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Jonah Lehrer Should Be Banished
Published on February 14, 2013 by Sara Foss

Earlier this week the Knight Foundation paid disgraced journalist Jonah Lehrer, a plagiarist and fabricator of quotes, $20,000 to give a talk. This was, of course, a complete insult to real journalists, and perhaps a reason to never pay attention to anything the Knight Foundation has to say ever again. (The Knight Foundation has since apologized for being so stupid, but the fact that it took widespread outrage and condemnation for them to realize the error of their ways suggests that they have, at best, terrible judgment on journalistic matters.)

Anyway, Jonah Lehrer didn't murder anyone, and he should be free to continue on with his life. But I agree with Gawker's Hamilton Nolan - there's no reason Lehrer's future should entail journalism. Some people might think that Lehrer too smart and talented to be banished from the field of science writing forever, but this is absurd - there are plenty of smart, young writers out there who know better than to make up quotes and attribute them to Bob Dylan.

Also, Lehrer's speech was a bit much, what with his blathering on about how he needs a "new list of rules, a stricter set of standard operating procedures." Sorry, but this is nonsense. The rules of journalism are not the problem - Lehrer is. Because the rules of journalism boil down to two basic things: Don't make stuff up, and don't steal from people. It's not terribly complicated, and if Lehrer needs a stricter set of rules, well, he should probably do something else. The fact that he would give a speech touting the need for new rules is an insult to all the journalists who seem to understand the existing rules just fine.

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