Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dirty Hari: Johann Story Rapidly Unravelling 

Guido is fairly sure Johann Hari has breached Article 1 of the PCC Code. He has admitted misleading his readers. Despite the desperate attempts by his editor, Simon Kelner, to spin that his favorite son is being attacked for political reasons, the Hari-wagon is coming off of the tracks.

The Telegraph are coming down on him heavily. Firstly there is Brenden O’Neil rightly pointing out that “the notion that one can reach “the truth” by manipulating reality should be anathema to anyone who calls himself a journalist.” Janet Daley weighs in with a valid arguement:

“Many, if not most, of his interviewees were people whom he admired and whose political views he shared. By replacing what he admits were often their less-than-articulate responses to live questions with text from their published works, he was performing a service to their reputations which was worthy of a spin doctor or a professional propagandist.”

Toby Young points us to the career ending decision:

“His fate now turns on whether the committee that awarded him the Orwell Prize for Journalism asks him to return the prize (and the £3,000 prize money). It is hard to see how they could do otherwise, given that Hari still doesn’t seem to think his cut-and-paste habits are anything to be ashamed of.”

And in a slap to Kelner’s face and reputation, this issue goes beyond any left or right divide. The New Statesman is being particularly thorough in making sure the golden child of the left is held to the level of accountability that his platform and reputation deserve. The most damning revelation of the day so far comes from the Staggers, who reveal that Hari directly lifted other peoples work for an “interview” he did with Chavez in 2006. The dictionary definition of plagiarism. 

Meanwhile The Guardian have provided a helpful poll on whether you think Hari’s apology was enough, needless to say it’s not looking good for him. Guido is digging around rumours of Hari being fired from his student paper for “making things up in order to make a story stronger”. He also bought you two more accusations of plagiarism earlier and Forbes have compiled cases of Hari getting his facts completely wrong, deliberately perhaps. Hilariously historian Guy Walters has found Hari lifted text Ann Leslie’s biography for his own interview with her. No wonder she said he wasn’t “a real journalist” on Newsnight last night. Brian Whelan, who triggered this onslaught has found another smoking gun.

Right now hundreds of articles by the disgraced bard are being scrutinised, fact-checked, cross-referenced and flagged up. You shake one branch….

+ + + Sunday Times Hand Over Huhne Tape + + +

Roy Greenslade reveals in his Standard column today that the Sunday Times’ lawyers have declared that there are no legal grounds for appealing the court order demanding that they hand over of their Pryce/Huhne tape and documentation to Essex Police. The hour is getting late Chris. Time to reach for your simple sword of truth and that trusty shield of British fair play.

Last of the McLoyalists Jumps Ship

Ultra-Brownite loyalist Kirsty McNeill has finally jumped ship from the tax-saving operation that is The Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown. The author of those tractor-stat speeches and stage manager of the cling to power, was brought in during those dark autumn days of 2009 when the Prime Mentalist was cracking under the pressure. She apparently told friends that she wanted to stay on until Gordon’s reputation has been restored after the election defeat. It seems she has got bored of waiting for hell to freeze over though…

Labour sources suggest that the OGSB has been very quiet in recently. With Brown’s PPS pregnant, and now his gatekeeper on the run, perhaps now would be an ideal time for the man himself to move on…

Labour’s Ban Comes Home To Roost

Amend the Ban

Given the last Labour government went out of their way to hit pubs and clubs with regulations, duties and, worst of all, the smoking ban, it’s no surprise to see their actions come back to bite them. CR Consulting have found that Labour constituencies are being disproportionately hit  by the pub closures. Though Tory held Westminster suffered the most closures, nine out of the top ten worst hit seats were Labour:

Cities of London and Westminster, Con -99 pubs
Birmingham, Ladywood, Lab -56 pubs
Glasgow Central, Lab -56 pubs
Manchester Central, Lab -49 pubs
Liverpool, Riverside, Lab -45 pubs
Bristol West, LD -39 pubs
Leeds Central, Lab -38 pubs
Edinburgh North and Leith, Lab -34 pubs
Argyll and Bute, LD -32 pubs
Nottingham South, Lab -31 pubs

