James Bennet, Atlantic Editor, Pushes Back Against New York Times Courting Rumors

Nighttime view of the New York Times Building (at 620 Eighth Avenue), New York, New York, January 21, 2013. (Photo by Oliver
Nighttime view of the New York Times Building (at 620 Eighth Avenue), New York, New York, January 21, 2013. (Photo by Oliver Morris/Getty Images)

NEW YORK -- New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson recently met with Atlantic Editor-in-Chief James Bennet and discussed the possibility of him returning to the paper he worked at for 15 years, according to sources familiar with the matter.

While the Times didn't formally offer Bennet a job, several sources told The Huffington Post that Abramson gauged his interest about coming back in some capacity.

News of Abramson's meeting with Bennet follows a much-discussed Tuesday night Politico story on "turbulence" atop the paper's masthead and Abramson's reported dissatisfaction with the paper's coverage not being "buzzy" enough.

Bennet told The Huffington Post that he'd rather be left "out of one of these toxic Times gossip stories," but confirmed meeting with Abramson.

"You and your sources have me: I met with Jill! Who is an old friend, and a brilliant editor," Bennet said in an email. "I hope someday to meet with her again. And I have met at times with other people at the NYT, as I meet with people in media all the time who are serious, like us, about doing and sustaining great journalism. It's useful to compare notes. But they didn't, and they haven't, offered me any job. And now I'm going to get back to doing the job that I love."

There’s been speculation in the Times newsroom that Abramson is unhappy with Editor-in-Chief Hugo Lindgren’s stewardship of the magazine and could make a change. Bennet, who was a highly regarded Times magazine writer during his stint at the paper, likely would have been a contender for the job a few years back, but it was believed he was not interested in leaving the Atlantic. Abramson's predecessor, Bill Keller, hired Lindgren in September 2010 after a several month search.

The Huffington Post asked Abramson if she had talked with Bennet about taking over the Times magazine. “That is false,” Abramson responded in an email. Abramson did not respond to further questions about whether she spoke to Bennet about returning in another capacity.