Guido’s World Exclusive Interview With Johann Hari

“Look,” said Johann, his dark eyes welling up with emotion. “I can talk to you about why what happened in my life happened. But I just think that’s a way of trying to invite sympathy, and that would be weaselly.

Thinking this was the moment, Guido leaned in closer to the disgraced former Indy columnist, waiting for that magic word to come from Hari’s lips:

“If you tell a detailed personal story about yourself, you’re inherently asking people to sympathise with you, and actually I don’t think people should be sympathetic to me. I’m ashamed of what I did. I did some things that were really nasty and cruel.”

“I’m very reluctant to go into a personal narrative and give the why,’ the disgraced columnist sighed. “Most people restrain their self-aggrandising and cruel impulses, and I failed to. I failed badly. I think when you do that, when you harm people, you should shut up, go away and reflect on what happened.”

Or say sorry, thought the interviewer…

“Going on about myself would just be arrogant and actually repeating being nasty, and that’s what I’m trying not to be. When you fuck up, you should privately reckon with the harm you have caused and you should pay a big price.”

And apologise perhaps, but still no…

Of course Johann Hari didn’t say any of this to Guido, but to Decca Aitkin of the Guardian.

See attribution isn’t so hard after all.

Apparently Hari is back promoting his new novel about drug addiction.

So much for shutting up and going away to reflect on what happened…

Hari-Kiri-s On Being a Fraud

Guido regrets to report that disgraced former Indy writer Johann Hari’s re-education has not been a success. Hari has embarked on something of a comeback working for Russell Brand and making up a new book, but today forensic internet sleuth Jeremy Duns, fresh from slotting Mo Ansar, has caught him up to his old tricks once again. Hari says he’s a changed man and posts audio clips of all his interviews to back up his claims. Yet comparing Hari’s written account of a new interview with the audio posted on his website, Duns finds the same old discrepancies. He writes:

It’s the first quote from Sarah Brook. The clip is just seven seconds long. She says: ‘I was the person who found the – me and my colleague – who found the bullet in the leg.’

I’ve put it in quotes because it is a direct quote. That is what she said. But it’s a little awkward. How to render that in an article? Well, I’d probably not use that quote, but instead write something like ‘Brook and a colleague found the bullet in the leg.’ And then quote her.

But that isn’t what Hari did in his article published this month in the British Airways magazineHigh Life. Instead, he has this:

‘Then a corpse was found. It had been there a while. Most of the meat had rotted away. It was a skeleton with hooves. The horn had been chopped off, and the entire skull was found elsewhere. The tail had been cut off. ‘I was the person,’ Sarah tells me years later, in a café in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, ‘who found the bullet in the leg’. It became clear that Sarah had stumbled into a turning point in history — one she couldn’t have foreseen. She was standing over the body of the last ever Vietnamese rhino. This subspecies had survived unchanged for nine million years, and now it was gone forever.’

That quote is inaccurate. I have heard it and verified it was not said directly to Johann Hari, and you can, too. It is significantly inaccurate, too, because it leaves out a key fact – two people found the bullet. There is no valid journalistic reason to leave out the second person his interviewee has told him about. Hari has misquoted his interviewee, and in doing so risked making her come across as boastful when she was not, a  liar when she was not, and perhaps even created a problem for her with that colleague. And he has also misled us, his readers.

Bloomsbury will be reading Johann’s new book very carefully before they let it hit the shelves… Hari’s one time defenders are very quiet.

Indy Looking for ‘Augmented Reality’ Editor

According to the advert, “The Independent is seeking a digitally focused journalist with experience producing and presenting content for a daily news-driven augmented reality service”. Surely there is only one candidate.

The Indy Pol Ed, UKIP and the Six Year Old Guardian Quote

Fascinating insight from the Indy’s political editor Andy Grice on Thursday last week:

“The wildcard on May 2 could be the UK Independence Party. The anti-EU party is consistently in double figures in the opinion polls and is fielding 1,001 candidates, up from 319 last year. Its best hopes are in Hull, Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees and West Wiltshire. Although Ukip says it would do well to gain more than 15 seats, it could prove a “spoiler” which prevents Tory victories, helping the Lib Dems in the South and Labour in the North.”

