Friday Ephemera
Reheated (41)

Elsewhere (136)

Daniel Hannan on the socialist snobbery of François Hollande: 

As well as being a bore, a fornicator and a nincompoop, François Hollande stands accused of being a snob. His former mistress, Valérie Trierweiler, has revealed… that the man who publicly professes to loathe the rich privately despises the poor. The son of a solidly bourgeois home, Hollande apparently sneered at Miss Trierweiler’s humbler origins, and referred privately to the underprivileged as “les sans-dents”: the toothless. Miss Trierweiler finds this attitude incongruous in a leftist politician, which makes me wonder how many leftist politicians she can have spent time with. 

Snobbery and imperiousness being so rare among our egalitarian betters

Robert Tracinski on Amanda Marcotte’s latest fit of indignation: 

That there are angry, bitter misanthropes out there with a chip on their shoulder about having to cook is not significant. What is significant is that this outlook gets taken seriously and finds a home and a ready audience on the left. What’s significant is that there is a constituency out there that is ready to complain about each and every basic requirement of human life, to resent the effort of taking responsibility for it, and to denounce as tyranny any expectation that life is supposed to be about work, effort, and striving.

Darleen Click on the same:  

[According to Marcotte,] if person A is unable to access the ideal of a home-cooked meal, by circumstance or choice, then home-cooked meals are articles of privilege to be either provided by The State or shunned as a vestige of a bygone culture best left upon the heap of history.

Ms Marcotte’s deep and compassionate wisdom has been noted here before

And Jeremy Duns on the return of former Independent columnist and chronic fabricator Johann Hari: 

[Hari] has received some extremely impressive endorsements for his book, from Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Elton John. Bloomsbury have big promotional plans for it in place. They have, it seems, decided not to inform potential readers of Hari’s troubled past. The Amazon page for the book lists all of Hari’s awards but for the returned Orwell Prize, and features a quote from the Daily Telegraph: “Perhaps the most influential journalist of his generation.” Yes, blurbs are often taken out of context, but this is one of the most extraordinarily dishonest examples I’ve seen. That quote is from a Telegraph article about his plagiarism.

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. 



That quote is from a Telegraph article about his plagiarism.




Maybe someone in the marketing department has a mischievous sense of humour.


What made me laugh at the time were the excuses made by many of Mr Hari’s peers. Among them Polly Toynbee, a woman famed for her ability to mangle statistics beyond all comprehension and who once squeezed five factual errors into a single 21-word sentence. And when a Twitter hashtag mocking Mr Hari’s imaginary quotes became very popular, Laurie Penny made things even funnier by taking fake exception to “hateful” and “homophobic” comments that didn’t actually exist. When asked to point out even one comment that justified her outrage, Ms Penny was suddenly needed elsewhere.

That was a good day for journalism.

Watcher in the dark

Lifted from the Graun in 2011, when Hari worked for the Indy

'Hari said "the worst part" was thinking about "readers" who admired his articles and believed in the causes he championed. "I hate to think of those people feeling let down, because those causes urgently need people to stand up for them," Hari wrote.

He said he also felt bad for his colleagues at the paper. "I am horrified to think that what I have done has detracted from the way they get it right every day," he wrote. "I am sorry."'

Yes, you read it correctly. The Independent gets it right every day, the man says. Go on: think on that before you criticise such a noble newspaper.


Speaking of media gaffes.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

[Hari] has received some extremely impressive endorsements for his book, from Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Elton John.

"The bitch is back! It's a little bit funny..." - Sir Elton

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Anyway, I don't understand all the hate for Johann Hari's book. I read it and it was excellent.

My favourite bit is where he goes to a dinosaur theme park run by Dickie Attenborough, and the dinosaurs go mental and start eating people, and Johann saves the day because he's been training as a cage fighter.

The part about how his dad owns a Lambourghini Countache and once beat up Giant Haystacks in a fist fight on top of a volcano was special too.

I wasn't quite as keen on the extended description of his school days, when Johann and two friends kept getting into trouble with the Ministry of Magic and Ray Fiennes but still repeatedly saved the day. That seemed a bit far fetched... Johann having a friend.


Christopher Snowdon reviews Owen Jones’ book, The Establishment:

Jones’ definition of the Establishment essentially comes down to anybody with influence, power or wealth who does not believe in Jones’ antediluvian version of state socialism. It includes all politicians (except Caroline Lucas and a handful of Labour backbenchers), all media (except the Guardian and the New Statesman) and all think tanks (except the New Economics Foundation). From Jones’ perspective on the fringes of the hard-left, almost everybody is a right-winger. Everyone to the right of John Prescott (who Jones describes as a centrist) is a neoliberal…

Tellingly, his Establishment does not include unelected supra-national bodies (except the IMF), the third sector, the public sector, trade unions, the House of Lords, the European Commission, the judiciary or the universities (except economics departments). It does, however, include the Church of England (it owns a lot of land), but not Rowan Williams (he’s quite left-wing)… Even the BBC is portrayed as a neoliberal mouthpiece.

