Johann Hari and the article for Der Spiegel


12:27 pm - July 31st 2011

by Hopi Sen    


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I didn’t particularly want to write a piece about Johann Hari. As you may know, the Independent columnist is being investigated by his employer for various alleged ethical and professional lapses of various degrees of seriousness.

As a good social democrat, I think an employer has a duty of care to their employee, and while I have an opinion, I’m also aware I’m not in possession of all the facts. For example, if Johann Hari has been consistently honest with his employers about his working practices, the issue becomes as much a matter about their judgement as about his.

What has troubled me, however, is the sense among some on the left that those who raise questions about Johann Hari’s work have a right-wing, or catholic, or other somesuch agenda which devalues their concerns about his journalism.

This was most obvious in the initial reaction to allegations of plagiarism when the likes of Polly Toynbee leapt to his defence, but it is also a theme in the comments threads of posts like this one on Liberal Conspiracy last week.

Perhaps people do have such an agenda. I’ve no idea. But if they are right on the facts, that should be enough. But just in case it isn’t I want to focus on why, if Johann Hari’s journalism was shoddy and inaccurate, it should concern those you might call “progressives”. I will simply examine one of the articles Johann Hari submitted for the 2008 Orwell prize. It was an article in the Independent called “How Multi-Culturalism is betraying women”. It is, in large part lifted from an article which appeared in Spiegel a month earlier.

We know this because Johann Hari’s article only uses examples and cases from an article that appeared in Spiegel a month before his own. He uses the same quotes, the same cases, the same people. Every example that appears in Hari’s article also appears in the Spiegel piece. All but two of the quotes Johann uses are lifted, word for word, from the same Spiegel piece (of the remaining two, one is taken from a Nick Cohen book)

I want to be crystal clear. This is not, in my view, plagiarism. Instead, it shows that an article Johann Hari submitted for the Orwell prize was a third rate cuttings job, a piece lifted from a single article from Spiegel magazine, an article referenced in passing but which provides about eight tenth’s of the Hari article’s content..

Naturally, being a lazy journalist is not a crime. Where the real concern comes, though, is that in the process compressing and editing the work of others, Johann Hari allowed major errors to creep into his article, errors which leave the reader with a seriously inaccurate view of the events he reports .

Errors, in fact which mean that Hari must be deliberately misleading his readers about an important issue in order to make a polemical point.

The introduction of Johann Hari’s article is: “Do you believe in the rights of women, or do you believe in multiculturalism? A series of verdicts in the German courts in the past month, have shown with hot, hard logic that you can’t back both. ” (emphasis mine).

It is the case of a woman who sought an expedited divorce from her abusive husband, and was initially denied by a judge in January 2007.

As Spiegel describes it:

the case brought before Frankfurt’s family court was that of a 26-year-old German woman of Moroccan origin who was terrified of her violent Moroccan husband, a man who had continued to threaten her despite having been ordered to stay away by the authorities. He had beaten his wife and he had allegedly threatened to kill her.

…Judge Christa Datz-Winter suddenly became inflexible. According to the judge, there was no evidence of “an unreasonable hardship” that would make it necessary to dissolve the marriage immediately. Instead, the judge argued, the woman should have “expected” that her husband, who had grown up in a country influenced by Islamic tradition, would exercise the “right to use corporal punishment” his religion grants him.

It was an outrageous and stupid decision and when it became public, it outraged almost everyone in Germany. For example, Spiegel quotes Lale Akgün, “a member of parliament of Turkish origin and the Social Democratic Party’s representative on Islamic issues”, saying that the ruling was “worse than some backyard decision by an Islamist imam.

Hari does not mention any of this. Nor does he mention the fact that, as Spiegel says in the same article: “Judge Datz-Winter was removed from the case and the courts proved themselves capable of acting responsibly”.

Yet when you read the Speigel article, the cases Hari cites were spread over more than five years. This is misleading as it creates the sense of a sudden crisis. Worse, by ignoring the timescale, Hari also ignores the resolution of the cases, just as he does with the Datz-Winter case.

To take one of the examples, we learn from Spiegel :

In 2003 the Frankfurt District Court handed down a mild sentence against a Turkish-born man who had stabbed his German-born wife to death.

According to the court’s decision, the divorce would have violated “his family and male honor derived from his Anatolian moral concepts.” The Federal Constitutional Court reversed the decision in 2004.

In the hands of Johann Hari a month later this becomes :”A Turkish-German who stabbed his wife Zeynep to death in Frankfurt was given the lowest possible sentence, because, the judge said, the murdered woman had violated his “male honour, derived from his Anatolian moral concepts”. The bitch.

As Johann Hari referenced Spiegel and used the exact same quote in describing the case as the Spiegel journalists, he must surely have noticed the date of the case. But he does not include it.

Nor does he include Spiegel’s very next sentence, which says that “The Federal Constitutional Court reversed the decision in 2004“. Again, nor does he include Spiegel’s more general disclaimer in the very next paragraph that “higher courts usually reverse these sorts of rulings”.

Instead, he leads the reader to believe that this case is one of a group that have just happened, and which show that a multi-cultural state is incapable of dealing with such cases at all.

Indeed the entire thrust of Hari’s article is that “a hot hard logic” means we must choose between the rights of women and multi-culturalism. Evidence that judges can (and do) make stupid, ignorant, foolish judgements which are then corrected on appeal does not fit with that Manichean argument. So they are left out. That’s not mere hackery, it’s fundamentally dishonest writing.

But what’s worse, when dealing with an important subject like gender, religion and culture, is that Hari’s inaccuracy leads, I believe, to a serious misleading of the reader about the rights of Muslim women in Germany.

The Spiegel article quoted Ayten Köse, 42, who manages a women’s shelter. Like Johann Hari, she was infuriated by the Frankfurt case.

She is constantly reminding women that the German state will not let them down. “But what should I tell them now, after this Frankfurt ruling?” Köse asks furiously. “That it can happen sometimes?” Trust in the constitution and the hope that it will be enforced, says Köse, is sometimes the only thing Muslim women can rely on for encouragement.

Yet Johann Hari says “In Germany today, Muslim women have been reduced to third-class citizens stripped of core legal protections – because of the doctrine of multiculturalism, which says a society should be divided into separate cultures with different norms according to ethnic origin.

Who should we believe? Ayten Kose, who was rightly furious with an idiotic judgement, and wanted the German constitution consistently upheld precisely because it represents a vital protection for Muslim women, or Johann, who distorted the facts to make a point and then claimed she has been reduced to a third class citizen, stripped of those same legal protections?

The woman at the heart of the case told Spiegel The worst thing is that the judge misinterpreted Islam. Our prophet said women are not to be beaten. The Prophet gave women rights and treats them as something special, not like a piece of shit. But the judge apparently sees something different.

She seemed to want both German rights for women to be upheld, and to be a Muslim woman in Germany. Yet Johann Hari’s “hot, hard logic” claims she can’t have both.

I disagree with the premise of Johann’s 2007 article. I don’t think “multi-culturalism is betraying women”. Rather, I think that legal systems, often in cack-handed ways, are trying to come to terms with both the positive and negative consequences of multi-culturalism and seeking the balance between respecting differing cultures and of the fundamental rights of the individual.

This highlights major issues we must deal with – such as honour killings and forced marriages. These must be addressed with the same focus given to any crime of such seriousness, and we must not hide from them.

Personally, I feel that western countries have become better, healthier, more open societies as such subjects are exposed, debated and democratically resolved, as for example is happening with regard to Forced marriages.

What Johann Hari wrote was not fine journalism, but at best a third rate ctrl-C article. At worst, he seriously misled his readers about the details of an important, sensitive issue to make a polemical point. Frankly, that’s more Littlejohn than an Orwell.

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Reader comments


Hari talking bollocks again? Ah ok..

Any faith I had in him has fast eroded, and I suspect many others feel the same. He only has himself to blame.

‘I didn’t particularly want to write a piece about Johann Hari.’

And there you should of finished and gone out into the sun and had an ice-cream.

It is Johann’s wish to be praised but never questioned that has frustrated me. I had one criticism of an article he wrote and tweeted once. He promptly blocked me. Not someone seeking open discussion.

http://alanmills405.blogspot.com/2011/04/on-being-rude-on-twitter-and-johann.html

4. Mr Eugenides

Never mind. As long as Hari has Sunny’s support against these “stupid allegations”, I’m sure he’ll be fine.

The selective and disingenuous use of quotes and dates is standard practice for Hari. Below is a critique I wrote elsewhere last year of this article he wrote:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-camerons-cuts-will-kill-not-cure-2038887.html

Readers should not have to fact check journalists who are paid to write articles their readers should be able to have faith in. This is just one piece of Hari’s I decided to fact check, because I could immediately tell he was being dishonest in his presentation of the facts. One shudders to think what we would find if we did this to all his writing.

