06/12/2008 10:58 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Coming this Sunday in NYT : Gore Vidal Questions McCain's POW Claims

In an interview for this Sunday's edition of The New York Times Magazine, sent to E&P in advance, famed novelist/essayist Gore Vidal appears to question Sen. John McCain's account of being imprisoned by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war.

Asked what he thinks of McCain, Vidal calls him a "disaster," then tells Deborah Solomon, "Who started this rumor that he was a war hero? Where does that come from, aside from himself? About his suffering in the prison war camp?"

Solomon replies: "Everyone knows he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam." To which Vidal responds: "That's what he tells us."

Why would you doubt him? Solomon wonders. "He's a graduate of Annapolis," Vidal explains. "I know a lot of the Annapolis breed. Remember, I'm West Point, where I was born. My father went there."

Vidal's only reference to McCain's opponent is a fleeting reference to "the United States of America, as Mr. Obama likes to call it."

Asked how he felt when he heard about the passing earlier this year of his conservative nemesis, William F. Buckley, Vidal says, "I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred."

Greg Mitchell's new book is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq. He is editor of Editor & Publisher.