Lancastrian Oik

Hari has a kindred spirit in WaspEye (passim).


Sociopaths will board any train that benefits themselves, and if it requires manipulation and hypocrisy, well that's just a bonus.

In this case it's the entire French economy which is the victim.


Mandy Marcotte is the typical "cargo cult" Leftist. She focuses on the food, rather than the fellowship of family. Better to have something catered by the Nanny State, complete with Michelle Obama's nutritional expertise providing the imprimatur, than sitting together outside the confines of what the State deems appropriate and making the effort to rear one's children properly.


Marcotte takes a beating in the comments, however there are actually a few pathetic defenders. Found this one most pitiful:

@Stargazer71 @Kathy328 Good for him. It must be wonderful to not be a klutz.

As a child, I would have loved to eat my broccoli, but I couldn't cut it successfully, and my parents would not allow me to put the whole spear on a fork and take bites off it. I still have trouble handling knives (and plenty of scars to prove it), and I'm 59.


Won't somebody think of the 59-year-olds?? [hyperventilates, dies]

Charlie Suet

Interesting (though not terribly surprising) that Owen Jones still doesn't understand the difference between a stock and a flow.


Amanda should live on a space station. None of that solid food, or gravity, or any other horrible social contruct to deal with in cold, dead space. I hear the State provides everything, even air!

Or at least the Russians, these days. Of course, they require payment up front.


"Your Majesty, the peasants are revolting!"
"You said it! They stink on ice! PULL!"


[Hari] has received some extremely impressive endorsements for his book, from Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Elton John.

Elton John I could almost take seriously, but the other two…


Poking through an old thread I found this from 2003:

“Johann Hari, the Independent’s new columnist, has been bemoaning the “corrosive acid of distrust” in public life. “We in the press are least trusted of all British institutions,” observes the 24-year-old pundit, who was shortlisted as young journalist of the year in this week’s British Press Awards. “The number of my friends who assume that we just make up stories – even at reputable paper such as the Independent is startling.””

Just an atom of irony, methinks.

Adam d

Don't know if this has been raised here before but it was good to see that miss penny is rather more useless in person than in her writing, no mean feat I am sure u will agree


it was good to see that miss penny is rather more useless in person than in her writing, no mean feat

Well, it’s a revealing exchange. As she often does, Ms Penny repeatedly interrupts and tries to ambush Starkey with some incongruous insinuation about his personal affairs - an insinuation she can’t support but which is clearly intended to derail his line of thought, to embarrass him, and thereby shut him down. She sets the tone of what follows and chooses to get personal and play nasty, albeit without much skill. Understandably annoyed, Starkey repays the favour with some added finger wagging. At which point Laurie gets flustered and tells us, falteringly, that she “doesn’t appreciate being stood on stage and personally attacked.” Her own attack having gone badly, hilariously wrong, suddenly, in her mind, she’s the victim of the drama. And then she tries to make the discussion about her, rambling incoherently and, again, making claims she can’t support and shouting over others, including the moderator.

That’s her lofty moral compass. It’s what narcissists do.


This is worth a read, I think.

Adam d

@ David

It's gold on so many levels. She starts with the personal attacks that are entirely unnecessary, then gets dismayed when treated the same way, by the end of it she is entirely unaware that she provoked the whole situation. I also like how nimble she is mentally, when given the chance to defend herself immediately she has nothing, however after several minutes her excuse is the fear if being treated the way she just was. So your excuse for not helping a charitable organisation is the fear if being yelled at, but somehow being yelled out did not jog your memory when trying to defend yourself, yeah right!

The similarities of the situation when arguing with my 6 year old are striking.


Lee ...

Poor Mandy "I am Woman, hear me whine" ... sez

Then I posted a simple piece on Slate about a sociological study of the obstacles mothers who want to cook for their families face.

In a pouty, quivering-lower-lip, oh-those-meanies they never even read my article ... yet this was part of her conclusion

It's expensive and time-consuming and often done for a bunch of ingrates who would rather just be eating fast food anyway.

Somehow, I believe she doesn't read her own articles. They just ooze from her id in all their malevolent, unexamined glory.


The similarities of the situation when arguing with my 6 year old are striking.