Guido will be supporting a cause that is very dear to his heart today, the campaign to Save our Pubs and Clubs as they hold a lobby of parliament this afternoon. Labour MPs might want to have a little think about the impact of their actions on their own constituencies…

PMQs LIVE: Striking the Right Note Edition

Quote of the Day

Jon Cruddas on Saturday told Compass lefties…

“The idea that you don’t move beyond Labour, that the party contains all the solutions and anything else is counted as betrayal, or is counter-productive, is a morbid symptom of our own decline and actually an obligation of our responsibilities to the country. Similarly a continuous preoccupation in members Ed and David who carries the flame or Ed and Yvette or Ed and Andy or Ed, Ed and Eddie is that Labour is not a top class PPE Oxbridge gig, the question is then, what is it for? 29 policy review groups won’t answer that question, indeed I would tentatively suggest that a couple of compass criticizing bedroom bloggers won’t necessarily answer supply the answers either. I applaud the Compass member’s decision to search out for new ideas and big inspirational political vitality aside of the confines of the parliamentary party whose culture resembles at times a Sopranos tribute band. I believe this change is essential.”

What Will Be Ed’s Cancer Card This Week?

Having covered cancer and rape to get the PM on the back-foot, Guido is wondering what Ed will scrape from the bottom of the moral barrel this week. As Athens burns thanks to their unions, and the Labour leader suddenly wakes up to the fact that he is on the wrong side of public opinion regarding the strikes here, he’s going to have to pull something pretty special at noon. Famine? Floods? Sick puppies? If he has any sense he will go on the crime revelations in today’s Times. Burglary is up 18%.

Ed may have lost out on the sentencing debacle, failing to land a single blow and remarkably ending up as muddled as Ken Clarke, but all is not lost on the planned outflanking of the Tories on crime. As police budgets are slashed, crime is on the up. Look out for the third-party hitting the airwaves as soon as the PM sits down. If a plan works, stick to it…

UPDATE: Talking of Ed and strikes, Total Politics’ Amber Elliot reports that Grahame Morris, PPS to shadow climage change secretary Meg Hillier is “very close” to quitting over Ed’s stance on the strikes an “pandering to the right of the party.” Apparently they are trying to talk him out of going before midday. Is this what the brothers were expecting when they anointed Ed?

Gillan’s Turn For an Awkward Question

Last week Guido revealed that Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan might have had a hand in the awkward question to the Prime Minister, asking whether she would be sacked over her opposition to high-speed rail. Given the planned route practically goes through her garden, she is resisting the plans, in the face of collective responsibility. Well it looks like it’s her turn to twist a little at the despatch box.

Guido hears that a question lined up for Welsh Questions at 11.30 is along the lines of “what exactly will high-speed rail bring to Wales?” Given the next thing on the order paper is PMQs, Gillan will be sat next to Dave immediately after her grilling . Guido is sure they will have lots to say to each other…

Full Text of Hari’s Mea Culpa


Guido doesn’t usually quote articles verbatim, but since this isn’t online and in the interests of doing a full “intellectual portrait” here it is:

The Lessons I Must Draw From These Attacks On My Journalism

It’s clearly not plagiarism or churnalism, but was it an error in another way? Yes. I now see it was wrong and I wouldn’t do it again

Yesterday on Twitter I was accused of plagiarism. This accusation is totally false – but I have reflected seriously on this and do have something to apologise for. When you interview a writer – especially but not only when English isn’t their first language – they will sometimes make a point that sounds clear when you hear it, but turns out to be incomprehensible or confusing on the page. In those instances, I have sometimes substituted a passage they have written or said more clearly elsewhere on the same subject for what they said to me, so the reader understands their point as clearly as possible. The quotes are always accurate representations of their words, inserted into the interview at the point where they made substantively the same argument using similar but less clear language. I did not and never have taken words from another context and twisted them to mean something different – I only ever substituted clearer expressions of the same sentiment, so the reader knew what the subject thinks in the most comprehensible possible words.

