Sunday, October 12, 2003

The Day That Jonah Bravely Ran Away

For all the Corner readers, here's a story about how brave Sir Jonah is:

Last week, a producer at Boston’s WBUR, an NPR station–the same NPR accused by the right as being at the forefront of the "liberal media agenda"–was so eager to get in touch with me that she contacted my editors at both New York Press and Newsday with urgent missives, and also sent an email via my website. She was calling from a popular program called "The Connection," hosted by Dick Gordon, and wanted me to participate on a show about same-sex marriage the following day. The other guests would be writer E.J. Graf and National Review Online’s Jonah Goldberg.

Now, for those who don’t know it–and my email shows that many do not–Goldberg is the son of the notorious, sleazoid web maven, Lucianne Goldberg, the scheming literary agent who helped expose Bill Clinton’s sex life. If not for his mother’s standing among those on the right–and the favors she had stockpiled for being a tool of the anti-Clinton machine–Jonah would probably be punching data in a terminal somewhere, rather than sitting on talk shows as a pundit.

As the producer from WBUR was trying to reach me, I was on the air myself, doing my own daily three-hour radio program, and didn’t get the messages until 4 p.m. I returned the calls and accepted. She planned to make arrangements for me to go to an NPR studio in Manhattan, but also inquired if I could do it from my studio at Sirius Satellite. She was set on having me on the show.

She called back at 6:30 to inform me that I was "off the hook" for the show: Conservative pundit Goldberg wouldn’t appear with me. The producer noted that she doesn’t usually let a guest "dictate" who the other guests are, but it was late and thus hard to find another conservative. As I wrote in a letter about the incident to Jim Romenesko’s media news page on the Poynter Institute’s site last week, that sounded pretty bogus. Finding a conservative pundit to do a radio program is about as difficult as finding a drag queen at gay pride.

What turned the macho Goldberg into a yellow belly? What could send him running from a gay columnist? According to the producer, Goldberg implied that we’d had some words–even though Goldberg and I have never spoken or even exchanged so much as an email. He did "admit," she said, that I am a "powerful" gay columnist (yes, I laughed at that one), but that I had put out "misinterpretations" of his work.

...and Big Media Matt has a few comments for the thin-skinned Jonah:

Conservative commentators who think Paul Krugman and Al Franken are shrill sure do have a surprise in store for them. Coming from a man who just penned a cover story proclaiming Vermont to be "Hell" and then mocking Burlington essentially for being a college town, while ignoring all of the substantive policy issues, complaints about degrading the discourse are somewhat lacking in credibility.