Breaking: #HimToo at the NYRB

Ian Buruma

Breaking right now—Ian Buruma is out as editor of the New York Review of Books, a post he has only held for about a year, for the sin of publishing an article by Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian broadcaster who was acquitted of sexual assault charges in 2016. I hadn’t seen the article yet—my print issue is slow to arrive out here on the left coast—but it appeared online a few days ago, and I’ve given it a quick skim.

The New York Times reports:

Ian Buruma, the editor of The New York Review of Books, left his position on Wednesday amid an uproar over the magazine’s publication of an essay by a disgraced Canadian radio broadcaster who had been accused of sexually assaulting and battering women.

“I can confirm that Ian Buruma is no longer the editor of The New York Review of Books,” Nicholas During, a publicist for the magazine, wrote in an email. It was unclear if Mr. Buruma resigned or was fired. He did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.

The essay’s author, Jian Ghomeshi, who was acquitted of sexual assault charges in 2016, lamented his status as a pariah, “constantly competing with a villainous version of myself online.”

A quick scan of the Ghomishi article shows it to be a self-referential and self-pitying piece that offers little in the way of serious argument or reflection on the wider problem of how we are handling the #MeToo moment, and I wonder why Buruma thought it worthy of publishing. But I don’t see why he lost his job over it.

I read the NYRB (as does Scott) because there’s usually one good article or review in every issue, and it is also a way to keep tabs on the latest fashions of liberal intellectuals, so it is a form of opposition research for me. I had some small hope that Buruma might improve the thing a bit (we were at a conference together once in Madrid a long time ago, and while I argued with him, he struck me as serious and thoughtful). Instead, it’s gotten worse, and is a key node of Trump derangement.