Richard Lingeman introduces Molly Ivins

91tzMbFEaZL._SL1500_The Nation is a fine journal, and a deserving cause. It publishes some nice e-books, one of which includes seventeen columns by Molly Ivins.

Writing a preface to the Great Moll must be as taxing as buffing up a Rembrandt [that’s OTT, Redfellow: try “gussying up a Gillray”]. So I had to admire Richard Lingeman:

In 1976, the New York Times beckoned to her as part of a feminization drive at the newspaper. There also seemed to have been some hope that her humor-brightened reportage would liven up the Gray Lady of West Forty-third Street.

As it turned out, her career with the Times was not a happy one, though she started off covering big stories like the Son of Sam murders. But she didn’t really fit in. Maybe that all started when she showed up in the newsroom wearing jeans and trailed by her dog, Shit. The story goes that when she was serving as Rocky Mountain bureau chief in Denver (comprising a staff of one), she filed a story about the annual chicken slaughter in Corrales, New Mexico, which she referred to as a “gang pluck.” The Times’s executive editor Abe Rosenthal, who hated what he deemed to be wise-ass reporters who fooled with the news or snuck in double entendres, called her into his office and confronted her.

“Molly,” he said, getting right down to the obvious, “you are going to make readers think of a gang fuck.”

“Abe,” she replied, “you’re a hard man to fool.”

He consigned her to purgatory—covering City Hall—which left her little to do. Eventually she resigned. “Abe was a hard man to fool,” she commented.


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