Jill Abramson Admits Errors in Book After Plagiarism Accusations

“Any clarifications or corrections made will be updated in future editions,” publisher Simon & Schuster tells TheWrap

Last Updated: February 7, 2019 @ 2:49 PM

Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of The New York Times, promised Thursday to correct sourcing errors in her new book about journalism, “Merchants of Truth” after a Vice reporter used Twitter to detail accusations of plagiarism.

In an email to The Associated Press, Abramson acknowledged that some page numbers in sourcing were inaccurate and “should have been cited as quotations in the text.”

“I was up all night going through my book because I take these claims of plagiarism so seriously,” Abrams wrote in the email. “In writing Merchants of Truth, I tried above all to accurately and properly give attribution to the many hundreds of sources that were part of my research.”

Abramson’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, told TheWrap that, “Any clarifications or corrections made will be updated in future editions.”

On Wednesday, Vice News Tonight correspondent Michael Moynihan accused Abramson of plagiarizing passages for her new book about journalism and tweeted what he said was proof.

“I wouldn’t want even a misplaced comma so I will promptly fix these footnotes and quotations as I have corrected other material that Vice contested,” Abramson said, adding that, “The book is over 500 pages. All of the ideas in the book are original, all the opinions are mine. The passages in question involve facts that should have been perfectly cited in my footnotes and weren’t.”

Abramson went on Fox News Wednesday evening, saying she did not plagiarize any of the writing, insisting that her book includes more than 70 pages of endnotes.

Moynihan’s Twitter thread accused her of “enormous factual errors, other cribbed passages [and] single or unsourced claims.” He said he had focused his plagiarism investigation on the section about Vice.

A check of the Kindle edition of the book by TheWrap found that she repeatedly failed to credit the sources that Moynihan accused her of plagiarizing:

-Moynihan said a passage of Abramson’s book about Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes’ authorship of a column in The American Conservative closely resembles a passage in a Ryerson Review of Journalism article called “Bigot or Champion of Truth.” TheWrap’s review found that Abramson does not credit the article in her notes or mention it anywhere in her book.

-A passage about former Vice News editor Jason Mojica’s background is similar to a Time Out article called “Vice Cop.” Again, Abramson does not credit the Time Out story or mention it anywhere in her book.

-For a section on Vice Fashion, and Vice’s “The Racist Issue,” Moynihan accuses Abramson of drawing on a master’s thesis by Ryan Bigge and a New Yorker story. Abramson does cite both Bigge and the New Yorker in her notes — but not does not give them credit for the section about “The Racist Issue.”

-Moynihan also accuses Abramson of lifting details about millionaire Richard Szalwinski from the New Yorker article. TheWrap’s review found again that Abramson did not credit the article in reference to Szalwinski.

Cary Goldstein, vice president and executive director of publicity for Simon & Schuster told TheWrap in a statement Wednesday night:

Jill Abramson’s MERCHANTS OF TRUTH is an important, exhaustively researched and meticulously sourced book about the media business in a critical moment of transition. 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. If upon further examination changes or attributions are deemed necessary we stand ready to work with the author in making those revisions.

Abramson tweeted that she takes “seriously the issues raised and will review the passages in question.”

Abramson’s book, “Merchants of Truth: Inside the News Revolution,” focuses on “the evolving state of media in the information age and what it means for the future of news,” according to Simon & Schuster.

Moynihan said he noticed the plagiarized passages after spotting an “egregious” mistake about one of his colleagues, which Abramson later corrected. He said he then noticed other parts that seemed to be lifted from other writers.

Later Wednesday, writer Ian Frisch tweeted that Abramson plagiarized him six times in the book. However, TheWrap’s review found that she cited him at least three times in her notes.

On Monday, Abramson came under criticism after telling New York’s The Cut that she never records her interviews.

“I’m a very fast note-taker,” she said. “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.”

The remarks prompted a scathing Washington Examiner article titled: “Dear reporters: Please, for the love of God, do not take advice from Jill Abramson.”

“Reporters: I cannot stress enough that this is a terrible way to conduct interviews,” the article, written by Becket Adams.  “Everything Abramson just said — do the exact opposite.”

Here are some of Moynihan’s tweets: