On Tuesday, the New York Times named Joseph Kahn as its new executive editor, prompting New York Magazine to publish a glowing profile of the new Gray Lady boss, which included a widely mocked photo of the new boss “relaxing” on the floor.
Kahn was promoted from managing editor to executive editor, succeeding Dean Baquet, who will step down in June. New York Magazine was prepared for the big reveal, publishing a lengthy profile on Kahn that was quickly mocked on social media due to the odd photo.
Many people noticed the accompanying photograph after Fox News contributor Byron York shared a link to the story. “There hasn’t been enough cringe produced in all of human history to properly react to this,” author Jim Hanson said in response to a photo of Kahn sprawled out on the floor, barefoot, leaning back with an open newspaper next to him.
“I, too,’relax with the paper’ while sitting uncomfortably on the floor right next to my desk and chaise,” one critic joked, referring to Kahn’s “relaxing with the paper” photo caption.
Many people compared the photo to the infamous image of “Seinfeld” character George Costanza posing shirtless on a fainting couch, wearing only socks and underwear in an attempt to appear alluring. Author Derek Hunter joked, “He’s one glass of red wine away from being George Costanza.”
Mark Hemingway, a senior writer at RealClearInvestigations, joked, “Draw me like one of your French girls.”
“This is not a serious person,” journalist Libby Emmons observed, and journalist Mairead Elordi inquired, “What was the goal here?”
The photo has gotten the most attention, but reporter Shawn McCreesh’s profile, which called the Times’ top editor job “journalism’s Iron Throne,” also shines a light on the “fabulously wealthy” new Gray Lady leader.
“He is the ultimate inside man,” McCreesh wrote, “so sturdy, disciplined, and reverent to the Times’ mission that the very notion of him self-destructing seems improbable.”
“Kahn had led me into the elevator, down the corridor lined with photographs of the paper’s Pulitzer Prize winners, and into this room adorned with black-and-white photographs of the old printing press.” The Times had never been bigger, but the place was desolate. It’s hard to call it a newspaper any longer. The company employs 5,000 people full-time and creates documentaries, podcasts, newsletters, and cooking apps.”
After that, McCreesh referred to Kahn as a “fabulously wealthy Bostonian” with a “reputation for adroitness and overachieving” and a “privileged upbringing.”
His father was a co-founder of the office-supply retailer Staples, which has long been a source of quiet gossip at the New York Times. He has a second home in upstate New York. He would zoom in from there during the pandemic, and reporters couldn’t help but notice its modernist opulence. Marlon Brando is said to have once lived in the apartment building where he now lives on lower Fifth Avenue. He and his wife, Shannon, a former World Bank employee, send their two sons to a private school in the city,” McCreesh wrote, before insisting that Kahn isn’t “flashy.”
“However, he has a taste for the finer things in life. He’s a regular at the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night. “He is an oenophile with a special fondness for Burgundy and is a member of a wine consortium that includes billionaire Joseph Bae,” McCreesh added before diving into a detailed account of Kahn’s journey from Harvard to his current role.