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New York Review of Books editor out after backlash over Jian Ghomeshi essay

An editor at the New York Review of Books has parted ways with the prestigious literary publication amid controversy over his decision to publish a personal essay by disgraced former radio host Jian Ghomeshi.

Ian Buruma's exit comes after publication of controversial article

The New York Review of Books editor, Ian Buruma, has left his post after an outcry over publishing an essay by disgraced former radio host, Jian Ghomeshi, seen here outside a Toronto court in May 2016. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

An editor at The New York Review of Books has parted ways with the prestigious literary publication amid controversy over his decision to publish a personal essay by disgraced former radio host Jian Ghomeshi.

A publicist for the magazine confirmed Wednesday that Ian Buruma, who was appointed as editor in late 2017, no longer works for the publication.

It's unclear whether Buruma's departure is related to the piece, which sparked online backlash from those who argued Ghomeshi shouldn't have been given such a prestigious platform.

All I know is that he was acquitted and he is now subject to public opprobrium.- Ian Buruma  to Slate Magazine

Ghomeshi was acquitted in March 2016 of four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking involving three complainants. In May 2016, he apologized to a fourth complainant and signed a peace bond that saw another count of sexual assault withdrawn.

In the essay, titled Reflections from a Hashtag and published online Friday, Ghomeshi details his post-trial life and expresses "deep remorse" for the way he treated some people, but said he cannot confess to accusations he maintains are "inaccurate."

"I've become a hashtag. One of my female friends quips that I should get some kind of public recognition as a #MeToo pioneer," he writes in the roughly 3,400-word essay.

"There are lots of guys more hated than me now. But I was the guy everyone hated first."

On Wednesday, the magazine posted a lengthy note atop the online version of Ghomeshi's piece that said the article "should have included acknowledgement of the serious nature and number of allegations that had been made against the writer."

It describes the allegations made against Ghomeshi, the charges he faced, the outcome of his eventual criminal trial and the out-of-court settlement he subsequently reached with a CBC co-worker. The note ends by saying: "Substantial space will be devoted to letters responding to this article in the next issue." 

In an interview with online publication Slate on Friday, Buruma defended his editorial judgment, saying Ghomeshi provided "an angle on an issue that is clearly very important and that I felt had not been exposed very much."

Buruma said he was not in a position to know the exact nature of Ghomeshi's alleged actions, nor was it really his "concern," given that he was acquitted in court.

"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," he told Slate.

"The interest in the article for me is what it feels like in that position and what we should think about."

With files from CBC News