Reporters call out Jill Abramson's book, claiming it contains factually inaccurate statements, uncredited reporting, and plagiarism
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- Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson is facing a string of accusations related to her new book, "Merchants of Truth," which was released this week.
- According to the publisher, the book follows "The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, and VICE Media over a decade of disruption and radical adjustment."
- But the book is already facing controversy.
- In a Twitter thread posted Wednesday night, VICE New Tonight correspondent, Michael Moynihan, alleged that Abramson's book contains factual errors and plagiarism - of which he shares several examples.
Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of The New York Times, is facing a string of accusations related to her new book, "Merchants of Truth," which was released this week.According to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, the book follows "The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, and VICE Media over a decade of disruption and radical adjustment," and it focuses on the current state of media through the lens of two legacy newspapers and two major digital journalism outlets.Advertisement
But the book is already facing controversy.
In a Twitter thread posted Wednesday night, VICE New Tonight correspondent, Michael Moynihan, alleged that Abramson's book contains factual errors and plagiarism - of which he shares several examples.INSIDER has not independently verified these claims.
Brooklyn-based writer Ian Frisch also noted instances where the book reportedly uses his reporting from a profile he wrote in 2014, some of which he says was not properly credited.Frisch told INSIDER that he first became aware of potential issues after Moynihan's Twitter thread; he was aware that a previous profile subject, VICE's Thomas Morton, was featured in Abramson's book and after checking Google books found that while some of his 2014 reporting was credited in endnotes. Other passages were not.Frisch says he has not been contacted by Simon & Schuster or Abramson, and he has not reached out to them. He doesn't want to be the focal point of this story, but hopes there will be a "larger conversation" about journalism and "the processes of journalism, verification, and attribution."Advertisement
Abramson, who appeared on Fox News on Wednesday, responded to the charges.
"All I can tell you is, I certainly did not plagiarize in my book," Abramson said."And you know there are 70 pages of footnotes showing where I got the information."Advertisement
She also responded to the claims via Twitter, hinting that the "attacks" from VICE were due to unhappiness with the organization's portrayal. She also addressed the claims of misrepresentation.
"I endeavored to accurately and properly give attribution to the hundreds of sources that were part of my research," Abramson wrote."I take seriously the issues raised and will review the passages in question," she continued.Advertisement
This week, Abramson was also scrutinized over her practice of not using a tape recorder, which she explained in an interview with The Cut's Anna Silman.
"I do not record. I've never recorded," she said. "I'm a very fast note-taker. When someone kind of says the 'it' thing that I have really wanted, I don't start scribbling right away. I have an almost photographic memory and so I wait a beat or two while they're onto something else, and then I write down the previous thing they said. Because you don't want your subject to get nervous about what they just said."In a statement, Simon & Schuster said the book is "an important, exhaustively researched and meticulously sourced book about the media business in a critical moment of transition." The publisher said all news organizations were given time to comment.Advertisement
"If upon further examination changes or attributions are deemed necessary we stand ready to work with the author to make those revisions," the publisher said.Simon & Schuster did not immediately respond to INSIDER's request for comment.
*All three* chapters on Vice were clotted with mistakes. Lots of them. 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.- Michael C Moynihan (@mcmoynihan) February 6, 2019
The following examples from the final book-not the galley-are only from the Vice chapters (I didn't check the others). So let's begin...Here is Abramson on Gavin McInnes (whom she interviewed) and the Ryerson Review of Journalism https://t.co/hx0XcyZ89k pic.twitter.com/qroN59gyVk- Michael C Moynihan (@mcmoynihan) February 6, 2019
There's lesser stuff too; still problematic. At various points in Merchants of Truth, rather than toil in the archives, reading old issues of the magazine or watching old Vice videos, Abramson liberally borrows from those who have: https://t.co/Ux6gdDO9Qg pic.twitter.com/mEvufhFJ3J- Michael C Moynihan (@mcmoynihan) February 6, 2019
First, some background: I ran my own magazine from 2011 to 2014, because there were no jobs and I need to write and try to progress. I ran Relapse Magazine literally out of my bedroom. I worked nights at a hotel to fund it. I wrote a profile of Thomas Morton in 2014.- Ian Frisch (@IanFrisch) February 7, 2019
Here is @JillAbramson's response to @mcmoynihan's tweets regarding plagiarized passages in her book from FNC's "The Story with Martha McCallum" (cc @mattwelch @anthonyLfisher @kmele @brianstelter @greggutfeld) pic.twitter.com/dpGNGrW0sy- Andrew Wimsatt (@ajwimsatt) February 7, 2019
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