While attention for the past few weeks has focused — with good reason — on Rupert Murdoch and the News of the World phone hacking scandal, the UK is in the midst of another press embarrassment as well: the case of Johann Hari, boy wonder of The Independent. Hari admitted to mixing into interviews he conducted words lifted from his subjects’ printed works. Why prod an interviewee for a good quote when the mot juste is already to be found in black and white? Hari’s problems have not ended there, as the Telegraph‘s Damian Thompson and others have uncovered the possibility that Hari has been using a false identity to edit his page (and those of his critics) on Wikipedia.
Hari was the brightest young thing in respectable British lefty journalism. Indeed, he has been the recipient of the Orwell Prize, the UK’s top award for political writing. But now it looks like he’s going to have it revoked. The Orwell committee has put off announcing a decision while the Independent conducts an internal review, but blogger Guido Fawkes believes the verdict has already been reached. Why wait? Presumably to spare the Independent the indignity of being scooped on its own scandal.