“Chris Connolly Even by Johann Hari’s standards this is a shockingly bad mix of economic illiteracy, disingenuous (at best) quotations, factual errors and lazy cliches (though why anyone would expect anything different from Johann is beyond me).

So, first things first: Moody’s downgrading of Ireland to Aa2, which was in their words a result of “banking liabilities, weak growth prospects, and a substantial increase in the debt to GDP ratio”. While they are in no particular order, the first is the most important by a long shot: the black hole for public monies that is the Irish banking system dwarfs everything else. However, even if we take into account Johann’s contention that the budget cuts have at least a role to play in the poor growth prospects, the failure to do so would have pushed up the debt to GDP ratio even further, which in all probability would have resulted in the downgrading of Ireland’s debt, perhaps even further. So to begin with the entire piece is predicated on a false assumption.

Secondly, it is something of an understatement to describe what happened to Ireland’s economy in the past few years as ‘when the recession hit’. As he later points out in a different context, Ireland the decline in economic output in Ireland between 2007 and 2009 exceeded “that being faced by any other advanced economy, and matches episodes of the most severe economic distress [anywhere] in post-Second World War history.” He then displays a lack of understanding between deficit and debt by stating that the Irish government’s approach was “like any responsible family and cut spending to pay down its debt”, which is of course nonsense. The collapse in tax receipts in Ireland caused by the bursting of the housing bubble meant that Ireland faced a 12 billion euro annual deficit, which could only by filled by increasing debt by borrowing more on the international markets. However, without a clear plan to reduce this huge deficit, and spiralling debt to GDP ratio, the government needed to implement a clear plan to reduce this deficit, or the cost of borrowing would increase to such an extent that the country would be driven to the brink of bankruptcy. Hari then implies that George Osborne’s comments about copying events across the Irish Sea were in admiration of the Irish government’s cuts in the past few years: they were not. They were made in 2006 after the trip to Ireland that Hari mentions in the opening of that paragraph.

He then rather carefully but disingenuously notes that free school meals for children in families earning less than £307 per week have been “cancelled”, implying that something that they already enjoy is being taken away from them. Not that I particularly welcome the move, but what is happening is that a pre-election promise by Labour to extend free meals to these children who never received them before has been cancelled. A subtle but rather important difference.

He later claims that Dr. David Stuckler has calculated that the cuts will result in ’38,000’ extra deaths over the next decade, “due to the reduced healthcare, dismantled services for the elderly and vulnerable children, increased suicides, and so on. “ Stuckler actually claimed that between 6,500 and 38,000 extra deaths may occur, with the main cause being an increase in alcohol-related and cardiovascular-related mortalities.

He then turns his attention back to Ireland, noting that “Last week, a study by the International Monetary Fund – nobody’s idea of a left-wing pressure group – found that country’s economic collapse now “exceeds that being faced by any other advanced economy, and matches episodes of the most severe economic distress [anywhere] in post-Second World War history”, as mentioned above. The only problem is that this report was issued in the Spring of 2009, just as the government was beginning to take austerity measures. Its verdict of July 2010: “After Deep Slump, Nascent Recovery for Ireland”… If the government had failed to take action, the budget deficit would have been much larger and the borrowing requirements would have started going up even faster. That would have put the country in a difficult position over the medium term.”. Again Hari is dishonest and misleading with his use of dates, context, and misleads his readers.

He then goes on again to confuse debt and deficit by stating completely incorrectly that “That’s why the bond markets have turned on Ireland. The country introduced austerity to pay off their debts – and the austerity killed their economy, making it impossible to pay off their debts in any case.” The cost of borrowing for Ireland has increased in recent times because of the still unresolved crisis in our banks, and we are not paying off our debts, we are still borrowing massively.

Whatever the morality of it all, Johann certainly doesn’t understand the economics. And what’s more, on occasions in this article he was either demonstrating further ignorance or coming close to being uneconomical with the verité to boot. I am not sure which is worst for someone whom some people still consider to be a serious journalist.”

@earwicga

And the Hari Potter Defence League is back out again. No reference to Murdoch? No accusations that Hopi is Damian Thompson?

Am I right in thinking entrants are supposed to submit what they consider to be their best work to the Orwell Prize judges? If this is his best work, what is the rest of it like?

(And what remarkable disrespect for the judges, to submit this kind of hackery to them.)

8. PapushiSun

Now will people like Hundal and Monbiot stop claiming that Hari made ‘mistakes’.

Alan, could you post that link to yr blog again please? i don’t think i’ve seen it before, except on every post about J Hari on LC.

Now why would Mr Hari omit such things to give the impression of multiculturalism bending over backwards to appease Muslims? (sounds familiar to inspiration for recent devastating events that does)

http://leninology.blogspot.com/2011/02/can-we-finally-talk-about-johann-haris.html

So, can we finally talk about Johann Hari’s Muslim problem?

Hari’s career is over. End of.

Excellent article, Hopi.

The one point in it I would question is your view that it does Hari’s piece does not amount to plagiarism. I think it does, if the same standards are used as those currently applied in British universities.

Hari’s career is over. End of.

So there’ll a columnist’s job going at the Indy?
I wonder what he’s doing with himself. Probably a good time to go on holiday.

14. Augustine

Didn’t Guido Fawkes come up with this first??
http://order-order.com/2011/07/12/hari-lifted-orwell-prize-piece-from-spiegel/#comment-1024595

Sorry if I missed it, but I didn’t see any attribution in your piece. Given the charges against Hari, particularly the ones in this article, that’s a pretty big oversight!

When Alexander McQueen died and Johann Hari criticised people for calling him a genius I really had no idea that it was just another aspect of his lack of respect for creativity and accurate research. Still, it’s nice to know that his views are cohesive and fit in to a broader understanding of the world.

@augustine

This is rather disingenuous of you. The industrial scale lifting by hari from the Speigel article are already well known. Hopi’s article focuses on how hari selected certain elements from the Speigel article to bolster the force of his polemic and ignored certain crucial elements of the Speigel story because it would have seriously undermined the case he was making. Did Orwell ever knowingly mislead his readers in this way?

@Niko, to be fair, given that newspaper articles are not footnoted, it isn’t a great direct comparison.

@Chris

I take your point and agree that there is no direct comparison between standards of attribution required in journalism and academe. God forbid that newspaper articles would have to be littered with extensive footnotes. However, I do think that where a journalist has engaged in extensive quotation or near quotation from another source, that source should be properly acknowledged

A couple of bits that I’ve noted in his indy columns:

“In whole boroughs of east London, where I live, no new social housing has been built since I was four years old. ”

At the very best we might say that he’s got confused. Perhaps no new council houses since the mid 80s but quite a lot of social housing by social landlords. You know, we moved council housing over to social landlords?

” After slavery was abolished in 1833, Britain’s GDP fell by 10 percent ”

No, it didn’t. Grew from 1832 to 1839. Anyway, why would it? We hadn’t had slaves in the UK since the 1770s and the Somersett case.

“Yet Osborne has chosen the opposite. There will be on average one new home built per week in the whole of London and the south-east. That’s one.”

No. That’s the number of council homes. Another 20,000 a year social and 15,000 a year private sector. 700 a day odd, so he’s out by a factor of 700.

“To name just one, Philip Green, the sixth richest man in Britain, earned £1.5bn from British shops on British streets in 2009, and paid £0 in tax on it.”

Complete and entire bollocks. Note the year……1.5 billion was the sales of the group. On that VAT was paid (of course) and then 50 million corporation tax was paid on the profits of about £150 million. Green also paid income tax on his salary (he is resident for tax).

And no, again, note the year. This isn’t the year there was that large dividend. The company paid no dividend at all that year, 2009. There just wasn’t any tax avoidance at all. It’s complete and total bollocks.

Just about every economic number he’s used in two years of columns is bullshit.

Augustine:

Can I gently refer you to a quote at the bottom of Guido’s piece which you link to and accuse me of plagiarising from?

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

http://order-order.com/2011/07/12/hari-lifted-orwell-prize-piece-from-spiegel/

(what happened is that I did the original research to submit to the Orwell Prize enquiry, and emailed a summary to a few people to check for accuracy/comment, one of whom presumably forwarded to Paul Staines, who quite reasonably used it and offered to credit me.)

21. PapushiSun

@20

Hopi Sen dispenses the pwnage.

@20

You plagiarised your own work?
Shame on you.

Enough. We get the picture. The damage is done. Do we want blood?

Because if you do. Shame on you.

24. Matt Wallinger

This article is itself misleading. Hopi says:

“But what’s worse, when dealing with an important subject like gender, religion and culture, is that Hari’s inaccuracy leads, I believe, to a serious misleading of the reader about the rights of Muslim women in Germany.”

How can that be, when the first determination of the case upheld the husband’s rights? Yes, on appeal the decision was righted, but it took an appeal.

There are literally thousands of cases of abuse against muslim women where shari law and Islam are contorted in shapes that seek to degrade and silence women — and that doesn’t include those who do not make it to court.

