This reporting appears as one of several scoops featured in this week’s edition of Confider, the newsletter pulling back the curtain on the media. Subscribe here and send your questions, tips, and complaints here.
Esteemed New York Times Magazine writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner has been the subject of countless headlines for her hit FX series Fleishman Is in Trouble, adapted from her bestselling 2019 novel—but one seems to have struck a nerve.
A Jewish Telegraphic Agency profile of Brodesser-Akner, written by freelance journalist Sarah Rosen and published on Nov. 15, was quietly deleted by the outlet the next day, with its nearly 2,000 words of text replaced by a vague statement: “A story about the FX series ’Fleishman is in Trouble’ has been removed because it mischaracterized elements of an interview with the show’s creator.”
The original piece featured Brodesser-Akner allegedly expressing to Rosen over Zoom how, despite reviews focusing on the Jewish essence of her book and show, she doesn’t think of it as an especially Jewish work of art. “‘Fleishman is in Trouble’ hits FX Thursday. Just don’t call it a Jewish series, says its creator,” read the original headline, which was also scrubbed.
The decision to wholesale delete the profile left Rosen confused, she told Confider, as she felt the interview went off without a hitch. “Nothing was mischaracterized,” she asserted. “We had a lovely conversation and I wrote the article with respect and integrity. Then, the next thing I’d heard, it had been taken down.”
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Rosen said she originally pitched the profile to JTA news director Gabe Friedman after learning the book, which she had loved, would become a series. After an editing process Rosen described as “totally typical,” the piece was published on Nov. 15 at 12:30 p.m., two days before the show’s premiere.
Rosen sent the piece to FX press staffers at 12:51 p.m., prompting a congratulatory response, according to an email reviewed by Confider. “Thanks Sarah! Great piece!” a publicist wrote. But by the following day, the piece was gone.
“I’ve just been reading press about the show and so many interviews,” she said. “That makes this situation so surprising and confusing to me.” Rosen declined to say whether she’d pitch or write for the JTA again, though she did point to a Nov. 22 profile she did of New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor.
Neither JTA nor FX offered any clarity when reached for comment.
“After the story was published, the subject reached out to us with concerns about the story,” Philissa Cramer, JTA’s editor in chief, said in a statement. “We reviewed the story and determined that during the editorial process some elements of our interview had been mischaracterized. We then decided to remove the story.” Brodesser-Akner did not respond to multiple requests for comment and FX merely pointed to JTA’s posted explanation.
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