Another body floats by.

The Japanese have a proverb; if you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by. In the year and a half since climategate, it’s been happening with increasing frequency. The latest one is a main stream media (MSM) journalist called Johann Hari who works at the Independent among other places.

He is, or should I say was, a real darling of the left-wing media machine; never afraid to swiftly descend self-righteously like a ton of bricks on anyone dissenting from the one true path to the coming socialist utopia and absolutely uncritical of the heroes and heroines of the movement. He really told the brothers and sisters how it was. Yeah, man. He’s the kind of journalist who habitually compares global warming skeptics like my good self to holocaust deniers. They loved him. They showered him with the usual incestuous journalism prizes, especially the coveted Orwell Prize. Even the Gays, a hard lot to satisfy at the best of times, awarded him a Stonewall. It seemed like it was only a matter of time until he got his Nobel Prize like Al or at least a Pulitzer as a consolation.

It’s just been discovered that he’s been salting his interviews with quoted passages. What’s wrong with that you might ask? Well, the quotations weren’t made by the subjects in the interviews in question. They were made by them in books, articles and other places. He even polished up the English a bit. To tyre lever in a good quote, he’s even gone as far as to do things like prefix it with his own appropriate question.

Basically, his interviews of people whose politics he approves of have been PR for those people. They somehow always emerged looking thoughtful and good after a Hari interview. I suppose this begs the question of how accurate his quotes were of people whose politics he didn’t approve of but I rather suspect such interviews were few and far between. No platform for dissent, the science it settled etc etc. When one of these deceptions was spotted, people went looking for more and lo and behold, they sure found them. It’s become one of the more wittier twitter sensations and some wag has even done a version of Downfall called Hari Downfall on youtube.

It’s difficult to pigeon-hole this particular deceptive practice. It’s not quite plagiarism or churnalism but it’s definitely dishonest. I’m tempted to name it Johannism but I’ve an old friend with the same name whose integrity is way above question, so I’m forced to go the full hog and christen it Johannharism.

There are two interesting things about this sordid and tawdry episode.

The first is that it was uncovered, yet again, by the blogosphere. As far as I can determine, the scandal was first broken here. I’ll use an appropriate quote here from my previous blog. “Investigative journalism is alive and well; it’s just moved location”. Notice the explicit attribution Mr. Hari? If you’re up for a bit of a hunt gentle reader and have time on your hands, you can join in yourself; just google some quotes from a Hari piece against the internet. Lord knows what you might find.

The second point of note is the reaction to the scandal. He’s penned a slightly contrite piece here with a rather luke warm apology; he’s guilty of a slight misjudgment, learnt his lesson and won’t do it again. Promise. As for his employers and editors, they don’t appear to have marched him out of the building holding his bits in a cardboard box; he’s got away with it. Give it a few months of wound licking and he’ll be back up on his podium holding forth as if nothing has happened.

There are even elements of the MSM rallying around him. How dare the blogosphere uncover the MSM’s rotten underside? It’s the MSM’s job to root out scandals about other people, they’re pristine and above criticism. Instead of dealing with what is a gross and public lapse of journalistic integrity, they’re attacking the discovery and going after the motives of the people who made it. This is the mentality of an establishment that is totally inward looking and degenerate.

Another example of this mentality manifested itself in the aftermath of a piece I wrote on the parlous state of investigative journalism. It was prompted by the blatant conflict of interest (COI) in the revelation that a lead author to the IPCC’s renewables report was actually employed by Greenpeace. Another blogger did a piece which mentioned it. As it turns out, he is or was a journalist who now appears to be teaching others how to do it…

The piece is here. In itself, it’s pretty anodyne, just the usual unimaginative pastes of selected paragraphs of other people’s work with an attendant bitchy comment. What is of interest though, is what happened in the comments under the piece. A commenter added a link to an off topic paper produced by a green organisation called the Climate Change Media Partnership. Another commenter followed the link and discovered that the original commenter was one of the authors of the paper. If he’d dug a bit further, he’d also have found out that the original commenter was employed by the organisation as a press officer. Understandably, the angry commenter added a comment in turn, letting the PR bod know exactly what he thought of such an undeclared COI.

What was the reaction of the blog’s author? Why, he just turned around and admonished the discoverer of the COI. That reaction on a blogosphere furore caused by a COI? You couldn’t write comedy like that. It’s tragedy really. If I’d ever caught an undeclared PR person, masquerading as a commenter, plying their trade for their employer on my blog, his feet would not have bloody well touched the ground.

Orwell is a writer I greatly admire both for the simplicity of his prose and the honesty of his writing. Integrity is like virginity, once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. Hand back the prize Mr. Hari, so it can be awarded to someone who earned it without resorting to being dishonest with their readers.

Not going to happen though, is it?

