The New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane will leave his post on September 1, after completing his two-year contract, according to Erik Wemple of The Washington Post. Brisbane told Wemple that he made the decision last fall to serve two years and not exercise the third-year option in his contract and that the paper hadn’t asked him to either.
This is a change from when Brisbane’s hiring was announced in 2010 when the Times said he would serve for three years in the position, and was expected to tackle a wide variety of subjects.
Brisbane was supposed to be an independent voice at the paper and to look critically at the Times, but his recent subjects have stung the paper and may have led to his departure earlier than expected.
Last August he criticized the Business section’s reporting, which resulted in the Business editor calling Brisbane’s column “absurd and poorly reasoned.” He wondered how closely Brisbane actually read the paper.
Then in January, Brisbane wrote a column that made it appear that the Times would print anything but the truth, which upset liberals who felt that it opened the paper to even more criticism from conservatives for its liberal bias.
That drew a swift rebuke from executive editor Jill Abramson who said that they do seek the truth in a variety of ways.
Bu the straw that broke the camel’s back came in April when Brisbane admitted that the Times has a pro-Obama bias. He said that readers deserved to know “Who is the real Barack Obama?” and that the paper must prove it can address that question in an unbiased and hard-nosed fashion.
Brisbane’s predecessor, Clark Hoyt, was once quoted as saying that the job was like “being handed the equivalent of a loaded gun.” Brisbane may have fired one too many bulls-eyes to earn a third year at the paper.