Former executive editor of the New York Times Jill Abramson defended herself in an interview with Fox News’ Martha McCallum just an hour after accusations of plagiarism in her new book “Merchants of Truth” emerged.
“All I can tell you is I certainly didn’t plagiarize in my book,” Abramson said, though she admitted she had not read through the details of the allegations. She added that there are almost 70 pages of footnotes explaining where she got her information. McCallum asked Abramson if it was a “footnote issue,” but Abramson replied, “No. I don’t think it’s an issue at all.”
In a Twitter thread Wednesday, Vice News correspondent Michael C. Moynihan posted images comparing passages from Abramson’s book to numerous other publications and even a master’s thesis. “Masters of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts” charts the changes that have occurred in journalistic standards and media technology in the 21st century through the lenses of four news organizations — Vice News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and BuzzFeed. It hit shelves in February.
Moynihan stated that his six examples came only from “Merchants of Truth’s” chapters on Vice. Many of the passages show Abramson’s book lifting identical sentences from sources, while others show slightly rearranged phrasing or substituted words.
Moynihan also added that the passages on Vice were “clotted with mistakes”; Abramson acknowledged in the Fox News interview that some Vice employees were upset by the book.
Writer Ian Frisch posted a thread to Twitter stating that Abramson also plagiarized him “at least seven times” — later amended to six — in “Merchants of Truth,” using a 2014 profile on Thomas Morton he wrote for his own venture, Relapse Magazine.
“I’m just…I don’t know. Devastated?” he wrote. “This is just crazy. I’m just showing these screenshots so people know. I have articles to write and a book coming out in three weeks, so I have bigger s– to worry about. But shame on you, Jill. Shame on you.”
He added that the plagiarized profile was only available on his personal website.
Reporters and journalists expressed disappointment at the accusations.
“The evidence compiled by Michael is overwhelming,” wrote the Washington Post’s Amy Brittain, “and he only fact-checked three chapters. There is absolutely no excuse for this.”
Abramson has also attracted attention in recent days for stating in The Cut that she doesn’t record interviews.
“I do not record,” she explained in a How I Get It Done profile. “I’ve never recorded. 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.”
Abramson assumed the role of executive editor of the Times in September 2011 after starting at the paper in 1997. She was fired in May 2014.
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