This week the Independent concluded their "investigation" into Johann Hari's various misdeeds. Just to go over them they came into three main categories:
- Making things up.
- Anonymous wikipedia vandalism.
I will focus on the 3rd of these in this post (although I will post about the other two later this week and the cover up by the independent. In his graceless non-apology
, Hari confesses to vandalising the Wikipedia entries of those who crossed him:
The other thing I did wrong was that several years ago I started to notice some things I didn’t like in the Wikipedia entry about me, so I took them out. To do that, I created a user-name that wasn’t my own. Using that user-name, I continued to edit my own Wikipedia entry and some other people’s too. I took out nasty passages about people I admire – like Polly Toynbee, George Monbiot, Deborah Orr and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I factually corrected some other entries about other people. But in a few instances, I edited the entries of people I had clashed with in ways that were juvenile or malicious: I called one of them anti-Semitic and homophobic, and the other a drunk. I am mortified to have done this, because it breaches the most basic ethical rule: don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you. I apologise to the latter group unreservedly and totally.
First of all it is hardly a "few instances", his list of vandalism under his David Rose identity stretches to almost a thousand entries
over the course of years. David Rose was not his only identity, he was also active on other forums and had at least one other pseudonym "Niko".
Furthermore his habit of anonymous defamation did not begin with being unhappy about noticing things were awry in his Wikipedia entry. As Private Eye has shown- he was posting nasty reviews
of a University professor, Simon Goldhill, on Amazon under a pseudonym as far back as June 2000- before Wikipedia was even founded.
It's amazing how consistent different people's stories about Hari are- someone pulling him for some poor behaviour and him claiming the disagreement is about some greater issue which casts him in a heroic light.
Goldhill says he told Hari off for being rude to staff- Hari claims the disagreement began when he defended Mo Mowlam. Christine Odone today claims her squabble with Hari began when she told him off for misusing the New Statesman printer- he claims it was some epic dispute over antisemitism and secularism.
Many of his Wikipedia edits demonstrate a similar level of pettiness- he is desperate to not let people know that he went to an exclusive independent prep school affiliated with Harrow, he is very keen for everyone to acknowledge what a serious intellectual he is.
yet ironically it demonstrates that he is not merely nasty but also rather stupid- his bogus identities had aroused suspicion for years and the fact he was so incompetent as to use the Independent's offices to conduct the vandalism without understanding things like IP addresses, is beyond moronic.
In addition he appears to have roped in friends to pose as David Rose and Niko when he
met real people
. Roping in his friends to help cover up his misdeeds is quite significant when you consider his rebuttal of the allegations made about his reporting from the Central African Republic.
It would not surprise me if someone whose entry had been vandalised sues Hari- they may have easily lost writing gigs as a result of his defamation if a lazy editor had used Wikipedia to do a spot of background research.
He would deserve this.