Knight Foundation Apologizes For Paying Jonah Lehrer $20,000 For Plagiarism Speech

The foundation that paid $20,000 to Jonah Lehrer for a speech on his serial plagiarism apologized for doing so on Wednesday night.

Lehrer made his first extended remarks about the fabrications that led to his downfall at a Knight Foundation seminar on Tuesday. The speech was met with a chilly reception that turned even chillier when it emerged that Knight had given him tens of thousands of dollars for a speech about his journalistic malfeasance.

Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen initially defended the payment in interviews with HuffPost's Michael Calderone and others, saying that Lehrer had received a standard fee.

On Wednesday night, though, Knight posted an apology on its blog:

On Tuesday, the Knight Foundation paid Jonah Lehrer to speak at a community foundation conference. In retrospect, as a foundation that has long stood for quality journalism, paying a speaker's fee was inappropriate. Controversial speakers should have platforms, but Knight Foundation should not have put itself into a position tantamount to rewarding people who have violated the basic tenets of journalism. We regret our mistake.