Though as Bloggers for UKIP point out:

“In actual fact, we have 1,734 candidates – up from 593 last time. Hull, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees don’t even have any Council elections this year, whilst West Wiltshire council was abolished in 2009.”

Which is odd. It appears the Indy have tipped UKIP to do well in councils without elections and even in a council that has been abolished. So where did Grice get this dodgy information? It can’t have been from the UKIP website, that clearly lists which candidates are standing where.

Well scroll back six years and those figures and locations were more accurate. It was once reported that “Ukip is fielding 1,001 candidates, with its best hopes in Hull, Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees and West Wiltshire”, though not by Grice in the Indy, rather by Will Woodward in the Guardian in April 2007. Can anyone remember Grice getting into this sort of trouble before?

American Hack Sees Visions of Johann

A US journalist has been forced to resign from the New Yorker magazine after being caught making up quotes from singer Bob Dylan. Jonah Lehrer first tried to contest the allegations but yesterday conceded that he had falsified quotes from the sixties legend: “I said that they were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan’s representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. I then continued to lie and say things I should not have said.” Seems Johann Hari took his old tricks with him when he fled across the pond…

Hari: Old Habits Die Hard

Here we go again…

Via @Steven_Maclean

Dirty Hari Returning to Indy in “Four or Five Weeks”

Despite Chris Blackhurst admitting that the paper’s reputation had suffered great damage at the hands of Johann Hari, the Indy editor also confirmed to Leveson, taking a sip of water and looking directly into the camera,  that the disgraced fraudster will be “returning as a columnist” in the next four or five weeks. He’s banned from conducting interviews though…

Apparently the fact Hari produced a doctor’s note saying he was mental was enough to satisfy the internal investigation, and subsequently the fearless inquiry into press ethics. No mention of late night racist, incest fantasy stories though..

Exclusive: Johann Hari Mails Back Orwell Prize

We are now hearing, as yet unconfirmed, that Johann Hari has returned his Orwell Prize.

In an envelope.

In the post. UPDATE: Delivered by courier.

With no note.

And no cheque…

The Orwell Prize will not confirm…

UPDATE:

Twenty minutes ago we put this story to Gavin Freeguard of the Media Standards Trust. Asked if Hari had returned the prize he said no.

Hari has admitted the whole thing. The fakery, being “David Rose”, the works. He is going to retrain, apologise and come back in 2012.

Absolute cowardice from the Indy. 

UPDATE II: Hari is apparently going to Columbia to study journalism. Pah.

UPDATE III: The Indy says: “The report on his conduct is a private one and will not be published”.

Hari Confesses, Blames Depression

Guido’s man-in-the-know tells him that Johann Hari has confessed all to Andreas Whittam Smith, who is charged by the Independent with investigating the plagiarism charges. He has apparently owned up to being “David Rose”. Which means he has implicitly confessed to harassing the likes of Christina Odone, Nick Cohen and Francis Wheen, altering their Wikipedia pages to reflect negatively on them. In Odone’s case he went so far as to question her sanity and accuse her of all manner of falsehoods. He has, Guido is told, blamed his lying, cheating and smearing behaviour on “depression”. 

Johann Hari: It Was Ever Thus

Cambridge contemporaries of the disgraced Johann Hari could have told you he was full of it for years. What the Indy still don’t seem to be ready to admit was on display in the November 24, 2000 edition of Varsity:

The first of many baffled readers. 

Indy Newsroom's Hari Missing Poster

One of Guido’s co-conspirators at the Indy sent this in. They are clearly worried about Johann Hari and have put this thoughtful missing poster at strategic points around the Indy’s newsroom floor at Northcliffe House.

The Council of the Orwell Prize met yesterday to consider and review Johann Hari’s cut ‘n pasting as well as evidence of plagiarism and passing off helpfully submitted by the public and readers of this blog. We await their judgement. 

