An Open Letter to Andreas Whittam Smith

Re: Johann Hari

Dear Andreas Whittam Smith CBE,

For the past few weeks, you have been spending these days of nascent summer investigating the claims that Johann Hari is a plagiarist, a distorter, a fabricator, and a sockpuppet who vandalises Wikipedia entries.

Perhaps you're not looking at all of these claims, but no matter, I am confident that with your experience and judgement, you will be able to see what many others have seen - the 42 quotes in his 'interview' with Malalai Joya that Hari lifted from her ghosted autobiography; the 545 words plagiarised from the Daily Mail that Hari inserted into the mouth of his interviewee Ann Leslie; the lies about his Sky appearance with Richard Littlejohn; his fabrications and distortions of quotes in his prize-winning piece on Dubai; the startling familiarity of quotes in his interview with George Michael; his copy-pasting in his interview with Antonio Negri; his outrageously fabricated quotes for his piece on the Central African Republic; his quotes pinched from the New Yorker for his interview with Hugo Chavez; his alleged posting of unpleasant and defamatory comments online under the name of David Rose; his invention of names for interviewees whose quotes he had taken from Der Spiegel...I could go on, but I am sure you have already sucked these eggs dry.

I expect the remit of your enquiry is fairly narrow, and you have simply been asked to establish whether Mr Hari should keep his job, but, if you are able, it would be valuable if your enquiry could also address these vital questions:

1. Is it true that Independent staff members routinely referred to Johann Hari as 'our Jayson Blair'?
2. Is is true that when Johann Hari's piece on Dubai was filed, his encounter with the girl in hot pants was laughed at by the backbench?
3. Were doubts at any time about Mr Hari's professional conduct ever expressed to the then editor Simon Kelner?
4. If so, what was Mr Kelner's response?
5. Would it be fair to say that Mr Kelner protected Mr Hari because of Mr Hari's stellar status?
6. Why did Mr Kelner state on Twitter on 28 June 2011 that '@JohannHari101 has worked at @theIndynews for 10 years. In that time, we have not had a single complaint about his misrepresenting anyone', when at least three complaints were made about such mispresentation - by an aid worker in the Central African Republic, by Noam Chomsky, and by an interviewee in Hari's piece on Dubai?
7. What opinion does the managing editor of the Independent, Imogen Haddon, hold about Mr Hari's journalism?
8. What opinion does the business editor of the Independent, David Prosser, hold about Mr Hari's journalism?
9. What pressure has the Independent brought to bear on the Council of the Orwell Prize in its deliberations as to whether Mr Hari should retain his Orwell Prize?
10. What pressure has the Independent brought to bear on the Council of the Orwell Prize to delay its announcement concerning its decision?
11. What pressure has the Independent brought to bear on the Council of the Martha Gellhorn Award in its deliberations as to whether Mr Hari should retain his Martha Gellhorn Award?
12. Has the Independent used lawyers in its dealings with either the Council of the Orwell Prize or anybody associated with the Orwell Prize?
13. Is the present management of the Independent indulging in a facesaving exercise?

Yours sincerely,

Guy Walters

Getty
Show Hide image

Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland