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July 21, 2003

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Man Of The People
Your cover story on Dominick Dunne’s war with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. [“Dominick Dunne vs. Robert Kennedy,” by Chris Smith, June 23] didn’t manage to explain Dunne’s enduring appeal. In a society where the press is held in such low esteem, Dunne is the anti-journalist—passionate, gossipy, and opinionated. As a reporter out chasing the same sources as Dunne, I have watched bluebloods and blue-collar types alike stand in line to tell him their life stories. People feel he’s being straight with them, and that’s why they respond.
-Ralph Cipriano, Philadelphia, PA.

A Reckoning
I have always thought of Dominick Dunne more as a gossip columnist than as “America’s most famous journalist.” If you look at all the good the Kennedys have done, and compare that to all the good Dunne has done . . . well, I think you see my point.
-Roseanna Whiteside, Birmingham, Ala.

Off The Record
Robert Kennedy Jr. accuses Dominick Dunne of employing shoddy journalistic techniques in an effort to dupe the “average reader.” And yet I’m quite sure the “average” reader can tell the difference between a writer who uses named, reliable sources and one who uses phrases like “somebody told me” and “an anonymous source.” Mr. Dunne is not a serious journalist; rather, he is a name-dropping wannabe.
-Karen Lesch, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Hall Of Shame
Sorry, but Dominick Dunne is not “America’s most famous journalist.” That honor surely now goes to Jayson Blair.
-L. G. Anderson, Manhattan

When The Cowed Come Home
As a liberal myself and never more proud of it, I liked Michael Tomasky’s defense of Sidney Blumenthal [“The City Politic: Lib Liberation,” June 23], even if the rest of us don’t measure up in his estimation to the muscular requirements for the hard-knuckled political gang wars. It must’ve been something instilled in school, and higher learning in general, that drives us to consider both sides of an issue and to prefer debate over the narrow-minded bully tactics common to right-wing icons. If we’re “cowed” at all, maybe it’s because of the big bucks we’re up against. But Mr. Tomasky errs in highlighting Maureen Dowd and her limp ambiguities as an example of true liberal journalism. I’d rather the salty wit and invincible integrity of Molly Ivins, for instance. Every bit as iconoclastic as Blumenthal and a lot funnier, she (along with Hillary) represents the mentally equipped Superwoman we frustrated liberals are looking to for the restitution of the two-party system.
-Jan Wyand Bennem, Brockport, N.Y.

Call To Arms
Michael Tomasky states: “Liberals, by intellectual training and by emotional inclination, aren’t street fighters.” You’ve been in New York too long, Mr. Tomasky. There are many of us unabashed liberals who are only too willing to take on the reactionaries in our midst. We see their lies and their desperate co-opting of liberal language and thought, and know it’s time for a good whumping. Bring ’em on.
-Jim O’Leary, East Lansing, Mich.

The Best Defense
I commend James J. Cramer’s perspective on the Martha Stewart obstruction-of-justice prosecution [“The Bottom Line: Jail Bait,” June 23]. As a securities-law attorney, I agree that had Ms. Stewart told the truth initially, the government would not have had enough evidence to bring insider-trading charges. However, I am not quite as sure as is Mr. Cramer that Ms. Stewart was told by her attorneys to “tell the whole truth, nothing but the truth, when the time comes.” Could it be that Ms. Stewart’s attorneys advised her not to be quite so forthcoming, and, just maybe, even assisted her in creating a (not-so) believable defense?
-Brian M. Feldman, Manhattan

Slave Drivers
Thank you for the lovely photo montage of Central Park [“Once Around the Park,” June 23]. And yet you neglected to mention that there were hundreds of freed slaves living in what we now know as Central Park who were uprooted from their homes to build the park. They were given no restitution because they did not hold deeds to their land (in the 1840s, the land Central Park now sits on was considered valueless). Their homes, gardens, and churches were destroyed; most were only given a few days’ notice. We should remember all who sacrificed to create the “People’s Park.”
-Karen Schardt, Baltimore, MD.

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