Episode #34

Jill Abramson

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Monday, February 04, 2013


In this 2013 interview with Alec, the former New York Times executive editor talked about how she grew up in a family where the paper was so vaunted that two copies were delivered to her house. Some media critics have speculated that this interview may have been a factor in Abramson's dismissal.

Abramson was the first woman to hold the top editorial position at the paper. She told Alec that she took a “particular interest in the careers and work of many of the younger women at The Times and ... if anyone [had] a problem with that, too bad.”

READ | Interview Transcript

Hosted by:

Alec Baldwin

Produced by:

Emily Botein and Kathie Russo

Comments [45]

Julie from Playa del Rey, CA

Her voice isn't so bad, gads from the comments I thought it would be totally impossible. What she is actually saying however is interesting, great to get her take on some of these issues.
Thanks for the interview Alec, love you!

May. 22 2014 04:15 AM
Peter Engel from Brooklyn

I don't think her voice is that bad, but I'm from NYC.

May. 16 2014 01:35 PM
Gins from NYC

Yes Ginzberg from Inwood , that is her speaking "styyyllleee "...
It's not sexsim if not a single person takes the initiative to cultivate the females.
I realize that men are very (very) threatened by successful women, there are those who claim that is the reason that for centuries men have held women down.
But as a father of two sons, you must see how at every avenue of our culture, males dominate in number and/or salary/pay.
For ONCE, in the last 30 years we start to see women slowly and methodically make in-roads and insecure males scream "reverse-sexism" as you put it. I generally find the term "reverse-sexism" as you put it, very telling of the speaker's position on sexism in general.

May. 15 2014 05:42 PM

Younger woman....why just younger?

May. 15 2014 12:05 PM
Ginzberg from Inwood

Wow. That is a wild speaking styyyllleee ...

As a father of two teenaged sons (and husband of a successful doctor wife), I despair over the reverse sexism that my boys have encountered, and will continue to confront, in our schools and the workplace. It seems that there are some angry, powerful women out there who are looking to settle personal and cultural scores, regardless of how many innocent bystanders are injured.

May. 15 2014 12:00 PM
Harvey from Detroit suburbs

Meant Julie Harris.

Jul. 07 2013 08:27 AM
Harvey Heller from Detroit suburbs

Mr. Baldwin,
Let me start by saying we have been fans since Knots Landing when we were rooting for Rosemary Harris to push you off that building! Great evil. Just discovered your podcasts " Here's the Thing" and they are great. Thank you for great content from Michigan.

Jul. 06 2013 03:39 PM

No need to restate what has already been stated repeatedly and clearly. Ms. Abramson's voice patterns--including the most excessive creaky voice I've ever heard--render her unlistenable. A shame because it would be wonderful to have a woman possessing a strong, pleasant and authoritative voice in Jill's important position. She seems to be quite aware of her affectations but strangely unwilling to make any effort to change for the better.

May. 03 2013 10:04 AM
Colleen Johnson from Long Island, NY

This was an interesting interview, but her speaking style and voice made it hard to get through. She should see a speech & intonation coach.

Apr. 25 2013 11:13 AM
Christopher Springmann from San Francisco CA

As always, I read the listener comments and the transcript(a feature I love) first before listening, which I recommend. She's an accomplished journalist but a plodding interview.

The voice? It's a micro-accent and a pedantic speech pattern, culturally peculiar and unique. It's an acquired taste. In this case, reading works for me.

Apr. 25 2013 05:52 AM
Randall Broad from Seattle


I'm glad you're keeping 'busy' now that Rock concluded...I watched the 'getting coffee' episode on Seinfeld's Crackle recommendation is to incorporate more of your wit into this medium as well. This was like watching paint dry and I'm a big fan.

I also enjoyed your interview a while back with Gene've got the goods. But having someone in the other seat draw out a dull toned and dropped off 'correspondeennntttt' ... yikes.

Apr. 02 2013 07:26 PM
Rickey from McKinney, Texas

I've listened to many of these podcasts but could not get through this one. Why? That voice was grating.

I do love listening to Alec's interviews though and will champion on!

Apr. 02 2013 03:50 PM
Anne from Westport, CT

I was once a TA (Teaching Assistant) for an Econ class in college. One of the students -- a super-bright woman from the Midwest -- had a voice exactly Ms. Abramson's. Because we were in Cambridge, I tried to put away my Northeast biases but her voice was ex-cru-ciating. She was VERY smart and often participated in the discussions. Finally, I took her aside and said that based on a brilliant comment she had made earlier in the semester, she had fulfilled her participation quota. And therefore if she raised her hand the professor would not call on her.
She stopped talking; I felt awful, but I had to put her classmates' welfare over hers. Interestingly, she wanted to go into TV journalism. I hope someone has voice-coached her. Too smart to have such a grating speaking style...

