There will be those that speculate that Simon Kelner’s ill advised defence of Johann Hari’s questionable journalistic style was behind his demise at the paper he has edited for a dozen years. They’d be wrong. In fact its more likely that Kelner already knew he was leaving when the #interviewbyhari meme struck and by defending Hari he was actually defending his own legacy as editor.
An interview with proprietor Alexander Lebedev in The Guardian published over a week ago made it clear that Kelner’s days were numbered. “I get a lot of compliments in the city about the Standard. I don’t get them about the Indy…the Daily Mail is more entertaining.” If that wasn’t crushing enough he added “if you want to change the paper, you have to change the person”. Lebedev even went as far as to line Simon Kelner up for another job as boss of a foundation for investigative journalism that he plans to set up later this year.
So when Kelner stuck his neck out for Hari he probably already knew he was leaving but also that he had a job to go to. Johann will hoping that new editor Chris Blackhurst will take the view that Harigate didn’t happen on his watch, so can be quietly put to bed.