Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jonah Lehrer Apologizes, Cashes In On Notoriety - Forbes:

If you commit serious, highly public ethical breaches, in journalism or any other field, you don’t have to apologize. You can remain silent. Disappear. Go into another field. If you want to return to the endeavor whose rules you violated, along the public’s trust and institutional standards designed to maintain that trust, it’s reasonable to expect some kind of reckoning. That’s what we have Oprah for. Lance Armstrong-style confessionals may be overrated, but they serve a purpose.

But such confessionals demand at least the trappings of sincerity, whether it’s truly felt or not. By taking $20,000 for his mea culpa (an amount most working freelance journalists could put to good use), Lehrer casts the whole thing into doubt. The problem is self-evident. You can’t put a price on honesty. Would he have said the same things for $10,000, or $500, or nothing? If he’d been paid $50,000, would we have gotten an even-more abject self-reflection? Before today, I didn’t think you could prostitute a “I throw myself on the mercy of the court of public opinion” statement. I was wrong.