Letter to the Editor: Who You Calling Moody? (Updated)

By Kathryn Comment

Dear Natalie [sic],

I just read your post about The Paris Review and Rick Moody’s resignation as a contributing editor. While I trust some publications to get things wrong (often on purpose1), I should like to think that mediabistro holds itself to a higher standard.2 So, to correct the errors:

1. Rick Moody is not a “financial backer” of the magazine.3 He has generously contributed to The Paris Review in the past, alongside hundreds of donors. “Financial backer” suggests excessive contributions of the sort Drue Heinz, Bloomberg, Inc. et al., might make in a fiscal year.

2. Rick Moody’s resignation was tendered shortly after Brigid Hughes’s contract was not renewed. But the resignation was never officially announced; no one had been notified.4 As a result, once a new editor was hired and the resignation was “leaked,” it appeared reactionary (in response to the new hire), which it was not. In order to avoid giving the wrong impression5, he retracted the resignation, only to be characterized, on your website and in The Observer, as a fair-weather friend6. I’m sure you do not delight in libel and, as such, assume you will correct the record as you see fit. This is a hard enough business as is–a lotta people out there are mean and selfish and cruel7 –so I figure it’s just good karma to redress injustice whenever possible.


Fiona Maazel
Managing Editor
The Paris Review

1 I’ve got to say, this attitude towards fiction doesn’t bode well for its future at the new, nonfiction-friendly TPR.
2 As the Borg said, We are blog.
3 I don’t know much about journalism, but I think the distinction between “reporting on reporting” and “reporting” holds water … Right/No? yes/wrong? As in: We were reporting on the Observer‘s reporting, and, in that sense, our report was accurate. (But …. to rectify any sense in which our report might have been inacurrate, we’re posting this letter. We’re good that way. Even if we think Fiona’s real beef is — or should be — with the Observer — which, incidentally, hasn’t yet posted any correction or follow-up.)
4 But, the real question is, Is this really a correction? — Or just an argument against one interpretation of events? The Observer isn’t saying Moody’s resignation was public (or, to use Fiona’s phrase: “officially announced”). It’s saying that Moody asked to resign; Fiona’s choice of words (“tendered”) leaves open the slight possibility that Moody “offered” to resign (and then wasn’t taken up on it), but doesn’t explicitly contradict the Observer‘s report.
5 If Fiona thinks our “wrong impression” consists of calling Moody’s resignation a “response to the new hire,” she can rest assured that neither the Observer nor (coincidentally!) GC’s quote from the Observer says anything like that. (The Observer quite clearly attributes the resignation to “the circumstances of Ms. Hughes’ firing.”)
6 (Updated) Getting to the heart of the matter: Is Fiona saying Moody’s retraction was just a PR stunt? And that, consequently, the Observer‘s gossip about Moody’s possible return is incorrect? If so, the Paris Review should consider this: a “fair-weather friend” who comes back is better PR than an ex-friend who wants to stay an ex.
7 This seems like a needlessly dark sentiment for a correction letter, doesn’t it? Anybody want a hug?