Ian Buruma, under fire for publishing an essay by a disgraced ex-Canadian radio star, is no longer the editor of The New York Review of Books.
Buruma had been on the defensive since last week, when the Review’s Oct. 11 issue was published with the theme, “The Fall of Men.” It featured a piece by Jian Ghomeshi, a former CBC radio personality ousted after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and assault. Ghomeshi’s piece enraged many, particularly women, and Buruma was scorned for allowing the venerable publication to give Ghomeshi’s views a platform.
The Review confirmed Buruma’s departure on Wednesday, but wouldn’t elaborate.
Ghomeshi was fired from his CBC job as host of a popular talk show in 2014 and was later charged with seven counts of sexual assault and one count of choking. He eventually was acquitted of some charges, and others were dropped, but his attempted return to journalism was not welcomed.
Buruma, in an interview with Slate after the Ghomeshi piece was published online, said he was “no judge of the rights and wrongs of every allegation.”
“All I know is that in a court of law he was acquitted, and there is no proof he committed a crime,” said Buruma.
He continued: “The exact nature of his behavior ― how much consent was involved ― I have no idea, nor is it really my concern. My concern is what happens to somebody who has not been found guilty in any criminal sense but who perhaps deserves social opprobrium, but how long should that last, what form it should take, etc.”
Buruma acknowledged that among the Review’s staff, “not everyone agreed” Ghomeshi should write for the publication. But once the piece was published, he said, the staff “stuck together.”
Reporter Sean Craig at The Logic said that’s wholly untrue. He wrote on Twitter last week that two Review employees reached out to him to say “they’re quietly looking for new jobs now.”
Buruma’s comments to Slate fueled further calls for his ouster, with many lambasting the editor on social media:
The announcement of Buruma’s departure from the Review spurred more commentary on social media.
Journalist and New York University professor Jay Rosen’s observation may have been best: “If you are going publish something BECAUSE it’s provovactive and speaks into some silence you think is unfair, you better make sure it’s great writing, searchingly honest... and true.”