On Friday National Journal‘s Editorial Director and national correspondent Ron Fournier went on book leave. The book will center on the genuinely touching National Journal Magazine cover story he wrote about his son’s Asperger’s Syndrome. The story chronicles fatherhood and his own struggles in dealing with his son’s condition. It’s also the journey (“guilt trips,” he calls them) he takes with his son, instructed by his wife, to meet a couple of gracious ex-Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who warmly welcomed the Fourniers on their daily schedules. His wife poignantly says, “‘You can use a job that took you away from Tyler to help him,’ she said, suggesting that we visit historical sites, preferably those connected to presidents, because Tyler loves history and I spent my career covering the White House.”
But at the time the story was published, even some within National Journal felt the piece was mismatched to the publication. A number of journalists also felt uneasy that Fournier had used the cover in such a personal way and expressed as much.
But before he went on leave, last week Fournier attended the This Town book party for Mark Leibovich at an Adams Morgan townhouse called Maison Biltmore. At the soirée, Fournier could be heard complaining about FishbowlDC’s coverage of his impending book. Wow, this was a party for Leibo’s book, but Fournier couldn’t focus on anything but his own? He was heard saying that FishbowlDC had made fun of his son. Really? Is that what Fournier calls it these days when someone points out the possible distasteful concept of publicly exposing your son to attention he may not want, to publicly using your son’s condition to land interviews with ex-Presidents and writing a story on all the reaction his original story received? He turns around and says we made fun of his son?
He may not agree with what we wrote based on reactions some journalists around Washington had to the story that were something less than gushing. But no, readers, we did not make fun of Fournier’s son. See here, here, here, here and here.
Enjoy your book leave, Fournier. We can hardly wait for your return, but somehow we suspect you won’t be able to tear yourself off Twitter for three months. And no, that was not a crack on your son.