago that Camille Paglia offered that people who thought of the Times as the “paper of record” hadn’t read it in 20 years. It’s editorial page was always wretched (recall Anthony Lewis and Anna Quindlen), embarrassing next to the Washington Post‘s. After A.M. Rosenthal’s retirement, it’s grown increasingly peculiar and unprofessional (like much of the rest of the media). This company had to mortgage its headquarters in 2009 to meet current obligations, is in hock to a Mexican telecoms billionaire, sold a major subsidiary last year for a price which amounted to about 5% (in real terms) for what they paid for it, and nestles in an in an industry where the real value of ad revenue is back to what it was in 1950, when gross domestic product was one-sixth what it is today. That she’s cheesed her 500k per annum is less than her predecessor was paid gives you an idea of her awareness of her surroundings and other people’s interests.

  3. Art Deco, you’ve summarized it perfectly.
    A friend of mine has a name for those hacks in the media industry who
    pretend to still care about journalistic integrity. He calls them “presstitutes”.
    Sadly, they are legion.

  4. He calls them “presstitutes”. Sadly, they are legion.

    I love it, and true literally. Baghdad Jay, the White House press secretary, was hired off the staff of Time. I recently read that there are some two-dozen pr apparatchicks in the administration who are married to Washington-beat reporters or news producers. Some of the coverage deficits you see with this administration (re the IRS mess and Benghazi most spectacularly) can be laid at the door of the press being quite literally in bed with administration flacks (and often seeking career changes).

  5. “Presstitutes” well describes the overwhelming majority of today’s lame stream news media “journalists.” Thanks for the term.

    Frankly, I do not care what a liberal press company does to a liberal presstitute. They each so richly merit the heartache that they give to each other.

    Liberal. Progressive. Democrat. Those three words tell me all I need to know about the NY Times and the people who support and run the NY Times. Schadenfreude – delectatio morosa. Yes, I am guilty. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

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