+ + + Johann Hari Suspended Pending Investigation + + +

Ed Howker broke the news that Hari will be suspended for two months while he is investigated by former Indy editor Andreas Whittam-Smith. Polly, Kelner, Helena, Laurie, Sunny: your boy took a helluva beating.

Hari Lifted Orwell Prize Piece From Spiegel

As the outrage about journalistic practices spreads, it would be easy to forget the ongoing drama around the Independent’s Johnan Hari, and the investigation into his shameless plagiarism. Other bloggers have started to unravel Hari’s strange online antics, with lots of questions about Hari’s alternative personality online spinner “David R”. Who mysteriously shares an IP address with the Indy…


Currently having his 2008 Orwell Prize reviewed, Guido would like to point the committee to some alarming similarities between one of the articles that Hari submitted for the prize, and a feature in the German magazine Spiegel.

  • Take a read of the first six paragraphs of Johann’s award-winning piece “How Multiculturalism is Betraying Women”. Powerful stuff.
  • Then take a read of the first six paragraphs of Spiegel’s  “Paving the Way for a Muslim Parallel Society”. How odd.

Though he goes on to credit Spiegel with having“documented a long list” mentioned later in the piece, Johann fails to mention he gutted the German introduction, stealing its narrative, facts and quotes. It relies on the same individual cases and lifts a quote from German Minister for Integration Armin Laschet, that was sourced by another journalist If the Orwell Prize committee haven’t read both pieces then they can find them here and here.

And it wasn’t just the Germans that Johann ripped off. In the piece Johann states:

“As the Iranian author Azar Nafisi puts it: “I very much resent it when people – maybe with good intentions or from a progressive point of view – keep telling me, ‘It’s their culture’ … It’s like saying the culture of Massachusetts is burning witches.”

In Johann’s critical review of Nick Cohen’s “What’s Left?” he wrote:

“Cohen quotes the Iranian author Azar Nafisi: “I very much resent it when people – maybe with good intentions or from a progressive point of view – keep telling me, ‘It’s their culture’… It’s like saying the culture of Massachusetts is burning witches.””

It seems odd given how scathing Hari was of Cohen in the review that he would go on to quote “What’s Left” without crediting his source. Well it would odd if it was anyone but Hari…

N.B. Lest Guido should be accused of “doing a Hari”, the above points are largely based on original research by Hopi Sen, see also this comment from Hopi.

Hari's "Scoops"

The sun isn’t going down on the Johann Hari scandal. The careless whisper that he was tidying up what the subjects of his “interviews” were saying, doesn’t cover all of his artistic prose. What about when the interviewee isn’t a writer, yet still gets a spruce up? How are we meant to find a little faith then? 

Anna Raccoon and The Debrief have been pondering Hari’s “exclusive” interview with George Michael in the Indy back in 2005. The same interview exclusively appeared on Hari’s personal site the same day. Amazingly Hari seems to have blagged another interview with the troubled singer in 2009, this time for the Huffington Post. Except it’s not a new “exclusive” interview, it’s the same one – he simply changed the ages in the piece to reflect the time passed. A simple google from the HuffPo team would have proved that. Oh and of course there were bits of the original stolen from elsewhere. Wham!

Elsewhere around the web Archbishop Cranmer has his take, the Staggers’ notes Hari’s great affection for the Daily Mail. The HuffPo covers the scandal of the Indy journalist (Hari) who is a terrible fraud, neglecting to mention that Hari has written (or rather cut and pasted) for them, for years. Fancy that…

UPDATE: Guido understands that this week’s edition of Private Eye is going to be Hari-tastic.

Helena Kennedy Should Recuse Herself Over Harigate

A co-conspirator sent in this email this afternoon. If this is true and it was Helena Kennedy he overheard, she should recuse herself from the decision over Johann Hari and the Orwell Prize.

