05 June 2011

Jill Abramson

Congratulations to Jill Abramson for her new gig. This week, she was named the next executive editor of The New York Times, effective in September.

She's replacing Bill Keller who is himself staying on as a columnist. Keller became executive editor after the Jayson Blair scandal drove out his precursor, Howell Raines, in 2003.

For those with short memories, in late April of that year the San Antonio Express-News discovered a blatant instance of plagiarism, and The New York Times responded with an internal investigation which led to a voluminous record of the plagiarisms and sheer inventions of one of its reporters, Jayson Blair, fraud which tainted at least 36 articles. There was some back-and-forth at the time about who would take the fall. In early June, though, Raines left, and that July, Keller replaced him.

Felix Salmon has congratulated the publisher Arthur Sulzberger for "orchestrating this necessary handover in a very smooth and professional manner." In Salmon's view, and those of others it was necessary because of Keller's aversion to any technology that doesn't involve killing trees.

Let's get back to Abramson! She has the distinction of having testified, in response to a subpoena, as part of the defense of Scooter Libby. She was The Times' DC bureau chief at the time of the whole sideshow over Valerie Plame. Defense counsel asked her whether she spoke with Judy Miller at that time about reporting on piece on "whether Joe Wilson's wife works for the CIA?"

The defense was apparently hoping she would say "absolutely not," thus discrediting Miller's version of events.

She responded, "I have no recollection of such a conversation," which was less than they wanted. And, of course, Libby was convicted.

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