Mar. 12 2013 04:36 AM
Rod Thorn

Okay, Alec you can talk the biz and wait your cue, BUT I have to say, and I usually am a more graphic kinda guy so, I'll take the edges off this one.
Listening to this woman is like being at a stuffy type party and you strike up a conversation with her standing in the less traveled part of the room. Then you find out why she is there and you listen, and listen and listen, then around 230 or 3 you say lets go you-know-what. She looks at you and realizes that any man who can listen to her till 230 in the morning has earned it.

Mar. 05 2013 12:23 AM

I did listen all the way through, and Jill Abramson was quite interesting.

However, I found it ironic that a person who is so gifted with the written word seems to be unaware of the existence of a period at the end of a spoken sentence.

Feb. 28 2013 02:28 PM
Julia Bates

I'm sorry, but I had to turn off this interview. I'm not being rude, I'm being candid: Jill Abramson's voice is like scratching a blackboard with your nails. How on earth can a person go through life and reach such a high position in her career without being aware of how she sounds???

Feb. 28 2013 12:34 PM
Eric from Brooklyn

Great interview. But. That. Voice.

Feb. 24 2013 08:01 AM
Matthew from United Kingdom

I found this really difficult - hoping for better next time!

Feb. 23 2013 05:32 AM
Robb from Canada

I had to stop listening after 10min. Some people just don't have a voice for radio, and Jill Abramson is one of those people. So grating.

Feb. 21 2013 06:10 PM
Michael Sherwood from Petaluma

This - Jill Abramson - interview killed my love affair with "Here's The Thing". I'm a doubter now. Before Ms. Abramson appeared, I always looked forward to the next interview with some excitement. No more.

Feb. 21 2013 02:43 AM
Nacho Man from Stockholm, Sweden

Great interview. Now I welcome an equally candid interview with Rupert Murdoch, though I'm not holding my breath. Nice work Alec.

Feb. 15 2013 07:00 AM
Amy Levy PR in LA from Los Angeles, CA

I adore you and the show. I especially loved the interviews with Billy Joel, Leonard Bernstein's kids and Michael Douglas. I follow many podcasts and this is my favorite because you really let us in on an intimate interview with someone the listener can tell interests YOU. In turn, we find it interesting. Huge fan for many years, sorry 30 Rock ended.

Feb. 14 2013 04:20 PM
Jeff Novak from Nitro, W.Va.

Anyone looking for a way to test for masochism need look no further. If your subject willingly listens to this interview in its entirety, he's a 10.

Feb. 14 2013 01:50 AM
Jamie NYC from NYC

As much as I enjoyed the Lena Duhnam interview I disliked Jill Abramson's interview. Nothing worse that someone who can't stop talking - I turned this one off after 5 minutes.

Feb. 13 2013 04:34 PM
Daisyznite from Nyc

I will start to listen to this program for sure. Alec is truly one of those intelligent people w a flexible mind and a good dose of humor. He's ingenious if he chooses to be good. Had a lot of issue w Abramson's manner of speech. Understand her very well however she does not inspire instead she tears up my patience. Lets just hope she has a sharper mind and is better on paper.

Feb. 13 2013 01:14 AM
clive betters

i can't punctuate or spell very well either,oh "church of the obvious,steeped in pettiness". why not examine and question what i say,instead of going there. if this were youtube,i might use other language to tell you what i think of you. it seems as if women mostly, have a penchant for doing this. apparently it's true, that many women get fixated on the vulgar details[of holy high grammar],and miss the forrest for the trees. why not look in a mirror and think about what your need to tell me something i already know,says about you. you sound about as much fun, as most of the other anal retentives that call up when patricia is on leonard. comma splice that....!!

Feb. 12 2013 07:01 AM
Maggie from Tempe

Clive! Get thee to an editor ... if not a grammarian.

Feb. 10 2013 07:37 PM
clive betters

i'm always wary of those that refer to themselves as "political junkies". more often than not,i think there is a sort of tunnel visioned myopia, that often comes along for the ride,with this way of engaging the world. the larger context of issues,are not infrequently missed by being so fixated on the moment to moment facts,thus missing the broader scope of a given topic.

Feb. 10 2013 04:10 AM
Miss JFT from LI, NY

Enjoyable listening to Jill Abramson's interview. Thank you for sharing.

Feb. 09 2013 06:23 PM
Christina Stevenson

You guys! Her voice isn't that bad! I was expecting something nasally or high-pitched or something. Her voice is confident, quiet and she perhaps is a little cautious about her choice of words. I'm guessing what's most annoying is the way she stretches out the end of her words? Yeah, but it's not unbearable.

