Saturday, July 19, 2008

Charles Van Doren

He has an apologia coming out in next week's New Yorker--the Columbia teacher who participated in a fixed TV quiz program.

When I was editing Fact magazine, I asked him to write for us--Fact was a muck-raking magazine.

He slunk into the office.

I proposed several possible articles to him. Ben Franklin and his ribald side? No, his uncle had written a classic text on Franklin, and he could not venture there. (Carl Van Doren.)

We talked about Lincoln. I said that the expression, His name is Mudd, derived from the physician who treated Booth. He vehemently disagreed. Mudd was spelled with two d's! I said, of course. He understood. "You know everything," he said ingratiatingly.

He did write an article for us. "Christopher Columbus: The Jew Who Didn't Discover America." Good piece. I asked him to write others for us, but he declined.

I told a friend of mine, Eddie Alexander, that Van Doren should not have been fired from his Columbia job.

Said Alexander, He should have been fired when he agreed to go on the program!

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