If recently retired New York Times publisher, Arthur O. "Pinch" Sulzberger, expected to finally receive some respect now that he has turned the keys of his newspaper kingdom over to his son, A.G. (Arthur Gregg) Sulzberger, he would be quite disappointed after reading the January 14 Politico Magazine story. Senior Media Writer Jack Shafer ridicules Sulzberger and how he ran the Times during his quarter century reign there until he retired on January 1. The profile of just how out of his depth the elder Sulzberger was is brought to us as part of advice to Sulzberger the Younger in which Shafer suggests that he Sell the New York Times. Now.
The best thing A.G. has going for him is that he isn’t Arthur Jr., who inspired more sniggers than respect during his years as Times publisher. According to the various profiles written about him, Arthur Jr. was a well-meaning but goofy Star Trek fan, completely over his head in the job. An unsteady manager, he indelicately sacked two executive editors (Howell Raines and Jill Abramson), though admittedly in crises not completely of his making.
One unnamed critic told Times chroniclers Alex S. Jones and Susan E. Tifft that Arthur Jr. needed to “go back in the oven and bake a little longer.” An anonymous Times Company executive dismissed him as no more than a business “figurehead” in a 2005 New Yorker Auletta feature. Mark Bowden shared more abuse in Vanity Fair in 2009, writing, “Even the mid-level talent around Arthur does not regard him as a peer, much less a suitable leader.” Behind his back, staffers ridiculed Arthur Jr. for instituting corporate sensitivity seminars at the paper. “I’ve been hugged by people I don’t even want to shake hands with,” one repulsed Times editor told the late Marjorie Williams for a 1994 Vanity Fair story.
The 2005 New Yorker article by Ken Auletta referenced above was equally as brutal in its assessment of Arthur Jr.:
Sulzberger’s hair has begun to turn gray and to recede, and yet, like Tom Hanks in the movie “Big,” he seems to be only impersonating an older man. He is often known as Young Arthur, and, behind his back, people still call him Pinch, in contrast to his father, Punch. He tends to draw attention to himself with a loud cackle or an awkwardly offhand remark.
Exit question: Will there also be a nickname for the new Times publisher, A.G. Sulzberger?