Times publisher details decision to oust editor

c.2014 New York Times News Service

NEW YORK — Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The New York Times, released a statement Saturday afternoon detailing his decision to fire the newspaper's executive editor, Jill Abramson, and responding to a growing controversy over accusations by Abramson's supporters that gender played a role in her dismissal.

The decision to remove her, announced Wednesday, “has been cast by many as an example of the unequal treatment of women in the workplace,” Sulzberger wrote. Instead, the statement said, it “was a situation involving a specific individual who, as we all do, has strengths and weaknesses.”

The statement by Sulzberger came three days after he told a shocked newsroom that Abramson had been replaced by her No. 2, Dean Baquet. During the announcement, Sulzberger delivered brief remarks and said, "There is nothing more that I want to say about this." But Saturday's statement, which was about 500 words long, is the second public comment he has made since her ouster.

Driving Sulzberger's increasingly public posture has been an escalating debate over pay equality and the treatment of women. Two articles in The New Yorker have said that Abramson's base salary when she took the job in 2011 was lower than that of her male predecessor, Bill Keller. On Sunday, NBC's "Meet the Press" is scheduled to have a round table on "the equal pay debate" and is expected to discuss Abramson.

On Saturday, Sulzberger said, as he did in an earlier public statement, that Abramson's pay package in her last year on the job was 10 percent higher than Keller's.

Abramson has not made any public statement since her dismissal, and has not responded to messages and emails seeking comment. Her first remarks on her dismissal could come Monday, when she is scheduled to give the commencement address at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, N.C.

Until Saturday, Sulzberger had said only that her removal was due to “an issue with management in the newsroom.” His new statement cited a pattern of behavior that included “arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues.”

Sulzberger said that he wanted Abramson to succeed and had discussed these problems with her. But he ultimately concluded that “she had lost the support of her masthead colleagues and could not win it back.” The decision to replace her, he said, was “for reasons having nothing to do with pay or gender.”

Copyright The New York Times News Service.