On Friday, mid afternoon I hopped on a train at Clapham Junction heading to Gatwick. Behind me was a softly Scottish accented lady who started to have a conversation on her mobile. There was someone quite upset on the phone and she was very consoling. She then announced that she was high up in the Media Standards Trust and started name-dropping her connections. I’d never heard of the MST till I read your blog today. She was clearly talking about the Hari story, which I had heard about, so I listened in. I don’t know who she was (their website is down* right now and didn´t see her), but she firmly came down on the side of Hari, and seemed to be suggesting that she’d be doing all she could to avoid the guy being treated badly. Who is she I wonder, and who was the person on the phone? She seemed to be being asked to give advice about what to do next, and kept on telling the person that she’d call them when she got home as she was on a train. It seemed rather urgent. I wondered if it might be Hari himself or someone being pulled down by the consequences. Kelner? I tried finding out who this Softly scottish accented woman was…

In a short time the co-conspirator and Guido came to form the opinion that it was Helena Kennedy. His second email continued:

Can’t be sure it was her because I didn’t see her (I was sitting directly in front of her and didn´t want to turn around). Her voice fits exactly. I’d never heard of the MST. In response to the call she received, she quickly declared her role in that organisation as well as some personal links some people associated with the Orwell Prize, and that was what pricked my ears up. If she’s the only “posh Scot” woman in that organisation, then it can’t be anyone else. The conversation that followed seemed to fit exactly as though she were talking about the Hari issue, and she was giving that defence of Hari I’ve read elsewhere. She didn’t actually mention Hari by name. She seemed to be travelling with two other people (men) as she was talking with them as I got off at Gatwick. I got on the train sometime around 3pm at Clapham if it helps.

Helena Kennedy is on the boards of both The Independent newspaper and the Media Standards Trust. Guido will caveat this by saying he has yet to speak to Kennedy to get her confirmation or denial. Prima facie this doesn’t sound like the beginnings of something that is going to be transparent and accountable. Hari deserves due process, not a liberal-establishment stitch-up…

*The Media Standards Trust website is currently down.

Hari was Dropped from GQ for "Concocted Journalism"

Dylan Jones, editor of GQ, is telling people that Johann Hari was dropped from writing for the magazine because he concocted copy that mixed fact and fiction. You don’t say…

Elsewhere more left-wing men of letters are breaking cover and saying openly what they have been muttering over the olive ciabatta in Hampstead and Islington. Martin Bright, who was an Orwell Prize judge this year, has come down hard tempered with mercy. In a tone which echoes Guido’s headmasters before a caning he writes:

Simply put, Johann Hari has let the side down. Several sides in fact. He has let down his fellow journalists, he has let down fellow liberals and he has let down the Orwell Prize… I feel a genuine sympathy for him on a personal level. There is something psychologically peculiar about attributing quotes in the way he did. And now through his arrogance he has drawn his editor and the Orwell Prize into this appalling mess. Johann Hari has disgraced himself. The Orwell Prize must come to its own decision about his prize. I hope his career survives this because he would be a loss to journalism. But if anyone is to believe what he writes in future he has to stop making excuses and simply explain his mystifying behaviour, honestly and openly. That is a piece I would read.

Elsewhere the novelist Jeremy Dun demands Hari admit he is a plagiarist and is scathing about Mark Lawson’s defence of Hari in the Guardian, which reads as if Lawson isn’t aware of the fullness of the allegations. Guy Walters in the New Statesmen (where Hari got his first break and had problems with deputy editor Christina Odone over his expenses) identified 42 cut ‘n pastes from Malalai Joya’s own book. Not all were in inverted commas, making them a problem of attribution, much of the text is presented as Hari’s own words. Classic plagiarism.

Left-wing academic Professor Norman Geras is balanced yet mildly scolds Hari’s defenders. Worth reading the Telegraph’s Damian Thompson for his take on events. He reckons it was the Kindle wot done For Hari

UPDATE: The blogger who caught this little scene-setting Hari lie in 2009 made Guido laugh, it dates back to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference: “Johann Hari Hates Big Macs But Tells Whoppers“. In itself a trivial lie to sex up an anti-capitalist piece. These kind of lies are the reason why Polly Toynbee and Laurie Penny et al are so keen to excuse him. Shame on them.

