Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Proven liar Johann Hari falls back on bog-standard lefty excuses

When a left-wing journalist or politician is accused of anything, they deploy one or all of four standard defence techniques. First, they pick one relatively trivial aspect of the accusation against them, pretend it forms the whole of the case, and declare themselves innocent of the charge, thereby implying they’re innocent of everything.

Alastair Campbell was the absolute master of this tactic, which he used to bamboozle the BBC following that credulous old goof Lord Hutton’s inquiry into Andrew Gilligan’s Today Programme report on the dodgy dossier. 

Second, they fall back on the old “the ends justify the means” ploy. Yes, they may have twisted the truth every so slightly – but the cause they’re fighting for justifies it. One remembers fondly Piers Morgan’s used of this disgusting tactic when the Daily Mirror smeared Britain’s armed forces by publishing photos of Iraqi prisoners being tortured and humiliated by British soldiers – which later turned out to be fakes. 

Thirdly, apologise for something, but make it sound really trivial. Say that, on reflection, they may have stepped ever so slightly over the line – simply as a result, you understand, of their zeal and compassion and love of all mankind.

Finally, they try to draw a line under the affair (with any luck) by promising to learn from their mistakes. And there’s an end on‘t. No need to say more. Move along now, nothing  to see here. All done and dusted. Time we all got back to work and moved on with our lives.

The eminent, left-wing Independent “journalist”, Johann Hari, has decided to save time by deploying all four defensive weapons at once. It’s a bold move, given that he has now used up his entire arsenal.

In a post on his blogsite today, “My response to yesterday’s allegations”, Hari starts by pretending the charge against him is solely that of plagiarism: “Yesterday on Twitter I was accused of plagiarism. This accusation is totally false…” Not true, he says, because he wasn’t stealing other people’s work and passing it off as his own – merely substituting the words interviewees had used on previous occasions for the ones they spoke to him while being interviewed.

But the serious charge against Hari isn’t that of plagiarism – it’s that, by not explaining what he was doing, he gave a false impression to the reader. In other words, he was lying. Any journalist anywhere in the free world knows that what he did constitutes lying – and for a journalist, that’s a far more serious charge than plagiarism, because it means we can’t trust anything they say.

He then presents himself as a mere conduit for the messages of important (left-wing) thinkers:

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

In other words, his lying is justified because he’s spreading enlightenment. This, of course, almost defines the left-wing approach to journalism: it’s all propaganda for the cause. So what if the truth gets bent? There’s a deeper, wiser, socialist “truth” the world needs to hear.  The ends justify the means. You can’t make an omelette… etc. 

What makes this even more tawdry is Hari’s cowardly ploy of pepper-spraying us with the names of significant left-wing figures. When a journalist takes refuge behind Gerry Adams’ flannel trousers, you know they’re desperate.

Then we get his “apology”, preceded by a barrage of self-justification:

“It depends on whether you prefer the intellectual accuracy of describing their ideas in their most considered words, or the reportorial accuracy of describing their ideas in the words they used on that particular afternoon. Since my interviews are long intellectual profiles, not ones where I’m trying to ferret out a scoop or exclusive, I have, in the past, prioritized the former. That was, on reflection, a mistake, because it wasn’t clear to the reader.”

You didn’t “prioritize” anything, sunshine. You lied!

Finally, he attempts to write FINIS under the whole  sordid affair:

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

Ah, isn’t that sweet? I mean, to go on criticising him would be like hitting a puppy who peed on the carpet a few times.

What Hari did is practically a crime for any self-respecting journalist (it’s no different, really, from the offence that led to Panorama last week handing back the RTS award it had received for its Primark story). But, okay, it’s probably not a hanging offence. It’s the mindset behind it – the blithe acceptance that all forms of journalism are basically just vehicles for political propaganda – that’s so depressing. 


  1. Quite apart from all the other reasons why this is unacceptable, which of us would allow an interviewer purporting to get an up to the minute account of our views to substitute what we wrote a year or so ago for what we say now? I suppose that it doesn't matter for those like Hari whose views will probably never change in the face of any evidence that suggests that they need re-thinking. But for the open-minded, it amounts to misrepresentation.

    I think, moving forward on this one, he should learn from the experience blah blah. And then resign.
    Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 03:44 PM

  2. Resign? I can’t see how lying through your teeth for the purpose of spreading left-wing propaganda could possibly be seen as a resigning matter, Ex-KCS. No, I think we’ll probably soon be told that he’s checked into the Priory Clinic so they can treat his chronic addiction to telling untruths. Upon completing his course (or “journey”), he could take over as editor of The Independent – although, given recent revelations, it seems to function without any form of editorial control.
    Saturday, July 2, 2011 - 10:15 AM