I stress: I have only ever done this where the interviewee was making the same or similar point to me in the interview that they had already made more clearly in print. Where I described their body language, for example, I was describing their body language as they made the same point that I was quoting – I was simply using the clearer words from their writing so the reader understood the point best. This is one reason why none of my interviewees have, to my knowledge, ever said they were misquoted in my nearly 10 years with The Independent, even when they feel I’ve been very critical of them in other ways. My critics have focused on my interview with Gideon Levy as supposedly distorted. So what does Gideon Levy say? These are his words: “I stand behind everything that was published in the interview. It was a totally accurate representation of my thoughts and words.”

This does not fit any definition of plagiarism. Plagiarism is presenting somebody else’s intellectual work as your own – whereas I have always accurately attributed the ideas of (say) Gideon Levy to Gideon Levy. Nor can it be regarded as churnalism. Churnalism is a journalist taking a press release and mindlessly recycling it. It is not a journalist carefully reading over all a writer’s books and quoting it to best reflect how they think.

Over the years I have interviewed some people who have messages we desperately need to hear – from Gideon Levy about Israel, to Malalai Joya about Afghanistan, to Gerry Adams about how to end a sectarian war. Just this week, I interviewed one of the bravest people I have ever met – Shirin Ebadi. I would hate people to not hear these vital messages because they incorrectly think the subjects have been falsely quoted. Every word I have quoted has been said by my interviewee, and accurately represents their view. I hope people continue to hear their words.

When I’ve been wrong in the past – as I shamefully was over the Iraq War – I have admitted it publicly, tried to think through how I got it wrong, and corrected myself. So I’ve thought carefully about whether I have been wrong here. It’s clearly not plagiarism or churnalism – but was it an error in another way? Yes. I now see it was wrong, and I wouldn’t do it again.

Why? Because an interview is not just an essayistic representation of what a person thinks; it is a report on an encounter between the interviewer and the interviewee. If (for example) a person doesn’t speak very good English, or is simply unclear, it may be better to quote their slightly broken or garbled English than to quote their more precise written work, and let that speak for itself. It depends on whether you prefer the intellectual accuracy of describing their ideas in their most considered words, or the reportorial accuracy of describing their ideas in the words they used on that particular afternoon. Since my interviews are long intellectual profiles, not ones where I’m trying to ferret out a scoop or exclusive, I have, in the past, prioritised the former. That was, on reflection, a mistake, because it wasn’t clear to the reader.

I’m sorry, and I’m grateful to the people who pointed out this error of judgement. I will make sure I learn from it.

UPDATE: Noam Chomsky has accused Hari of fabricating quotes from him supposedly spoken in conversation, calling them a “flight of the Hari imagination”.

UPDATE II: Rowan Wilson alleges that contrary to the blended “intellectual portrait” / interview / fictional account of a meeting with Antonio Negri “that there was no taxi called, I didn’t say the things ascribed to me, Negri wasn’t behaving arrogantly as suggested, there was no angry confontation with ICA staff” all of which “casts serious doubt on the veracity of anything that Hari says.”


Seen Elsewhere

Even Ed’s Friends Call Him ‘Bad Luck Magnet’ | Mail
BBC: It Was Guido Wot Won It | MediaGuido
Nick Robinson’s Britain First Selfie | Metro
Dyson: Leave German Dominated EU, Join EFTA |
How UKIP Won Rochester | Seb Payne
Labour’s Islington Problem | Harry Phibbs
Ed Lost More Than a By-Election | Labour Uncut
Labour the Biggest Losers in Rochester | Speccie
Thornberry a Gift to Farage | Nick Wood
Is Left Finally Turning Against EU? | Dan Hannan
Labour Votes Going Green | Guardian


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Ralph Miliband on the English…

“The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world.”



Left on Left says:

The lefties are attacking because the panellist is a millionaire and lives in a London home worth upwards of two million. Someone had best tell them he’s called Ed Miliband.


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