Sunday, July 3, 2011

Guido On Hari

I interviewed Guido Fawkes yesterday on the Johann Hari scandal and the revelation of Dylan Jones, editor of GQ magazine.

"What's all this about a magazine editor with an angle of Hari", I asked.

Guido leaned forwards over the table laden with 2 Americanos and a poppy and lemon seed muffin and whispered:

"Dylan Jones, editor of GQ, is telling people that Johann Hari was dropped from writing for the magazine because he concocted copy that mixed fact and fiction.

"You don't say.", he added sarcastically before leaning back to take a sip of his coffee and a bite of his muffin.

He's been supported by some writers, I suggested. Guido smirked and said:

"Elsewhere more left-wing men of letters are breaking cover and saying openly what they have been muttering over the olive ciabatta in Hampstead and Islington. Martin Bright, who was an Orwell Prize judge this year, has come down hard tempered with mercy. In a tone which echoes Guido’s headmasters before a caning he writes:", as the blogger pulled out a piece of paper with a quote scribbled in barely legible handwriting, he read:

"Simply put, Johann Hari has let the side down. Several sides in fact. He has let down his fellow journalists, he has let down fellow liberals and he has let down the Orwell Prize… I feel a genuine sympathy for him on a personal level. There is something psychologically peculiar about attributing quotes in the way he did. And now through his arrogance he has drawn his editor and the Orwell Prize into this appalling mess. Johann Hari has disgraced himself. The Orwell Prize must come to its own decision about his prize. I hope his career survives this because he would be a loss to journalism. But if anyone is to believe what he writes in future he has to stop making excuses and simply explain his mystifying behaviour, honestly and openly. That is a piece I would read."

He put the paper back in his jacket pocket and before I could ask my next question he started up again.

"Elsewhere the novelist Jeremy Dun demands Hari admit he is a plagiarist and is scathing about Mark Lawson’s defence of Hari in the Guardian, which reads as if Lawson isn’t aware of the fullness of the allegations. Guy Walters in the New Statesmen (where Hari got his first break and had problems with deputy editor Christina Odone over his expenses) identified 42 cut ‘n pastes from Malalai Joya’s own book. Not all were in inverted commas, making them a problem of attribution, much of the text is presented as Hari’s own words.

"Classic plagiarism", he exclaimed, shaking his head.

"Is there a technological angle to this?", I asked softly.

"Worth reading the Telegraph’s Damian Thompson for his take on events. He reckons it was the Kindle wot done For Hari…", Guido responded, stifling a giggle.

Our time together ended as Mr Fawkes got a phone call that calls him away on urgent business, but that I suspected was prearranged to ensure he could make a polite exit.

"Oh, one more thing", he said, standing to leave.

"The blogger who caught this little scene-setting Hari lie in 2009 made Guido laugh, it dates back to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference:

"Johann Hari Hates Big Macs But Tells Whoppers". In itself a trivial lie to sex up an anti-capitalist piece. These kind of lies are the reason why Polly Toynbee and Laurie Penny et al are so keen to excuse him. Shame on them."

"Well, quite.", I agreed. We shook hands and he left. I noticed his muffin is only half eaten. Much like Hari's interviews are only half original, I thought to myself while smiling, self satisfied.

This post may contain quotes from other sources (or one complete source) where they better represent Guido's actual thoughts compared to the actual words used during an interview that actually never happened.


  1. I think you have his style down. I say his style but it is really his interviewee's style.

  2. Dylan Jones is the current editor of GQ magazine.

  3. Thanks Penelope, I've corrected the mistake now.