When a publication issues a statement intended to clear up “confusion,” it had best strive for clarity. Wired fell a bit short of that imperative this afternoon, as it issued the following words about the status of disgraced journalist Jonah Lehrer:
We want to ensure that there is no confusion regarding reports today about writer Jonah Lehrer and WIRED. Jonah has not been “hired” by WIRED; he’s been a contributing editor at the magazine and the website for years. When allegations surfaced about his work elsewhere, we immediately began a thorough review of his feature stories and columns in the magazine. So far we have found nothing unusual. Jonah also wrote tens of thousands of words for Wired.com, and the process of vetting that work continues. He has no current assignments. After gathering the facts — from our inquiry and elsewhere — we’ll make a decision about whether Jonah’s byline will appear again at WIRED.
Notice any static with what Wired spokesman Jonathan Hammond recently told Ben Smith of BuzzFeed? Here are a couple of quotes:
“Jonah was and remains on a features contract with Wired,” spokesman Jon Hammond told BuzzFeed. “We chose to maintain our contract.”
“We still value the work that he has done for us,” Hammond said.
Forgive Smith, me and the rest of the world for concluding that Lehrer would be continuing to publish stuff for Wired.
When asked if the statement of this afternoon constitutes a reversal, Hammond got all journo-technical on me: “Clarification, not a reversal. He remains on a contract. His online work continues to be vetted.” Fair enough.