The New York Times’s public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote a post yesterday in which she took the paper to task for running Larry David’s satirical Op-Ed about the Boston bombing in the Sunday Review. The piece, which was based on last week’s press conference where the mother of the alleged Boston bombing suspects insisted that her sons were innocent, was a fictionalized Q&A in which Mr. David imagined what his own mother would say in similar circumstances.
But was it inappropriately soon after the attacks for humor? Ms. Sullivan ultimately decided that it was, a sentiment that was shared by many of her readers—one of whom was the well-known author Joe McGinniss.
“Many readers found it offensive, and wrote to me about it,” Ms. Sullivan wrote. “Another reader who wrote in was the author Joe McGinniss.”
We emailed Mr. McGinnis to find out more.
“This is the unfunniest piece I’ve ever read. I have more tolerance for bad taste than anyone I know, but this made my skin crawl, and it doesn’t crawl easily,” he wrote. “I don’t know how the Times could have published this, even if Larry David is so narcissistic and desperate to promote his HBO movie he could manage to write it.”
But more importantly, we wanted to know, is Mr. McGinniss in the habit of emailing the public editor when he has a gripe with the paper of record?
“I do not email the public editor often,” he said. “I think this was the second time since she’s had the job.”
Ms. Sullivan interviewed Mr. McGinniss by telephone for a piece she wrote about a Times article that suggested that Adam Lanza’s autism was partly to blame for the Sandy Hook shooting. According to the piece, it seems that the interview stemmed from the other time Mr. McGinniss wrote to Ms. Sullivan.
That was the only time the public editor and the writer have spoken, Mr. McGinniss said.