Memo to the New Yorker Copy Desk

It’s time to play “What’s Wrong With This Sentence?”! This week’s specimen is from a “Talk of the Town” piece by Paul Goldberger–the subject is Woody Allen’s battle against a proposed new high-rise in his Carnegie Hill neighborhood–in the Feb. 14 New Yorker. Here’s the sentence:

Allen isn’t the only prominent resident of Carnegie Hill who is fighting the tower–Roger Altman, the former Deputy Treasury Secretary, Representative Carolyn Maloney, and the food entrepreneur Eli Zabar are also involved in the fight–but his video clearly represents a new level of public engagement for the reclusive filmmaker.

Longtime readers of this column (click here and here and here and here if you need to get up to speed) should have no trouble spotting the offending phrase. It’s “Roger Altman, the former Deputy Treasury Secretary.” Roger Altman was deputy treasury secretary in the early years of the Clinton administration, but Chatterbox feels that New Yorker readers, not to mention the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, have a right to know what Altman’s current occupation is.

Altman runs an investment company called Evercore Partners. Here is how the New York University School of Law described Evercore Partners in 1998, when Altman appeared on a panel called “Civil Society and the Future of Democracy” (along with Hillary Rodham Clinton, James Chace, Ronald Dworkin, and several other leaders and thinkers whose names any historical-preservation campaign would be proud to count among its signatories): “[Evercore has] raised a $500 million banking fund for leveraged acquisitions. In its other role, as advisor, it has handled $23 billion of merger and acquisition transactions since inception.”

Here is what Evercore Partners actually bought in 1999: the National Enquirer, the Star, and the Weekly World News. Altman’s fellow civil-society panelists won’t want to miss the Weekly World News’ cover story this week: “Hillary Clinton’s Secret Lover!” There’s also an excellent story about a gun-toting octogenarian who shot the testicles off her granddaughter’s rapists.

Here is Altman’s incredibly lame self-justification to Alex Kuczynski last September in the New York Times:

We are not sitting there working on each week’s copy. We are not involved in the weekly or monthly or, for that matter, any editorial decision of any kind. I think if you went around and asked any number of reasonably well-established buyout firms, they approach it the same way. It is management’s job to manage the company. We are financial guys, and we do not manage the company.

Here is what Altman and his partners bought in November: the Globe, the Sun, and the National Examiner.

Here is the proper way to identify Roger Altman in future media accounts: “supermarket tabloid monopolist and sometime civil-society panelist Roger Altman.”