Hari is new to me, but his wiki suggests to me that he is a highly respected journalist and writer. I don't doubt that he has sources for his factual allegations, nor that he quotes them accurately. Whether those sources are to be trusted -- that is the question. Containing the discussion to the issues at hand, Hari alleged:
One student said: "There was a right kind of music, a right kind of art, a right kind of interior design, a right kind of dancing. There were wrong books which we should not buy."
Even as she preached freedom, she created a personality cult around herself – sardonically dubbed The Collective – which permitted no dissent and even adhered to her list of banned books.I don't know who his source is for the second allegation -- Rothbard (?) -- but the first, as Google reveals, is Ellen Plasil, author of Therapist, a book about her lousy experience as a patient of Peikoff's. I cannot tell from my paltry research whether she knew Rand, so it's unclear whether we can ascribe to Rand the allegations Plasil made against Objectivism. All I found is the expanded quote from Plasil's book:
"Whatever their source, there seemed to be rules of right and wrong for everything in Objectivism. There was more than just a right kind of politics and a right kind of moral code. There was also a right kind of music, a right kind of art, a right kind of interior design, a right kind of dancing. There were wrong books which we could not buy, and right ones which we should. Wrong books were written by "immoral" people whom we didn't want to support through our purchase; right books never were. There were plays we should not see, records we should not listen to, and movies we should not pay to watch. There were right ways to behave at parties, and right people to invite to them. And there were, of course, right psychotherapists. And on everything, absolutely everything, one was constantly being judged, just as one was expected to be judging everything around him. And if one was not judging everything that was around him, one was judged on that, too. It was a perfect breeding ground for insecurity, fear, and paranoia." Her account is generally consistent with those of Merill, the Brandens, and Rothbard. (Incidenally, I have not seen their allegations controverted by Rand's other associates.) It is probative to the issue.
Aside, I should say that Hari misunderstands and misinterprets Rand, and that comes as no surprise, given his bias as a "European social democrat."
If this answer doesn't satisfy you (did I really answer your question?), please do let me know what else I should address.