Toby Young lambasts Johann Hari, picks a bone with Christopher Hitchens, and selects five books that exemplify good reporting

From The Browser:

Talking of bad practice, you've been particularly excoriating towards disgraced reporter Johann Hari. I enjoyed your fisking of his too-little too-late apology. What precisely was it that Hari did which was inexcusable?

ScreenHunter_06 Jan. 14 21.56Hari’s crime wasn’t to lift quotes from other people’s interviews and insert them into his own without attribution. That’s borderline acceptable. Rather, his crime was to do that and deliberately give the impression that the people in question had said those things to him. In addition, creating a fake identity on Wikipedia and using it to trash people on his political enemies list was pretty low. If Hari had been a News of the World journalist, those things wouldn’t have mattered that much. But because he’s a holier-than-though, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth, world-class prig, they do.

Is British journalism particularly nasty? What is your take on the phone hacking scandal and red-top tabloids in general?

I’m a fan of red tops and regret the closure of The News of the World. In the furore following The Guardian’s story that the deletion of Milly Dowler’s phone messages had given false hope to her parents, all the important stories The News of the World had broken over the years got overlooked. Let’s not forget, it broke the cricket match-fixing story, the Jeffrey Archer story and many others. It didn’t just deal in celebrity tittle-tattle, it also exposed corruption and many powerful people will be sleeping more easily now that the Screws has closed.

How did you rate Christopher Hitchens?

I liked Hitchens personally, admired his courage and thought he was right about Islamofascism and the Iraq war, but found most of his journalistic output unreadable. He had this verbose, hyperarticulate, mannered style that I just couldn’t stomach. I didn’t usually get beyond the first paragraph. I prefer reading his brother, Peter.

More here.