When Hari Met Reality: The First Time Hari Got Sacked for Making Things Up

Johann Hari has made a living out adding a little first person je ne sais quoi to his articles, also known as bullshit. Day after day new evidence emerges of his Matilda-ish tendency towards fakery and deception, and it appears to be a trick that he picked up early in his career. In October 1999 he was sacked as News Editor of Cambridge University’s Varsity student newspaper. He told friends at the time it was because the editor was “jealous of my intellect”. Another pure fabrication.

Hari was sacked after his sexed up copy, printed in the October 29, 1999 edition, included the made up fact that 1,500 students had taken part in a protest against tuition fees. It turned out to be a ridiculous exaggeration and when the editor discovered that the figure was way out, it was the final straw amidst a growing suspicion that Hari had an unfortunate tendency make up things to spice up his copy.

At least his then editor had some spine…

The Orwell Prize Council revealed yesterday that:

“Prior to presenting the award, as part of our due diligence, one of the judges contacted Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, who expressed his full confidence in the Hari articles”

Other former winners have confirmed to Guido that this was a one off and did not happen regarding their submissions, as far as Guido is aware no other editors have been contacted in this way to vouch for their hacks. What was suspicious about Hari’s work? His reputation for embellishment was known well enough in newsrooms to make the judges nervous.

The Orwell Prize Council pointedly claimed this week that they had, since awarding Hari the Orwell Prize in 2008, tightened up the rules regarding attribution of quotes. Did they have anyone in mind when they made that rule change?

On discovering yesterday that Hari entered work this year for the 2011 Orwell Prize, Guido asked the director of the prize to list the articles Hari had entered, he declined. They are it seems to go down the Orwellian memory hole. Jenni Russell won the prize this year, Hari’s continuing claim to be a former prize winner tarnishes the name of the prize. Guido knows for a fact that other prize winners feel genuine anger that Hari is among their prestigious number.

Hari defended himself in his mea culpa article using his own unique definition of plagiarism. To the charge of plagiarism we can add passing off, fraud, deception, profiting from the work of others and lying. He should be asked by the Orwell Prize Council to return the £3,000 prize money and to refrain from describing himself as a former Orwell Prize winner. As for Hari, he should note what happened to Matilda:

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,

For every time she shouted ‘Fire!’
They only answered ‘Little Liar!’
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned.

Chris Blackhurst was announced as the new editor of The Indy today…

Orwell Prize "Continue to Pursue" Hari

Then:

“The Independent columnist’s award-winning work included pieces on a cruise with American rightwingers, a report on Saudi Arabia, multiculturalism and women, and another on France’s “secret war” in the Central African Republic. Johann Hari’s work combines courageous reporting and forceful writing with honest analysis,” said Orwell Prize judge Albert Scardino, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.” More…

Now:

“The Orwell Prize became aware of allegations concerning Johann Hari, the winner of the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2008, on Monday 27th June. (Johann Hari has also been shortlisted for the Prize in the past, and entered this year’s Prize.) Given the seriousness of the allegations that have been made, we feel we have no choice other than to investigate further.

The Council of the Orwell Prize takes the integrity and reputation of the Orwell Prize, and the rigour, fairness and transparency of the entry and judging process, very seriously. As stated on Tuesday 28th June, there is a process to follow in such situations, which we have been following since Monday and continue to pursue  …

Since 2008 the entry process has been made more robust still. The governance of the Prize has been reformed, and all entrants are required to sign a disclaimer, declaring that the submitted work ‘is wholly or substantially that of the named author or authors, and does not contain any plagiarised or unacknowledged material.”

If they want a proper investigation then they should allow some open sourced scrutiny of the pieces. Seems to have worked so far…

Quote of the Day

Simon Kelner said to Johann Hari…

‘Those who live by Twitter, die by Twitter.’

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.[…] Read the rest

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