With Howell Raines and Jayson Blair out of the picture, the New York Times has become a duller place in recent weeks: a Gray Lady, indeed. Now all the buzz is about a good guy — former Times managing editor Bill Keller, who is expected to take over the executive editorship, from which Raines was deposed last month, as early as next week — and not bad ones. How boring.
Instead of making up sources like Blair, or bullying people around like Raines, the most outrageous thing Keller has done is support the war in Iraq (with reservations) on the Op-Ed page.
Not quite the sensationalist stuff that was Raines’ bread-and-butter. Who will be Keller’s Bear Bryant, the Alabama football coach Raines was fond of quoting? George Kennan?
Grayer by the day
Considering the names being knocked around to serve as the new No. 2, replacing Gerald Boyd, there’s even less hope for sparks. The big “news” this week was that Boston Globe editor Martin Baron, another dirt-free mensch, was spotted in the Times building, bumping him past Jill Abramson, the Times’ Washington bureau chief, as the likeliest Keller lieutenant.
Slightly more scintillating, though described by staffers as a low-grade rumor, is that Adam Moss, the Times’ magazine editor — touted in New York magazine last year as the “handsome, young, glossy god” — could be the next second-in-command.
Moss could be the paper’s only hope for bringing some of the color (critics call it froth) back on A1 — something that has been noticeably absent under interim editor Joe Lelyveld’s (nope, only good things to say about him, too) tenure.
A glossy god isn’t quite a provocateur, but it’s a start.