New York Review of Books editor departs after outrage over #MeToo essay

New York (AFP) –


Ian Buruma, the editor of the prestigious New York Review of Books, has left his position after being roundly criticized for publishing an essay condemned as insulting toward the #MeToo movement and victims of sexual abuse.

Nicolas During, a spokesman for the literary magazine, told AFP on Wednesday Buruma "is no longer the editor" but would not confirm whether he had resigned or been fired.

The 66-year-old's departure followed a wave of controversy surrounding an article written by the Canadian former broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi, who lost his high-profile job with CBC after more than 20 women accused him of sexual misconduct.

Ghomeshi was subsequently acquitted of sexual assault in a criminal trial in 2016, but signed a "peace bond" that required him to apologize to a former co-worker he had harassed.

In the essay -- titled "Reflections from a Hashtag" and published online since Friday before it is due to go to print -- Ghomeshi muses on his life after the allegations, his pariah status among former friends and colleagues, his feelings of remorse and thoughts of suicide.

The article was immediately slammed by one of his accusers, Linda Redgrave, who underlined the gravity of the accusations against Ghomeshi and accused him seeking sympathy. The controversy quickly spiraled on social media.

In an interview with Slate, Buruma defended his decision to publish, telling the website: "I'm no judge of the rights and wrongs of every allegation. How can I be? All I know is that in a court of law he was acquitted, and there is no proof he committed a crime."

"The exact nature of his behavior —- how much consent was involved -— I have no idea, nor is it really my concern," he said.

"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."

Despite the departure of its editor, the article will still appear in its next edition, said During.

Buruma took over the editorship of the New York Review of Books in September 2017 following the death of its co-founder Robert Silvers.

Before joining the magazine, the Dutchman had worked for the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong, and The Spectator in London. He is the author of more than 20 books.