At an otherwise straightforward discussion of arts journalism on March 12 at Christie's, the NYT's culture editor Sam Sifton offered a disturbingly glib short-hand comparison of his staff to four-legged creatures under his firm control.
"We have reporters and we have critics," Sifton explained. "Think of them as work horses and show ponies. You can put reporters in saddle and get them to do everything. With the critics, you offer them sugar cubes and some ribbons."
The audience tittered, and moderator Sree Sreenivasan -- the affable new-media guru at the Columbia Journalism School -- took note of the gaffe.
"Do you have to go back to the office tomorrow?" Sreenivasan asked.
Sifton could not be deterred from his animal analogy. "They know it's true," he insisted.
It could not be learned what Robin Pogrebin's reaction was to the news that Manohla Dargis was receiving regular rations of sugar cubes, while she continued to subsist on Sifton's diet of water and hay.