Last night The New York Times dropped a blockbuster story: their new CEO Mark Thompson, who is just finishing his first week on the job, might be lying about how much he knew about sex abuse allegations while he was running the BBC. This morning all we can wonder about is how long we'll be referring to him as CEO.
Media Wizard Jay Rosen gave us his best Nate Silver:
The odds on Mark Thompson staying as CEO of the New York Times just changed. nyti.ms/PYHDso— Jay Rosen(@jayrosen_nyu) November 16, 2012
Jim Romenesko has already claimed December 31st:
If you haven't read Matthew Purdy's story yet, it reports that Thompson authorized sending a letter which acknowledged that there were accusations of sexual abuse by BBC host Jimmy Savile. Purdy reports that there was a legal letter that the BBC sent to The Sunday Times that he authorized, which acknowledged the existence "allegations regarding the behavior of the late television and radio presenter, specifically that he took advantage of a series of young women" and that "some of the alleged assaults took place on BBC premises."
That's all stuff that Thompson says he didn't know about And Thompson isn't even talking to his own paper, though he might be speaking through an aide:
It’s not clear if he was shown it, but he doesn’t remember reading it,” said the aide, a personal adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity to give Mr. Thompson’s version of events. Mr. Thompson declined to comment.
Judging by Romenesko and Rosen's reactions, that denial isn't going to fly. And this story isn't doing Thompson any favors—he's already battled so much speculation about his future just to get to his first day (it was on Monday).
Signing off on paperwork really serious legal things for his previous company without reading things isn't something you want from a CEO, and that's the least serious concern with Thompson. The most serious concern—that Thompson knew about sex abuse and didn't do anything about it of course trumps all. But neither of those, we trust, is what The New York Times wants from their CEO.