Wednesday, January 07, 2004


I thought this little controversy had been put to bed. Well, it's back. Columbia Journalism Review has an article documenting the recent dustup about Gregg Easterbrook's comments on his weblog stating that because Disney executives were Jewish they had a responsibility to not produce films which glorified violence.

Subsequently, Easterbrook initially issued a typical non-apology apology. After this, a blog called the Power Line posted an email which was purportedly from Easterbrook. The proprietor of the subsequently Power Line removed the email, but never said it wasn't genuine. According to Daniel Drezner, Easterbrook denied that he had sent this email.

The text of the email of unclear origin is here:

Yesterday I was told to expect to be fired by ESPN. It hasn't happened yet, but seems likely [he has since been fired by ESPN]. Friday the top officers of ESPN refused several orders from Michael Eisner, the head of Disney, that I be fired. By the end of the day it seemed likely they would give in....

Yesterday I was told by an ally within Disney corporate that Eisner has assigned people to try to destroy the book [The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse] -- to get Time to drop the serial, to keep me off interview shows, even to get Random House to kill the book. In a published body of work that now extends to millions of words, I have written three foolish and wrong sentences. Now I've not only lost reputation and half my income (ESPN): what matters to me most in all the world, my book writing, is in jeopardy at the worst possible time. And I'm up against one of the richest, most vindictive men in the world.

again - at the time, according to Dan Drezner, Easterbrook claimed that the email was not genuine.

Here's what CJR has to say:

The first thing Dezenhall told Easterbrook was that it would be difficult to mount a self-defense: "The problem is anytime you try to explain prejudice you get into a 'some of my best friends are' . . . type thing." Instead, Dezenhall advised Easterbrook to rally others to his defense. On October 18, Easterbrook did just that, sending out an all-points e-mail to a network of media contacts asking them to come to his aid. It recounted the hits he had taken in the media and expressed concern that Eisner was out to destroy his forthcoming book, The Progress Paradox, by keeping him off talk shows, blocking a serialization deal, or even prevailing upon Random House to kill the book outright. (The e-mail also made clear that Easterbrook suspected Eisner was behind the push to fire him from

This description sounds very much like the email, printed above, which Easterbrook denies sending. If he really sent it (extraordinarily stupid of him) - and he really sent it out as an "all-points email to a network of media contacts," and then subsequently denied it - then all of these "media contacts" have been covering for him.

Maybe CJR is wrong. Someone should ask Easterbrook.