Around the town
Zola Books, a new digital publishing start-up, will be very popular with female liberal arts grads: the hybrid website is releasing previously unpublished work by Joan Didion. For free $9.99. (The New York Times)
It’s a thought that ought to disturb the sleep of every decent person: The bloodthirsty haters in Iran armed with nuclear weapons and, let’s be clear about this, ready to use those weapons at any moment, against any number of its many enemies.
The prospect is real, and is simply intolerable. Or so you’d think. But some commentators are going wobbly, as Margaret Thatcher might say. Bill Keller of The New York Times spoke not just for himself but for other accommodationists the other day when he wrote a long piece that concluded, in essence, that Tehran is going to get nuclear weapons no matter what we do. So we need to figure out how to live with his unavoidable reality.
It’s hard to know where to start, except to say that no Israeli should expect to live very long if Iran gets nuclear weapons, since it is the express desire of Iran’s leaders to wipe the Jewish state and its inhabitants off the map.
Last week, Fox News chief Roger Ailes came under fire for characteristically incendiary remarks he made about The New York Times (“cesspool of bias,” “a bunch lying scum”) and other media organizations during a lecture at Ohio University.
The event was woefully underreported, but an unnamed “senior Fox executive” told Howard Kurtz that Mr. Ailes thought he had gone too far in the lecture. He respects Jill Abramson, the source said, and thinks the Times has been fair under her. At that lecture, he was speaking exclusively about Russ Buettner, who reported that Mr. Ailes had pressured Judith Regan to lie to federal investigators about her relationship with Bernie Kerik.
The full transcript of Mr. Ailes’s May 21 lecture at Ohio University is now online (via Romenesko), and it reveals plenty more original Times commentary. Mr. Ailes said former executive editor Bill Keller was fired for publishing biased news (it went down a little differently in the Ken Auletta version) and that Mr. Keller’s stated opinion of Fox News amounts to sour grapes because the newspaper industry is dying and Fox is thriving. He also said that the two of them are getting a drink.
[UPDATE: That rendez-vous hasn't happened...yet. Mr. Keller told The Observer in an e-mail: “After my column identifying Fox as a satanist front, he sent me a light-hearted email. I offered to buy him a drink. He hasn’t taken me up on it yet. Stay tuned.”
Below, an excerpt of his conversation with moderator Andy Alexander.
Armando Iannucci’s new HBO series Veep, which premiered on Tuesday night at the Time Warner Center, looks like a winner—more Biden than Bentsen. Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the shaky-cam comedy is to the West Wing what a bucket of Popeye’s is to a bowl of flax-dusted Brussels sprouts (less wholesome but considerably tastier).
During the cocktail hour preceding the screening, the premise of the show gave us an excuse to ask everyone : Who is your favorite vice president? Fortunately, guests were in a festive and charitable mood. No doubt they were already anticipating the post-screening filet mignon awaiting them at Porter House.
“You know what? I’ve never been asked that before,” Fran Lebowitz replied when we tracked her down in a corner of the 10th-floor reception area. “That’s a great question.” She thought a little. “Well, there was Johnson, and he became the president. Which is why you can’t nominate someone like Sarah Palin.”
off the record
The news of buyouts the Times was just one element of the perfect storm of press that descended upon Ms. Abramson last week, including a Ken Auletta New Yorker profile and a deluge of critical slobbering over her recently released “dogoir,” The Puppy Diaries. It was reviewed in the Thursday arts section and in The Read More
Our City Since
Fiona Spruill was on the subway headed to work from her apartment on the Upper West Side when the first plane went in. Web production for The New York Times was her first job after graduating from Duke and she, then 24, had recently been promoted to digital news editor.
By the time she got to the web newsroom, then housed a few blocks from the paper’s historic home on West 43rd Street, it was evident that news was breaking. But the overnight editor and the business editor, the only others in the office, were in a state of confusion. They were seeing things on television, but the reports were unconfirmed, and they conflicted.
Amy Waldman did not read most of the 9/11 novels before she started writing her own. DeLillo, Amis, Updike, Foer—she didn’t need to read them. Ms. Waldman was in New York on the day itself, in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion and in South Asia as the United States dug in to combat in Iraq. Having watched the new world order evolve both here and abroad, the book that she eventually decided to write is more a synthesis of her firsthand experience as a reporter than an examination of collective memory. But what’s remarkable about her new counterfactual novel about the World Trade Center, The Submission, is that it will likely be remembered as one of the first satires of post-9/11 New York City: a place where tragedy is exploited by the ambitious and powerful to self-interested ends.
Fitness & Health
While schmoozing around the Iowa State Fair today, Mitt Romney did more conspicuous eating-for-the-cameras than Calista Flockhart at a Yankees game.
Food is a great prop, right? Hand-held fair food is basically the opposite of
A corn dog.
A hot dog.
He was, sadly, Read More
Two things tend to be givens in the modern-day 24-hour news cycle: One, that something sad and tragic will invariably happen; and two, that when something sad and tragic happens, someone with a large social media following will not hesitate to immediately crack an inappropriate joke about it. (Too Read More
After Bill Keller, the lame duck executive editor of The New York Times, wrote a column lamenting all the books written by Times writers, we thought some of these writers might be annoyed. We thought wrong.
“I laughed out loud,” wrote the business columnist Joe Nocera, author, with Bethany Maclean, of All the Read More