Companies defend stratospheric pay for their leaders. : By Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jason Karaian, Sarah Kessler, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch, Ephrat Livni and David Gelles The Times’s David Gelles gives DealBook the backstory to his recent front-page article about rising C.E.O. pay during the pandemic. Companies battered by the pandemic are handing out enormous pay packages to their C.E.O.s, highlighting the sharp divides in a nation on the precipice of an economic boom, but still wracked by steep income inequality. Executive compensation has, of course, been soaring for decades now.