Former NYT Executive Editor Allegedly Plagiarized Several Portions Of New Book

Sergio Cunningham
February 10, 2019

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson is facing allegations that she lifted material from other sources for her new book, "Merchants of Truth".

A Twitter thread posted Wednesday by Vice correspondent Michael C. Moynihan listed several examples of passages in Abramson's book that closely resembled the work of others. Moynihan highlighted language that bears a striking resemblance to passages written for other publications.

"I take seriously the issues raised and will review the passages in question", Abramson tweeted Wednesday night.

The book's publisher Simon & Schuster describes the book as "the definitive report on the disruption of the news media over the last decade", tracking the progress of The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and Vice over that period. Lots of them. The truth promised in "Merchants of Truth" was often not true.

In an email Thursday to The Associated Press, Jill Abramson wrote that some page numbers in sourcing notes needed to be fixed and some sources "should have been cited as quotations in the text".

When asked by MacCallum if there could've been an attribution or footnote issue in the book, the former Times editor replied: "No, I don't think this is an issue at all". Although Relapse discontinued, Frisch said in an interview Wednesday night his profile on Morton was accessible for a couple of years on his website before he took it down. The first head-scratching moment to emerge followed an interview with The Cut, in which Abramson revealed that she never recorded interviews as a reporter because she has "an nearly photographic memory".

Earlier Thursday, Ingram posted an article in response titled "I was plagiarized by Jill Abramson", referencing what Moynihan first uncovered. "Do I feel as though something has been stolen from me?"

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"I did have fact-checking, I did have assistants in research, and in some cases, the drafting of parts of the book".

In the lead-up to its February 5 publication, the book also weathered controversies related to alleged misquoting and erroneous information, particularly in its chapters about Vice News.

He said that he felt compelled to fact check the three chapters in the book about Vice because he found an "egregious error" about a colleague that Abramson admitted was wrong before correcting the mistake for the final publication.

"All of the ideas in the book are original, all the opinions are mine", she said.

Abramson's recently published "Merchants of Truth" includes passages lifted from different articles, according to Michael Moynihan, a Vice News reporter, and Ian Frisch, a writer. In 2011, she made history as the first woman to be the Times' executive editor, but was sacked three years later amid repeated clashes with colleagues.

The controversy could become a bit of a black eye for Abramson's current employer, Harvard University, which hired the former Times editor to teach creative writing.

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