Ian Buruma is no longer the editor of the New York Review of Books, a spokesperson for the publication has confirmed to multiple outlets. In fact, he’s no longer working at the magazine at all. The announcement comes in the aftermath of a controversial personal essay by Jian Ghomeshi, published as part of the NYRB’s package on “The Fall of Men,” that Buruma defended. Ghomeshi was fired as a CBC radio host in 2014 amid accusations from three women that Ghomeshi became physically violent with them during sex without their consent. More than 20 women have since leveled sexual misconduct accusations against Ghomeshi.
In the essay, “Reflections From a Hashtag,” Ghomeshi states a desire to “inject nuance” into the allegations of sexual assault and battery against him, including biting, choking, and punching women. He was acquitted on criminal charges in 2016 over insufficient evidence and witness testimony that a judge deemed unreliable, and avoided additional charges in another trial through signing a “peace bond” and issuing an apology to the victim.
Buruma had defended publishing Ghomeshi’s essay in an interview with Slate’s own Isaac Chotiner. “My interest in running this piece […] 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,” he said, while also noting that the specific allegations against Ghomeshi were not really his “concern”:
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.
Buruma was named editor of the NYRB in 2017. “I’ve known Ian since 1985 and know that his long association with the Review will ensure that the values and editorial direction of the Review will be upheld,” NYRB publisher Rea Hederman said at the time. It is currently not known whether Buruma was fired or resigned.