Promoting her new book, “The Puppy Diaries,” on “Morning Joe” Monday, Jill Abramson spoke about what it is like to be the first female executive editor of the 160 year-old New York Times and her “brusque” style, as partially detailed in a recent Ken Artuletta New Yorker profile.
Abramson explained that while she is known for being “tough” and “hard-nosed” she is working on adjusting how she deals with people.
“I think I have always been plenty kind, and maybe not so gentle, I’m working on the gentle, I think what you may find is a Jill Abramson who listens more and dominates the conversation a little less,” she said, adding that she is not making any big changes.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski pushed back against Abramson’s concession that she is working on becoming more “gentle” and urged Abramson not to change to be liked.
“The reason I ask about adding a more gentle touch and exactly what you were tweaking there is because I was speaking to women recently, about my book, and they are all so worried about looking like the ‘B’ word and I said, ‘Let it go. I mean, seriously, the only one worried about that is you. Let it go and others won’t as well,’” Brzezinski said. “And so when I read that, I’m, like, thinking is she adjusting so that she is more likable, because you shouldn’t. Clearly you’ve gotten where you are by being who you are.”
Abramson denied that she has changed her approach in any way.
“I’ve been in this business for decades and I think everyone will tell you I am the same person I’ve always been,” she said.
According to Abramson, while she is a women, she does not think that any of her challenges will be due to the fact that she is a female.
“There are always obstacles to face, you know, and I can’t possibly anticipate what they’re going to be, Joe, but I do not think it is going to be because of my gender,” she said, responding to co-host Joe Scarborough’s concern that newspapers are an “old boy’s club.” “And something I keep in my office is an over-sized photograph of the “New York Times” newsroom in 1905. It’s a bunch of men in suits with many of them with beards, one lone woman sitting down.”
Abramson added that with females comprising a third of management, the New York Times is a great place for women.