You are manipulating Hari’s right to make a valid point about the dangers of not applying one law for all in the courts system — into yet another attack. He was under no obligation to quote Spiegel verbatim. Hari clearly picked out the bits which made his case, to support his own opinion.

This is what all journalists and Op-Ed writers do. Don’t believe me? Take a look around. Everyone on the web, in print, and in media — is expressing an opinion.

And forgive me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t everyone for that — everyday. From the man/woman in the street to the highest in the land?.

Ed Miliband says ” catastrophic decision”, Cameron says ” second chances.”

Who’s right?

They both are. These are opinions. If we start censoring these we are in big trouble as a society and as a country.

For better or worse, newspapers and media as a whole deals in competing narratives 365 days of the year. That is their business, that is what they do.

Hopi closes with: ” I disagree with the premise of Johann’s 2007 article. I don’t think “multi-culturalism is betraying women.”

No problem. Many would agree with you and many others wouldn’t.

Hari wasn’t being inaccurate, he was expressing his opinion. That is all.

Let’s not make this more than it is.

I only ever read a few of pieces – about the lunatic fringe of my faith tradition, whom he encountered in London as I recall. I found the way he framed his experiences to be equally misleading, and he struck me as just another columnist playing to the crowd. It seems my intuition has been proved right, which makes a change!

26. PapushiSun

@24

‘Hari clearly picked out the bits which made his case, to support his own opinion.’

And discarded any inconvenient bits that did not support his opinion. Deceptive and manipulative.

What’s happened to Hari is a personal tragedy, but it’s one entirely of his own making.

There are few things more frustrating than reading a columnist whose stance I should by rights be backing to the hilt, but who riddles his pieces with so much hyperbole, emotive distortion and elementary factual errors (I’m merely an interested amateur when it comes to economics, but even I could see that his knowledge of the subject was woeful) that I often cringed when friends approvingly linked to them on Facebook and Twitter.

Most of Hari’s flaws were glaringly apparent well before last June. And when the plagiarism allegations first surfaced, my reaction was one of complete lack of surprise: the man’s laziness was evident in almost everything he wrote, so why wouldn’t he have been tempted by other short cuts?

But I am fascinated by the psychology of people who are continuing to defend him even in the face of overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence of practices that would have got him sacked outright from most publications without the benefit of a two-month investigation (which I hope is casting as much light on Simon Kelner’s own lack of attention to detail – Hari wouldn’t have lasted five minutes at somewhere like the New Yorker). The sockpuppetry allegations have been a convenient red herring for Hari’s supporters, since although they’re lipsmackingly salacious they remain firmly unproven – but how can people defend everything else with a straight face?

The bottom line is that either he’s an honest writer or he isn’t – there are no grey areas. Contrary to what some people seem to believe, it’s not OK to be a dishonest writer if you bat for the right political team – in many ways, it’s worse. And that would apply even to writers who didn’t specialise in dishing out sanctimonious abuse to people that they think fall short of their own impossibly high ethical standards.

As I said, a tragedy – but a wholly self-inflicted one.

23. Jamie, I can’t think of anything bad I want for Johann Hari the person, who I have never met, but sometimes agreed with. In my opinion though, he has been shown to have regularly not been a credible, original, accurate or factual journalist, and that does present a problem in his current career. I hope I am wrong, but I’ve seen little evidence to support that argument.

24. Matt, I’m afraid I can’t agree with you. You say that Johann Hari was just expressing an opinion.

However, as I point out, he got the facts of the cases he wrote about wrong in a way that served his polemical purposes, while ignoring resolutions he must have known about since they are referred to in the source material he lifted all his examples and all but two of his quotes from.

That is not merely expresing an opinion, it is being deliberately mendacious about the facts.

You are right to say though, that he was under no obligation to quote Spiegel verbatim. However, since he did so, we know he must have been aware of the facts he did not pass on to his readers. That is, at the very best, a major lie of omission.

“As I said, a tragedy – but a wholly self-inflicted one.”

I don’t think what’s happened to Hari really rises to the level of tragedy. It’s simple ignominy, deserved on account of extremely poor behaviour.

As for Hari’s critics being right-wing and/or Catholic… well, I don’t know about the right-wingers, but given some of the inaccurate garbage Hari was spouting regarding the Pope in the run-up to the papal visit (misrepresenting a document by Ratzginer as an order to cover up child abuse being the most egregious of his lies – which could be seen by anyone who went and read the cited document), it’s hardly surprising that Catholics should be among those blowing the whistle on his journalistic standards.

By the way, in the original piece I sent to Sunny I put in a footnore with examples of the extent of Johann Hari’s use of the original article. It’s useful because it shows that Hari must have been exrremely familiar with the German article. However, it is a bit long and boring, so think of it as a footnote!

As I say, he does reference the Spiegel article as the source of certain cases, though he does not declare that his quotes etc are taken from that same piece

Example A

Spiegel: “the woman, as a Muslim, should have “expected” it, the judge explained. She read out passages from the Koran to show that Muslim husbands have the “right to use corporal punishment”.

Hari: “Instead, the judge argued, the woman should have “expected” that her husband, who had grown up in a country influenced by Islamic tradition, would exercise the “right to use corporal punishment” his religion grants him.”

Example B

Spiegel : “In 2003 the Frankfurt District Court handed down a mild sentence against a Turkish-born man who had stabbed his German-born wife to death…. According to the court’s decision, the divorce would have violated “his family and male honor derived from his Anatolian moral concepts.””

Hari :”A Turkish-German who stabbed his wife Zeynep to death in Frankfurt was given the lowest possible sentence, because, the judge said, the murdered woman had violated his “male honour, derived from his Anatolian moral concepts”. The bitch.”

Example C

Spiegel :”The district court in Essen was equally lenient when, in 2002, it sentenced a Lebanese man who had applied for asylum — and who routinely beat his children and wife with a belt and also raped his spouse — to nothing more than probation. The judge cited the man’s cultural background as a mitigating
circumstance.”

Hari: “A Lebanese-German who raped his wife Fatima while whipping her with a belt was sentenced to probation, with the judge citing his … you get the idea.”

Example D

Spiegel: “…sentenced a Lebanese man to probation in 2005 after he had severely beaten his daughter several times for resisting his efforts to force her into an arranged marriage. He hit her on the head with a stick. When it broke he choked her and threatened to stab her to death. The court argued that the fact that his actions were based on his Muslim moral concepts served as a mitigating factor.”

Hari: “A Lebanese-German who strangled his daughter Ibthahale and then beat her unconscious with a bludgeon because she didn’t want to marry the man he had picked out for her was sentenced to mere probation. His “cultural background” was cited by the judge as a mitigating factor.”

Example E

Spiegel: “Armin Laschet, a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from the state of North Rhine Westphalia, sees the Frankfurt ruling as the “last link, for the time being, in a chain of horrific rulings handed down by German courts”

Hari: “Germany’s only state-level Minister for Integration, Armin Laschet, says this is only “the last link, for the time being, in a chain of horrific rulings handed down by the German courts”.”

Example F

Speigel: “The judges found that such fears were “comparable with the situation of a partially mentally impaired person who, because of her disability, can only travel with a companion.”

Hari : ” The judges said the girl was like “a partially mentally impaired person who, because of her disability, can only travel with a companion”.
(this case was one from 2001/2, five years before Hari’s article)

Example G

Spiegel: “For example, in his book “Women in Islam,” Imam Mohammed Kamal Mustafa of Spain recommends how women should be beaten. If you beat their hands and feet with “whips that are too thick,” he warns, you risk leaving scars. Abdelkader Bouziane, an Algerian imam who calls two women his own, recommends handing out beatings in such a way that the consequences are not apparent to infidels”

Hari: “For example, in Spain, the popular Imam Mohammed Kamal Mustafa warns that you shouldn’t use “whips that are too thick” because they leave scars that can be detected by the “infidels”. ”

Note here that Hari appears to have conflated separate points about separate people into one single point.

A while back I clashed with Hari on twitter. He had written a really moving piece about the poor care his grandmother had received:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-my-grandmother-deserved-a-better-ending-than-this-2184337.html

I was delighted he was drawing attention to serious failings in care, and problems with the regulator, but his facts were way off. He wrote:

“The people who are supposed to inspect care homes – the Care Quality Commission, or CQC – are being massively cut back under David Cameron. Five years ago, there were 50,000 visits in a single year. This year, there will be a quarter of that. The Government is shifting to a model of “light touch regulation”, where homes will largely assess themselves by filling in “paper reviews” – essentially a series of forms.”

It’s true that there are major problems with the regulator, but they go way back to the cuts to regulation under Labour in 2007. I pointed this out to Hari on twitter, and he responded that they’d been accelerated under Cameron. I’m no Cameron defender, but that’s just untrue – as my own research into this issue shows (see chart, halfway down):

http://thesmallplaces.blogspot.com/2011/07/regulation-rights-and-risk.html

I’ve no idea where Hari got his figure of 50,000 inspections a year; they’ve never been that high – and five years ago there were only 18,731. And this year we’ve only had approximately 2308 inspections – whereas Hari’s article would place it at 12500. The cuts under Cameron pale into insignificance in comparison with cuts in 2007. I don’t know why Hari wouldn’t listen to me when I pointed this out; I suspect he wanted to make a wider polemical point about the Tories. But dodgy facts don’t help the debate.

