Commentary

New York Times Erects Cement Ceiling

Bill Donohue
By Bill Donohue | October 20, 2016 | 10:41 AM EDT

In this July 29, 2015, photo, Arthur Gregg “A.G.” Sulzberger poses for a photo at New York Times headquarters in New York. The New York Times announced on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, that Sulzberger was named deputy publisher, setting him up to take over for his father, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. (AP Photo/Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

Pleas for more diversity and inclusion are a mantra at the New York Times. For example, it demands more inclusion in the Catholic Church's clergy—women must be ordained—and rails against the glass ceiling in the corporate world that keeps women from reaching the top. 

There is one exception: when it comes to hiring a new publisher at the New York Times, it throws diversity and inclusion to the wind. Not only does it confine its search to white boys, it only considers blood relatives. The New York Times is not only a patriarchy, its affection for hiring along patrilineal descent lines is boundless.

Mark Thompson, who heads the New York Times Company, announced recently that Arthur Gregg Sulzberger is the new deputy publisher of the newspaper. Thompson is perhaps best known for allegedly covering up the deeds of BBC child rapist Jimmy Savile.

This appointment is critical because it signals the continuation of the Times monarchy: Arthur Gregg's father, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., is the current publisher, and his son is next in line to succeed him on the throne. Sulzberger Jr. got his job because his predecessor, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, was his father.

A.G., as Arthur Gregg is now known (it was confusing at the newspaper so they settled on his initials), would represent the fifth generation of his family since the Grand Patriarch, Adolph S. Ochs, bought the newspaper in 1896.

To elect Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, the Times erected a cement ceiling: the only other two candidates for the job were Sam Dolnick and David Perpich. All three are cousins.

It appears that no women were interviewed; no blacks were interviewed; no Latinos (including the undocumented) were interviewed; no Native Americans were interviewed; no Asians were interviewed; no Catholics were interviewed; no Protestants were interviewed; no Muslims were interviewed; no Mormons were interviewed; and to the best of my knowledge, no transgender persons were interviewed.

This triumph of patriarchy was not, however, equally distributed along descent lines: no one from the Ochs family, or any of the other branches of the family, was considered. This is a cement ceiling that even ISIS couldn't crack.

In keeping with its incestuous tradition, the selection committee included senior executive Michael Golden and his sister-in-law, Trudy Golden. Carolyn Greenspon was on the committee: she is a family trustee and board member of the New York Times Company. Thompson, chief executive of the Company, was also on the committee. No one not from the inner circle of the board, newspaper, or the family, was included.

Who needs affirmative action? Who needs to advertise? Who needs a head hunter? This is an old-boys club par excellence.

Thompson said the selection "was done in an extraordinarily careful, systematic way." On that, everyone can agree.

It would be instructive to learn what Maureen Dowd thinks about this seemingly nativistic, misogynistic, non-inclusive, diversity-be-damned, rigged hiring system at the New York Times. But this is not likely: she has long settled in, and knows exactly what her place is.

Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of seven books and many articles.

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