August 25, 2019

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO SLANT: Matthew Continetti takes one for the team, reads Merchants of Truth by former New York Times editor Jill Abramson so you don’t have to.

Indeed, Merchants of Truth exemplifies the very problems it describes. Abramson needs an editor, too. Her narrative is repetitive, contains factual errors, and loses momentum near the end. She acknowledges the Times’s liberal bias but is much more circumspect when it comes to her own. She says the Times “generally eschewed celebrity news,” which is laughable to anyone who has had to endure its endless profiles of Frank Ocean, Lena Dunham, and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.

Abramson refers to the “respected” former Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse—respected by whom? Her main criticism of the Times is that it did not do enough to prevent the Iraq war. She calls The Baffler “an intelligent magazine for political and cultural analysis,” which might be true, but it’s also left-wing. Perhaps Jane Mayer of the New Yorker is “one of journalism’s most intrepid investigative reporters.” She is definitely one of its most ideological and partisan.

It got worse for Abramson. On February 6, Vice correspondent Michael Moynihan said on Twitter that the chapters of the book on his company

were clotted with mistakes. Lots of them. The truth promised in Merchants of Truth was often not true. While trying to corroborate certain claims, I noticed that it also contained…plagiarized passages.

Moynihan found that Abramson had without attribution used work from the Columbia Journalism Review, Time Out Chicago, the New Yorker, and a master’s thesis.

She reacted clumsily, saying she had been “sloppy.” Later, in a statement, she admitted,

The notes don’t match up with the right pages in a few cases and this was unintentional and will be promptly corrected. The language is too close in some cases and should have been cited as quotations in the text. This, too, will be fixed.

An admission of guilt.

Clumsy, sloppy, scandal-prone, reflexively liberal, and unable to live up to her own standards, Jill Abramson is the perfect representative of an industry in terminal decline.

Read the whole thing.

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