CLOWNS REVISITED….A couple of days ago I took a swipe at Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter for not being willing to say in print what he’s willing to say on the radio, and today he responds in a piece by Brian Montopoli at The Campaign Desk:
Alter disputes the notion that he’s too restrained in print. “If I just attacked Bush with a sledgehammer every week in Newsweek it would get pretty predictable, so I vary my pitches,” he says. “But lately I’ve been whacking him pretty good. I haven’t done it that explicitly, but I’ve certainly done it and expect to do it some more.” He acknowledges, however, that different mediums force journalists to play different roles — and that he takes a different approach in Newsweek than he does on a liberal radio show.
I don’t have anything against Alter, whose writing I generally like, and as I mentioned in comments, “I accept that you don’t persuade the readers of a national magazine by sounding like a derelict at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park.”
Still, I can’t help but think that while your tone might change, you still ought to provide readers with your real, unvarnished opinion ? and if your real opinion is that the Bush administration is populated by “clowns,” you have an obligation to figure out a way to say that regardless of medium. Not only do you owe it to your readers to say what you really feel, but you also owe it to your critics to let them know the point of view that informs your writing.
But hey ? maybe Alter will start doing that now. And if he does, you know who you have to thank!