The New York Times's Jill Abramson issued a new policy forbidding "after-the-fact quote approval," except when it's OK. And, she's right on both counts. You can't legislate good journalism. The ultimate responsibility will remain where it's always been: In the audience.
By allowing the White House to approve quotations -- which Michael Lewis has admitted to doing for his Vanity Fair piece -- he is surrendering some of his independence as a journalist in exchange for access.
The project started when Lewis had some time between books, and asked himself: "What would I like to do?" Before long, he realized he'd like to "spend time hanging out with Obama and see what being president is like." No small order.
I know he needs to spend alone time with David Foster Wallace and Michael Sandel and so many others. So what's a parent to do? I know -- I'll send him a new book each month then I never have to stop introducing him to new ideas and new thinking.
Michael Lewis has become recognized as a leading expert on the financial crisis, regularly appearing on various national talk shows. Recently, Lewis admitted to stealing mugs from every TV show he goes on.
Jerry Brown, oddly, isn't mentioned at all in a rambling feature in the new Vanity Fair which is seemingly about the challenges he faces and, ostensibly (given the title, "California and Bust"), the state he governs.
This is the deep background of the financial crisis -- a clear-eyed introduction to the post-industrial jungle with its networks, frictionless interchanges, murky sense of accountability and unexpected consequences.