Can We All Get Along?

Actual fisticuffs were averted, but Chatterbox’s friends are still talking about the confrontation at last week’s Vanity Fair party between U.S News & World Report Assistant Managing Editor Steven Waldman and Jonah Goldberg, television producer and son of Flytrap impresario Lucianne Goldberg. The actual events are not much in dispute: Waldman was introduced to Jonah Goldberg, who then expressed his extremely unfavorable opinion of a U.S. News story about his mother. (The story, as one illustration of what it called Lucianne Goldberg’s “life full of penny-ante intrigues,” alleged that 40 years ago she put an illegitimate baby up for adoption and “told people [it] was stillborn”–something Jonah Goldberg doesn’t concede actually happened and contends wasn’t relevant to any legitimate story). Waldman then indicated his pride of editorship in the piece. Goldberg got even madder and had to be walked away by a concerned friend. Later, Goldberg returned with his mother, who sent her son away in order to confront Waldman alone with her criticisms of the piece and its motivation. “We have been running an aggressive, vicious campaign against your magazine, and will continue to do so,” she said, rather candidly, according to Waldman. The conversation ended with some reference to possible future legal action on Goldberg’s part. In a final encounter, Jonah Goldberg and Waldman came within hailing distance of each other on the sidewalk outside the party, with Goldberg–who freely admits that during the course of the evening he “had been overserved”–offering the farewell: “Great seeing you. The next time I see you I’m going to kick your ass!” ….

Chatterbox has so many conflicts of interest in reporting this item it’s hard to know where to start. Waldman is an old friend and fellow acolyte of Charles “Bhagwan” Peters. Jonah Goldberg is a new friend who occupies an office in the same suite as Slate. One of those who intervened to calm Goldberg down works for Slate too. And, yes, as you have probably guessed, Chatterbox is also talking to U.S. News, indeed to Waldman himself, about the possibility of employment. Hence the scrupulously objective tone of the above item. With enough conflicts, anything is possible! …