TORONTO — The New York Review of Books has amended a personal essay by disgraced former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi to acknowledge the “serious nature” of the allegations against him, shortly after the editor who oversaw the piece parted ways with the publication.
A publicist confirmed Wednesday that Ian Buruma, who was appointed as the top editor at the New York Review of Books in late 2017, no longer works for the publication.
Hours after the news broke, the magazine added an editorial note responding to the nearly weeklong controversy over the piece, which sparked online backlash from those who argued Ghomeshi shouldn’t have been given such a prestigious platform.
The circumstances of Buruma’s departure are unclear. The magazine declined further comment.
Ghomeshi was acquitted in March 2016 of four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking involving three complainants. In May 2016, he apologized to a fourth complainant and signed a peace bond that saw another count of sexual assault withdrawn.
In the essay, titled “Reflections from a Hashtag” and published online Friday, Ghomeshi opines about his post-trial life as a “poster boy” for bad male behaviour. He expressed remorse about the way he once treated people in his life, but continued to dispute the accusations against him.
Critics swiftly denounced the piece as a self-serving bid for public rehabilitation. They said Ghomeshi’s account downplayed the severity of the scandal, and questioned whether the piece had been properly fact-checked.
On Wednesday, the magazine added an editorial note clarifying several details about the allegations against Ghomeshi, how they emerged and the legal proceedings that followed.
“The following article, which has provoked much criticism, should have included acknowledgment of the serious nature and number of allegations that had been made against the writer,” the note reads, adding that “substantial space” will be devoted to letters responding to the piece in the magazine’s next issue.
Shortly after the essay was first posted Friday, Buruma defended his editorial judgement in an interview with the online publication Slate, saying Ghomeshi provided an “angle on an issue that is clearly very important and that I felt had not been exposed very much.”
Buruma said he was not in a position to know the exact nature of Ghomeshi’s alleged actions, nor was it really his “concern,” given that he was acquitted in court.
“All I know is that he was acquitted and he is now subject to public opprobrium and is a sort of persona non grata in consequence,” he told the Slate interviewer.
“The interest in the article for me is what it feels like in that position and what we should think about.”
Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press