Jian Ghomeshi reflects on fallout from trial in The New York Review of Books
TORONTO — Disgraced former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi penned a personal essay in The New York Review of Books that drew swift backlash on Friday, with many social media users questioning why he was given such a prestigious platform to detail his life posttrial.
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 In May 2016, he apologized to a fourth complainant and signed a peace bond that saw another count of sexual assault withdrawn.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 piece, titled “Reflections from a Hashtag” and published online Friday, Ghomeshi reveals that he had suicidal thoughts in the aftermath of the allegations and reflects on his trajectory from a high-profile Canadian personality to a self-described “outcast.”
He also expresses “deep remorse” for the way he treated some people, admitting he was “demanding on dates” and “emotionally thoughtless.”
“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. “There are lots of guys more hated than me now. But I was the guy everyone hated first.”
Farrah Khan, manager of Ryerson University’s Consent Comes First office, wondered why the semi-monthly magazine gave an opportunity to such a controversial figure when many people affected by sexual violence are not given such an opportunity.
“Why was he given this platform? Why now?” Khan said, also questioning if the magazine factchecked the piece.
“It’s interesting, who gets to have that platform. Publications oftentimes are invested in giving space to people like Ghomeshi to boost their sales, to create this hyped conversation about it.”
Ghomeshi came off as “arrogant” for suggesting he’s part of a decades-long fight for the rights of survivors of sexual violence, she added.
“When reading the article, one of the things that was really salient to me was his speaking about how he was one of the #MeToo pioneers, or making a quip about it,” Khan said.
“He didn’t start the movement on sexual violence — we did.”
In anticipating the reaction to the roughly 3,400-word essay, which marks the first time Ghomeshi has addressed the trial publicly, he acknowledges that it focuses on his own experience, “which may be seen as not helpful in rendering women’s experiences more visible.”
The cover story, billed as “Jian Ghomeshi on Jian Ghomeshi,” is set to appear in the magazine’s October issue on “The Fall of Men.”
A representative for the New York Review of Books said the publication had no comment on the matter.
As his professional and personal support systems collapsed, Ghomeshi said he faced “financial calamity” between his firing from CBC and legal fees. He also fumed over what he characterized as “inaccurate” depictions of him on social media, and said he fielded a barrage of racist remarks over his Iranian heritage.
Former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi arrives at court in 2016.