But it was okay when he was publishing articles aboutthe Pope which were full of lies, gave you lot some red meat, eh.

24 @Matt Wallinger

In that case you should have no problem finding misleading and/or disingenuous (mis)quoting of people or dates from other commentators; let’s say Jackie Ashley, Polly Toynbee, or Nick Cohen. If they all do it it should only take you half an hour.

Or maybe they have journalistic standards and believe that comment is free, but…?

One other thing I wanted to mention…

Johann’s article uses the names of all the women as a motif, a call to action. He makes a point of using the names of the women – “*The crux case centres on a woman called Nishal..”* and so on, before finishing *”Yes, it would be easy to keep our heads down, go with this multicultural drift, and congratulate ourselves on our tolerance of the fanatically intolerant. But I can give you a few good reasons not to. Their names are Nishal and Ibthahale and Zeynep and Fatima, and, yes, they were women.” *

If Johann did anything _creatively_ in his article, it was to use the names of the women as a motif, a call to passionate action. The names give the ending power, and if Johann Hari had researched to get the names, he could make a case that this was his personal creative contribution (though it woudn’t undermine the point about inaccuarcy).

But as you can see from the above examples the Speigel piece Johann took all these stories from didn’t give *any* names for the cases he quoted -Fatima, Zeynep, Ibtahale and Nishal are left anonymous. So where are the names from?

For example, Johann calls the woman at the heart of the case “Nishal”. Now, nowhere else in the coverage of the case is that name used. Other sources refer to a “Najat L” which I think is likely a “identity protection” name. I don’t know where Nishal came from, but then I’m not a proper journalist, so I only have google search skills.

I’m no fan of Johann’s but I can’t believe anyone would be so crass as to make up the names of the victims, and _then_ use those names as the heart of the piece.

So if anyone wants to _defend_ Johann, then a useful step would be to find out how he discovered the names of the women in the cases he writes about.

Sunny? Where are you? Come out and defend Johann again. Some nasty people are accusing him of being a slimy, dishonest, manipulative little bullshitter.

You know better so do tell.

“This is not, in my view, plagiarism.” … “a third rate cuttings job, a piece lifted from a single article from Spiegel magazine, an article referenced in passing but which provides about eight tenth’s of the Hari article’s content.”

In academia, which is the most sensitive to plagiarism, this work would have been rejected at the very least, and could have earned the writer an expulsion. Citing sources clearly (not just referencing in passing when it is the main backbone of the article) is vital. I don’t expect quite such rigid adherance to strict standards in commercial writing, but that was utterly, insultingly ridiculous. And ridiculously manipulative.
I know Hari and others have said it isn’t, but that absolutely is plagiarism. The source was undeniably insufficiently cited, even if you count a passing reference as a reference.

37. Matt Wallinger

There are instances where Hari has plagiarised.

This isn’t one of them.

When since hasn’t a journalist used quotes and ideas that support their angle?

This hunting of Hari has now extended beyond smug righteousness into a free for all.

Give it a rest.

I echo @35. Where is Sunny now, with his defence of Johann Hari and his nonsense about “severed heads”?

39. PapushiSun

@37

“This isn’t one of them.”

And Hopi said so in his original post. To quote, “This is not, in my view, plagiarism.”

“When since hasn’t a journalist used quotes and ideas that support their angle?”

Other people do it, so it’s okay. Are you child? Because only to children does this defense make sense.

“This hunting of Hari has now extended beyond smug righteousness into a free for all.”

The lengths to which the Hari Potter brigade to defend their hero is going is getting ridiculous. To use your own words, Matt, give it a rest.

40. Matt Wallinger

After you.

41. Peter Copping

As someone who has helped both male and female young Asians in this sort of difficulty I would have liked a comment on:

>”I don’t think “multi-culturalism is betraying women”. Rather, I think that legal >systems, often in cack-handed ways, are trying to come to terms with both the >positive and negative consequences of multi-culturalism and seeking the balance >between respecting differing cultures and of the fundamental rights of the >individual. ”

in DFR and please no resort to weasel word like ‘usually’ to compare it with the UK experience.

Hari chasing seems more like dog eats dog.

Maybe some discussion which could help my contacts would be better.

Whether you’re a Hari lover or hater one thing is absolutely crystal clear – what Hari did IS plagiarism – in fact it’s very nearly a textbook case.

To take the written work of others without their prior permission and reproduce those works elsewhere without providing acknowledgements is plagiarism. It does not matter what one does with the ‘borrowed’ texts – the simply using without acknowledging makes it so. Fact. There are also no mitigating circumstances – whether Hari did it with ‘a good heart’ or not is an irrelevance (personally I believe he did it for cynical self-serving purposes but that’s by the by).

There should be no-one still suggesting that what he did isn’t plagiarism – it is and quite frankly you’d be hard pressed to find a more black and white case of it if you tried.

Mr Hari’s career in journalism is, hopefully, well and truly over.

“This hunting of Hari has now extended beyond smug righteousness into a free for all.”

I’d agree with you if there was no fresh evidence being proffered – but this is anything but the case. I’m no fan of Hari (having recognised years ago that his combination of shrill sanctimony and cavalier attitude towards facts was doing his various causes no good at all), but even I’ve been shocked at how extensively he’s been ignoring some of the most basic rules of good journalism, over dozens of pieces going back roughly a decade. Clearly, the Independent has a lot of explaining to do as well.

Still, at least you acknowledge that he is indeed guilty of plagiarism. So presumably you won’t complain if he’s sacked in September, bearing in mind that many, many people (Boris Johnson among them) have been fired for single acts of plagiarism and/or quote invention, whereas Hari is undoubtedly guilty of multiple infractions that are absolutely clear-cut and evidence-backed.

Mr Hari’s career in journalism is, hopefully, well and truly over.

I’m not sure I agree. His career as a reporter is surely over (who could trust his sources again?) but as a polemical writer he’s really pretty good. And I say this as someone who disagrees with him on more or less everything, and has been pointing out his factual misrepresentations and general journalistic skulduggery for years.

In fact, you can scrub the ‘polemical’. As a writer, pure and simple, Johann Hari is rather good. That doesn’t mean that he’s excused for making up quotes and stealing sources, but it does mean that there’ll probably be a job of some sort waiting for him at the end of it all.

So presumably you won’t complain if he’s sacked in September, bearing in mind that many, many people (Boris Johnson among them) have been fired for single acts of plagiarism and/or quote invention, whereas Hari is undoubtedly guilty of multiple infractions that are absolutely clear-cut and evidence-backed.

Boris is a case in point – he deserved to be sacked from the Times for making up quotes, but it was hardly the end of his career in journalism was it? People can come back from these things. What Boris’s case really highlights is how badly Hari was let down by his editors at the New Statesman and the Independent.

@44

it does mean that there’ll probably be a job of some sort waiting for him at the end of it all.

Hopefully he’ll be classified as a fiction writer.

41. Peter, Sorry, I’m afraid I didn’t understand your question?

37. First of all – I don’t like this “hunting” idea. Pointing out inaccuracies in people’s work is not hunting, or blood sport. It’s the basics of debate. We shouldn’t rule it out.

Second, you was “When since hasn’t a journalist used quotes and ideas that support their angle?” which is a bit odd. My argument is that Hari was factually wrong and must have known it, and yet excluded inconvienient facts in order to make a point. As the old saw has it, all journalists are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Sadly, I think Mr Hari made an audacious bid for both.

Yes I have seen Mr Hari getting all carried away and over-polemical..

So he’s been copying Der Spiegel, has he? Without the knowledge that everyone can read the English edition.. 😛

That’s very naughty and truly plagiaristic: unlike the previous storm in a teacup when all he did was quoted from books by people who wanted their books quoted.

Re multi-culturalism and human rights etc: I think it’s possible to have those and multi-culturalism: but not multi-legalism. The immigrants should respect the law of the host country. THAT’S what they should put in the citizenship course!

Would Matt Wallinger defend David Irving?

And if not, why not?

Political views aside, it seems to me that Hari and Irving’s methods really aren’t that different: they seem to approach their subjects with preconceived ideas, cherry-pick facts and quotations that support their position, while quietly ignoring those that challenge it and hoping that nobody else notices. Inevitably, when someone does notice, all hell breaks loose.

Granted, Hari hasn’t been stupid enough to sue anyone for libel, but what’s happening to him is a less coordinated version of what Richard J. Evans and two PhD researchers were hired by Penguin Books to do to bolster their defence against Irving: they went through his oeuvre line by line and fact-checked every sentence against the alleged sources. And what they found destroyed his reputation as a serious historian.

