Here’s what the Times public editor had to say about it.
Thanks. Here are some relevant excerpts from her column:
As has been noted elsewhere, there’s no question that The Times made a big pitch to keep him and that the effort to do so involved those at the highest levels, including Jill Abramson, the executive editor, along with people on the business side. And there’s no doubt that decision-makers are disappointed.
The Times tried very hard to give him a lot of editorial help and a great platform. It bent over backward to do so, and this, too, disturbed some staff members. It was about to devote a significant number of staff positions to beefing up his presence into its own mini-department.
I suspect that this question of feeling at home in the Times culture was a relatively small factor. The deciding elements more likely were money, a broader variety of platforms and the opportunity to concentrate on sports and entertainment, as well as politics. It all added up to a better package – a better fit — at ESPN, and last week he told The Times of his plans.
I don’t think you can conclude from that that “it’s clear that he was driven away by a somewhat hostile environment.” She seems to be saying just the opposite: there were some malcontents, but that’s not what caused his decision.