Fmr. NY Times Executive Editor: Times 'Let Down Its Readers'; 'Pisses Me Off' It's Still Asking Who Ocasio-Cortez Is

Jill Abramson / Getty Images
June 28, 2018

A former New York Times executive director ripped her former paper for not thoroughly covering the campaign of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who upset long-term Rep. Joe Crowley (D., N.Y.) in a primary Tuesday.

Jill Abramson, who served as the paper's executive director from 2011 to 2014, tweeted it "pisses me off" that the Times is still asking "Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?" The question was posed in the headline – which was later changed – of a Times story released following Ocasio-Cortez's victory.

Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic socialists of America member, defeated Crowley, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, in the Democratic primary for New York's 11th Congressional District. The strongly Democratic district covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

Abramson also said that missing Ocasio-Cortez's rise is akin to not seeing Donald Trump's win in 2016.

The Times has since changed the headline from "Who Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? A 28-Year-Old Democratic Giant Slayer" to "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: A 28-Year-Old Democratic Giant Slayer."

To Abramson's point, a search of paper's archives shows just two news stories mentioned the candidate, and they did so briefly without thinking she had a shot.

The Washington Post's Dave Weigel made similar criticisms of the media for missing Ocasio-Cortez's candidacy. CNN host Brian Steltzer commented on Twitter that the first time he heard of Ocasio-Cortez was eight days before her victory when Crowley didn't show up at a debate, and Weigel noted he didn't see any CNN crews at a debate.

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told the Daily Beast, "We have enormous respect for Jill and deeply appreciate her passion. Criticism and feedback helps us do better work and we’re always open to it. On these specifics though, we just disagree with Jill."

In an email to the Daily Beast, Abramson wrote that she has resisted critiquing the Times publicly, but "this shit is bad." She noted the paper is "making horrible mistakes left and right" before listing examples.

"Not covering the ‘stunning’ upset of Joe Crowley. It’s the NYT that was undeservedly stunned, letting down its readers," she said.