51. Mr Eugenides

Still tumbleweed from Sunny, who dismissed the Hari situation on Twitter a few days ago as “stupid allegations”. Talk about planting your head firmly in the sand.

To be fair to Sunny, he did publish this article. I believe Hopi called him a Mensch on Twitter.

52. I did. I don’t agree with Sunny at all on his attitude to Johann Hari’s work, but he was absolutely straight up in publishing this, once I asked following the post last week which attempted to defend JH over accusations of misleading readers.

Sunny had no choice but to publish Hopi’s devastating and very carefully-researched article. Had he refused, it would have got out and Sunny would have in even deeper reputational doo doo than he is already. Defending Hari is as dumb as Cameron defending Coulson in the face of mounting evidence of malfeasance.

As it is, clearly Sunny is reading these comments with a sinking feeling in his stomach, trying to work out how the hell to respond.

55. Matt Wallinger

Of course, I wouldn’t defend David Irving. That man’s a buffoon.

I think Hari’s central idea in his article was correct. He should have attributed clearly, but he did not have to quote Spiegel in his entirety.

I think the case against Hari has been well and truly made now. But, personally, I think we have reached the point when the glee in compiling the evidence is beginning to supersede even Hari’s transgressions.

Obviously Hari thought the points he was making were important. I believe he believes and he is a great writer, and he has broken rules.

But these are professional calamities not acts of criminality.

I think sense of perspective is missing for a lot of those up in arms. .

I say let Hari made his amends, and everyone else realize everyone makes mistakes.

As it is, clearly Sunny is reading these comments with a sinking feeling in his stomach, trying to work out how the hell to respond.

Oh I will respond, as I had planned to anyway. 🙂

As I’ve said repeatedly – we publish lots of stuff I disagree with. The fact that some people are surprised by the fact we published this shows how little they know about what goes on Libcon.

“Sunny had no choice but to publish Hopi’s devastating and very carefully-researched article. Had he refused, it would have got out”

How on earth do you know whether it would have? What are you implying about Hopi Sen?

58. Matt Wallinger

Excuse grammar typos above. Last part should be:

“Obviously Hari thought the points he was making were important. I believe he is a great writer, yet one cannot deny he has broken rules.

But these are professional calamities not acts of criminality.

I do think a sense of perspective is missing for a lot of those up in arms. I say let Hari made his amends and everyone else realize everyone makes mistakes.

Though I will point out that I don’t disagree with Hopi’s article here.

“Of course, I wouldn’t defend David Irving. That man’s a buffoon.”

No disagreement there, but the parallels with Hari are still startling. Irving made a reputation as an outspoken defender of controversial positions, for which he amassed a substantial following. He then fell spectacularly from grace in not dissimilar fashion to Hari (i.e. he was unmasked as a serial distorter of evidence for polemical purposes), but to this day some of his followers still insist that he was broadly right and the victim of a politically-motivated stitch-up.

“I think the case against Hari has been well and truly made now. But, personally, I think we have reached the point when the glee in compiling the evidence is beginning to supersede even Hari’s transgressions.”

I think a major part of the blame lies with the Independent. Had they simply sacked Hari as soon as the first absolutely incontrovertible evidence of plagiarism and quote invention emerged (in other words, done exactly what most other serious publications would have done), he’d be in a position to defend himself.

But because he and indeed the Orwell Prize committee have been silenced until September and all but his most diehard defenders are gradually admitting that he does indeed have several cases to answer, it’s looking more and more like a one-sided pile-on. Worse, it means that even if things die down over the next few weeks, they’re guaranteed to flare up again regardless of the paper’s conclusions.

“But these are professional calamities not acts of criminality.”

Just because almost everyone infringes copyright at some point or other (especially online) doesn’t mean that it isn’t an act of criminality at base. But as with the Joyce Hatto affair, I suspect no-one’s going to prosecute him on the grounds that he’s being punished enough – and in any case, such a lawsuit wouldn’t prove anything that we didn’t already know.

Sunny said:

As I’ve said repeatedly – we publish lots of stuff I disagree with. The fact that some people are surprised by the fact we published this shows how little they know about what goes on Libcon

~

Couldn’t agree more Sunny. You wouldn’t find many who had defended Hari, hosting this piece on their site. The fact that Sunny has, reflects fantastically on his commitment to freedom of speech and consistency. I think even Hopi Sen would agree with that.

Its sad that Brian Whelan is billing this article’s presence on this site as the last nail — as if Sunny were all that stood between social life and death for Hari.

Those stoking the fire would well the follow Sunny’s example and allow Hari the time and space to answer his detractors when all the screaming has stopped.

62. Matt Wallinger

For God’s sake Wetherby, Hari isn’t an anti-Semite.

Find a less inflammatory analogy. This one isn’t cutting it.

“For God’s sake Wetherby, Hari isn’t an anti-Semite.”

I never said or even hinted that he was.

“Find a less inflammatory analogy. This one isn’t cutting it.”

The analogy was actually between aspects of their professional behaviour and the denial of their followers, not on their political positions or what they believed – but if you want to bring anti-Semitism into it, I suspect many Catholics would think that Hari is just as bigoted in their direction.

And don’t you think there’s something a wee bit absurd about a Johann Hari fan getting offended by an inflammatory analogy?

64. Matt Wallinger

Why assume I’m a Hari fan? I am not a fan of anyone, except perhaps my wife.

I just don’t like seeing people persecuted. No-one is denying Hari has broken the rules. So if you’re going to insult me, at least be accurate.

My point is, you can make yours without bringing Irving into the fray.

It doesn’t help.

Johann Hari is bang to rights on about a dozen charges and the evidence laid before us all is, quite simply, unanswerable.

The idea that he is merely maintaining a dignified silence while he prepares his defence is ludicrous. He’s obviously in denial – and his ‘friends’ aren’t helping him by spinning like crazy on his behalf. All we want is a simple admission – to the quote stealing, the plagiarism, the fact twisting, the sock puppetry, the character assassination and the paedophile incest porn promotion. He should confess the lot – and then fuck off for a long, long time.

66. PapushiSun

@65

Hari’s prevented from speaking about the scandal by the Independent until they’ve completed the investigation.

67. Matt Wallinger

@65

“… paedophile incest porn promotion.” ???????

Have you lost your mind? What on earth are you talking about? Between this and the Irving analogies, why would Hari speak up?

Jury’s made up its mind already.

I too hate the sense of sport in it all – who would enjoy witnessing a fellow human at bay?, and agree with Matt W that Simon Kelner should have nipped it in the bud by sacking JH for his clear journalistic failings and thus allow a transparent process of defence. Kelner’s behaviour has been worse than poor throughout and definitely damaged the reputation of the Independent. But, I think that JH is prolonging all this agony himself by not simply drawing a line and resigning, returning prizes etc. I have the horrible feeling that he is hoping it will all go away and he can ride it out (judging by his explanations so far, he doesn’t seem to get why people are so upset). A lot has been said about the ‘twitter mob’ over the past weeks, but honestly, I think that the ‘twitter/FB adorers’ are more to blame in encouraging a kind of corruption born of celebrity culture. A lot has also been said about the motivation of those who still press this matter. Clearly, there is a clutch of ill-meaning and gleeful right-wingers at work, but I honestly feel that the majority of people who are appalled by this really and honestly do persist because, much as they may share some or even many or most of the political positions of JH and admire his writing skills, they love clear and honest journalism more. Johann Hari has the option to try to retreat from all this in as dignified a way as possible and I only hope that his friends are urging him to do this. Without his action we can look forward to a continued discussion of the issue, yes, by some people motivated by spite, but also, and I believe mainly, by those who really don’t want these journalistic practices to go unchallenged, particularly by a journalist on the liberal/left.

69. Matt Wallinger

I agree Liz.

Far from being a fan — I am pushing 45 after all — for years I have been in equal parts amused, enthralled and interested in JH’s work. I am hugely disappointed that the splendid work JH did in pushing — uncomfortably at times — against power elitism, has now been effectively derailed by being caught out in less then ideal behaviour of his own.

But it is the sheer, unremitting nastiness of the attacks now that threatens to dirty the moral high ground of Hari’s critics. Regard that nutter, Damian Thompson, eagerly tweeting Hopi’s article directly to Johann.

It’s just not necessary. A lot this is no longer necessary. The point has been made. After a while is this not just endless tossing of a carcass by the bigger one?

Hopi, excellent post.

Liz @68 – agreed.

I just wanted to say that I thought Liz’s comment at 68 was humane, thoughful and retained a sense of perspective about this. (though.. y’know – paragraphs people!)

I suspect that to close this, both JH and the Independent will have to admit to what will feel, at first, like an extremely painful exposure of errors and failings of judgment, which both may be tempted to avoid by battening down the hatches.

