If you were to read the right-wing papers in the UK you'd think Johann Hari (a high-profile left-wing columnist at the Independent newspaper who has also published for Slate and other outlets) had committed a terrible terrible crime. Not unexpectedly his enemies, of which there are surprisingly many, want to see his head (well, they want to see him fired). The plagiarism charge is currently being leveled against Hari all over the place.
What makes this an interesting case is the nature of his transgression. Hari admitted essentially to using content as part of interviews that was not part of the actual interview in question. Say, he interviewed Hugo Chavez. Hari would include in the interview quotes from sources other than what was said during the interview (but the quotes were nonetheless verbatim quote from the person he interviewed, it's just that the stuff wasn't actually said during the interview but was published elsewhere by someone else).
What is interesting here is that by standard definitions of plagiarism he has not actually plagiarised anything. After all, he didn't pass someone else's content off as his own. The people he quoted during the interview really said the things he quoted, but they did not say it during he interview. It would have been correct and arguably required to give the other interviewer credit (ie the person who got the quote he eventually quoted as if it had been said during his own interview).
What Hari did is no doubt a bit dodgy, but does it really constitute plagiarism? Clearly not, because the intellectual content was corrected ascribed to whoever was quoted. However, he should have given credit to the person who managed to get the quote in question from the subject of the interview.
Did Hari commit a capital crime here? I don't think so. One understands the campaign run by the right-wing media against an unloved left-wing commentator and competitor, but to my mind it's time to move on. Hari admitted his errors, promised to change his ways. That should be the end of it. Plagiarism he did clearly not commit.