For those of you who have followed my "battle" with the newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin (The Capital Times), I now have answers -- thanks to the many viewers who helped force the paper to come clean with answers. I could not do it without you.
For those of you who are new to the GretaWire and don't know the battle, here it is in a nutshell. On August 30 in an unsigned editorial, an editor trashed my new book, My Turn at the Bully Pulpit, and me -- without first reading the book (which is admitted in the editorial). The book had come out four days earlier. After reading the venom towards me, I tried very hard to find out who wrote it, and why it was written without reading the book first. I thought it idiotic to trash a book and person without reading first and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. I hit a brick wall. The editor I spoke to would not reveal the author of the editorial so that I could talk to the person. I also wanted a simple apology -- I don't care if you don't like my book, but before you go public with your dislike -- your venom – please read it. It is not only intellectual honesty, but the decent thing to do.
After my many viewers came to my defense with e-mails and calls to the paper, we now have answers and I believe an apology. If you click on this link you will read a column in the paper by one of the editors - not the one who wrote the editorial without reading the book but another one. The article below is as close you can get to an apology. I am grateful to John Nichols for having the courage to do this. It was the right thing to do. It is regrettable that he had to write the column for the "offender" but I am grateful to John. He is a good man and even a bigger man in that he may have had to endure some "heat" from up above the newspaper food chain to do the right thin -- that's a guess by me.
I also include in this blog an e-mail from a viewer which fills in more holes of what happened and why and also shows how many good friends I have in viewers. There were many viewers who helped me and updated me often about the "project." Again, I thank all of you viewers who sent e-mails to the paper and called the editors and told them to do the right thing. When all is said and done, you probably taught this paper a good lesson in journalism which will be reflected in their future. As an aside, I read the paper for years when I lived in Madison, and there are many, many, many good journalists there. They are smart, work hard and they work at getting information out to the Wisconsin people. This is important and they can take a bow for their years of good work.
I can only hope that the personal irresponsibility of the editor in chief is now corrected and that he will lead his paper in the fair direction and not in one that imitates the McCarthy era -- attack first, get facts later -- that we all regret. At 16, I made a terrible mistake: I negligently and carelessly backed my mother's car into my father's car when I was mad -- and my father said the noise was so loud he bet I would never lose my temper and do that again (that I would lose my temper again, but not in such a dangerous manner. He was right. I learned a huge lesson from my mistake). My guess, the editor in chief, by trashing my book and me before actually reading it and, in getting so much heat from all our viewers will teach him a valuable lesson. Read the book first before you criticize or attack. If he does not like the book after reading it, that's ok. That's fair. The book is not for everyone.
Here is the e-mail:
I just had a very lengthy and pleasant conversation with John Nicholls, who confirmed that it WAS Dave Zweifel who wrote "My Dad, the McCarthyite." I complimented John on his follow up editorial and suggested he contact you directly. He did tell me that he had received a nice e-mail from you, following the release of "The Political Branches of Our Family Tree.
We talked about you at length and agreed that your book is very well written and entertaining, but John said he thinks you have a really great book yet to be written. We agreed you are the American success story: middle class girl from small Midwest town, achieving national success, etc. John also admitted that Dave Zweifel had written from a personal perspective, letting emotion overrule his professionalism, when writing "My Dad, the McCarthyite." He added it was all of their fault that the article was published, and added that Dave had approved John's follow-up editorial, and should be given credit for that as well."
He said the lesson they had learned was not to paint everything with a broad brush, and it was wrong to assume that, because you had moved to Fox, you had automatically become conservative. He said it was the timing of the editorial that made it so volatile, since Dave Zweifel did not realize your book had been released two days before his editorial was published. From my conversation with John, I know everyone at Capital Times admits Dave was wrong, but John stressed that Dave is generally a very good guy who made a mistake, and should not be branded for life because of it. Evidently, he has a long history with your father, which is at the root of all of this consternation (a suspicion you know I have maintained throughout). I do intend to follow up with Dave Zweifel, who was not in his office when I called today."
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