TNR Editor Claws at Washingtonian Writer

TNR Senior Editor Isaac Chotiner left teeth marks in Washingtonian Editor-at-Large Carol Joynt for what he perceives to be a suckup story on lawyer, crisis counselor Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Bill Clinton. The piece isn’t sharp-edged, but it is in-depth and includes details about Davis’s clandestine dealings with reporters — mostly off the record, he says. Hard to imagine a crisis counselor would screw up his own interview with Washingtonian, not exactly known for hit pieces, despite being beaten up in the media in the past. Few, if any, publication in Washington is immune from the occasional puff piece that results in beneficial source greasing. Does Chotiner recall TNR’s recent largely squishy love note on WaPo‘s Ezra Klein? Sure, it included goofy pictures Ezzy shouldn’t have enjoyed. But that’s about all.

Joynt didn’t appear to mind the critique, but got finicky about Chotiner’s spelling error.

Not surprisingly, this yanked up the heat on their bickering.


Of course we enjoyed this question in Joynt’s interview…

Do crisis and Washington go together like a hand and a glove?

With the fishbowl of the media, a lot of politicians, and all of them making the wrong crisis management decisions, you have more blow-ups here than anywhere. Politicians make the wrong judgment about dealing with crisis quickly.

Just for kicks, we’d love to see Joynt invite Chotiner to be the subject of one of her “Q&A Cafes” and put him in the hot seat. No doubt she wouldn’t let him off easy, but they’d likely be chummy by the end of the interview.

We sought comment from Joynt and Chotiner.

“He seemed to want to pick a fight with me, so I just backed away,” Joynt told FishbowlDC. “His beef is with Lanny Davis, so that’s who he should go after on Twitter. I don’t know Mr. Chotiner or of him, but the last time this happened it was a woman named Maxine in the Turks & Caicos (about a fashion issue & Michelle Obama) – and I stopped responding to her, too.”

Chotiner told FishbowlDC he wasn’t bothered by the puffy quality of the piece per se: “The reason I reacted to that piece is because Davis is a figure who has represented terrible dictators,” he said in a phone conversation. “I suppose puff pieces aren’t a wonderful thing, but there’s a certain line there. I’d written about Davis before and I just thought it was worth mentioning. I’m not trying to start a fight with Washingtonian magazine. I don’t know her and I’m sure she does good work.”

We wrote Davis to get his thoughts on the piece.

See the full interview here.