Memo To: Joseph Lelyveld, NYTimes Executive Editor
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: NYTimes campaign coverage
Ken Auletta's piece in the November 18 New Yorker — which mentions your contretemps with the Dole campaign — is a not-bad effort on the coverage of Campaign '96, but it is almost at foxhole level. Such a piece is necessarily about The Communication of Political Stuff by the political press corps. Auletta's interest is not about the Stuff, but about the mechanics of the medium of exchange. I read the piece because Maureen Dowd referenced it in her column yesterday, and it had a lot of interesting little things I didn't know about, but it is still at foxhole level.
It does, though, prompt me to write this note of appreciation to you for the Times campaign coverage both this year and last. You may have muffed one day, but as a political reader of the Times since I followed Eisenhower/Stevenson in 1952 (then a student at Brooklyn Tech), I can tell you with all honesty that you can be proud of your team's work this year. I found the coverage scrupulously balanced and fair, interesting, probing, insightful and thorough. I have always appreciated Johnny Apple's work, but for the first time this year I became an enthusiastic and dedicated fan, looking for his by-line in the news pages, the way I've come to look for Maureen Dowd's on the editpage. Also Rick Berke, Dick Stevenson, Ernest Tollerson, Liz Kolbert, Adam Nagourney, Katherine Seelye and David Sanger. At least these are the names on the top of my mind. The Nagourney/Seelye wrap-up on why Dole lost was awesome, considering that it was practically instant history. I even called to congratulate them.
The photo displays were also noteworthy, in that you always seemed to be able to find a picture of Bob Dole smiling, which may have broken your budget on film. I was actually sad to see Dole single out the Times as the "enemy," which he might well have done in memory of Richard Nixon, but it certainly was not the case in 1996. I had been thinking of writing you a note of thanks for making it happen, but it took the Auletta piece to jog me into action.