Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stick A Fork In Him, He's Done.

This has been my most productive blogging month for close to two years so far in terms of visits, links and my enthusiasm.

The subject that seems to bring the most hits is the Johann Hari career implosion.

So let's talk about that some more. I've disliked him for years but the scale of his disgrace makes me feel sorry for him. His career is over at the age of 32 and his reputation in tatters. A recap of the main scandals:
  1. Harigate 1 was the plagiarism scandal which was probably survivable, 
  2. Harigate 2 was the sockpuppetery revelations which were a hefty blow but other journalists have survived similar exposure (although their sock puppets didn't slander enemies.
  3. Harigate 3 is the longstanding allegations of lying in his articles and fabricating quotes look have gained strength. He can't come back from being a confirmed liar.
Private Eye looks to have provided the final blow:
Hari did not hire a translator, instead browbeating a charity worker into translating for him. He promised to give her his notes when they returned so she could file her own report on the war, and then broke his word. He continued to hold on to the notes even after she complained to Simon Kelner, the Independent’s editor. “The reason for this became clear when his article came out, as most of the content differed from what interviewees told us,” the aid worker told us. Hari “completely exaggerated the extent of destruction in Birao”. He “completely invented quotes, in particular those of the French soldiers”. In one gruesome vignette, Hari had French soldiers telling a piteous story of how “children would bring us the severed heads of their parents and scream for help, but our orders were not to help them”. “They did not say this. I know because I was there and I did the translating for them.”
Inventing atrocities in a conflict zone, such as the one highlighted,  is something I spotted him doing a few years ago, although I initially assumed that he was simply gullible.

However the other interesting aspect is the position of the Independent's editor at the time, Simon Kelner. Despite the charity worker contacting him to raise concerns about this article and previous question marks raised about Hari, he doesn't appear to have made any efforts to look into the matter.

Indeed he actively vouched for Hari to the committee of the Orwell Prize and accused his critics in Harigate 1 of being politically motivated.

The Independent investigation into Johann Hari has to look at the editor who did not do their job editing his work.

Important Note: In accordance with the official Right of Centre Blogger's Code to which I am a signitory, I shall not be devoting any posts to covering the News International scandals in this much depth unless it is to say "What about the Mirror?"


Anonymous said...

Ross, I don't know why you are feeling sorry for Hari.

He has wilfully filed false copy and passed it off either as all his own work or the truth. It's what lefties do - they lie and they lie and they lie. And when faced with the truth they get all self-righteous and lie some more.

Hari has brought journalism into disrepute and deserves everything he gets.

Ross said...

He deserves everything he gets but I still feel a twinge of pity for someone whose reputation has been destroyed in a matter of weeks.

JuliaM said...

I do too.

Until I remember that it's all of his own making.

Tim Worstall said...

This has all prompted me to read through his coming soon!

He's rarely managed to get an economic fact right: some of the errors are truly fantabulous.

Umbongo said...

I think in a few week's time we will see Hari in his usual role as an interviewee/commenter of choice on the BBC's cultural offerings. Moreover, he will be a well-paid contributor to any number of "progressive" publications. We haven't seen the last of him by any means.

As Henry Crun observes, lefties are shameless but, as I would observe, they protect and support each other (usually at the taxpayers' expense) no matter what - as long as the miscreant continues worshipping at the altar of socialist "truth".

Mr Grumpy said...

The really depressing revelation is that neither Hari nor Kelner really give a monkeys about the poor sods who live in the hell-hole called the Central African Republic. Could we describe the business they're in as "the pornography of compassion"?

James Higham said...

His career is over at the age of 32 and his reputation in tatters.

Not unlike Brooks.

A K Haart said...

I think Umbongo may well be right.

Ross said...

Tim- Yes, on wuite a lot of subjects he would write as though he had some kind of expertise when it was obvious that he was getting his information from google and activist press releases.

Umbongo & AKH- I think he's finished. In other instances where brazen inventors have been exposed in the press they've not worked as hacks again- Jayson Blair, Steven Glass, Janet Cooke for example. By the time of Harigate 2 none of the people who defended him after the plagiarism revelations were backing him up.

Mr Grumpy- Yes, the disinterest in facts makes me think they were using Central Africa as a prop to show that they were caring and serious people.

Umbongo said...


I notice that all the "journalists" you instance are Americans working (or not working) in US media. Hari is a great favourite at the BBC which, as I'm sure you're aware, is enormous and oblivious to public opinion and, moreover, for which Hari's views (lies or not - the BBC doesn't care) are balm to its soul. He'll be back.

Ross said...

Possibly but in his last column for the Independent the readers comments were so hostile that they turned them off. The BBC is a bit different but I suspect they don't want to deal with that much derision either.