Saturday, July 09, 2011

Johann Hari, Nick Cohen and Wikipedia

The Diary in this week's Spectator is written by Nick Cohen. It is largely devoted to a strange experience that he had after having his book What's Left reviewed by Johann Hari in a small American journal. When the review appeared, Cohen thought it to be riddled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations, so he sent a reply pointing out all the mistakes and it was published.

Cohen thought no more about the incident until he looked at his Wikipedia entry:
As well as learning that I was a probable alcoholic, a hypocrite and a supporter of Sarah Palin, I noticed that all reviews of my work were missing except Hari’s effort. Far from saying that he had made wild allegations and I had responded by quoting from the book, a writer working under the pseudonym ‘David r from Meth Productions’ suggested that I had made wild allegations while Hari ‘had offered quotes from Cohen which he argued backed up his claims’.
It turns out, says Cohen, that the David r had also attacked the Wikipedia entries of Cristina Odone, Francis Wheen, Andrew Roberts and Niall Ferguson after they have been involved in disagreements with Johann Hari.

So who is this David r?

A blog post by Jack of Kent this afternoon reports some detective work, and this is being taking forward by the commenters. Suffice to say, there are remarkable similarities between the career of David r and that of Hari.

At the back of my mind I seem to recall an old Private Eye story about Hari posting highly critical reviews of the books of people who had displeased him on Amazon. Can anyone confirm it?

1 comment:

urpower said...

There was a thread about Hari's malfeasance at National Review a few weeks ago. A few years ago he did an article about a performer (Jobriath) I've written about. Using material without cites was nothing- he made up large chunks of his lurid, tabloidish profile. Sheer invention!! I'd say he's the gay Stephen Glass but that category might already be filled.