Saturday, July 02, 2011

An interview with Johann Hari

My goodness, the memory space on this computer is groaning under the weight of articles about the Johann Hari plagiarism debacle, I fear the thing's going to give out on me. They range from the more forensic allegations of cut and paste to the more wide ranging "J'accuse Hari of being a lazy bastard who doesn't do any research" variety.

I sought to get to the bottom of this so I tracked Hari down, now holed up in a high-security compound on the outskirts of Greenock. Johann, looking disheveled and twitchy - but much slimmer than he had been the last time I saw him on Newsnight Review - agreed to this interview.

"Awlright, big chap - how's it goin'?", I said in the Glasgow dialect. I was trying to put him at ease. I remembered his mother was from Glasgow, Or was she? Hmmm... Anyway, he directed us to the lounge, I sat and he poured drinks.

"Would you like to smoke?", he asked.

A rare courtesy in this politically-correct age, I thought.

"Don't mind if I do", I replied - and whipped out a Cuban cigar the size of Havana and started puffing away like a maniac.

"Soooo - what d'ya want to ask me?", asked Johann, tugging at his bottom lip pensively.

I said, "Well, I'm really not that interested in a whole lot of the stuff that's been written about this case, to be honest. This might be a bit of a relief to you? Or perhaps not. No, not really that interested in whether you took ecstasy or not. No point in going over old ground, know what I mean 'nat?

"There's really one question that sums it up for me. You're a big Chavez fan, yes? Can't say I share this view but each to their own and all that. No, it's really this: yer pal has cancer, apparently - and has had a wee operation.

"Now, this is a matter of no small importance, given the nature of these regimes and the problems they have with succession, as I'm sure you know. So the question is this: if you went to interview him now, how the fuck could we possibly believe a goddamn word you're saying?"

Johann caught my gaze and then looked away saying nothing, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

Was it, as he claimed, the piles that made him squirm so - or was it the guilt? I'll let the reader decide...

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