- Former executive editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson has responded to allegations that her new book “Merchants of Truth” contains factual errors and plagiarized text.
- “In several of these cases, the language is too close for comfort, and should have been specifically cited in the footnotes correctly,” Abramson told NPR’s Michelle Martin. “Or put in quotations in the book.”
- The charges that some passages in the book strongly resembled the language of other publications were first raised on Wednesday night by VICE journalist Michael Moynihan.
Former executive editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson, responded to allegations that her new book “Merchants of Truth” contains factual errors and plagiarized text.
“In several of these cases, the language is too close for comfort, and should have been specifically cited in the footnotes correctly,” Abramson told NPR’s Michelle Martin. “Or put in quotations in the book.”
“The problem here is that though I did cite these publications and try to credit everybody perfectly, I fell short,” she continued in the interview.
The charges that some passages in the book strongly resembled the language of other publications were first raised on Wednesday night by VICE journalist Michael Moynihan.
“In the cases that Michael Moynihan cited, there isn’t the correct page number for the credited citation,” Abramson told NPR.
VICE is one of the four publications featured in “Merchants of Truth,” which is a book that examines the changing media landscape through the lens of The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, and VICE.
In a series of tweets, Moynihan singled out multiple passages where the language in Abramson’s book nearly mirrored that of other publications. Moynihan also states on Twitter that the sections on VICE were “clotted with mistakes.”
INSIDER has not independently verified these instances; we contacted Moynihan for comment.
On Thursday, VICE News journalist Mimi Dwyer, however, tweeted that they couldn’t find citations for several of the instances Moynihan pointed out in his tweets.
Abramson says the people @mcmoynihan found are cited in her book, just in the wrong places. Checking again, but @robferdman and I don't see citations for 3 of the 5 anywhere in the Vice notes. No Ryerson Review, no Time Out, no Ingram/CJR. ???? https://t.co/ql6yL9wJqT. pic.twitter.com/vWAsQ43hBY
— Mimi Dwyer (@dvdwyer) February 7, 2019
Moynihan took issue with Abramson’s response that some of the citations were misplaced.
Unbelievable. This is just a flat-out lie. Also, you can *have correct citations* and still be a plagiarist https://t.co/Zba6Z3zxJc
— Michael C Moynihan (@mcmoynihan) February 7, 2019
Her initial defence on Twitter, Abramson points to the critical portrayal of VICE in the book. “The attacks on my book from some @vicenews reflect their unhappiness with what I consider a balanced portrayal,” she tweeted Wednesday night.
A statement from the book’s publisher Simon & Schuster stated that all of the publications were given “opportunity to comment on the content, and where appropriate the author made changes and corrections.”
The publisher called the work “an important, exhaustively researched and meticulously sourced book about the media business in a critical moment of transition.”
Simon & Schuster did concede that they would make changes “upon further examination if deemed necessary.”
We also reached out to the Simon & Schuster for further details but had not heard back by the time this story was filed.
Moynihan is not alone in raising issues with the book. Prior to its publication at least one subject pointed out inaccuracies in the galley, which was fixed.
CNN’s Oliver Darcy tweeted out two additional instances where language appears to be cribbed from other sources – one case had an end note, the other did not.
Jill Abramson says she will update her book following allegations of plagiarism. We found two additional examples where she appears to have lifted the work of others. https://t.co/UPEBxWIsg7 pic.twitter.com/NHxQrKYE37
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) February 8, 2019
On Wednesday evening, Brooklyn-based freelance writer Ian Frisch tweeted that Abramson’s book had used quotations from a 2014 profile he had written about VICE’s Thomas Morton – some of which were not properly cited.
INSIDER spoke with Frisch on Wednesday night. He explained that he found the instances of uncredited reporting by doing a search on Google books.
“I guess I would rather have this be steered towards the larger conversation about the foundations of journalism,” Frisch told INSIDER, “and what constitutes an ethical reporting process, an ethical writing process, editing, crediting, the whole nine yards.”
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