Remember Jonah Lehrer, the pop-psychology author and New Yorker staff writer who invented Bob Dylan quotes and somehow managed to plagiarize himself? After resigning from his magazine gig in mid-2012, and watching his publisher retract two of his three books, Lehrer laid low for a few years—but not so low as to prevent him from issuing a mealy-mouthed apology during a journalism conference, or signing a fourth book contract with Simon & Schuster. And now he has a new book to sell.
Jonah Lehrer, a disgrace and a bullshit artist, has gotten (another?) book deal, because white men fail upward. Lehrer, who was revealed to have fabricated quotations in his 2012 book about Bob Dylan, as well plagiarized himself and others for the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, Wired, the Boston Globe, and the Guardian is working on a book with a UCLA professor about "how we think and behave differently on screens." (How do we behave, Jonah?)
Last week, the New Republic accused Chris Hedges, the Pulitzer-winning ex-New York Times reporter and antiwar essayist, of plagiarism. A further investigation by Gawker has found that Hedges has published writing suspiciously similar to that of left-wing hero Amy Goodman, and that he has been recycling and reselling his own old work as original writing to multiple outlets for at least a decade.
It's comical, but no real surprise, that pop-science plagiarist and fabricator Jonah Lehrer appears to have lifted someone else's work for his new book proposal. Lehrer has established by now that he is a pathological fraud. The question on the table is: What kind of a fraud is Jonathan Karp, the publisher of Simon & Schuster, which bought the book?
Jonah Lehrer, promising young golden boy of Gladwellian think-journalism, has had a bad eight months. Caught plagiarizing himself last June; soon after, caught fabricating quotes, and forced to resign from his plum gig at the New Yorker, and rapidly cast out of the chosen fold to wander the wilderness as a sort of fallen angel. Even the Knight Foundation, which just this week paid Lehrer $20K for his big mea culpa speech, is already saying that it regrets doing so. Some are urging him to donate the money to charity. All in all, his no doubt meticulously-planned return to the spotlight has fallen flat.
Jonah Lehrer, the disgraced New Yorker writer, does not know how to do journalism. We have established this, repeatedly: he "plagiarizes" from himself. He actually plagiarizes from others. He fabricates quotes. He lies. This is why he was fired from The New Yorker, and why he is not currently employed as a journalist.
In a new Los Angeles Magazine story, writer Amy Wallace reaches out to embarrassed self-plagiarist and poet manque Jonah Lehrer to ask him what his future plans are. Lehrer doesn't reveal much outside of the fact that he is "writing something about the mistake and affair myself," but he adds that Wallace is only the third person to contact him for comment in the wake of his scandal. Almost instantly, Joe Coscarelli at Daily Intel was charging Lehrer with yet another mistruth:
Jonah Lehrer, the Columbia-graduate Rhodes-scholar journalist-speaker-author who lost his jobs at Wired and The New Yorker for committing a pretty hilariously wide range of journalistic sins — "self-plagiarism"! other people plagiarism! just making shit up! — may never work at a magazine again. But he will always have his first love: poetry.
A couple of weeks ago, hot shot New Yorker wonderboy Jonah Lehrer was forced to resign after he was revealed to have fabricated Bob Dylan quotes in his book Imagine. Remember that? Yeah. It was in all the newspapers and websites and radio stations and whatnot. The only place the news did not reach: deepest, coolest, fauxhemian Brooklyn. (And Manhattan. "Brooklyn" is just a brand name.)
About 8 years ago, while in the midst of his book promotional tour after he was caught fabricating and plagiarizing quotes for the New York Times, I did an email interview with Jayson Blair. At the time, this was a great get for a website called The Black Table and our media interview series, even though Blair was trying to sell his book and had pretty much accepted any request without hesitation.
Yesterday we found out that Jonah Lehrer, the Gladwellesque whiz kid who's The New Yorker's newest staff writer, reused his own old writings for every goddamn blog post he's written for The New Yorker so far. A self-plagiarist, he is. Big time. What's the latest? He is an even bigger time plagiarist (self, and otherwise!) than we knew yesterday. And for it, he should probably be eased out of journalism's highest echelon.