Maureen Dowd only regrets one thing she’s written over the course of her career at the New York Times.
“I think I wrote a negative column once about the ‘Seinfeld’ writers making too much money, and I regret that,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist told Business Insider on Wednesday, referring to a 1997 column bemoaning the million-dollar paychecks doled out to the sitcom’s stars each paycheck.
She added: “Seinfeld has kept me company on many a lonely evening, and they deserve all the money they got.”
Though lauded for her impactful political reporting and acerbic, colourful writing style, Dowd has occasionally faced criticism for psychoanalyzing and unfairly smearing her female subjects.
In recent years, some writers have reevaluated Dowd’s most critically-acclaimed work: Her years-long chronicling of the Monica Lewinsky affair, which garnered Dowd a Pulitzer Price.
Notably, in 2014, current New York Times fellow Amanda Hess argued in Slate that Dowd unfairly shamed Lewinsky, a 21-year-old White House intern at the time of her affair with former President Bill Clinton. Hess wrote that the Times columnist didn’t recognise that her characterizations of Lewinsky as blindly love-struck and sex-crazed lent credence to the narrative that the Clinton White House was attempting to push about Lewinsky.
“At first, Dowd attempted to pass this nastiness off as a sly, satirical commentary on the caricature of Lewinsky that the Clinton administration had painted in the press,” Hess wrote. “But soon, the artifice disappeared, and Dowd devoted her column to arguing that, come to think of it, Lewinsky was both nutty and slutty.”
“By June, no level of Lewinsky news was beneath Dowd’s scorn. She wrote that Lewinsky’s Vanity Fair photo shoot had ‘shades of JonBenet Ramsey’ and that ‘It appears that there’s one thing Monica has immunity from: brains.’ That same month, Dowd happened to run into Lewinsky while both were dining at Washington’s Bombay Club, so she transcribed the contents of Lewinsky’s dinner plate (‘veggie appetizers and chicken tandoori’) and claimed that her presence at the White House — adjacent restaurant ‘suggested the former intern was still trying to grab the President’s attention, like some love-struck teen-anger, loitering outside Billy Clinton’s biology class.’
Dowd, who was promoting her new book, “The Year of Voting Dangerously,” bushed aside Hess’ criticism, pointing out that it was the reporting in her columns that exposed the internal Clinton-world campaign to discredit Lewinsky.
“Amanda Hess was wrong,” Dowd said. “I was the one who found out and pointed out that it was the White House that was bullying Monica Lewinsky, as Hillary Clinton later called her, a narcissistic looney-tune.”
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