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On Johann Hari’s apology

After pleading that his practice of treating the written words of interviewees as if they had been spoken to him did not amount to plagiarism, Johann Hari offers what strikes me as a less-than-heartfelt apology and promises not to do it again.

But now evidence has emerged that Hari took quotes from interviews by other journalists and inserted them into his own writing as if they had been spoken to him– a far more serious journalistic offense.

Guy Walters at The New Statesman cites an example:

"It is possible I have something of this . . . tragic sense of life," he [Chavez] acknowledged. He recalled that on the eve of the 1992 rebellion he had said goodbye to his wife and three children, and led his soldiers out of their barracks. He was the last to leave. After locking the big front gate, he threw away the key. "I realized at that moment that I was saying goodbye to life," Chávez said. "So it is possible that one has been a bit . . . imbued with that . . . ever since, no?"

Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, The Revolutionary, 10 September 2001

The spectre haunting Latin America – the spectre of Hugo Chavez – furrows his big, broad brow, pats my knee, and tells me about the night he knew he was going to die. "I will never forget – in the early hours, I said goodbye to my wife and three little children. I kissed them goodbye and blessed them." He knew in his gut he was not going to survive that long, bloody day in 1992, when he and his allies finally decided to stage a revolution against the old, rotten order loathed by the Venezuelan people. "I realized at that moment that I was saying goodbye to life," he says, looking away. "So it is possible that, after surviving, one has been a bit… imbued with that sense ever since, no?"

Johann Hari, The Indepedent, Hugo Chavez – An ‘Exclusive’ Interview, 14 May 2006

That may not fit Hari’s definition of plagiarism, but it fits mine.

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