Vanity Fair: Baquet's 'ultimatum of sorts' led to Abramson ouster
New York Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson, Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr and then Executive Editor Jill Abramson were all "actively recruiting" Guardian U.S. Editor-in-Chief Janine Gibson to a top digital role, Sulzberger says in an interview with Sarah Ellison in Vanity Fair.
Sulzberger calls the events around that hire "the wave.” Dean Baquet, then the newspaper's managing editor, didn't know Gibson "was being recruited for a job equal to his own," she writes. At a lunch, “When Janine told Dean that she’d been offered the job of co-managing editor, he didn’t have a clue,” Sulzberger told Elllison. The story continues:
Baquet reportedly betrayed no irritation during his lunch with Gibson. But two days later, on Wednesday, May 7, he and Sulzberger had dinner. At that dinner, “I learned the severity of his feelings,” Sulzberger said, which I took to mean that Baquet gave Sulzberger an ultimatum of sorts. Baquet himself had earlier been offered a job at Bloomberg News. Now, Sulzberger worried that Baquet might leave. “At that point, we risked losing Dean, and we risked losing more than Dean,” Sulzberger said. “It would have been a flood, and a flood of some of our best digital people.” Sulzberger went into the office the next day and relayed to Abramson that his meeting with Baquet had not gone well. He gave himself 24 hours to make sure he was doing the right thing, he said. Then he offered the executive-editor job to Baquet. On Friday, May 9, he told Abramson it was time to make a change. The announcement was made five days later, on Wednesday, May 14.
Related: Times management "runs for the hills" when asked for specifics about Abramson firing (The Washington Post)