Ex-New York Times editor Jill Abramson 'plagiarised' book on reporting truth

Erika Holt
February 10, 2019

Speaking on Fox, Abramson said that "there are 70 pages of footnotes showing where I got the information" and that some Vice employees may merely be upset that she wrote critically of the news outlet.

After initially standing by her new book completely following accusations of plagiarism, former New York Times editor Jill Abramson is now acknowledging that some passages of her book comes "too close" to the source material.

On Wednesday, Vice News Tonight correspondent Michael C. Moynihan revealed via Twitter several examples of apparent plagiarism in Merchants of Truth, comparing passages of the book to passages from publications such as The New Yorker and The Columbia Journalism Review. In a Twitter thread, Vice News reporter Michael Moynihan focused on three chapters Abramson wrote about Vice.

When asked 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". The book, called Merchants of Truth: Inside the News Revolution, attempts to detail how news media has changed over the last decade.

That's Jill Abramson talking about her new book "Merchants Of Truth" with our colleague Michel Martin.

In the book's acknowledgements, Abramson credits a journalist named John Stillman as her "research, reporting, writing, and editing assistant". It's a fair defense, although Vox pointed out that "it is unusual for major factual errors to linger this far into the book production process, only to be corrected later".

Earlier in the week, Abramson was on a press blitz for the book when she caused a kerfluffle of another sort.

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"I was quite surprised and when I read the paragraph in question", Weeks said, "it was pretty obvious that she had just copied and pasted my work". "I think they don't like the portrayal of Vice, although I think it's a very balanced portrayal".

Frisch also took to Twitter to say that Abramson appeared to plagiarize him at least seven times.

Two journalists accused Jill Abramson of copying previously published material and set out on Twitter more than a dozen passages from the book which repeated nearly word for word other sources without attribution.

"It has been published with an extraordinary degree of transparency toward its subjects; each of the four news organizations covered in the book was given ample time and opportunity to comment on the content, and where appropriate the author made changes and corrections", Goldstein said in the emailed statement.

Nicolle Weeks, the digital publisher for Rogers Media, says parts of her work for the Ryerson Review of Journalism were lifted nearly verbatim without attribution by Abramson.

Her previous works include "Strange Justice", a book about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that was co-written by Jane Mayer.

EW has reached out to publisher Simon & Schuster for comment.

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