New York Times Keeps Changing Story About Jill Abramson’s Salary

Was ousted New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson paid less than her predecessor, Bill Keller, and other male colleagues who held lesser titles at the paper? The Times has several different answers.

After news of Abramson’s firing became public, The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta reported that Abramson confronted Times executives after she learned that she was paid less than Keller. Spokesperson Eileen Murphy (sort of) shot down Auletta’s report in an email to Politico’s Dylan Byers:

Jill's total compensation as executive editor was not less than Bill Keller’s, so that is just incorrect. Her pension benefit, like all Times employees, is based on her years of service and compensation. The pension benefit was frozen in 2009.

Then Murphy sent a slightly different statement to Hunter Walker of Business Insider:

Jill’s total compensation as executive editor was not meaningfully less than Bill Keller’s, so that is just incorrect. Her pension benefit, like all Times employees, is based on her years of service and compensation. The pension benefit was frozen in 2009.

Asked about the discrepancy between the two statements—which mean two different things—Murphy provided the following statement to Gawker:

There is no discrepancy. Jill’s compensation was directly comparable to Bill’s during their times as executive editor. Not less, not meaningfully less, not considerably less (as reported in the NY’er), directly comparable.

When asked if the paper could provide hard figures (so the public could judge whether Abramson’s and Keller’s salaries were in fact “directly comparable”), Murphy responded: “Obviously, no, we can’t. Directly comparable is pretty clear, in my view.”

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