And there are other, similar incidents involving Laurie and her vanities. A few years ago, there was a Five Live radio discussion, during which Laurie kept on loudly interrupting anyone whose view diverged from hers, as if determined to prevent them uttering a complete sentence. Despite repeated requests to at least permit the articulation of dissenting views, this went on for some time, like a demented reflex. (It goes without saying that Laurie regarded the idea that she might let others speak as being terribly unfair, indeed oppressive, and therefore proof of her righteousness.) Eventually, the exasperated presenter of the programme called for her microphone to be forcibly disconnected.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Free speech at Berkeley, 50 years after the Free Speech Movement

Matt G

"What made me laugh at the time were the excuses made by many of Mr Hari’s peers. Among them Polly Toynbee"

To be fair David, Polly probably felt she owed 'Dirty' Hari a favour because via his now infamous 'David Rose' pseudonym he had 'strategically' edited her Wiki page, cunningly obscuring her privileged upbringing.

He also did the same for his own page too unsurprisingly. Middle-class, privileged left-wingers may well typically lack ample self-awareness but not to the extent that they're oblivious to their 'elite' social statuses potentially proving detrimental to their 'credibility'.

Hence Laurie Penny's outrageous mockney accent that she presumably thinks will convince folk that she's from a council estate!

sackcloth and ashes

I was struck by Hari's claim that he made his 'mistakes' because he'd never received formal training as a journalist. I wonder if he actually thought that you needed to go to some special school for reporters to learn that if you made stuff up that wasn't real, you were a liar. Or that if you copied someone else's work and claimed it was your own, you were a cheat.

I'm also struck at the contrast between the 'New York Times' and its handling of the Jayson Blair scandal, and the 'Indie' with Hari. The NYT sacked Blair and also published details of his misconduct - plus an editorial apology - on the front page. The Indie tried to cover for Hari, whitewashed his conduct with the 'inquiry' conducted by the founding editor, Andreas Whittam Smith, and then tried to get away with a slap on the wrist in the form of a two-month stint in Columbia U to 'learn' how to be a proper journalist.

One of the best dissections of Hari's embellishments came from 'Bagehot'. It's worth re-reading in full:


As Bagehot says, it’s not a matter of training, but of character.

sackcloth and ashes

'As Bagehot says, it’s not a matter of training, but of character'.

Not just his, but that of the paper that employed him.

The 'Independent' was set up in 1986 with lofty ambitions (and for a while it tried to meet them). Its founding premise was that the British print media had allowed ideological bias to distort reportage, and that its output was becoming increasingly trivial. It set high standards for journalism that in some respects it did meet (e.g. David McKittrick in Northern Ireland). But now it is the epitome of the shoddy reportage it was set up to challenge.

Hari's talent for embellishment and copying was an open secret. 'Private Eye' revealed the fact that he'd provided an eye-witness account of the shooting of an anarchist by a Carabinieri officer during the G7 riots in Genoa in 2001, even though he'd left the scene of the incident minutes beforehand. Paul Foot (a Trot, but an excellent investigative journalist) nicknamed him 'Johann Hari Potter'. Simon Kellner - despite his later protestations - did receive complaints about his distortions, not least the now famous one about the CAR. But nothing was done, because he'd become a star reporter, and he was telling the right kind of lies.

The same problem exists with Robert Fisk. He's a blatant liar and fantasist, and yet he's untouchable.

Incidentally, on the Penny-Starkey clash noted above, I wonder if Laurie would care to admit - after the Rotherham scandal - that she might have been a teensy, weeny bit misconceived to care more about the perceived 'racism' of Starkey than the reality of thousands of young women being subjected to serial and horrific sexual abuse?


But nothing was done, because… he was telling the right kind of lies.

Years ago I did bits of freelance work for various papers, including the Guardian. At the time I still imagined that factual accuracy was something the paper’s editors might care about. This naïveté was swept away during an exchange with Joseph Harker, then deputy comment editor. I pointed out some serious factual errors in pieces by Karen Armstrong, with sources for correction. I forget Harker’s exact words, but he was remarkably untroubled by Ms Armstrong’s distortions, most of which were published on his watch. He liked her narrative, even though it was demonstrably untrue and wildly misleading.

sackcloth and ashes

That's Harker the race-baiter?

Quelle surprise.


That’s Harker the race-baiter?

Yep. Mr Joseph “all white people are racist” Harker. The pigment-obsessed bigot who tells us that, “As a black man… I cannot be racist… because in the global order I do not belong to the dominant group.” To think there was a time when I thought it possible he might be swayed by facts and a sense of probity. Silly me.

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