SMILE WHEN YOU SAY THAT
* I do hope that Eric Alterman, after erroneously accusing George Will of plagiarism ["Full-Court Press," July 16], has the good sense to apologize publicly to Will, now that it's been revealed that Will used a version of the phrase in question ("half-Huck Finn, half-Machiavelli") ten months before Alterman. At the same time, perhaps Alterman could explain the uncanny similarity between his written words and those originally used by Will. PAUL WILLIAMSON
New York City
* It was perhaps a mistake to use the word "plagiarism"--even in jest, as it was intended--given the number of humor-impaired readers The Nation apparently enjoys. I did not really imagine that anyone believed I'd accuse Will of holding on to a phrase of mine for thirteen years to deploy it at the perfect moment. As I have not been dead for hundreds of years, nor am I a powerful Republican politician, I cannot imagine my work showing up in the files of Will's "quote boys." But it is a strong word, and I should have been more careful. I'm sorry.
While I am embarrassed that Will apparently used the phrase before I did, it gives me a chance to tell a useful story. In 1989, when I wrote the Lee Atwater profile for the New York Times, I reviewed galleys and thought the phrase unfair to Machiavelli, who, after all, was a brilliant political philosopher and not a thuggish, albeit charming, political operative. I asked my editor to replace Machiavelli with Richard Nixon. He replied, "Sorry, Nixon's still alive and can sue us. Machiavelli stays."
As for Will's quote, the notion that anyone would compare Chris Matthews to a
genuine political philosopher strikes me as even sillier than all the above, but I suppose now is not an appropriate time to get into that... ERIC ALTERMAN
THE SIEGE CONTINUES...
* Doug Ireland's "Same-Sexers Under Siege" [July 2] may mislead your readers. Window Communications was hired by United Airlines to help market itself to the lesbian and gay community long before there was a boycott, so we couldn't have been hired to break something that didn't exist. We did advise United following the announcement of the boycott, nudging it toward its ultimate decision to implement domestic partnership benefits for lesbian and gay employees.
I shut down Window Communications over a period of several months but long before I moved into a full-time role with Window Media LLC, a separate company that owned and operated gay papers in Atlanta, New Orleans and Houston, and that ultimately purchased the Washington Blade and New York Blade News. Ireland's comment that we shared the same phone number and some personnel is a bit out of context. It was also my home phone number, as we were out of one office and not yet in another. Only one staff member made the transition.
While Ireland seems intent on spooking people that conservatives are taking over the gay movement, Steve Herbits never worked on any aspect of the United account. Ireland also ignores that another senior counselor with Window Communications, one with more liberal and Democratic Party ties, was actively involved in our work with United--David Mixner. I am proud of my relationships with both these men, and many others who have worked with me over the past twenty years, including during the time when I started the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and later during my tenure at GLAAD.
As for those Blade employees organizing a union shop for fear of Window Media coddling corporations, that's news to us.
WILLIAM WAYBOURN, president Window Media
* In Doug Ireland's useful article, he made one error. The pro-equal rights Maine referendum that narrowly failed at the ballot box did not lose because the "Yes on 6" campaign was outspent. Lesbian and gay supporters, plus several prominent religious organizations, tremendously outspent and outorganized the homophobes. …