©Pointman

ps. In the days since I wrote this article, several more examples of Mr. Hari’s style of journalism have come to light.  His transgressions appear to be getting less venial by the moment. See here.

Related articles by Pointman:

The death of journalism and the irresistible rise of the blogosphere.

The MSM and climate alarmism.

Click for a list of other articles.

Comments
10 Responses to “Another body floats by.”
  1. Blackswan says:

    Pointman,

    I’ve lived on a riverbank for five years and I gaze long and hard at those dark waters roiling below the bluff still hopeful of seeing the bloated corpses of my enemies drift by – no such luck … yet.

    The phony ‘interviews’ you cite are no less than television journalists have done for decades, and when they are caught out the response usually is – “What do you expect? They’re journalists”. They take a grab of a statement their subject has made at some other time and place, insert a loaded question from the interviewer in what is purported to be a face-to-face interview, thereby distorting the context in which the statement was originally made.

    Integrity is like virginity? Not too many virgins plying their trade in the MSM these days. In Australia they are more like whores in a brothel with the current Madam a brassy-headed slag who has a major problem with a credibility gap, the space between her upper and lower jaws.

    How typical that a member of the Fifth Estate be attacked for finding the feet of clay of a doyen of the literary/journalistic world. Does the liar/fraudster still keep his job? Sure he does. He is given credit for a little ‘creativity’ in his approach to a highly competitive business – that of denigrating any opponent of the ‘conventional wisdom’ of the day.

    Integrity? Honour? Probity? Now regarded as old-fashioned anachronistic expressions of a bygone era. Who has time for such sentimentality in this modern dog-eat-dog world?

    Well, many of us do – and we appreciate the blogs that you and your Fifth Estate colleagues offer which hold a mirror to the society in which we live. Many don’t like what is reflected there. Tough. It’s easy to ignore the dross in the cyber-world but impossible to ignore the truth of what you present to us.

    Thank you.

    • Peter says:

      Blackswan
      The bodies of your enemies floating by are etherial but floating by they are. Sometimes one get’s just a whiff and sometimes a whimper of impending demise!

      Monckton’s reply to Meg Clement brought me here and yes I agree that blogs like this one hold a mirror to the society in which we live.

      I’ll take that one step further and say that blogs like this are integral to evolving a saner and more rational society which is why I commend them to my teenage kids.

      • Pointman says:

        Hello and welcome to the blog Peter.

        Pointman

      • Blackswan says:

        G’day Peter,

        I understand the proverb, but drat! There are still a few characters I’d like to see bobbing about on an ebb tide.

        To me, the blogosphere is like the old village well where people gathered to discuss the issues of the day like the price of onions or if their hens are laying. Of course there are always a few village idiots hanging about making a nuisance of themselves but in the main, it’s where an exchange of ideas and information happens.

        On the other hand, today’s Mainstream Media is like the Sheriff nailing an proclamation to our doors – an edict, a summons from our lords and masters – do as you are told or penalties will follow.

        This blog, along with others of note, is a valuable resource which pose a major threat to the ‘establishment’, encouraging a search for reliable information and discussion among readers. Glad you encourage your kids to become involved in the process.

  2. Pointman says:

    Quote of the day.

    “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” Johann Hari.

    The arrogance is stunning.

    Pointman

  3. NoIdea says:

    Climate corpse

    The black dark waters glassily slide
    Beneath the surface a million onyx eyes
    The bodies sweeping with each tide
    Enemies defined by purulent lies

    NoIdea

  4. Pointman says:

    Happy birthday America.

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1B81kW814qA

    Pointman

  5. Pointman says:

    Johann Hari “voluntarily” returns the Orwell Prize.

    I wouldn’t call this a damascene moment, the rumour is the Orwell committee were going to demand it back anyway so he just preempted their decision. An internal inquiry at the Independent has just confirmed he is not only a plagirist but has also been creeping around the internet under an alias, altering his own Wikipedia entry and those of his enemies in libelious ways.

    For what it’s worth, his “apology” piece http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-a-personal-apology-2354679.html

    Interestingly but predictably, the Independent aren’t firing him. So much for their high journalistic standards …

    For a takedown of his “apology” piece, read Toby Young’s evisceration of it http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyyoung/100105124/fisking-johann-haris-apology-in-todays-independent/

    Pointman

  6. Jack Wilder says:

    One of the things I hate about British journalists is the way they think everything Britain has ever done has been evil. Case in point:

    “The Pompeiian building and its frescoes had been largely destroyed when the RAF bombed the site in 1943, as part of its casual assault on European civilisation.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/29/restore-painting-pompeii-itself

    The dominant culture on the continent at that time was fascism, which admittedly makes exciting reading for history buffs but wasn’t quite so exciting for the European peasants. Needless to say, I did not finish the article after this whopper.

    Eagerly waiting for more journalistic bodies to float by.

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