The exit follows a similar, widely criticized radio defense by the publisher of Harper’s magazine of a piece written by accused #MeToo perpetrator John Hockenberry.
The Ghomeshi piece is billed on the cover of the august periodical’s current issue, which explores the theme “The Fall of Men.” Headlined “Reflections From a Hashtag,” the essay aims to shed light on the fate of men who have been accused of misdeeds and the reputational price they pay in the #MeToo era. Ghomeshi is known for co-founding the Canadian public radio show Q, a Fresh Air-like program featuring interviews with a cross-section of cultural and political figures. It airs nightly in New York on WNYC and on dozens of other U.S. radio stations.
Ghomeshi’s personal circumstances predate the #MeToo movement, but has some aspects in common with cases from the past 12 months. He was cut loose from Q in 2014 after a series of allegations of sexual misconduct. After more than 20 women accused him, Ghomeshi was acquitted of sexual assault charges in 2016 after making pledges to maintain good behavior.
Ghomeshi described suffering “enough humiliation for a lifetime” and explained that he was writing to try to “inject nuance” into the #MeToo conversation.
“I cannot just move to another town and reboot with a pseudonym. I’m constantly competing with a villainous version of myself online,” Ghomeshi wrote. “This is the power of a contemporary mass shaming. Even people who are supportive sometimes have expectations of how I will act based on a singular, sexualized identity that was repeated in media stories. But this period has also been a tremendous education.”
The piece in the NYRB struck many readers — certainly those sharing their opinions on social media — as superficial and focused on his own obstacles. He wrote about reaching out to several of his alleged victims to make peace, but several flatly disputed his account that he had done so and not heard back from them.
Founded in 1963, the Review is a legendary redoubt of intellectuals and writers who often take decidedly contrarian views. In 2014, a Martin Scorsese-produced documentary about the magazine, The 50-Year Argument, aired on HBO. It featured reflections on noteworthy pieces published over the years from the likes of Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, Freeman Dyson and many others.
Buruma, a former contributor to New York Review who became its editor last year, defended the piece in an interview with Slate. Ghomeshi’s account, he said, “seemed like a story that was worth hearing — not necessarily as a defense of what he may have done.” He added that it contributed “an angle on an issue that is clearly very important and that I felt had not been exposed very much.”
A magazine rep did not respond to a request from Deadline.
At the same time Buruma was leaving the stage, Harper’s, which was founded in 1850, was coping with blowback from its decision to run a nearly 7,000-word piece by former public radio host John Hockenberry. It detailed his attempt to find a “road back from personal and public shame” in the months since allegations surfaced that he harassed female colleagues and one author who was a guest on his show, WNYC’s The Takeaway. A subsequent investigation found “offensive and at times discriminatorily harassing conduct,” bullying behavior and a culture of silence where harassing conduct went unreported.