Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson
Abramson speaks at the University of Navarra in Madrid on February 12, 2015.
Born Jill Ellen Abramson
(1954-03-19) March 19, 1954
New York City, New York, United States
Occupation Journalist, editor, author
Notable credit(s) The New York Times (1997–2014)
The Wall Street Journal (1988–1997)
The American Lawyer (1977–1986)
Time (1973–1976)
Spouse(s) Henry Little Griggs III (1981–present; 2 children)

Jill Ellen Abramson (born March 19, 1954)[1] is an American author and journalist. She is best known as the former executive editor of The New York Times. Abramson held that position from September 2011 to May 2014. She was the first female executive editor in the paper's 160-year history.[2] Abramson joined the New York Times in 1997, working as the Washington bureau chief and managing editor before being named as executive editor. She previously worked for The Wall Street Journal as an investigative reporter and a deputy bureau chief.[3] In March 2016, she was hired as a political columnist for Guardian US.[4]

In 2012, she was ranked number five on Forbes list of most powerful women.[5][6] She was also named as one of the 500 most powerful people in the world by Foreign Policy.[7]

Early life and education

Abramson was born in New York City and grew up in a Jewish home.[8] She received her high school diploma from Ethical Culture Fieldston School and a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University and Radcliffe College in 1976.[9]


While a Harvard undergraduate, she was the Arts Editor of The Harvard Independent, and worked at Time magazine from 1973 to 1976. Subsequently, she spent nearly a decade as a senior staff reporter for The American Lawyer.[10] In 1986, she was appointed as editor in chief of Legal Times in Washington, D.C., serving for two years. From 1988 to 1997, she was a senior reporter in the Washington bureau of The Wall Street Journal, eventually rising to deputy bureau chief. She joined The New York Times in 1997, becoming its Washington bureau chief in December 2000.[9]

Abramson was the Times' Washington Bureau chief during the turbulent period of Spring 2003 during the run-up to the war in Iraq and the Jayson Blair scandal, which led to the resignation of Executive Editor Howell Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd. In a February 2013 interview, Abramson spoke of the conflict she had with Raines as D.C. bureau chief, saying, "Howell from the get-go just had no use for me. ... I did think about quitting."[11] Abramson was named to the news managing editor position (with co-Managing Editor John M. Geddes) by Raines' successor Bill Keller.[12]

In 1995, Abramson and her The Wall Street Journal colleague (and fellow Fieldston alumna) Jane Mayer co-authored Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, which detailed circumstances surrounding the confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas. Maureen Dowd would later write of having bonded with Abramson during that time.[13] From 2000–01, she was a professor at Princeton University.[9] She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.[14]

In February 2007, Abramson testified in the perjury trial of Scooter Libby, United States v. Libby. She was called as a defense witness to undercut the credibility of Judith Miller.[9]

In 2010, it was announced that Abramson was going to work on news content on the Times' website for six months.[9]

On June 2, 2011, it was announced that Abramson would become the executive editor of the Times in September 2011, replacing Bill Keller who would step down from the position to become a full-time writer.[15]

Abramson was scheduled to address the commencement exercises of Barnard College on May 14, 2012. Her speech was canceled after President Barack Obama requested to speak instead.[16] She received an honorary degree at Fairleigh Dickinson's 69th Commencement Ceremony in May 2012.[17]

In April 2013, Abramson was the subject of a sharply critical profile in Politico written by Dylan Byers entitled, "Turbulence at the Times," in which anonymous Times staffers called her "impossible" and "very, very unpopular." Abramson was deeply distressed by the report, later saying it made her cry.[18]

On May 14, 2014, it was announced that Abramson had been fired from her position as executive editor of the Times, and that Dean Baquet would succeed her in that role.[19]

During the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Abramson argued in a column for Guardian US that Hillary Clinton, whom she had covered as a reporter and editor since the Whitewater controversy, was "fundamentally honest and trustworthy."[20]

On February 19, 2018, Abramson followed up her 1995 book on Clarence Thomas and the Anita Hill hearings with a discussion concerning new evidence that Thomas had committed perjury which might be tied to possible impeachment.[21] Abramson indicated that her reporting was initiated by an article by the journalist Marcia Coyle from 2016 when Abramson stated, "Tipped to the post by a Maryland legal source who knew Smith (who made the allegations), Marcia Coyle, a highly regarded and scrupulously nonideological Supreme Court reporter for The National Law Journal, wrote a detailed story about (Moira) Smith’s allegation of butt-squeezing, which included corroboration from Smith’s roommates at the time of the dinner and from her former husband. Coyle’s story, which Thomas denied, was published October 27, 2016".[21]

