News that New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet just purchased a $2.1 million home in a tony neighborhood near Los Angeles has renewed speculation about whether he might take over the top job at the LA Times.
Baquet is 64 years old and The New York Times has a mandatory retirement age of 65.
He was appointed the LA Times’ editor-in-chief in 2005, but left a year later after clashing with then owner Sam Zell, the private-equity mogul who took over LA Times parent The Tribune Co. and ultimately landed it in bankruptcy.
The position was reopened in December when Norm Pearlstine stepped down.
Of course, the Gray Lady also appears to be bending its mandatory retirement tradition for Baquet, saying he can leave anytime during the year in which he turns 65. That give him the job until his 66th birthday in September 2022, a year and eight months from now.
And not everyone thinks Baquet’s purchase indicates he’s gunning for a Second Act on the West Coast. “I wouldn’t read too much into it,” one insider said. “His son lives in Los Angeles, and it’s likely where he’ll settle eventually — but he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.”
But it wouldn’t be the first time LA Times owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong has courted Baquet for the top job.
Sources close to the situation say there was an attempt to lure Baquet in 2018, when Norm Pearlstine was advising Soon-Shiong after the health-care billionaire paid $500 million to buy the LA Times and the San Diego Union Tribune.
Baquet at the time rebuffed the overture to return to LA, where he had worked from 2000 to 2006.
Pearlstine ended up taking the job, but the search is back on after he announced his own retirement in October, stepping away from the daily paper in December.
The listing in the Larchmont/Hancock Park neighborhood sure sounds like a great place to watch the sun go down. According to the celebrity magazine OK!, which broke the news of the new home purchased through a trust with Baquet as the trustee, the listing describes a “front porch, set back on a fabulous tree lined street gated for privacy with ample room for al fresco dining.”
“Upon entry you’ll note a sunny living room with high ceilings and wood burning fireplace, that opens to a dining room ready for the holidays.”
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