A reporter just called me to get some follow-up comments/quotes on my earlier post on Bill Safire's retirement and his recent 'mendacity'. So I thought I'd take a moment to elaborate here as well.
As I told this reporter, I've been reading Safire's column for upwards of twenty years. And I thought highly of him, even if I frequently disagreed with him and not-infrequently thought he too easily made arguments I didn't think he quite believed.
Yet the last year or eighteen months or so has seemed very different to me. And, specifically, here's why. Over the course of the last year Safire has written about several topics -- most centering on some aspect of Iraq and/or the bad intelligence meta-story -- which I knew in minute detail.
It won't surprise you to hear that he and I disagreed on most of these matters. That goes without saying. But again and again I saw him making specific factual claims or allegations that he only could have made if he were acting with negligent sloppiness (i.e., not knowing even the basic factual information on the topic at hand) or knowingly misleading his readers.