Church ‘n State at Time, Part 2

Chatterbox faulted Time last week for letting a single advertiser, Ford Motor Co., sponsor an ongoing series of articles on the environment. Chatterbox dared Time to make the subject of an article in the series the need for greater fuel efficiency, or some other environmental issue certain to piss Ford off. Unbeknownst to Chatterbox, the Village Voice had already issued a similar challenge, in response to an even earlier article on the matter in the Wall Street Journal. The Voice piece, by Andrew Hsiao, had some hilariously contradictory comments from Time managing editor Walter Isaacson. It seems that Charles Alexander, the Time editor overseeing the Ford-sponsored series, had blurted out to the Journal’s Sally Beatty that the series wasn’t likely to examine any issues related to the auto industry. He’d likened it to how “We don’t run airline ads next to stories about airline crashes.” Hsiao asked Isaacson about Alexander’s impolitic comment. Isaacson said it “bothered me and I told him so. I also said that at a meeting, to emphasize its importance.” Automobiles “have caused pollution …We will definitely say that.” But later in the Voice piece, Hsiao quoted Isaacson saying, “If there’s anyone I trust to be tough on the environment, it’s Charles Alexander.” But if Isaacson trusts Alexander so much, how come he scolded him in public for saying that the series wouldn’t talk about automobile pollution, particularly since it was his understanding that it would?

Now Alex Kuczynski in today’s New York Times reports that Time is going to let Pfizer, Inc. sponsor an entire issue devoted to the subject, “The Future of Medicine.” This time, Chatterbox isn’t going to bother challenging Time to run articles in the special issue denigrating Pfizer products. Instead, Chatterbox proposes that Time’s editors simply begin the special issue with an editorial stating that the future of medicine will not be shaped in any way by Pfizer or any of its existing or future products. “GlaxoWellcome or Upjohn, maybe. Pfizer–not a chance!” Chatterbox knows Time has the reporting to back this up, because, according to Kuczynski in the Times, Time editor Barrett Seaman and reporter Christine Gorman have each visited Pfizer offices in connection with the special issue …

–Timothy Noah