Amy Wallace writes in the new issue of Los Angeles Magazine that when she emailed Jonah Lehrer, “he responded right away” and that “despite the avalanche of coverage, he said, I was only the third person to contact him for comment.”
She adds: “Apparently Lehrer wasn’t the only person guilty of laziness. Or was it that a potential response from Lehrer might not jibe with what the commentariat wanted to say?”
Lehrer, by the way, declined to answer Wallace’s questions. (Who were the other two reporters who contacted Lehrer? Wallace told me she didn’t ask.)
Of course, I would have loved to have gotten a comment from Lehrer, but…
Here’s what happened on the morning of June 19, when I posted the first example of Lehrer’s plagiarism:
I called NewYorker.com editor Nicholas Thompson about 9:30 a.m. CT and asked if he was aware that Lehrer’s NewYorker.com post from a week earlier was a rewrite of an October, 2011, Wall Street Journal piece. He said he wasn’t. Thompson told me he’d call Lehrer in California. The editor called back a short time later and said he couldn’t reach Lehrer, that it was early on the West Coast. He then gave me this comment for posting: “It’s a mistake. We’re not happy. It won’t happen again.” I was never called back with Lehrer’s comment – or no comment.
I put my post up at 9:53 a.m., and then watched as other publications did their Google searches and found more examples of Lehrer’s self-plagiarism.
From a June 20 New York Times story:
Mr. Lehrer’s troubles began on Tuesday morning, when the media blogger Jim Romenesko noted that a June 12 post on The Frontal Cortex, Mr. Lehrer’s blog for The New Yorker, titled “Why Smart People Are Stupid,” included material recycled from a post he had written last October for The Wall Street Journal.
Within a few hours, New York magazine’s Daily Intel and other blogs had tracked down a number of other instances of self-duplication from Mr. Lehrer’s writing for Wired, the New York Times Magazine, and other publications. …
Mr. Lehrer, reached by telephone, expressed remorse about the self-borrowings but declined to comment further.
My boldface, by the way.