Jonah Lehrer paid to apologize?

Knight Foundation gives Lehrer $20,000 for apology speech

WRITTEN BY: Meredith Dobes
Jonah Lehrer was paid $20,000 for his apology speech by the Knight Foundation.
Image Source: knight foundation via flickr
Jonah Lehrer was paid $20,000 for his apology speech by the Knight Foundation.

Jonah Lehrer, former New Yorker writer, spoke at the Knight Foundation Tuesday about the plagiarism he committed while on staff at the New Yorker and apologized for what he had done.

Lehrer resigned from the New Yorker last July after it surfaced that he was fabricating quotes and reusing his own material for new articles. It surfaced Tuesday via Poynter that the Knight Foundation paid Lehrer $20,000 for his apology.

The Knight Foundation somewhat defended Lehrer by saying that all outside speakers are paid as honorariums. However, this did not stop the Twitter uproar that occurred as a result of the information surfacing.

Lehrer’s speech was mostly an apology through which he attempted to justify what he had done and continually owned up to the plagiarizing he had done. He also talked about a code of ethics he had developed for himself to prevent himself from committing plagiarism again in the future, should he choose to write again.

“I will restore the trust that I lost,” Lehrer said.

“A man who truly wants to atone for his sins does not need to be paid five figures to do so,” @ms_amywallace said on Twitter.

Similar tweets came from many other sources, and Jeff Bercovici from Forbes followed up with Lehrer to see if he would donate the $20,000 to a journalism scholarship or something similar in order to improve his public image.

The answer seemed to be no, as Lehrer told Bercovici, “I’m not interested in commenting. I read your article. I have nothing to say to you.”

Bercovici acknowledged that Lehrer is probably uncertain about the future of his career and possibly in need of the money.

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