A Tale of Two Departures

by lizard

The forced departure of Jill Abramson from the New York Times has caused a firestorm of speculation, and rightly so. Whatever ultimately led Arthur Sulzberger to make his decision, reports of a conflict over a pay discrepancy seems to be getting the most traction.

Abramson’s successor, Dean Baquet, is getting some interesting flak from Glenn Greenwald, who managed to carve out some time from his packed promotional appearances for his book launch to weigh in on the first black man replacing the first woman to preside, editorially, over the gray lady:

Glenn Greenwald joined HuffPost Live Friday to discuss Edward Snowden, the latest news on NSA spying and his recent book “No Place to Hide.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist weighed in on the turmoil at the New York Times this week and had some choice words for incoming executive editor Dean Baquet, who with the LA Times in 2006, was accused of killing a story about collaboration between AT&T and the NSA.

HuffPost Live host Alyona Minkovski asked Greenwald what kind of leader Baquet will be for the New York Times. “I think of all the executive editors of the New York Times,” Greenwald began, “at least in recent history, or I’ll say in the last 10 years since I’ve paying extremely close attention to how the New York Times functions, Jill Abramson was probably the best advocate for an adversarial relationship between the government and the media. I don’t know if she’s always been that way but in her stewardship of the paper as editor in chief I think that was definitely the case.”

Greenwald did not have kind words for incoming executive editor Dean Baquet. He said, “By contrast, her successor Dean Baquet does have a really disturbing history of practicing this form of journalism that is incredibly subservient to the American National security state, and if his past record and his past actions and statements are anything to go by, I think it signals that the New York Times is going to continue to descend downward into this sort of journalism that is very neutered and far too close to the very political factions that it’s supposed to exercise oversight over.”

Proximity to political factions when that political faction is a billionaire bankrolling “adversarial journalism” is something I was immediately weary of regarding First Look Media and The Intercept.

As Greenwald cashes in with his book/movie deals, Marcy Wheeler (the wikipedia info needs updating) has decided to leave the billionaire media boutique and I’m sure it has nothing to do with Ukraine:

Marcy Wheeler, one of the all-star launch line-up of Pierre Omidyar’s “The Intercept” has left her role as senior policy analyst at the site, even before it has officially launched.

According to Capital New York, which first broke the news, “Wheeler, who writes regularly about national security and civil liberties on her blog, has only published one article to date on the First Look Media.”

The departure comes after criticism (mainly from Pando, it should be noted) over Omidyar’s donations to Ukraine opposition groups and also the Intercept’s lack of updates in recent weeks. As I wrote here, Wheeler’s output had largely been limited to her own blog, Empty Wheel, and she appeared to have quietly dropped the Intercept from her official bio on other sites.

Here’s another take from TPM:

National security and civil liberties blogger Marcy Wheeler announced Firday she had left The Intercept, the digital news organization founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald and billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Wheeler announced her “voluntary and amicable” split from the fledgling site on her blog.

She said her departure had nothing to do with her coverage of Ukraine, or the site’s relative inactivity that editor-in-chief John Cook addressed last month.

(Cook announced earlier this week that The Intercept is hiring, perhaps a sign that the site is awaking from its temporary slumber.)

Wheeler said her reasons for leaving “predate both of those things, to January.”

“I’ll have more to say–not about The Intercept, per se, but about things I’ve learned about my own journalism over the last 7 months, as the Edward Snowden story played out and the Intercept discussed hiring me–at some later point, after some reflection,” she wrote.

Man, I hope this doesn’t negatively impact Greenwald’s book sales.




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