As we discussed recently, when Harper’s did its first MeToo story, it didn’t assign a story about the subject about it to serious journalist, but instead specifically requested a “contrarian” piece from a writer who had proven over decades of writing the same argument innumerable times that she would attack the movement irrespective of the facts. The outcome was a piece that was such an irredeemable piece of shit that even people who wanted to like it couldn’t defend it. And yet, as Michelle Goldberg observes, they’ve gone right back to the well, this time with a bad first-person non-apologia. It is…not good.
Apparently trying to horn in on the same racket, NYRB editor Ian Buruma decided to give a cover story to disgraced CBC host Jian Ghomeshi. It is terrible. (It can be read without giving them clicks here, if you must.) Buruma was interviewed by Isaac Chotiner, with the same result of virtually all Chotiner interviews:
There are numerous allegations of sexual assault against Ghomeshi, including punching women in the head. That seems pretty far on the spectrum of bad behavior.
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. 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.
O. J. Simpson was not found guilty in a criminal trial. I assume, even if he didn’t have other issues, we might have paused before asking him to write an essay.
That is true, but he was found guilty in a civil trial.
I think even if he hadn’t been is perhaps the point to be made. But let’s also note that Ghomeshi signed a peace bond and avoided another trial by apologizing to a victim. And these allegations were from more than 20 women. We don’t know what happened, I agree. But that is an astonishing number, no?
I am not going to defend his behavior, and I don’t know if what all these women are saying is true. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it isn’t. My interest in running this piece, as I said, is the point of view of somebody who has been pilloried in public opinion and what somebody like that feels about it. It was not run as a piece to exonerate him or to somehow mitigate the nature of his behavior.
You say it’s not your “concern,” but it is your concern. If you knew the allegations were true, I assume you would not have run the piece.
Well, it depends what the allegations are. What you were saying just now was rather vague.
Punching women against their will.
Those are the allegations, but as we both know, sexual behavior is a many-faceted business. Take something like biting. Biting can be an aggressive or even criminal act. It can also be construed differently in different circumstances. I am not a judge of exactly what he did. All I know is that he was acquitted and he is now subject to public opprobrium and is a sort of persona non grata in consequence. The interest in the article for me is what it feels like in that position and what we should think about.
n his piece, he writes, “In October 2014, I was fired from my job at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation after allegations circulated online that I’d been abusive with an ex-girlfriend during sex.” But it was not about online rumors. The Toronto Star, a famed and respected newspaper, was about to publish a big piece, and that is why he resigned, correct?
It’s a respected newspaper, yes.
But you don’t think that’s misleading in any way?
Not really, but again, I am not judging him for the exact rights and wrongs of what he did in the past.
I am asking you about what he wrote in your magazine.
No, I don’t think so.
He also writes, “In the aftermath of my firing, and amid a media storm, several more people accused me of sexual misconduct.” Is “several” sufficient for more than 20 women?
Well, in a literal sense, it is. It might have been better to mention the exact number, possibly so.
It’s worth reading in full, because Chotinier is as good at his job as too many of our nation’s elite editors are bad at theirs.
This is not complicated or interesting & there is no new perspective being discovered. I wish Ghomeshi’s editor could’ve been honest enough to say (or understand) what is super, super obvious in that Slate interview: he ran that piece because he thinks Ghomeshi is right
— Jia Tolentino (@jiatolentino) September 14, 2018