I think that would be a mistake, because it is not a tenable position in the face of the extant evidence. The best way to deal with this would be to be open about the scale of the issue, take the appropriate responsibility – and I suspect it this does not lie with Hari alone – and then allow JH to make a new start- very likely outside newspaper commentary.

Matt,

I see your point, but you somewhat undermine your case by simultaenously decrying nasty attacks and calling someone you disagree with a “nutter”.

73. Matt Wallinger

It’s hardly profane Hopi so please spare me the patronising tone. I happen to think inviting people to associate JH with anti-Semitism is worse but I don’t see you name-checking Wetherby.

My remarks are not undermined at all. I think your article makes its points, but I’m not here — nor is anyone I should think — to be ‘ schooled’ by you in how to express myself.

My position remains thus: Hari has clearly been found wanting. Since the goal of exposing has been accomplished, I believe that to continue the sport reduces the honour of those who participate.

I think your article makes its points, but I’m not here — nor is anyone I should think — to be ‘ schooled’ by you in how to express myself.

Rather a shame, all things considered.

75. Matt Wallinger

Cheap.

75 – I can’t see a belt without hitting below it, as that chap said about someone or other.

77. Matt Wallinger

Ok.

*draws line*

78. Dan Zimmerman

Sen has made his points well. One cannot take that away. I am gutted actually as I like Hari and have agreed with lots of the ideas in his work over time (and yes I do see the space here for puns.). I don’t know why Hari felt the need to use others’ work like this, when he himself is a superb writer ( on this Hopi we disagree.) Perhaps it was insecurity, or perhaps he really didn’t know it must never be done?

Either way, I hope Hari can recover from this, go far far away and come back renewed and and wiser when he is ready. To what and as what, I don’t know. But I don’t believe in writing people off, certainly not for bloodless offences. I also feel Hari’s relentless immolation has gone on long enough. And though I don’t include you in this last sentence Hopi, it is clear many are enjoying all of this just a little too much.

Dan @ 78

But don’t you see that it is not _just_ a case of passing off others’ work. If you look at the example I give above, he deliberately misleads his readers, twisting the facts, to reinforce his polemic. He deliberately has the reader think Osborne’s comments were in praise of austerity in 2010, when they were in praise of a lunatic growth policy in 2006; he quotes the IMF, fraudulently having his reader believe they were critical of Ireland’s austerity when they were in fact encouraging it; he fabricates the causes of the predicted increased mortality rates to make them look more dramatic (and austerity more immoral).

This piece of work was entirely his own (as far as we know), but in it he misleads and in effect lies to his readers in order to make his point. It is not just a case of plagiarism or non-attribution, it is another case of fundamental deception of the people he was paid handsomely to inform, stimulate, and educate.

80. Dan Zimmerman

Chris @’79

I agree Hopi’s critique makes a strong case for Hari’s surgical use of quotes to up the ante, and in doing that going further than simple non-attribution. But many Op-Ed’s stretch the point to make the point.

My take on all this is that I am getting weary of the noise from one side and the silence from the other. This is simply my feeling, I am not trying to convince anyone to change their position.

But I repeat @73 ‘s words:

“Hari has clearly been found wanting. Since the goal of exposing has been accomplished, I believe that to continue the sport reduces the honour of those who participate.”

Quite.

73. Matt, Didn’t mean to patronise. Just trying to lightly suggest that calling for a higher moral tone in the debate and calling people nutters contains a certain tension.

On your other point, I felt you and Wetherby were miscommunicating. I don’t think W was trying to somehow link JH to anti-semitism but rather using Irving as an example of how intellectual dishonesty plays our, but given that Irving is one of the worst people in the world I can also see why you felt _any_ comparison was invidious.

So, to be clear, on any scale you choose to draw up, intellectually, ethically or morally they are not comparable. the trouble is, it’s hard to find anyone who has been exposed in this way who makes a good comparison. Possibly the kindest comparison is Boris Johnson, but even he got sacked… and I’m not sure JH would appreciate that comparison either.

78. Dan, I suspect being a superb writer is largely in the reading. I don’t particularly like Hari’s authorial voice, finding it lacking in light and shade. But others find it inspiring and energising – and as long as the facts are right, the writing is honest and the sources are clear then that would be great.

On the style point alone, I find Hari a bit like Peter Oborne, who many people tell me is an outstanding prose stylist, but whose attempts at casting thunderbolts of moral certitude upon the grasping denizens of our flawed world from his perch on Mons Dacre leave me utterly cold. But I like intricate and lengthy blog posts, so I’m kind of in the minority. Even the post above is significantly cut down from it’s original 3,500 words, which Sunny understandably thought was a little too much!

83. Matt Wallinger

I appreciate that Hopi.

I can’t dispute most of the points you make, save for disagreeing that Hari was wrong to take the line he did in his ‘original’ article. That is Hari’s prerogative and it is an opinion. The fact that it could and may have influenced others is irrelevant, people are responsible to themselves as to what media they consume.

You are sensing correctly in my reference to Thompson some dislike. Unlike your academic criticism of Hari’s methods, Thompson’s goading over these past few weeks has been actively personal and venomous. When I saw his tweet to Johann this morning it was a kind of last straw moment for me. I found it cruel and unnecessary.

Re Irving. I find that when anti-Semiticism is brought into arguments a red mist descends and all rational discussion goes out of the window. So, rather than see this thread take that route I tried to nip it in the bud.

Comparisons for Hari? I think Hari for once, with this debacle, is in a league of his own. I am saddened by that and will be for a long time. Because it didn’t have to be this way and much of it is self-done.

I will not join the mob though. They can light their own torches.

Hopi’ s article is more to with his love for Nick Cohen and his group of rightists.
Right wing spite.
You can accuse most journos of the same crime.
Hari hasn’t done anything that most journos or posters of the right carry out everyday.
Hari critisisms of Saint Cohen is real motivation of this article.
Real trouble is the Cohens, Hopi, harrys place and the rest of pseudo left.
They have more in common with Gove than any left of centre view. This is an easy way to camouflage their views.

@Hopi Sen

I like the Oborne comparison (sounds like a Ludlum!). The trouble comes when journalism and polemicism become confused. Hari seems to want to be both and in his enthusiasm has brought them together in his journalism. It therefore stops being reliable. What value does it then have?

Sadly he is not alone. Laurie Penny has been similarly accused and the same could be said of much of the drivel in the Mail and the Express. How much are editors responsible for this?

81: “On your other point, I felt you and Wetherby were miscommunicating. I don’t think W was trying to somehow link JH to anti-semitism but rather using Irving as an example of how intellectual dishonesty plays our, but given that Irving is one of the worst people in the world I can also see why you felt _any_ comparison was invidious. ”

I deliberately picked Irving BECAUSE he’s an appalling human being, whom no-one would instinctively defend. And then I pointed out that his professional, reputation-destroying “crimes” were, on the face of it, almost identical to Hari’s, as was the blanket and increasingly denial from his followers.

I can understand why Matt might have found the comparison offensive, as it was meant to be. But because Hari himself is extremely fond of drawing provocative analogies, I did rather hope that he’d think about it for a millisecond before jumping to the ludicrous conclusion that I must be alleging that Hari was an anti-Semite – especially since I made it clear upfront that the two had absolutely nothing in common in their political views.

Indeed, surely this is precisely the kind of knee-jerk riposte that Hari alluded to in one of his better articles?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/how-to-spot-a-lame-lame-a_b_185787.html

“I just wanted to say that I thought Liz’s comment at 68 was humane, thoughful and retained a sense of perspective about this.”

Completely agree, though it was in fact yours truly who said that Hari should have been sacked the moment incontrovertible evidence of plagiarism or quote falsification was made. And I honestly think this would have been the best (or least worst) option, for reasons I’ve already given.

“The best way to deal with this would be to be open about the scale of the issue, take the appropriate responsibility – and I suspect it this does not lie with Hari alone – and then allow JH to make a new start- very likely outside newspaper commentary.”

It absolutely does not lie with Hari alone. Simon Kelner must take a whopping amount of responsibility for what were clearly substantial editorial failings.

Earlier in this thread I alluded to the New Yorker’s notorious fact-checking system – as Julian Barnes has amusingly described in the foreword to ‘Letters from London’, they check EVERYTHING, including contacting all people mentioned in the article to confirm the accuracy of any quotations.

Granted, it’s hard to see how the famously cash-strapped Independent could come anywhere close to matching that level of rigour – but perhaps giving that treatment to one article in every fifty, and specifically making sure that all the paper’s writers get it once a year without warning, might do both them and their writers a power of good? I’ve undergone really rigorous line-by-line subbing myself – in one case by lawyers, as it was in a fundraising document – and while it was a painful experience at the time it was strangely exhilarating once it was over.

The trouble is that every leftist critic is targetted.
What is left is Sunny and some lib con
Democracy is about a variety of views. There are many with rightist views.
Most papers, most broadcasters, the pseudo left, have the same rightist economic and foreign policy view of the world
Hopi says he is a social democrat, more a cameron conservative.
God in a world when a right wing cameronite like Nick Cohen is called left wing, then the centre of politics must be the tea party

88. Matt Wallinger

Wetherby @86

As you can see from my comments if you’d read them carefully, you would see that defending Hari is not what I am doing — or have been doing.

