A cocktail party conversation into which I was foolishly corralled has reached ridiculous proportions of debate and discussion. I'd like to clarify a few points:
1) I was minding my own business at a brunch when Ana initiated this conversation. I had no intention of speaking to her and had I known that what I was saying would be inaccurately passed along to a website that cared nothing for accuracy, I would never have done so. My whole point here is that (as with Joe Klein), I rarely if ever go around looking for fights with people with whom I happen to disagree. I do that enough in print, for a living, without wishing to make it my entire life. (This also speaks the relevance of the use of "my friend" in the text, as in "I don't feel a need to hassle my friends.)
2) In every instance, I am responding to accusations that she is leveling at me. I told her, I'm fine with what she does. My issue with Time is that they hired a "liberal" gossip writer who specializes in articles about "ass-fucking" to offset their conservative heavy-hitters who regularly abuse liberals. If she, or any one else wishes to spend their lives as gossip writers, all I ask is that they try to be accurate when it's about me -- which I see turns out to be far too much to ask.
3) Also in every instance, Ana is telling me how to behave, not the other way around. She is insisting that I subordinate my social life to my professional life and hassle my friends and acquaintances every time I see them when they do something with which I happen to disagree. I tell her I feel no responsibility to do this; in fact, writing about our differences strikes me as going pretty far. Yet note the irony. She works for Time, I don't, and yet she insists it's my job to confront its editor, not hers. I'm afraid I disagree, though the one time I did meet John Huey, who is not my friend, I did, extremely politely and asking whether he minded discussing it, raise the issue. What's more, I never asked for Ana's opinion of what I should so, much less initiate a conversation about this.
4) Ana apologized for her behavior towards me, which ought to tell you something.
5) Gawker's entirely unsourced coverage has been demonstrated to be false by the transcript, though I've yet to see any corrections posted.
6) Amazingly, many people in the blogosphere seem to think this is important, again, with precious little concern for accuracy. Eat the Press has the conversation taking place at the Correspondents' Dinner, which I did not attend, even though my posts also appear at HuffPost and the incident's location is clearly described. I saw one blog entry lecturing me by a man named "Richard Bradley" -- who, perhaps, understandably, changed his name from "Richard Blow" after writing an ghoulishly exploitative get-rich quick book cashing on the death of John Kennedy Jr. -- in which he makes two mistakes in his first two sentences, and then goes on to call me names and instruct me about the irrelevance of "MSM" as if my work for The Nation or Media Matters or as a professor at CUNY constitutes the MSM, as opposed to say The Hearst Corporation, which used to employ Mr. Bradley as an editor of a celebrity magazine, back when he had a patron named "John Kennedy" (and his name was still "Richard Blow").
7) A few people have focused on the fact that, in the discussion, I appear to privilege the opinion media over "reporting." As I try to explain, when I say "in a better world..." before being cut off, this is, I think, the way it is, rather than the way it should be--which is why I've written two books about the opinion media. I wish it weren't true but I fear it is, hence the focus of my work. (This point goes over the head of the apparently un-edited writer at Eat the Press as well.)
8) So again, to sum up. I did not ask to have this conversation. I did not ask to have it reported on or taped. I did not demand anything of Ms. Cox or anyone else. I simply responded as best I could to her myriad accusations against me--accusations that strike me as rather hostile and hypocritical given her own position at Time. She later apologized and I accepted. When Gawker misreported the incident, I sought to correct the record. When the Observer printed their handy transcript, it bore out my version in every single respect. Maybe I'm not the best judge of this, but I gotta say, from my end, I really don't see the problem. Can we all go on to something more important now?
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