The Grey Lady, Exposed

How thin the line between transparency and publicity. The New York Observer reports on “Behind the Scenes at The New York Times,” last night’s Q&A event with executive editor Bill Keller and managing editor Jill Abramson (moderated by assistant managing editor Rick Berke). Among the revelations:

- Every morning Bill Keller reads the Times first, then the Journal; every morning Jill Abramson reads the Times first, then the Journal.

- Bill Keller reads the print editions first; Jill Abramson reads online first.

- Bill Keller has no use for CNN anymore; he wants news, not opinion.

- Bill Keller considered David Remnick his biggest rival in his reporting days.

- Even though they had a “professional shotgun marriage,” both claim that they work in perfect harmony; Bill is the “soul of intelligence,” said Jill Abramson, and she said she was the “chatty Cathy.”

- Jill Abramson first bonded with her self-described best friend at the Times, Maureen Dowd, when they covered the Clarence Thomas hearings (Abramson for the Journal, Dowd for the Times). When they heard the word “penis… uttered in the very stately Senate caucus room,” they looked at each other across from the press table and “We couldn’t believe this was happening!” A friendship was born.

The biggest news to come out of the night’s event—as evidenced by the fact that the tidbit is currently leading Romenesko—concerns David Rohde. “I was relived this morning when I talked to David,” Keller told the crowd, “and he said, ‘By the way, thank you for not making a public event out of this. We heard the people who kidnapped me were obsessed with my value in the marketplace. If there were a lot of news stories, they would have held me much tighter.’”

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.