Feb. 09 2013 05:11 PM
Sweet Mama

Love this podcast and look forward to each one. I could not get through this interview because Ms. Abramson's speech cadence is the wierdest thing I have ever heard. It was so distracting, I simply couldn't solider through what I have to believe was a fascinating conversation. It is hard to believe that a woman of her power and stature has not been coached on her voice.

Feb. 09 2013 04:43 PM
D.Cal from London

Have to admit and agree: I couldn't listen more than 5 minutes.

Feb. 09 2013 06:09 AM
Valentin Springsklee from Germany

Dear Mr. Baldwin,

my sister and I enjoy your podcast a lot! We are 16 and 19 years old and like that your guest list features famous figures with a politcal or creative (and often both) career.
Like many people our age we love Family Guy and other work of Seth MacFarlane. Having watched several interviews with him, we find that he is a very interesting, likeable and fascinating person and with his career he would go along great with the selection of your guests. Therefore, we think an episode of Here's the Thing with Mr. MacFarlane would be very enlightening. If you could arrange to meet with him we would very much appreciate it.

Sincerly yours,

Pia and Valentin Springsklee

Feb. 08 2013 01:01 PM
Dora Rosen from Long Island

I'm sure she's a smart woman, so how is it possible that she lacks the self- awareness to know how irritating she sounds? That voice...pure torture! She's a caricature. I kept thinking I was trapped in an SNL skit!

Feb. 08 2013 11:59 AM
happy listener from canada

i love alec's show... i've heard every episode and cannot get enough.... while i respect, love and enjoy the Times, i was unable to get through the entire show based on Jill's voice and speech patterns, someone who holds such a tremendously important job should be self aware enough to try and correct that.

Feb. 08 2013 10:19 AM
George Myers from The Bronx, NY

I enjoyed the interview. I was reminded of events and facts of the past that inform the present. It was reassuring to share what we've come through with the press, threatening, in my opinion, the "freedom of the press". There is a "shrine" to that freedom resulting from the opinion of an election held on "the green" now in front of St. Paul's Church just over the city-line in Westchester County. The owner of the only other printing press in the colony, John Peter Zenger, and who arrived on Governors Island at the age of 10 from the German Palatine, could not be held prisoner or liable for providing the press that published an opinion not held by the "official press". A small monument to his arrival I once saw there. The New York Times is a standard-bearer of reporting and opinion and Ms. Abramson appears to be an informed editor. May it always be so.

Feb. 08 2013 01:04 AM

Some great validating comments about Jill's voice, and her stances on hiring women etc. I couldn't listen to it in it's entirety. It really was too painful. I want to know what the process of deciding to go ahead with this interview was like. A voice over..pretending she didn't speak English, or had laryngitis, or whatever would have served so many, so much more.

Feb. 07 2013 10:16 AM
Jeff Rollins from Pensacola

My God, that voice could peel paint off a wall! I had to bolt after 5 minutes.

Feb. 06 2013 02:58 PM

Making a case for more women on staff while begging senior editors to take voluntary retirement must cause howling over on 8th Avenue. Our bloodhound actor/host prefers to avoid the messy details of what's wrong and opts to pet her golden retriever instead. I thought public radio had some obligation to the community...or something.

Feb. 05 2013 09:02 PM

Curiously Abramson uses the words conservative, very conservative and extreme conservative to describe her old employer--as if each of those means exactly what the other means. Does this mean that Abramson was neither of these and STILL they let her loose to write articles on their behalf? Might that also make the case that the Wall Street Journal was nowhere near as she describes it? The actor-host is more interested in massage so we'll have to hazard a guess that there was a firewall between the newsroom and editorial.

Feb. 05 2013 05:27 PM
Neil from Austin

I started listening to Jill Abramson, but found her speech mannerisms too distracting.

Feb. 05 2013 03:19 PM
M. B. Sven from Chicago

Wow. I wish I could get through this but I just can't. Her voice.... just.... ouch.

Feb. 05 2013 11:44 AM
Emily Cherin from Durham, NH

Oh my god! How did you make it through your Jill Abramson interview? Her voice is like being injected with a lethal poison! Did you freak? Your a strong strong man. It's killing me!

Feb. 05 2013 10:25 AM
Barbara Hoffmann from Millrift, PA

Absolutely love your interviews. Never liked her, but I have gotten over it, I think.

Feb. 04 2013 04:08 PM
Steve Dunbar from Wyoming

More of a general comment though it bears on this conversation.

Please keep it up Mr. Baldwin. Living in Wyoming, I listen to each show as it is posted to iTunes and appreciate the exposure it gives me to a world I don't often get to see or hear about. I sometimes can't relate to your guests or disagree with them, but I appreciate the chance to get to hear their perspective. My world is a bigger place because of your work, thanks.

As for Ms. Abramson, I was disheartened by her sexists comments regarding hiring more women. Talk like "get over it" if others can't handle her preferences do nobody any good.

Feb. 04 2013 02:25 PM

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