Christopher Hitchens owes me a big apology.
I belong to a private email discussion group called Gulf2000. It has academics, journalists and policy makers on it. It has a strict rule that messages appearing there will not be forwarded off the list. It is run, edited and moderated by former National Security Council staffer for Carter and Reagan, Gary Sick, now a political scientist at Columbia University. The "no-forwarding" rule is his, and is intended to allow the participants to converse about controversial matters without worrying about being in trouble. Also, in an informal email discussion, ideas evolve, you make mistakes and they get corrected, etc. It is a rough, rough draft.
Hitchens somehow hacked into the site, or joined and lurked, or had a crony pass him things. And he has now made my private email messages the subject of an attack on me in Slate. (I am not linking to the article because it is highly unethical and Slate does not deserve any direct traffic from my site for it.) Moreover, he did not even have the decency to quote the final outcome of the discussions.
It’s embarassing enough that Slate continues to publish the discredited Hitchens. The far right is already doing a St. Vitus dance over Cole’s potential appointment to a Yale history chair, and now Slate has handed them an article full of typical Hitchens bullshit with which to bludgeon him. Says Cole:
Back to Hitchens. How to explain this peculiar behavior on the part of someone who was at one time one of our great men of letters?
Well, I don’t think it is any secret that Hitchens has for some time had a very serious and debilitating drinking problem. He once showed up drunk to a talk I gave and heckled me. I can only imagine that he was deep in his cups when he wrote, or had some far Rightwing think tank write, his current piece of yellow journalism. I am sorry to witness the ruin of a once-fine journalistic mind.
We actually do carefully consider the sourcing for the stories we reference. If a particular source has proven themselves consistently unreliable or unverifiable, we’re going to wait until they’ve established a better track record before we put our own credibility on the line by linking to them and accepting what they say as having any kind of authority.
It was bad enough when John Dickerson turned Slate into the frigging NRO with his article "Alms for Scooter: Donate to the Libby Defense Fund," which concludes "donations can be made here." If the Washingotn Post-owned Slate wants to continue to publish this kind of inebriated, partisan, journalistically amoral crap they can watch their own credibility roll around like backwash in the bottom of a Hitchens bottle.
2-0 Cole. Slate: On the ropes.