As I made the drive from Roslindale to Natick for a Rosh Hashanah meal with my family, I got some disturbing but not entirely unexpected news: The New York Sun, a paper for which I had written since leaving the mayor’s office, was to be closed. As it so happened, I had written a column for Tuesday’s edition, which was to be the paper’s last.
There’s a lot out there about the Sun and its demise. I recommend these excerpts of the farewell speech of Seth Lipsky to the staff. I also identify with the sentiments in Hillel Halkin’s final column, where he writes about what it was like to be a Sun columnist (like me.)
My arc with the Sun was different from some of those I saw as its brightest lights, the members of its national reporting staff. From Washington, Eli Lake’s scoops on foreign policy and the national security establishment represented a form of path-finding for the D.C. press corps. Josh Gerstein cornered the national market on the intersection of the legal and political worlds; he was also the first reporter during this election cycle to concentrate on Bill Clinton, a political actor who helped do in his wife’s campaign. My roommate in Denver, Russell Berman, provided energetic coverage of New York’s political delegation and the 2008 election. I wrote a weekly column for the paper and took advantage of my New England vantage point to cover New Hampshire.
Often unrecognized are the younger editors who help craft pieces prior to publication. I had the good fortune to have my column handled for the bulk of my tenure by Katharine Herrup.
I’m grateful to the Sun’s two top editors, Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll, for giving me a chance to write about the most interesting election in decades. They afforded me an opportunity to watch the rise of Barack Obama, whom I’ve seen speak countless times since October, 2006, the failure of Hillary Clinton and the complete electoral collapse of Rudy Giuliani. I attended John McCain’s first announcement of his campaign in April, 2007, then forecast how he could rebuild his campaign by regaining magic and momentum in the state he had won in 2000.
If you google the New York Sun and the name “Seth Lipsky,” you will find many pieces that reference Seth’s commitment to the craft of newspapering, his visionary status as a founder of newspapers, and even his personal sartorial style (i.e. he likes fedoras.) But I have something else to add: Seth is a fundamentally loyal man, loyal to his causes, such as Israel, loyal to his newspapers, such as, first, the Forward, and, second, the Sun, and, most importantly, loyal to people. In my book, that counts for a lot.
I’d also say a word about Ira Stoll. Ira edited me at the Forward and was the architect behind one of my greatest stories in journalism, the tale of Hillary Clinton’s Jewish step-grandfather. Ira has rigorous standards. He pushed me to write the best columns I possibly could up until the last possible moment. In that regard, I’d note that my column about the fiscal crisis, datelined Newton, ran yesterday and bears some resemblance to a Boston Globe piece of today. Ira, a talented writer as well as editor, will come out with his biography, Samuel Adams: A Life, next month. He is a Worcester native, and his book should be an important read for those interested in local history and enthusiasts of the Adams family.
As I drove up Route 9 reflecting on what happened, I remembered something that Pete Hamill had written in his masterful memoir, A Drinking Life. During a period of upheaval at one of the newspapers Hamill worked for — I think it was his first stint at The New York Post — an old-time reporter took Hamill out for a beer and gave him some advice I’ll paraphrase: Be careful about newspapers kid. They’ll always break your heart.
As far as how this development affects me, see my updated bio.