Business

Ex-NYT editor Jill Abramson says she will update her book following allegations of plagiarism

Posted February 7, 2019 6:37 p.m. EST

— Former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, facing allegations of plagiarism, conceded on Thursday that some of the passages in her new book "Merchants of Truth" too closely mirrored work that first appeared in other publications.

"The language is too close in some cases and should have been cited as quotations in the text," Abramson said in a statement provided to CNN Business.

The veteran journalist added that the language in question would be "fixed," saying that while writing her book she "tried above all to accurately and properly give attribution to the many hundreds of sources that were part of my research."

Abramson's statement came one day after she fiercely denied allegations of plagiarism during a Fox News interview. At the time, she said, "I certainly didn't plagiarize in my book."

The plagiarism allegations were first leveled against Abramson on Wednesday by Michael Moynihan, a "Vice News Tonight" correspondent. Moynihan, who years ago found another journalist, Jonah Lehrer, to have plagiarized, identified several passages from "Merchants of Truth" that appeared to be lifted from other publications without appropriate credit.

Abramson profiles four news organizations in her book, including Vice, amid a time of upheaval in journalism. Some Vice journalists have taken issue with her portrayal of their company, and Abramson has suggested their dissatisfaction has been their underlying motive for unearthing problems with the book.

On Thursday, CNN Business discovered two additional examples of apparent plagiarism in Abramson's book. In the first case, Abramson listed the publication she was drawing from in her end notes section located after the conclusion in her book. In the second case, she did not. Neither of the publications she drew from were credited in the actual body text of the book.

Abramson:

A second was filed earlier in Florida by a Russian internet entrepreneur, Aleksej Gubarev, over claims in the dossier that he and his firms used "botnets and porn traffic" to conduct a variety of cyber operations against Democratic Party leaders. At about the time his suit was filed, BuzzFeed,on Syed's recommendation, had apologized and redacted the information about Gubarev and his companies from the document on its site.

Politico:

In February, BuzzFeed was sued by a Russian internet entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev over claims in the dossier that he and his firms used "botnets and porn traffic" to conduct a variety of cyber operations against Democratic Party leaders. At about the time the suit was filed, BuzzFeed apologized and redacted the information about Gubarev and his companies from the document on BuzzFeed's site.

End Note:

327 One of the suits against BuzzFeed: Josh Gerstein, "Russian Bank Owners Sue BuzzFeed over Trump Dossier Publication," Politico, May 26, 2017,https://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/05/26/trump-dossier-russian-bank-owners-sue-buzzfeed-238876.

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Abramson:

He added a vague threat that Amazon would have "such problems" if he became president.

In May, after Fahrenthold was getting traction on his Trump Foundation exposés, Trump upped the ante. In a Fox News interview, he called the Post a "toy" used by Bezos for political purposes to avoid proper taxation of his company. "Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He's using the Washington Post for power so that the politicians in Washington don't tax Amazon like they should be taxed."

Newsweek:

Trump then issued a vague threat, saying that Amazon would have "such problems" if he became president.

In a Fox News interview, Trump said that the Post was a "toy" used by Bezos for political purposes to avoid proper taxation of his main company. "Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He's using the Washington Post for power so that the politicians in Washington don't tax Amazon like they should be taxed," said Trump.

There is no end note citing Newsweek. The end note cites a Reuters article with similar material, but different language.

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Abramson did not respond Thursday to a request for comment about the examples CNN Business found.

But Abramson said in her statement Thursday that she was "up all night" going through her book because she takes "claims of plagiarism so seriously."

Asked about the new examples of apparent plagiarism, a spokesperson for Simon & Schuster pointed CNN Business to Abramson's Thursday statement and the company's Wednesday night statement. The Wednesday night statement said the publisher would work with Abramson to revise the work if changes and attributions were "deemed necessary."

A spokesperson for Harvard University, where Abramson is a senior lecturer in the Department of English, declined to comment about the plagiarism allegations on Thursday morning. Harvard has a strict policy against plagiarism that can, in some cases, result in expulsion from the school.

In her Thursday statement, Abramson defended the book as a whole.

"The book is over 500 pages," Abramson said. "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's book first drew scrutiny in January when an unfinished galley copy was provided to various journalists in advance for review purposes. Some of the journalists featured in "Merchants of Truth" accused her of factual errors.

At the time, she noted in a tweet that the copy which had been distributed was a draft and not the final version.