“In the gossipy world of New York journalism, the firing of Jill Abramson from her position as the executive editor of the Times provoked a veritable explosion of talk, posts, and Instagram pictures of the objects of interest. And a day after her dismissal, even more details are emerging about why Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., the paper’s publisher, felt compelled to dismiss yet another executive editor whom he himself had anointed.
……Another episode that added to the characterization of Abramson as hard to deal with came after a decision was made to hire a second managing editor to oversee the Times’ digital endeavors. Abramson led that hiring effort. The Times, in its story on Abramson’s dismissal, said that Abramson had offered the job to Janine Gibson, the editor of Guardian U.S., “without consulting” Dean Baquet, then the managing editor and now Abramson’s successor. This implies that Abramson was operating more or less in a vacuum, without consistent consultations with her colleagues, particularly Baquet. Gibson met separately with Sulzberger and Thompson on May 5th, and had lunch with Baquet that same day. What Baquet did not know, until Gibson herself mentioned it to him at lunch, I’m told, is that she was offered a managing-editor job comparable to his own. He was, it is fair to say, unenthusiastic, and even angered. “
For once a standard narcissist operating procedure – the replacement of a competent subordinate with a beholden sycophant, went wrong. Gibson “revered” Abramson. Abramson was allegedly caught lying to Sulzberger that Baquet had been consulted. Had Baquet not acted, in my opinion, the next phase of Abramson's plan, had she succeeded in hiring Gibson, would have been social bullying, publicly favouring Gibson over Baquet at every opportunity with the intention of stressing him to the point of his resignation. No doubt Abramson would also have intimated to Gibson that she would succeed Baquet.
There is at least one test, for example The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) that is allegedly capable of identifying psychopathic tendencies at least in a clinical setting. The courts have however ruled that such testing cannot be performed as part of a hiring decision except in special circumstances. We are thus apparently left with no legal means of screening applicants for what used to be called “character”.
Our tried and true defence against the accession to power of emotional misfits used to be observation of their behaviour over relatively long periods of time in a variety of social settings. We hired friends, schoolmates and colleagues who we knew to be capable of empathy, even if of the hard hearted variety, and discriminated against those who we perceived might offend our mores. This of course is now illegal.
Mistreatment of wives, children or pets, drug use, philandering, cheating and intriguing against co workers, meanness and borderline criminal behaviour are no longer sufficient reason to deny a job or promotion. How can good government and public service survive, let alone the economy, when we cannot and do not protect ourselves from the thriving colonies of managerial cockroaches that infest all our institutions?