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Hot topic: Gloria Steinem weighs in on firing of Jill Abramson, calls it a 'double standard'

Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times, gives the commencement address May 19 at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. Reuters

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem weighed in on the controversial firing of New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, calling the situation a "double standard."

Steinem took part in a roundtable discussion on Women's Media Center's weekly radio show WMC Live with Robin Morgan. When asked about comments decrying Abramson as "difficult" or "brusque," Steinem was quick to point out that male editors of the Times were even more demanding than Abramson.

"It's obvious that it's a double standard, a huge, huge double standard," Steinem, who is also a co-founder of the WMC, said. "I mean, we have all known editors of newspapers, and especially the New York Times, I'm thinking of Abe Rosenthal, who was so difficult that he was legendary. So, there's clearly a double standard."

"I think what the New York Times doesn't realize is there is also a different kind of double standard in the sense that people expect better behavior from them," Steinem continued. "So they are going to engender much more anger and outrage and disappointment than, say, a network or some other journalistic body might."

Earlier in the show, host Robin Morgan outlined the history of the Times and their relationship with women, beginning with owner Arthur Ochs banning women in the newsroom in the 19th century to a sex discrimination lawsuit against the paper in the 1970s, an incident that Steinem expanded upon.

"I think the New York Times has always been extraordinarily hypersensitive," Steinem said. "When the women sued the New York Times for sex discrimination in the '70s, the Sulzberger of the era tried to get their lawyer fired from Columbia Law School for being their lawyer."

Steinem went further, calling the newspaper's overall character into question over their handling of the Abramson controversy.

"It's not a problem of a woman who's being too critical, it's the problem of a newspaper that is absolutely incapable of taking criticism."