For all the cloudiness over the really real reasons that Jill Abramson was fired—because she was “brusque”! because she tried to secretly hire another co-managing editor to run digital! because her Times tattoo isn’t large enough! not sexism!—there is at least one set of cold, hard data:
As executive editor, Abramson’s starting salary in 2011 was $475,000, compared to Keller’s salary that year, $559,000. Her salary was raised to $503,000, and—only after she protested—was raised again to $525,000. She learned that her salary as managing editor, $398,000, was less than that of the male managing editor for news operations, John Geddes. She also learned that her salary as Washington bureau chief, from 2000 to 2003, was a hundred thousand dollars less than that of her successor in that position, Phil Taubman. (Murphy would say only that Abramson’s compensation was “broadly comparable” to that of Taubman and Geddes.)
To say nothing of inflation. So yes, it is mysterious that the highest ranking woman in print journalism initially making nearly a hundred thousand dollars less than her male predecessor has become the cause célèbre of media.