Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for World Science Festival.
Jonah Lehrer has resigned from the the New Yorker.
The now-former staff writer made the news public in a statement from his publisher on Monday afternoon, shortly after an article in the online magazine Tablet reported that he had admitted making up quotes he attributed to Bob Dylan in his latest nonfiction book, Imagine, published earlier this year.
The discovery of the fabricated quotes came only weeks after Lehrer apologized last month for recycling some of his previous work—sometimes nearly verbatim—in his other work, including articles and blog posts.
Here's Lehrer's explanation of what happened with the erroneous Dylan quotes (via the New York Times):
Three weeks ago, I received an email from journalist Michael Moynihan asking about Bob Dylan quotes in my book ‘Imagine,’"Mr. Lehrer said in a statement. "The quotes in question either did not exist, were unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes. But I told Mr. Moynihan that they were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan’s representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Mr. Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said.
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. I also owe a sincere apology to Mr. Moynihan. I will do my best to correct the record and ensure that my misquotations and mistakes are fixed. I have resigned my position as staff writer at The New Yorker.
And here's Moynihan's original depiction of what happened after he approached Lehrer about the quotes in question:
When contacted, Lehrer provided an explanation for some of my archival failures: He claimed to have been given access, by Dylan’s manager Jeff Rosen, to an extended—and unreleased—interview shot for Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home. Two of the quotes confounding me, he explained, could be found in a more complete version of that interview, that is not publically available. As corroboration, he offered details of the context in which the comments were delivered, and brought up other topics he claimed Dylan discussed in this unreleased footage.
Over the next three weeks, Lehrer stonewalled, mislead and, eventually, outright lied to me. Yesterday, Lehrer finally confessed that he has never met or corresponded with Jeff Rosen, Dylan’s manager; he has never seen an unexpurgated version of Dylan’s interview for No Direction Home, something he offered up to stymie my search; that a missing quote he claimed could be found in an episode of Dylan’s “Theme Time Radio Hour” cannot , in fact, be found there; and that a 1995 radio interview, supposedly available in a printed collection of Dylan interviews called The Fiddler Now Upspoke, also didn’t exist. When, three weeks after our first contact, I asked Lehrer to explain his deceptions, he responded, for the first time in our communication, forthrightly: “I couldn’t find the original sources,” he said. “I panicked. And I’m deeply sorry for lying.”
A spokeswoman for Lehrer's publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, told the Times that the company is currently "exploring all options" regarding Imagine and that, for now, it has halted shipments of the printed book and plans to take the e-book off the market.