April 2, 1963
Miss Renata Adler
New Yorker Magazine
25 West 43rd Street
New York, New York
Dear Miss Adler:
In reply to your letter of March 28, specifically to your explanation of The New Yorker’s editorial policy, I should like to point out the following:
(A) Any venture involving the cooperation of two parties, which requires that one party have a discretionary power of choice, while the other party have none and rely only on blind faith—cannot be regarded as practical, rational or moral.
(B) Reviews and interviews are two different kinds of undertaking (although a magazine has to bear responsibility for both): a review does not require the victim’s cooperation, an interview does.
(C) When a magazine decides that some person “deserves to be portrayed unfavorably,” as you state, it is free to do so on the basis of publicly available material. It should not ask for that person’s cooperation. A magazine’s attempt to obtain special material which it would not have obtained if it had stated its purposes openly, can hardly be regarded as proper.
(D) If the editor of The New Yorker wishes me to consider his professional problems, he should, by the same principle, consider mine. The press comments on me are a matter of record. If he realizes the preponderance of smears and does not wish to practice that sort of journalism, then it is up to him to devise a method of cooperation which would protect both my
Miss Renata Adler – 2 – April 2, 1963
professional integrity and his own. But blind faith or a blank check on one’s reputation, is what he should not ask of anyone, least of all of me.
It is not an issue of your personal honesty which I have no reason to doubt. It is an issue of judging a magazine’s policy, which has to be judged by its record. I realize that a magazine may change its policy. But I need factual evidence to balance the evidence of The New Yorker’s attitude toward me in the past.
I shall, therefore, offer you a suggestion, as one possible example of how issues of “trust” may be solved. You stated over the telephone that the theme of your proposed article is: the extent of my influence on today’s cultural scene and the extent to which the commentators have missed the point. If your editor approves of your theme, I suggest that you write and let The New Yorker publish a brief piece on this subject, without interviewing me, basing it only on a study of the public record: of my published works, of their publishing history and of the press comments.
This is not a promise nor a commitment on my part, nor a request for a “bribe.” It is merely one way of indicating that The New Yorker does not place me in the category of a person who “deserves to be portrayed unfavorably.” If this suits your purposes and if you should wish to interview me thereafter, we could then discuss the matter on a more objective basis.
P.S.: This letter is not for publication.
There is no record of a response from The New Yorker. The article suggested by AR was not published.