Where’s Our Apology From Johann Hari?

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On September 15, Johan Hari, a journalist for the UK’s Independent, published a “personal apology” following the exposure of his widespread plagiarism and dishonest journalism. It included the following:

The other thing I did wrong was that several years ago I started to notice some things I didn’t like in the Wikipedia entry about me, so I took them out. To do that, I created a user-name that wasn’t my own. … But in a few instances, I edited the entries of people I had clashed with in ways that were juvenile or malicious: I called one of them anti-Semitic and homophobic, and the other a drunk. I am mortified to have done this, because it breaches the most basic ethical rule: don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you. I apologise to the latter group unreservedly and totally.

To recall, HonestReporting also exposed Hari’s use of false quotations amongst many other particularly vicious attacks on Israel. In return, rather than addressing those charges, Hari launched a full-on assault on ourselves and a number of other organizations and individuals, which included the claim that we:

spray accusations of anti-Semitism so liberally that by their standards, a majority of Jewish Israelis have anti-Semitic tendencies.

¬†After seeing Hari’s “apology” and his confession that he had, in fact, abused the term “anti-Semitism” for his own malicious ends, we sent the following letter to The Independent on September 18:

In 2008, HonestReporting exposed Johann Hari’s use of false quotations to attack Israel. Hari’s response, as published in The Independent, was to smear HonestReporting and a number of other organizations and individuals with the outrageous charge that we “spray accusations of anti-Semitism so liberally that by their standards, a majority of Jewish Israelis have anti-Semitic tendencies.”

Now that Hari has publicly apologized for tampering with his critics’ Wikipedia pages to brand them as anti-Semites, perhaps Hari should also apologize to HonestReporting and others that he has accused of abusing the term “anti-Semitism” while engaging in exactly that. Despite his protestations, HonestReporting has never accused Hari of being an anti-Semite.

We have, however, charged Hari with faulty and unethical journalism – a charge that has been unequivocally proven by Hari’s own admissions. Smearing one’s critics rather than addressing the substance of the criticism is unbecoming of any credible journalist. HonestReporting and other past critics of Hari’s writing deserve more than his contrite apology published in The Independent.

The letter has not been published by The Independent. In addition, Hari reveals in his “apology” that he is taking a leave of absence until 2012, when he will return to The Independent.

With The Independent successfully sued over a false Robert Fisk story and Johann Hari’s misdemeanors, there’s something rotten in The Independent. The paper chooses to sweep these problems under the carpet in the hope that they will be forgotten rather than uprooting them.

In any other business it would mean the end of one’s career. Not, however, for Johann Hari and his employers.

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