So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

by

Jon Ronson

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Michael Moynihan Character Analysis

Michael Moynihan is a New York-based writer and journalist. His 2012 article in Tablet magazine about Jonah Lehrer’s plagiarism in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works led to Lehrer’s intense, merciless online public shaming. At the time, Moynihan was a struggling blogger who needed a scoop when he found himself questioning the veracity of certain quotations in a pivotal section of Lehrer’s book centered around musician Bob Dylan. Moynihan’s fact-checking led him to discover that Lehrer had embellished the wording of several Dylan quotes. Moynihan described himself to Jon Ronson as a “schlub” who was just doing his job. He claimed to feel bad about doing journalism that could hurt Lehrer’s career—until he realized that Lehrer, a well-to-do former Rhodes scholar, lived in a two-million-dollar home in Los Angeles. Moynihan expresses no pride about his role in Lehrer’s public shaming, but he believes that shaming a transgressor or wrongdoer is sometimes necessary.

Michael Moynihan Quotes in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

The So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed quotes below are all either spoken by Michael Moynihan or refer to Michael Moynihan. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead Books edition of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed published in 2016.
Chapter 2 Quotes

We all have ticking away within us something we fear will badly harm our reputation if it got out—some “I’m glad I’m not that” at the end of an “I’m glad I’m not me.” […] Maybe our secret is actually nothing horrendous. Maybe nobody would even consider it a big deal if it was exposed. But we can’t take that risk. So we keep it buried.

Related Characters: Jon Ronson (speaker), Jonah Lehrer, Michael Moynihan
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
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Michael Moynihan Character Timeline in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

The timeline below shows where the character Michael Moynihan appears in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: I’m Glad I’m Not That
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On July 4th, 2012, struggling freelance journalist Michael C. Moynihan was awake late at night on his sofa in Brooklyn. He was hopeful that an... (full context)
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...1965 just before he began writing some of the greatest songs of his career. As Moynihan read the chapter, something struck him as being off. Moynihan was a big Dylan fan... (full context)
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Moynihan emailed Lehrer to tell him that he wanted to clarify where Lehrer had gotten some... (full context)
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But Lehrer—whom Moynihan began to suspect was lying—underestimated Moynihan’s research capabilities. Moynihan wasn’t just a good journalist; he... (full context)
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On July 11th, Moynihan received a call from Lehrer. The two of them had a pleasant talk about Dylan... (full context)
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Lehrer began calling Moynihan repeatedly and begging him not to publish whatever he was working on. Moynihan would later... (full context)
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Toward the end of July, Moynihan fielded a call from Lehrer. Finally, Lehrer agreed to make an on-the-record statement to Moynihan:... (full context)
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Lehrer, too, began exhibiting signs of extreme stress. He called Moynihan repeatedly during the next several days, making upwards of 20 calls at a time. Finally,... (full context)
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Moynihan knew about other journalists whose careers had blown up following accusations of falsified facts—Stephen Glass,... (full context)
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A few hours before the story appeared online, Moynihan and Lehrer had one final phone call. Moynihan told Lehrer that he felt “like shit,”... (full context)
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Ronson notes that in his own conversations with Moynihan, Moynihan often described himself as a “schlub” or a nobody—but this narrative, too, might have... (full context)
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When Ronson, at a party, recounted the Moynihan and Lehrer story to a film director with whom he was making conversation, the director... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Wilderness
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...move by joining the staff of The New Yorker. But weeks after taking the job, Moynihan’s article broke—and Lehrer resigned. His publisher withdrew and destroyed every copy of Imagine still in... (full context)
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Moynihan, too, told Ronson he felt that Lehrer’s apology was halfhearted, as if Lehrer were on... (full context)