William Safire

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William Safire seems to have never met a scandal he didn’t like. Not since Watergate, which ruined his old boss Richard Nixon.

As a Pulitzer-Prize New York Times columnist Safire has revealed, and reveled in, the Judith Exner stain on Camelot and all the Clinton pratfalls: Filegate, Monica-gate, and Campaign-Money-from-China-gate. The doctrine is: all the dirt that fits, he’ll print.

It’s the spirit, too, of Bill Safire’s new historical novel about a sort of Matt Drudge among the Founding Fathers. Titled “Scandalmonger,” the novel makes a sort of hero of the real ink-stained wretch James Callender, who wrecked Alexander Hamilton’s political career with a sex-and-money scoop, and tarred Thomas Jefferson with the story of his slave mistress.

Callender was a skunk-the Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg of his time – but his stories were true. Callender went to jail for his insolent abuse: but better the insolence and abusiveness of liberty, he told the judge, than the funereal silence of despotism.

(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


William Safire, Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times columnist and author of the new book, “Scandalmonger.”