Johann Hari – The Milli Vanilli of journalism

Girl you know it’s true…or maybe it isn’t

Toby Young used to be annoying for a living. These days, with Young returned from New York, he proves as adept at annoying people as ever, the lefties hate the free school he has helped set up in west London. As a wise man once said to me, the left loves diversity in everything except thought.

I’m glad to see that Toby Young shares not just my views on free schools but my dislike for the dreadful Johann Hari, a man so consistently wrong and with such vehemence that you can only conclude it’s not ignorance but dishonesty.

So I was pleased to see Young trumpeting on his blog today just what a cheeky and unprofessional little blighter Hari is. He’s been rumbled passing off collections of quotes from books as interviews with those books’ authors.

Hari spoke out to defend himself

“When I’ve interviewed a writer, it’s quite common that they will express an idea or sentiment to me that they have expressed before in their writing – and, almost always, they’ve said it more clearly in writing than in speech. (I know I write much more clearly than I speak – whenever I read a transcript of what I’ve said, or it always seems less clear and more clotted. I think we’ve all had that sensation in one form or another).

So occasionally, at the point in the interview where the subject has expressed an idea, I’ve quoted the idea as they expressed it in writing, rather than how they expressed it in speech”

I rather liked Elizabeth Flock of the Washington Post’s take on that

“Let’s say you once interviewed Martin Luther King Jr. for a story, but he wasn’t all that articulate about his hopes for racial reconciliation. So you decided to just quote his “I have a dream” line in the story and pretend he told it to you. That’s fine, right?”

Johann Hari is the Milli Vanilli of journalism.*

* Note to Hari, this comes from a comment on Toby Young’s blog post