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July 20, 2019

Former New York Times boss Jill Abramson accused of stealing material for her book

February 7, 2019
Jill Abramson, former executive editor at the New York Times waves after speaking during commencement ceremonies for Wake Forest University on May 19, 2014 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. (Chris Keane / Getty Images)

Former New York Times editor Jill Abramson is being accused of plagiarizing material for her new tome, which is largely about ethics in journalism.

The allegations were made Wednesday by Vice reporter Michael C. Moynihan, whose media organization is one of those analyzed by Abramson in “Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts.” The book also examines the inner workings of the Times, where Abrams served from 2011 to 2014 as the paper’s first female executive editor.


“All three* chapters on Vice were clotted with mistakes. Lots of them,” Moynihan tweeted. “The truth promised in Merchants of Truth was often not true. While trying to corroborate certain claims, I noticed that it also contained…plagiarized passages.”

He then posted several excerpts that he claimed Abramson lifted, alongside the source material from which Moynihan seemingly borrowed words and ideas. The pieces Abramson posted online — which very much appear to mirror excerpts he claimed were from Abramson’s book — ran in publications including the New Yorker, Time Out and the Columbia Journalism Review.

One seemingly egregious example cites a paragraph about Vice founder Gavin McInnes published in the Ryerson Review of Journalism followed by Abramson’s version of events.

“In August 2003, McInnes wrote a column in the American Conservative, a magazine run by Pat Buchanan in the magazine he called young people a bunch of knee-jerk liberals, (a phrase McInnes and cronies use often) who’ll believe anyone with dark skin over anyone with light skin,” Ryerson published.

Abramson summed that thought up in a very similar fashion.

“He wrote a column in the American Conservative, a magazine run by Pat Buchanan, calling young people a bunch of knee-jerk liberals (a phrase McInnes and his ilk often used) who wold believe anyone with dark skin over anyone with light skin,” she wrote.

Following Moynihan’s charges, Abramson responded on Twitter that she took painstaking measures to properly attribute her research. She added, “I take seriously the issues raised and will review the passages in question.”

She also pleaded her case to Fox News Wednesday.

“I certainly didn’t plagiarize in my book and there’s 70 pages of footnotes showing where I got the information,” she said.

Last month, Abramson found herself at odds with President Trump, who was under the impression her new book criticized the way the Times covered him.

“Ms. Abramson is 100% correct. Horrible and totally dishonest reporting on almost everything they write. Hence the term Fake News, Enemy of the People, and Opposition Party!” Trump ranted on Twitter.

Abramson tweeted back at Trump to set the record straight.

“Anyone who reads my book, ‘Merchants of Truth,’ will find I revere @nytimes and praise its tough coverage of you,” she wrote.

Abramson was fired by the Times for clashing with fellow staffers in 2014, according to NBC News. She teaches creative writing at Harvard.


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