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END OF THE LIES: When Jonah Lehrer admitted last month he recycled his own material on his blog for The New Yorker, it surprised many that a magazine famous for exacting ethics did not fire him on the spot.
On Monday, the online magazine Tablet published a piece where Lehrer admitted several quotes in his book “Imagine” attributed to Bob Dylan had been fabricated. A reporter also outlined that Lehrer had stalled and lied to avoid questions regarding his sources on the book.
This time, The New Yorker didn’t have to take action. Lehrer resigned. “The lies are over now. I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologize to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers,” he said in a statement through his publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He acknowledged the Dylan quotes “did not exist, were unintentional misquotations or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes.”
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HMH stopped deliveries of physical copies of the book and took the e-book out of sale.
The New Yorker does not have plans to remove Lehrer’s posts from its Web site, a spokeswoman said. “This is a terrifically sad situation, but, in the end, what is most important is the integrity of what we publish and what we stand for,” editor David Remnick said.
Malcolm Gladwell, an idol of Lehrer’s, continued to be supportive, though it’s not clear if he’d read the Tablet piece when reached via e-mail Monday. “I am heartbroken. Jonah is a friend. He is a decent and sweet and hugely talented guy, and I cannot imagine what he is going through right now,” Gladwell wrote. The resignation marked the end of the quickly unraveling career of a wunderkind pop-psychology pundit and magazine writer. Lehrer joined The New Yorker from Wired, and already had several books to his credit. Since the initial allegations surfaced, reporters combed through Lehrer’s past work for ethical lapses.
It is not clear if the resignation will also mean an end to his lucrative career on the speakers’ circuit. His agent at the Lavin Agency, Gordon Mazur, said Monday, “I absolutely cannot comment on this.” The agency had previously said it would not drop him as a client. Questions to chief executive officer David Lavin were not answered.