Author Jonah Lehrer has resigned from his position as a staff writer at The New Yorker after admitting that he falsely attributed quotes to Bob Dylan in his best-selling book Imagine: How Creativity Works. His publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has removed the e-book from the market and halted shipment of new copies of the physical book.
Lehrer, a 31-year-old once touted as a younger Malcolm Gladwell, admitted to the falsification after Michael Moynihan, a writer for the magazine Tablet, questioned the Dylan quotes while reporting an in-depth article. The Tablet article claims that Lehrer invented quotes on Dylan’s process of writing songs, including “Like a Rolling Stone.” Prior to this latest scandal, Lehrer had already been under scrutiny at The New Yorker for re-using passages from articles he wrote for other publications.
Lehrer released a statement through Houghton Mifflin: “Three weeks ago, I received an email from journalist Michael Moynihan asking about Bob Dylan quotes in my book Imagine. 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.”
The New York Times reports that Imagine has already sold 200,000 copies in digital and print formats.