I have criticized the efforts by some to stoke this fire beyond the height it would naturally reach. I do not include Hopi Sen in that.

Your words here:

“I deliberately picked Irving BECAUSE he’s an appalling human being, whom no-one would instinctively defend.”

— have no place in a discussion about Hari. It’s too inflammatory and there has been enough of that concerning this situation. Again I am not defending Hari per se, I am simply abstaining from attack and calling out those who relish that.

@ Niko,

“The one point in it I would question is your view that it does Hari’s piece does not amount to plagiarism. I think it does, if the same standards are used as those currently applied in British universities.”

Agreed. He did cite the other article but has obviously ‘leaned’ on it to the point of smothering it. A student would get called out on that. It is lazy to the point of not doing the job properly, the job being to provide a reasonably original piece of one’s own. Even first years know the difference between doing something that is reasonably one’s own work and just ripping off one main source and slightly embellishing it.

This reinforces the sense that whatever Hari’s virtues as a commentator, and whether one shares his stances or not (personally I share more than I don’t), as a proper journalist he is lousy, because proper, award-winning standard journalism entails doing first-hand research and not largely re-hashing other people’s and passing it off as (mostly) original work. He’s lazy and dishonest. This goes beyond Hari and on to the question what we should be able to reasonably expect of an esteemed, prize-winning journalist.

Just to add:

Matt Wallinger makes fair points. I don’t think the fact that Hari was selective and put a spin on what he chose is in itself outrageous by journalistic standards.

What bothers me more is that the utter laziness behind it. And unfortunately, that laziness seems to have been both a symptom of and a contributory cause to his playing fast and loose with the truth during his career. It lessened his integrity and helped make deception a habit.

Another addition:

I echo another poster above: credit to Sunny for publishing this. We can’t say all points of view haven’t been given a fair chance to discuss this.

What really made me dislike JH was his whining about people celebrating the death of Thatcher claiming that it undermined “our cause”. JH was never part of the left in fact he was never part of anything and certainly had no right to decide what people should be angry about or how that anger should be expressed.

That he turned out to be less than honest in his work pleases me because it’s the end of him. Good riddance.

Lamia @ 90

Do you _really_ think it is ok for a journalist to quote someone talking about A and pretend it was about B; to imply it wad in year X when you know it was in year y; to misquote someone arguing in favour of Z and pretend they were arguing against it?

Really?

GuttmannH said: “Hopi’ s article is more to with his love for Nick Cohen and his group of rightists. Right wing spite.”

Oh dear … it’s politically motivated – *that* old chestnut.

GuttmannH said “You can accuse most journos of the same crime. Hari hasn’t done anything that most journos or posters of the right carry out everyday.”

Having worked for a number of years in the mainstream media I can assure you this isn’t the case however do feel absolutely free to support your claims with evidence. If it’s an ‘everyday’ practice you should have no problems finding any.

95. Matt Wallinger

Vanessa @94

I’m afraid Vanessa, Guttman is raving. That is why no-one has answered him directly on this thread. Those of us on the left don’t stand with him, and those on the right have extended even their meagre mercy to ignoring him.

We’d be grateful if you’d do one or the other Vanessa as I can assure dialogue with Guttman will yield nothing of value and will only pull this thread into the realm of nonsense.

@ Chris 93

No I don’t really think it’s all right Chris, I was being a bit flippant about ‘journalistic standards’ in that other journalists are not immune to bending the truth. You are quite correct that it’s very wrong.

I was trying to say that what takes the cake for me and has had me shaking my head is the sheer scale of his laziness and plagiarism. He appears to be a compulsive liar in more ways than the distortion you rightly refer to.

@ Liz,

“Johann Hari has the option to try to retreat from all this in as dignified a way as possible”

The problem here, and it’s the main reason why even people from the left keep pitching in, is that simply going quiet and apparently hoping to sit this out is neither diginified nor honest on Hari’s part. He has not made anything like a proper and full admission and apology for professional malpractice on what appears to be a massive scale. There is no sign of contrition.

Hari’s ‘retreat’ suggests he feels bad, but there’s no indication that it’s feeling bad about having done wrong, as opposed to feeling bad about having been found out.

GuttmannH said: “Hopi’ s article is more to with his love for Nick Cohen and his group of rightists. Right wing spite.”

Oh dear … it’s politically motivated – *that* old chestnut.

Is it not. Hopi is a right wing cameron cohenite clone , a little like yourself.

GuttmannH said “You can accuse most journos of the same crime. Hari hasn’t done anything that most journos or posters of the right carry out everyday.”

“Having worked for a number of years in the mainstream media I can assure you this isn’t the case however do feel absolutely free to support your claims with evidence. If it’s an ‘everyday’ practice you should have no problems finding any.”

You might be right and I am wrong but who would have thought phone hacking was so wide spread, and I cannot remember, the likes of Vanessa or her media chums bringing that practice out in the open. It seems a maverick MP and ham actor brought out that wonderful media practice.

It’s surprising how paranoid reading about Johann Hari’s shenanigans can make you. I even had the silly suspicion that Matt Wallinger’s spirited defence of the chap might not be quite as disinterested as it appears. The odd confusion of “he” and “I” in one post, the pointed mention of a wife in another, and the “pushing 45” reference. Not even someone with Johann’s taste for sock-puppetry could be that silly surely? But then I’m not an investigative journalist, or I’d probably google…. Still, it just goes to show how a person’s faith in what they read can be undermined.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Johann Hari and the article for Speigel http://bit.ly/rpbOv1

  2. Adam C. L.-E.

    RT @libcon: Johann Hari and the article for Speigel http://t.co/8BquhZz

  3. Adam C. L.-E.

    I think this should be 'Spiegel' or 'Der Spiegel', but still. RT @libcon: Johann Hari and the article for Speigel http://t.co/8BquhZz

  4. Andy S

    Johann Hari and the article for Speigel http://bit.ly/rpbOv1

  5. David McMillan

    Johann Hari and the article for Speigel http://bit.ly/osYcvf

  6. James M Charlton

    [Why the Hari case is important & why he is bang to rights] “@libcon: Johann Hari and the article for Speigel http://t.co/fMLrTmB”

  7. jude

    Johann Hari and the article for Speigel | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/D9uTbgR via @libcon

  8. czol

    Johann Hari and the article for Speigel http://bit.ly/rpbOv1

  9. Naadir Jeewa

    For @secretlondon , "Johann Hari and the article for Speigel" http://j.mp/rkVrwV

  10. Snivelling Coward

    For @secretlondon , "Johann Hari and the article for Speigel" http://j.mp/rkVrwV

  11. Naadir Jeewa

    Reading: Johann Hari and the article for Speigel: I didn’t particularly want to write a piece about Johann Hari…. http://bit.ly/nd3P8f

  12. wolfst?r

    Reading: Johann Hari and the article for Speigel: I didn’t particularly want to write a piece about Johann Hari…. http://bit.ly/nd3P8f

  13. wolfst?r

    Brilliant piece by Hopi Sen about the way Hari distorted facts in his article on Muslims in Germany: http://t.co/IZpHHNm

  14. Hopi Sen

    I've a post @libcon trying to explain why @johannhari101 's misleading/distorting journalism shld concern progressives http://t.co/ENlRcrG

  15. Greg Callus

    I've a post @libcon trying to explain why @johannhari101 's misleading/distorting journalism shld concern progressives http://t.co/ENlRcrG

  16. gwyn bailey

    RT @libcon: Johann Hari and the article for Der Spiegel http://t.co/22oRnxF

  17. John Band

    I've a post @libcon trying to explain why @johannhari101 's misleading/distorting journalism shld concern progressives http://t.co/ENlRcrG

  18. David Allen Green

    More on Johann Hari – important piece by @hopisen on one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  19. Anthony Cox

    More on Johann Hari – important piece by @hopisen on one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  20. Paris Gourtsoyannis

    More on Johann Hari – important piece by @hopisen on one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  21. Rupert Myers

    More on Johann Hari – important piece by @hopisen on one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  22. Peter C Johnson

    I've a post @libcon trying to explain why @johannhari101 's misleading/distorting journalism shld concern progressives http://t.co/ENlRcrG

  23. Top internetlaw

    More on Johann Hari – important piece by @hopisen on one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  24. Richard T Kelly

    I've a post @libcon trying to explain why @johannhari101 's misleading/distorting journalism shld concern progressives http://t.co/ENlRcrG

  25. Neill Harvey-Smith

    More on Johann Hari – important piece by @hopisen on one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  26. john

    Johann Hari and the article for Der Spiegel | Liberal Conspiracy: http://t.co/9dCMGS0 via @addthis

