Jill Abramson’s Fighting Words: Fired New York Times Editor Warned She Would ‘Have Blood On Her Hands’

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Jill Abramson
File photo of Jill Abramson.

In a Q&A session in New York Wednesday, fired New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson spoke as candidly and directly as she has since being forced out of her position at the New York Times in May and replaced by her deputy editor Dean Baquet.

As most anyone with an Internet connection knows by now, Abramson’s firing brought about accusations of gender inequality in the Times newsroom -- both in regards to pay and in the expectations of how a female vs. a male boss should behave. And while follow-up reports indicated that Abramson was paid comparably to her male predecessors, questions surround publisher Arthur Sulzberger’s decision to fire Abramson because of what he said was her management style.  

In the session at Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, Abramson spoke of confusion that remains about her firing, her much-quoted claim that the Obama administration was “the most secretive White House" that she has ever covered, and missing out on a sensational international story. Here’s what she had to say:

On being fired from the New York Times:

“I was fired because of my quote-unquote management skills … To be honest with you, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that means."

On Edward Snowden choosing to share NSA intelligence with the Guardian and the Washington Post instead of the Times:

“It was a bad day for me. I had been beaten on the biggest story of this time.”

On giving in to the U.S. government’s request to withhold publishing a story detailing an intelligence interception:

“When someone says, ‘You’ll have blood on your hands,’ you pause and take it very seriously.”

On how giving into censorship requests is sometimes pointless:

“Secrets don’t stay secrets very long, even when journalists decide to censor themselves.”

On what she would ask Snowden if she had only one question:

“What he thinks about the government of Russia -- and whether it’s worth it to remain there when Snowden’s own reputation is a little bit stained for seeking the protection of that regime.” 

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Abramson will begin teaching at Harvard University, her alma mater, in the fall. Harvard made the announcement last month that Abramson has been offered and accepted a position as a visiting lecturer in the Department of English for the 2014-15 academic year. 

For more on Abramson's Q&A session, head over to the Daily Beast.

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