Family-Owned New York Times Rips Trump for Nepotism

New York Times is a 'family enterprise,' owned by the Ochs-Sulzberger family for more than 120 years

New York Times
Credit: Instagram user edelage
January 14, 2017

New York Times editorial blasts President-elect Donald Trump for nepotism after selecting his son-in-law for a key White House position, in spite of the family-owned newspaper's record of keeping the company in the hands of relatives.

The editorial ripped Trump for ignoring his "ethical and legal obligations" after selecting Jared Kushner, the husband of his eldest daughter Ivanka, to be a senior adviser:

Lawyers for Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner have argued that the appointment is legal because the law applies only to executive branch agencies, and the White House is not an agency. The law, under this reasoning, would bar Mr. Trump from appointing Mr. Kushner to a job in, say, the State Department, not to a senior advisory position in the White House.

But Congress, which passed the measure in 1967 partly in response to President John F. Kennedy’s appointment of his brother Robert to be attorney general, was aiming to curb the negative effects of nepotism throughout government. Concerns about nepotism are, if anything, stronger in a White House appointment, where multiple close advisers and fragile hierarchies can easily become snarled by family allegiances.

However, the New York Times is a "family enterprise," owned by the Ochs-Sulzberger family for more than 120 years. The newspaper recently appointed 36-year-old Arthur Gregg (A.G.) Sulzberger as its deputy publisher, placing him in the line of succession to take over as publisher and chairman of The New York Times Company for his father, current publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.

According to the Times report in October, the new deputy publisher was one of three candidates for the position, all family members:

The competition for the deputy publisher position was closely watched in the newsroom, and the fact that the selection came earlier than expected — the company had said it would happen by next May — will most likely be interpreted as further evidence that the pace of change is quickening.

Mr. Sulzberger, the son of Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who took over as publisher in 1992, was one of three candidates, all cousins. The others were Sam Dolnick, 35, who oversees many initiatives at The Times, including some in virtual reality and podcasts; and David Perpich, 39, who works on the business side and helped put in place The Times’s paywall and other subscription products.

Also, the newspaper's left-leaning editorial board did not feel as strongly about then-President Bill Clinton appointing his wife Hillary Clinton to head a health care reform task force in 1993.

Although it called the selection an "unusual arrangement," the New York Times editorial focused on how such a role was more fitting for Hillary Clinton than the traditional duties of a First Lady:

It's official. Hillary Rodham Clinton will not bake cookies, keep to the East Wing or stand quietly by her man. No, she will stand with her man, or maybe ahead of him, in formulating health care policy.

It's a genuine job and an unusual arrangement, but it is who the Clintons are. In that regard, it is also more honest than the charade they went through before her independence became a campaign liability and Mrs. Clinton helped get her husband elected by pretending to be what she was not.

Her new position and new offices in the active West Wing of the White House will allow her to do openly what she no doubt would otherwise have done covertly -- advise her husband the President. That has to be better than pretending, for her and for the country.

By functioning in the open, Mrs. Clinton will exercise influence that others can engage and judge. She and her ideas can be part of the debate, not the stuff of gossip. Perhaps more important, she will be exposed to policy and political questions that she would otherwise see only through the filter of her husband's politics and prejudices.

In other words, Hillary Clinton can be truer to her own person. If she hadn't worked outside the home before moving to Washington, had preferred to occupy a quietly supportive role instead of pursuing a legal career, fine. But she was a successful attorney and policy adviser before her husband became President, so why not after?