The ouster of Jill Abramson as executive editor of The New York Times sent shock waves through the media landscape. Reports that she was fired thanks in part to a soured relationship based on the Times‘ alleged sexist pay discrepancy only made those shock waves stronger.
But in all of the coverage, the missing figure has been the Times‘ new executive editor, Dean Baquet. His ascension to executive editor has been praised thanks in part to the fact that he is the first black executive editor of the Times. But there’s been very little coverage of precisely what he’s done.
Here are the top nine things you didn’t know about the new executive editor of The Gray Lady:
He Served as Los Angeles Times Managing Editor From 2000-2005, and Became Executive Editor From 2005-2007. The circulation of the paper was 1.15 million as of May 2000. By 2007, it was 815,723. Part of that is surely due to the changing technology of the newspaper industry. Part of it is also the paper’s long-lasting bias, which only increased under Baquet’s tenure.
His Biggest Story as LA Times Editor Was Arnold Schwarzenegger Groping Women. On October 2, 2003, the Los Angeles Times broke the years-old news that then-gubernatorial candidate Schwarzenegger had allegedly groped multiple women:
Six women who came into contact with Arnold Schwarzenegger on movie sets, in studio offices and in other settings over the last three decades say he touched them in a sexual manner without their consent.
The story did not prevent Schwarzenegger’s election.
As Editor, His Los Angeles Times Refused to Run a Story on NSA Surveillance. According to ABCNews.com, when AT&T technician Mark Klein attempted to give Baquet the story of illegal NSA surveillance, the Times killed it:
Baquet confirmed to ABCNews.com he talked with Negroponte and Hayden but says ‘government pressure played no role in my decision not to run the story.’ Baquet says he and managing editor Doug Frantz decided ‘we did not have a story, that we could not figure out what was going on’ based on Klein’s highly technical documents.
Their confusion was not shared by the people at The New York Times, who ran the story.
His Tenure at The Los Angeles Times Ended Poorly. He was fired during budget cuts at The Los Angeles Times, prompting The New York Times to write:
He rejoined The Times as Washington bureau chief after being fired by The Los Angeles Times, the culmination of a lengthy showdown between Mr. Baquet and the paper’s cost-conscious owners.
The irony is somewhat galling, given the accusations that the Times‘ budget-conscious ways led Abramson to complain about being paid less than her predecessor, Bill Keller.
He Punches Walls. After Baquet was told by Abramson that the newspaper needed to be “buzzy” in its coverage of the news – creating readership – Baquet reacted by punching a wall and leaving the building. Politico blamed Abramson for the flare-up: “In recent months, Abramson has become a source of widespread frustration and anxiety within the Times newsroom….Abramson has been notably absent — or ‘AWOL,’ as several staffers put it — at key periods when the Times required leadership.”
He Undercut Abramson. According to the New Yorker, Baquet went over Abramson’s head to Times owner Pinch Sulzberger Jr. when Abramson requested a deputy managing editor to serve under Baquet on the digital side. Baquet also implied that he might leave the company, referencing a job offer at Bloomberg.
He Fears the Impact of the Internet on Journalism. Back in 2013, Baquet stated, “It is not my fear that newspapers will die. My only fear is that the craft of witnessing and reporting on the truth will die….You learn a lesson when you’re face-to-face with the people you write about that cannot be learned when a reporter is writing a story from home.” Sadly for Baquet, the new media has broken more stories over the past few years than the entire mainstream media. Baquet maintains that the new media would not exist without the old media.
He Will Feed You Journalistic Broccoli. In 2006, Baquet explained that his job was to feed readers information they don’t always want:
…what makes me different from a consumer product — and when I say “me,” I’m talking about the Los Angeles Times and newspapers in general — is that one of my jobs is to sometimes give my customer things he doesn’t always want. I think of a newspaper as the restaurant that, when you order just a steak and dessert, says, “Absolutely not; you’ve got to have some broccoli.”
He Thinks The Media Are Not Leftist. From a 2006 interview:
I started out as a newspaper reporter at 19. I’ve spent so much time subjugating my political beliefs. … The main political institution that I believe in is the newspapers. I’ve never had a public discussion about my politics….If you ask me to make a list of the senior editors of the L.A. Times and whether they’re Democrats or Republicans — these are people I spend all day with — I don’t think I could tell you for most of them. I’d have to guess….I can tell you that some of them are conservative, sure. Absolutely.
He actually stated that both The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times “are not liberal in their coverage. There’s such a system in place to keep politics from seeping into the pages of papers.”
So will Baquet be an upgrade from Abramson? If his past words and actions are any indicator, he’ll just be more of the same. And the Times will continue its slow descent into irrelevance.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.