THURSDAY’S LETTERS: More On Dylan and the Press

By: E&P Staff

More on Bob Dylan’s disastrous early press conferences, a counter view on journalists killed in Iraq, and opinions on problems with the latest New York Times retraction.

Dylan First Got Burned by the Press in ’63

Re: New PBS Film: How Bob Dylan Beat the Press

In a nasty piece called, if I recall correctly, “Let us now praise little men,” a reporter named Andrea Svedberg, reporting to Dick Schaap at Newsweek, broke the news that Dylan’s name was Zimmerman and generally slammed him — mostly, in my opinion, because they’d been talking (to me at Columbia Records) about a cover story and neither Bob nor Albert Goldman were being particularly cooperative, and they were pissed…

The NY Times’ Bob Shelton was himself so pissed he wrote an open letter to N’week calling it yellow journalism. I have a copy of the letter somewhere…

Billy James

Ed’s Note: Billy James recorded the earliest known interview with Bob Dylan in the fall of 1961.


Re: Dylan Press Conferences

Then there’s the young woman who credits him with a song he didn’t write (“Eve of Destruction”) and asks if his songs have a “subtle message.” When Bob asks where she read that, she replies, “In a movie magazine.”

Your commentary on “No Direction Home” was very interesting, but I think you’re slightly mistaken on the above exchange. I think the woman was putting “Eve of Destruction” forward as an example of an “obvious” protest song for Dylan to contrast his own more “subtle” songs with. The only reason I mention it is because it helps illustrate the virtually total uselessness of that press conference format for interviews. In a 1-on-1, the reporter may have been able to frame her question more clearly and elicit a real answer. Even if it was a dripping, “Oh, Eve of Destruction is much better than any of my songs.”

It’s interesting to contrast the Dylan PCs with some of the similar Beatles footage. They had each other to amuse while swinging at the puffballs and rude comments; Dylan must have felt pretty lonely at some of those events.

Dave Meinzer
Buffalo, N.Y.


U.S. Military and Journalists

Re: Reuters Says U.S. Troops Obstruct Reporting of Iraq

Why not gripe about 62 journalists who were killed by terrorists or other folks and not the military, which you report is responsible for three or perhaps four deaths? You think Reuter’s reporter’s lives are more important than Iraqi journalist’s lives — a definite sign of discrimination.

I note the number of editors and newspaper staff is shrinking at an ever-increasing rate. It’s no wonder. People really do care about the truth and they are not getting it from the Main Stream Media.

The best bumper sticker I ever saw was ?If you can read this, thank your teacher. If you can read it in English, thank a soldier.?

I would rather the press disappear than to have our military weakened even one iota. You do nothing to advance the cause of freedom — you continually use the media for your own propaganda against conservatives, Christians, Bush, and his administration. You deserve whatever economic fate befalls you. And, may the Internet accelerate it.

David G. Miller


Re: ‘NY Times’ Retracts John Roberts Memo Story

I’m just a California musician, but it seems to me that such mistakes almost always err against conservatives. Cannot think of any similar story which went out on a limb making a Democrat or Liberal look bad, without fact checking, which later had to be retracted.

Do you know of any studies to that end? I’m curious.

Thanks again for the great article. I’ve read many balanced and objective pieces from your Editor and Publisher site.

Christopher J. Martin
San Francisco, Calif.


It is unfortunate that Editor and Publisher cannot see the forest for the trees.

Pinch is the problem, not the people he hires, or the stories that pass his editorial scrutiny.

I wish you people were not so intimidated by the name “New York Times.”

The Times has become a shell of it’s formers self, and has lost most of it’s credibility with the nation, and all of it’s credibility with those who are capable of critical thinking.

The NYT has decomposed into one of those boutique newspapers that only caters to the select few who are slaves (dare I use that word?) to progressive political correctness.

Does anyone go there for unbiased news? I think not.

Have the courage to call a spade a spade.

Lamar Johnson
Beaverton, Ore.

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