You Can't Spell TIME Without 'I' and 'Me'!

How my self-obsessed writing changed journalism

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Photo-illustration by John Ueland for TIME

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To gloat over my side's victory, I called John Leo, a respected, thoughtful journalist who I'd been told hates my writing. Leo, 75, worked at TIME from 1974 to 1987, covering intellectual trends. He had a column in U.S. News & World Report from 1988 until 2006. Now U.S. News has stopped printing. This dude totally lost.

Leo called me back within an hour and was unfailingly polite and thoughtful. Which made the gloating even more fun. When I asked him why he hated my writing, he said it wasn't the first person that bothered him, though he believes that perspective is wildly overused. "I didn't like it, but I can't remember why," he said. "I guess because I disagree with you about everything." Leo said he believes that my team has successfully taken over journalism and that writers have permanently abandoned the outer world for the inner one. I told him that in my case, it was probably my parents' fault. "Don't blame your parents," he said. "You're happy in the first person. This is just between you and your therapist."

That's challenging since as anyone who has been reading my work for the past decade knows, my mom is a therapist. Which, indeed, is probably why I write this column. Which means my son will be so self-involved, the only profession he can possibly have is cable news host.

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