The debate over the New York Press‘ Deborah Solomon piece has finally made it to the West Coast. Over at the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Carroll says it’s okay that she misrepresented interviewees… because, damn it, it was entertainment:
[Tim] Russert accused Solomon of setting up the interview under false pretenses, distorting the balance of his remarks and in one case splicing an answer together with a different question. His complaints were echoed by [Ira] Glass and [Amy] Dickinson. Solomon told New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt that “early on, I may have inserted a question retroactively, so the interview would flow better.” It’s as if she inserted the question “Do you enjoy killing endangered animals?” before the answer “It’s my favorite thing in the world.” I exaggerate. Still, making up ex post facto questions is what you might call a no-no. She doesn’t do it anymore, and whew. In my interviewing experience, sometimes I would forget to ask a question and call the person up and ask him that question, but at least the question went with the answer, which is, like, the point of writing nonfiction. Now here’s the thing: It seems impossible to me that anyone at the Times, or anyone in journalism anywhere in the country, thought of Solomon’s interviews as anything more than an amusing fantasy. They read like Nick and Nora Charles batting the ball back and forth in witty repartee. Of course she rearranged stuff, rewrote stuff, telescoped stuff. Real interviews don’t go like that. What she was writing were screenplays.
And we’re totally not surprised to see any argument for moral relativism from America’s limousine liberal capital. Not at all.