Sy Hersh and Abe Rosenthal: A Writer-Editor Fight That Sent a Typewriter Flying Through a Newspaper Office Window

A writer-editor battle between writer Sy Hersh and Abe Rosenthal, executive editor of the New York Times, from Hersh’s book,  Reporter: A Memoir—it took place as the Times was editing a series of stories written by Hersh and Jeff Gerth about Hollywood lawyer and fixer Sidney Korshak:

Our series was edited and reedited because of appropriate legal concerns—Korshak had never been indicted—as well as by ambitious deputy editors eager to show Abe that they could make a Hersh series sing. It was a problem I had not had while in Washington, and the constant fiddling with the series—invariably only with the first few paragraphs—led me one afternoon, amid great disgust at the editorial mischief, to toss my typewriter  through the glass window in my office and go home early. I arrived the next day to find the window replaced, and my office cleaned of glass, and not one word about it was said to me. I never bothered to throw my typewriter again, but I did write Abe a note bitching about the process. I got a note back from him within an hour or so, and it made me laugh.

It began,

“Speaking of memos: It should interest you to note that at this moment a good part of The New York Times has come to a standstill because the deputy managing editor, one assistant managing editor, one acting national editor and one assistant national editor are tied up as they have been all day, and for days past, in trying to get your series into printable form. It seems to me that if I were a reporter whose work needed that much attention, I would be slightly embarrassed and hugely grateful. Unlike you and me, the editors involved are polite and civilized individuals.”

“Unlike you and me.” Abe did have his moments.

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