Right. In contrast, [Times reporter] John Burns had taken a stand supporting the war, but he didn't get reprimanded. It wasn't taking a strong stand that was the problem. It was taking a stand contrary to the dominant narrative.
And so you get this formal reprimand?
And then what happens?
I realize it's terminal. It was not easy. I didn't want to lose my job. But I was faced with a choice. I could muzzle myself in fealty to my career, but to do so would be to betray my father. I could not do that. When I left the building, I knew it was over. I also articulated for the first time what my father had given me -- freedom. I did not need the Times or any institution to tell me who I was. I knew who I was. I was my father's son.
I negotiated a fellowship with Hamilton Fish at The Nation Institute and left the paper.
So you quit -- you didn't get fired, as some believe.
I did not get fired, as [current New York Times executive editor] Dean Baquet reminded me the last time I saw him.
Do you think you would have been fired ultimately?
I'm not sure. I think many at the paper rolled their eyes and thought, "There he goes again." I didn't sense they wanted to lynch me. They were covering their asses. At the same time, I was often clueless about the internal politics. I could be wrong. Certainly, if there was another national incident like Rockford, they would have gotten rid of me.
I don't have any animus toward the Times. I had a great run. They sent me all over the world. I am much, much happier writing books. I speak and write in my own voice.
Financially I have survived. I still read the paper.
*David Talbot is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years" and "The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government." He is the founder and former editor in chief of Salon. He lives in San Francisco, Calif.
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