  27. Rocki Stone

    More on Johann Hari – important piece by @hopisen on one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  28. Yasmine Hamid

    More on Johann Hari – important piece by @hopisen on one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  29. Fisun Guner

    More than cut&paste dishonesty MT @DavidAllenGreen More on Hari – important piece by @hopisen on #OrwellPrize submissn http://t.co/L9R2ARN

  30. wolfst?r

    More than cut&paste dishonesty MT @DavidAllenGreen More on Hari – important piece by @hopisen on #OrwellPrize submissn http://t.co/L9R2ARN

  31. wolfst?r

    More on Johann Hari – important piece by @hopisen on one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  32. wolfst?r

    I've a post @libcon trying to explain why @johannhari101 's misleading/distorting journalism shld concern progressives http://t.co/ENlRcrG

  33. Peter Stoyko

    More than cut&paste dishonesty MT @DavidAllenGreen More on Hari – important piece by @hopisen on #OrwellPrize submissn http://t.co/L9R2ARN

  34. Daniel Rivas

    Hopi Sen being very good on Johann Hari. http://t.co/gPpp5qM (via @DavidAllenGreen)

  35. jimthehedgehog

    I've a post @libcon trying to explain why @johannhari101 's misleading/distorting journalism shld concern progressives http://t.co/ENlRcrG

  36. Jeremy Duns

    More on Johann Hari – important piece by @hopisen on one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  37. chris

    I've a post @libcon trying to explain why @johannhari101 's misleading/distorting journalism shld concern progressives http://t.co/ENlRcrG

  38. Miriam Said

    More on Johann Hari – important piece by @hopisen on one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  39. JC Willis

    Fascinating article with a 'nail on head' conclusion RT @libcon: Johann Hari and the article for Speigel http://bit.ly/rpbOv1

  40. Shashank Joshi

    Johann Hari and the article for Der Spiegel | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/GyuSkAs via @libcon

  41. Brian Whelan

    Hari getting destroyed on the last site that defended him – http://t.co/MsrIqXi

  42. PlatoSays

    Hari getting destroyed on the last site that defended him – http://t.co/MsrIqXi

  43. Alasdair Thompson

    Damning article on Hari by @hopisen on @libcon, another piece exposed as (deliberately) misleading. http://t.co/nSdqNXx h/t @brianwhelanhack

  44. Josie Ensor

    Hari getting destroyed on the last site that defended him – http://t.co/MsrIqXi

  45. John Böttcher

    Wow, and about time too – http://t.co/9mvx1wp (Johann Hari)

  46. Alana Lentin

    “@brianwhelanhack: Hari getting destroyed on the last site that defended him – http://t.co/Pknn3hl -” excellent critique @mcincrisis #gender

  47. Sam Liu

    Johann Hari and the article for Der Spiegel | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/LeQEq9w via @libcon << Damning. Very damning.

  48. Yakoub Islam

    Johann Hari and the article for Der Spiegel | Liberal Conspiracy: http://t.co/dPrxk8I via @libcon

  49. Damian Thompson

    Published on LC, of all places: Hopi Sen's devastating fisking of @johannhari101 http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  50. David Allen Green

    On the Johann Hari story, this is @hopisen's severe critique of one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  51. Gemma Hallam

    On the Johann Hari story, this is @hopisen's severe critique of one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  52. Sean McHale

    On the Johann Hari story, this is @hopisen's severe critique of one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  53. MustBeRead

    Hopi Sen: If Johann Hari’s journalism was shoddy and inaccurate, it should concern those you might call “progressives”. http://t.co/KuaFvnP

  54. PlatoSays

    Johann Hari and the article for Der Spiegel | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/SDEtgQO via @libcon

  55. Giles Dilnot

    Being v critical of someones journalism does not mean hating his politics. The excellent @hopisen http://t.co/gp74b0N Thnx @DavidAllenGreen

  56. Bentley Owen

    Johann Hari's dishonest journalism is thoroughly criticized by @hopisen http://bit.ly/rgjMf8

  57. Anne Greensmith

    Being v critical of someones journalism does not mean hating his politics. The excellent @hopisen http://t.co/gp74b0N Thnx @DavidAllenGreen

  58. John H

    "More Littlejohn than an Orwell" – @hopisen on Johann Hari's "third rate ctrl-C" polemic against multiculturalism. http://t.co/QYoZsQ9

  59. Lesley Tither

    Being v critical of someones journalism does not mean hating his politics. The excellent @hopisen http://t.co/gp74b0N Thnx @DavidAllenGreen

  60. Paul Jakma

    Published on LC, of all places: Hopi Sen's devastating fisking of @johannhari101 http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  61. Liz K

    RT @libcon: Johann Hari and the article for Der Spiegel http://t.co/go1atc0

  62. Brian Whelan

    @beagleldn comment 31 -http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/07/31/johann-hari-and-the-article-for-speigel/

  63. Juan Murrito

    On the Johann Hari story, this is @hopisen's severe critique of one of the #OrwellPrize submissions: http://bit.ly/pPqnLW

  64. Milo Yiannopoulos

    .@johannhari101's "fundamentally dishonest writing" http://t.co/LDaFZ15 Surprising that such a piece appeared on Liberal Conspiracy

  65. Anna Reitman

    Johann Hari and the article for Der Spiegel | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/hrZQdZ3 via @libcon

  66. Jamie Khan

    Nail. On. Head. Hopi Sen on @johannhari101 – http://t.co/LDaFZ15

  67. Wendy Hibbs

    Hari getting destroyed on the last site that defended him – http://t.co/MsrIqXi

  68. Naadir Jeewa

    @takhalus This is the most egregious example: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/07/31/johann-hari-and-the-article-for-speigel/

  69. Jill Parsons

    Hari getting destroyed on the last site that defended him – http://t.co/MsrIqXi

  70. willshome

    @Glinner Only just come across the Hari story. Worst yet. It's moved beyond sadness. http://t.co/FXNtPNT

  71. Bidisha

    @takhalus This is the most egregious example: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/07/31/johann-hari-and-the-article-for-speigel/

  72. David Allen Green

    I understand unanimous and adverse view formed on that submission was that as set out by @hopisen at @libcom – http://t.co/HQLGWHIx 2/2

  73. Patrick Osgood

    I understand unanimous and adverse view formed on that submission was that as set out by @hopisen at @libcom – http://t.co/HQLGWHIx 2/2

  74. Keyser Soze

    I understand unanimous and adverse view formed on that submission was that as set out by @hopisen at @libcom – http://t.co/HQLGWHIx 2/2

  75. Francis Hoar

    I understand unanimous and adverse view formed on that submission was that as set out by @hopisen at @libcom – http://t.co/HQLGWHIx 2/2

  76. Bobby Friedman

    I understand unanimous and adverse view formed on that submission was that as set out by @hopisen at @libcom – http://t.co/HQLGWHIx 2/2

  77. Nadine Hengen

    I understand unanimous and adverse view formed on that submission was that as set out by @hopisen at @libcom – http://t.co/HQLGWHIx 2/2

  78. Hopi Sen

    Quick one on Johann Hari. I sent a very factual version of this http://t.co/9y28a7E2 to @TheOrwellPrize . Impressed they seemed to care.

  79. Mathew Lyons

    Two months late on reading this, but it's an excellent, timely piece on Hari's Orwell Prize work http://t.co/MAKiBnWy via @libcon @hopiesen

  80. Jeremy Duns

    @JonathanHaynes They're not fresh: http://t.co/32m13W8j Any reason The Guardian is solely reporting others and not ìnvestigating this story?

  81. Kian Ganz

    'More Littlejohn than an Orwell' http://t.co/5WMdh8Mv Very much agree, Johann #Hari article on multiculturalism was atrocious #blamethejury

  82. What I did on my Holidays | hopisen.com

    […] Hari and the article for Speigel: in Liberal Conspiracy. I wanted to explain why I, as a progressive, felt strongly that Johann Hari’s failures as a […]

  83. David Allen Green

    It was @hopisen which wrote post which directly led to Hari being stripped of the #OrwellPrize: http://t.co/HQLGWHIx Good signal to send.

  84. tom jamieson

    It was @hopisen which wrote post which directly led to Hari being stripped of the #OrwellPrize: http://t.co/HQLGWHIx Good signal to send.

  85. Brian Whelan

    It was @hopisen which wrote post which directly led to Hari being stripped of the #OrwellPrize: http://t.co/HQLGWHIx Good signal to send.

  86. Susspa

    It was @hopisen which wrote post which directly led to Hari being stripped of the #OrwellPrize: http://t.co/HQLGWHIx Good signal to send.

  87. Nadine Hengen

    It was @hopisen which wrote post which directly led to Hari being stripped of the #OrwellPrize: http://t.co/HQLGWHIx Good signal to send.

  88. Jamie Khan

    @Cameron_QPR Anyway, here's the straw that broke the camel's back re: plagiarism http://t.co/KU8eFe9k and his agenda – http://t.co/UbQ6TbqZ





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