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When Engelberg quit the Times to become managing editor for investigations at the Portland-based Oregonian last spring, he cited personal reasons. But last year, Raines's deputies are said to have pressured Engelberg for better September 11 reporting and berated him for stories the Times missed. One source says the editor was "beaten down to a pulp." Another says Engelberg wanted more control and impact and knew he wasn't going to get it. Engelberg declined to comment.
When Engelberg left, it was rumored that Raines would not fill the position. But at some point, Raines apparently realized that his legacy would be incomplete without an investigative editor. He first approached reporter Matthew Purdy, and then began courting Marilyn Thompson, who is assistant managing editor for investigations at The Washington Post. Thompson, a former Daily News reporter with years of editing experience, is now on leave, writing a book on the anthrax attacks for HarperCollins. For Raines, who like Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. supports diversity in the newsroom, it would have been a coup to hire a woman for such a prominent positionnot to mention one from the Post.
Thompson said she was approached last spring and had "one discussion with Howell," but never received a formal offer. Asked why she didn't jump at the chance, she said she has a "dream job" and the Post has "made it clear to me repeatedly that my contributions are highly valued." She called Frantz "an enormous talent."
Also last spring, sources said, Raines asked Times D.C. bureau chief Jill Abramson to come to New York to be assistant managing editor for investigations. But Abramson has complained about Raines's brusque management style, according to The New Yorker, and she was reluctant to uproot her family to New York. Insiders said Raines has merely delayed his master plan, predicting that Abramson will likely be transferred next year, whereupon chief Washington correspondent Patrick Tyler will take over as D.C. bureau chief. Abramson and Purdy did not return calls. A call to Times managing editor Gerald Boyd was immediately transferred to a Times spokesperson, and top editors subsequently declined to respond to a detailed request for comment.
While outsiders mull over the meaning of Frantz's appointment, Times insiders are concerned with more practical issues. Will Frantz concentrate on national and foreign stories, or will he also control investigative projects launched by the D.C., Metro, and Business desks? And by the way, who wants to go to Istanbul?