Knight Foundation Regrets the Lehrer

Science writer and contributer to Radio Lab, Jonah Lehrer.
Photo: Thos Robinson/Getty Images2008 Getty Images

When the Knight Foundation, whose stated mission is to promote “quality journalism,” paid admitted plagiarist and fabricator Jonah Lehrer $20,000 to speak at its seminar in Miami, the irony was lost on nobody — except maybe the Knight Foundation, whose president told Erik Wemple the booking found little dissent among its leaders. But after a steady flow of criticism since Lehrer’s address, the Foundation has finally thought better of its decision. On Wednesday night, it ran a blog post saying the speaker fee was inappropriate and a “mistake.” The problem wasn’t the fact that Lehrer spoke, but that the foundation paid him. “Knight Foundation should not have put itself into a position tantamount to rewarding people who have violated the basic tenets of journalism.” But it did, and now the Knight Foundation regrets the error.