April was an unusual, if not the cruelest, month for New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, who in September will mark two years on the job. On Monday afternoon, April 15, Abramson—who, at 59, is the first woman to serve as top editor in the Times’s 160-year history—had barely begun savoring the four Pulitzer Prizes that her staff had just won (this year’s biggest haul, by far, for any journalistic outlet) when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. Pulling an all-nighter at one point in the third-floor newsroom of the Times’s Renzo Piano-designed Manhattan skyscraper, she presided over a breathless week of “flooding the zone” (as one of her predecessors, Howell Raines, liked to say), while her reporters and editors managed to avoid the sort of embarrassing errors committed by The Associated Press, CNN, and even the Times Co.-owned Boston Globe.
Then, the night of April 23, Politico—the Washington trade paper that aims to “drive the conversation”—published a story suggesting that Abramson’s young editorship was already a failure. Quoting anonymous former and current Times employees, Politico claimed she was widely considered “stubborn,” “condescending,” “difficult to work with,” “unreasonable,” “impossible,” “disengaged,” and “uncaring”—“on the verge of losing the support of the newsroom.” One staffer confided to media reporter Dylan Byers: “The Times is leaderless right now ¬ Jill is very, very unpopular.