Is Deborah Solomon going soft? The Times Q&A queen's weekly interviews usually involve verbal water-boarding and creatively bitchy editing, but in her column today, she practically asks ex-Daily Show producer Ben Karlin if she can give him a big fat fucking hug. "Do you have any dating advice for your children?" Solomon asks him. What? What happened to "How do you sleep at night?" which she asked an opposition research guy last month, or "I found it a little basic," her response to money guru Suze Orman's new book? Two weeks ago, she asked Sheryl Crow if she "felt valued enough!" Next week, a heart-to-heart with Karl Rove, in which Solomon tells him she's always available to talk to him about his pointy-headed inner child.
Guess what professional interrogator Deborah Solomon happened to mention when she stopped by a Columbia j-school class last week! Her New York Times mag Q&As, which caught the eye—and the cover—of the New York Press earlier this month for her standards and practices. Well, turns out the column is going to have a itty-bitty disclaimer printed before it each and every time it runs.
New York Times ombudsman Clark Hoyt's column this weekend took on Times magazine Q&A'er Deborah Solomon in response to a recent New York Press cover story on Solomon's editing antics. (Solomon's penchant for refashioning the responses of her interview subjects for her 700-word weekly column earned her the serious ire of NPR host Ira Glass, columnist Amy Dickinson and the LA Times critic Christopher Knight.) Solomon doesn't make much of an effort to come off clean in Hoyt's column, calling Dickinson "boastful," (mean!) and misplacing the tape of her Ira Glass interview (whoops!). Solomon also told the Times' internal watchdog that she was just joking when she told a Columbia Journalism Review reporter in 2005 to "Feel free to mix the pieces of this interview around, which is what I do. There's no Q. and A. protocol... you can write the manual." Hold your horses, Deb, Hoyt writes. "In fact, there is a protocol, and 'Questions For' isn't living up to it," he says. Oh snap. The take-away point here may be, however, that Christ, the New York Press had a story with legs! One with tormented prose that could easily have been cut in half, but nevertheless! You don't have a story until the New York Times says you do, so by all means, congratulations.
Last week's New York Press cover story about New York Times reporter Deborah Solomon's perhaps less-than-ethical methods reminded some of her other subjects of their own negative experiences with the Q&A queen. Particularly irate was one Christopher Knight, longtime Los Angeles Times art critic and 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist.
In the mini-dust-up regarding New York Times Grand Inquisitor Deborah Solomon's whimsical approach to journalism and possibly acrobatic use of time and space in an interview with "This American Life" fella Ira Glass, we'd like to note—as the original presenter of these charges in the New York Press did not—that Glass' wife Anaheed Alani is a part-time fact-checker at the
Press Times magazine.
The New York Press is carrying a breathless 3,000-word piece today alleging that Deborah Solomon, the awesomely tactless New York Times Magazine Q&A queen, redistributed and flat-out invented questions she hadn't actually asked in final versions of interviews that she conducted with "This American Life" host Ira Glass and advice columnist Amy Dickinson. The subjects cried foul to Press reporter Matt Elzweig, who was until about a year and a half ago a security guard at the Met. The Times was not particularly responsive to his inquiries. Elzweig's piece reads as though he's just discovered White House plumbers in Times executive editor Bill Keller's basement. Instead, the Press has, for the most part, stumbled upon a fairly common editing practice.
At least since Meet the Press caliph Tim Russert's fatwa against her for the total misrepresentation of his feelings about his moms, we've all known that Times Mag interviewtrix Deb Solomon's job basically involves rearranging words that were once said by some person at some time into patterns that make all involved — but mostly the reader — deeply uncomfortable. So given her obvious affinity for, you know, the "sampling culture," why is this week's Russell Simmons chat so damn boring? We offer this "Ignition (Remix)"-style transcendent version of Solomon's dull album-track slow jam:
And so the erotic sphere has been colonized once and for all. In perhaps the most profoundly unsexy thing ever to appear in the New York Times magazine — and we're talking here about a publication that employs William Safire and Deborah Solomon — Jon Mooallem today profiles Peter Acworth, a former Wall Street analyst now responsible for "arguably the country's most successful fetish porn company, Kink.com — a fast-growing suite of 10 S-and-M and bondage-themed Web sites." Big revelation? The 70-odd jobs there are pretty much as banal as yours:
It's going to be a warm and sunny weekend, which is a good thing considering that you're not going to be indoors reading the Sunday New York Times. If the Big Three sections (Arts, Books, Mag) are any indication, you'll quickly scan the sports scores and then head out to the park for some ultimate frisbee or whatever. So now we will helpfully describe to you, rapid-fire, what you'll be skipping over so you can sound all smart next week. You're welcome!
Deborah Solomon, the New York Times mag's front-of-book "Questions" columnist, has the reputation of a lioness. Her interviews, a staple of the Magazine since 2003, are often described as harsh, acerbic and passive-aggressive to aggressive-aggressive. "Most of the people in the world are pretty irritating, and I think it's important to call them on it," she recently told the New York Review of Magazines. "That's probably what sets me apart from other interviewers. I'm easily incensed." But something's changing. Is Deborah Solomon going soft?