Personal life

In 1981, she married Harvard classmate Henry Little Griggs III. Griggs was then president of Triad, a political public relations company. He is self-described as a "writer, editor and media-relations consultant specializing in nonprofit advocacy campaigns." They have two children.[9]

In May 2007, Abramson was seriously injured in a truck-pedestrian crash near the New York Times's headquarters in Times Square. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the truck's driver, owner, and operator, who was involved in the crash, as well two companies involved in the crash.[9]

Abramson has four tattoos on her body that she describes as "telling the story of me." They include a New York City Subway token; the letter “H,” representing her alma mater, Harvard University, and her husband, Henry; and the letter "T" in the Gothic font of the New York Times logo.[22] Abramson first unveiled her New York Times tattoo on a New York interview show less than a month before being fired from the paper, saying that it, along with the 'H' tattoo represent “the two institutions that I revere, that have shaped me.”[23] She has called her Times tattoo, which is emblazoned on her back, her "personal hieroglyphic." However, although she worked at The Wall Street Journal for 10 years, she elected not be similarly marked by that newspaper because "It just wasn't in my family's blood."[24]


  • With Jane Mayer. Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994. ISBN 978-0-395-63318-2
  • Where They Are Now: The Story of the Women of Harvard Law 1974. New York: Doubleday, 1986. ISBN 978-0-385-19432-7, OCLC 12314642
  • The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout. New York: Times Books, 2011. (Forthcoming in October 2011, published by Two Roads Books.)



  1. "Abramson, Jill". Current Biography Yearbook 2011. Ipswich, MA: H.W. Wilson. 2011. pp. 4–8. ISBN 9780824211219.
  2. Preston, Peter (June 6, 2011). "Jill Abramson's achievement is historic but Times can't stay stuck in past". The Guardian. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  3. "Jill Abramson". New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  4. "Guardian US appoints Jill Abramson as political columnist". Guardian. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  5. Forbes most powerful women
  6. Eglash, Ruth (August 28, 2012). "Jewish women who rule! (according to Forbes)". Jpost. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  7. "The FP Power Map: The 500 most powerful people on the planet". Foreign Policy. May–June 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  8. Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu (April 24, 2013). "NY Times Editor Jill Abramson Sparks News Not Fit to Print". The Jewish Press. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Byers, Dylan (June 2, 2011). "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Jill Abramson". Adweek. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  10. "Jill Abramson". The New York Times Company Official Website. Archived from the original on October 25, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
  11. Pompeo, Joe (February 20, 2013). "Times Editor Jill Abramson Opens Up About Layoffs, the Time She Almost Quit and Loneliness at the Top". Capital NY. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  12. Steinberg, Jacques (August 1, 2003). "2 Are Appointed at The Times To Managing Editor Positions". The New York Times. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
  13. Maureen, Dowd (2005). Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide. Putnam Publishing Group. p. 284.
  14. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  15. Peters, Jeremy W. (June 2, 2011). "Abramson to Replace Keller as The Times's Executive Editor". The New York Times. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
  16. Parness, Amie (March 3, 2012). "Obama asks to deliver commencement speech at New York women's college". The Hill. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  17. "Fairleigh Dickinson University Holds 69th Commencement on May 15". Fairleigh Dickinson University. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  18. Coscarelli, Joe (July 31, 2013). "Politico Made Jill Abramson Cry". New York magazine. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  19. Ravi Somaiya (May 19, 2014). "In First Public Remarks After Firing, Jill Abramson Talks of Resilience". The New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2014.
  20. "This may shock you: Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest". March 28, 2016. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  21. 1 2 Jill Abramson. "Do You Believe Her Now?". New York Magazine. February 19, 2018 .
  22. Brown, Eric (May 14, 2014). "What's Next For Jill Abramson's New York Times 'T' Tattoo?". International Business Times. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  23. Trotter, J.K. (April 15, 2014). "New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson tells Employee of the Month host Catie Lazarus* that she has two back tattoos". Gawker. Archived from the original on August 12, 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  24. https://www.wsj.com/articles/nice-tattoo-i-didnt-know-you-worked-at-walmart-1520005199?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=2

Further reading

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