Meet the NY Times' New Liberal Boss, Jill Abramson, Champion of Anita Hill
Liberal replaces liberal at the top of the New York Times masthead. The paper announced today that Jill Abramson would become the Times' new executive editor as of September 6, replacing Bill Keller, whose liberal record at the paper Times Watch documented earlier.
Abramson likened the paper to holy writ, telling the Times' Jeremy Peters this morning that being named editor was like "ascending to Valhalla": "In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion...If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth."
Abramson's bias goes back to her days as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Commenting on Bill Clinton's upcoming inauguration on C-SPAN's Journalists' Roundtable program of January 8, 1993, she enthused:
It's an exciting time to be in Washington. I work near the little store where they're selling the Inaugural commemorative items and there is a line going out the door and around the corner. People are excited. They're happy about change. They're intrigued by Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and their families. And I think you're going to see crowds for these inaugural events the likes of which we haven't seen in Washington ever.
In 1994 Abramson wrote a book on the Clarence Thomas hearings with fellow Wall Street Journal reporter Jane Meyer, "Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas," which criticized Democrats for not looking hard enough into the sexual proclivities of Thomas before his confirmation. As MRC president Brent Bozell summarized in November 1994:
Two women write a book with the thesis that the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Joe Biden, are pathetic cowards who failed to destroy the Thomas nomination, who failed to question Thomas on whether he rented the porno movie "The Adventures of Bad Mama Jama," who failed to suggest the White House broke federal laws in their advocacy of Thomas. Then the authors proclaim on television "we are not political people." Come again? The book and subsequent media tour quickly establish these strident ladies have a simple goal: the destruction of Justice Thomas.
Abramson joined the Times in 1997, became Washington bureau chief in 2000, and eventually worked up to the position of managing editor in 2003 after the downfall of former editor Howell Raines.
In July 2009, Abramson had a Thomas hearings flashback upon the conclusion of confirmation hearings of Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in a cover story for the Sunday Week in Review. Abramson was still angry over the way Anita Hill had been treated during the Thomas hearings:
Professor Hill's treatment by an all-male Judiciary panel presaged an outcry of "They just don't get it!" and the election of many more women to the Congress. And the atmosphere of those earlier proceedings also insured a far tamer set of hearings this time, as neither Republicans nor Democrats have wanted to face the kind of damage inflicted by the partisan circus of 1991.
Inside the hearing room last week, a number of figures who played important roles in the Hill-Thomas confrontation were again present, although some in different parts. SenatorArlen Specterof Pennsylvania, a onetime chairman of the Judiciary Committee whose harshly prosecutorial questioning of Ms. Hill almost cost him re-election in 1992, was now on the Democratic side of the dais, looking a bit out of place.
Abramson admitted in an online "Q&A" in September 2009 that the Times had been "a beat behind" the controversy over Obama environmental adviser and 9-11 Truther Van Jones. In the same session she denied a reader's assertion that the paper was liberal: "I'm well aware that various conservative commentators regularly and loudly denounce The Times for being 'a liberal rag.' It just isn't so."
In October 2010, Abramson tried to link anonymous pro-Republican donors of the 2010 election cycle to illegal campaign donations made to Richard Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign: "Return of the Secret Donors - In 2010, corporate cash, anonymous contributions and other echoes of Watergate." "But the fund-raising practices that earned people convictions in Watergate - giving direct corporate money to a campaign and doing so secretly - are back in a different form in 2010."
- Clay Waters is director of Times Watch. You can follow him on Twitter.