Howell Raines Goes Fishing With Stephen Colbert

By: E&P Staff

Talk about one that got away. Appearing on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report,” Howell Raines, the former New York Times executive editor, got off to just about the worst start imaginable. Host Stephen Colbert asked him, seriously, what had changed in the news business since Raines started several decades ago, and all his guest could reply was: “I don’t know.”

It had to get better after that, and it did.

Raines was promoting his recent book, “The One That Got Away,” and shared fishing stories with Colbert, apparently a bit of an angler himself (though who can know for sure with this guy).

The highlight came, however, when Colbert asked Raines if he missed his old job at the Times at all. Raines said no, but Colbert wondered if maybe he didn’t wish he could go back there and “start leaking secrets.”

But Raines said he was happy to get up each day knowing all he had to do was work on his forthcoming Civil War novel and fish. He said nowadays writers didn’t have to follow the example of Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald and drink themselves to death.

Raines said losing his job in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal did come as a shock, but he had never imagined there could be one such “liar” in the middle of a newsroom “where 1100 were trying to tell the truth.”

But he admitted he had “hooked” his current wife, who is Polish, partly by faking interest in “flyfishing in Poland.”

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