Newswatch Thomas Griffith: Cutting Down to Size

Newswatch

In his new autobiography, Laurence Olivier remarks that bitchiness can be a "journalist's handiest tool." Perhaps Lord Olivier was thinking mostly of Britain, where the gift for malice, and the appetite for it, is higher than here. An English playwright, Arnold Wesker, once wrote The Journalists, a drama about "the poisonous human need to cut better men down to our size . . . The lilliputian journalist be the interviewee's fame, influence or achievement." That too may be more true in Britain.

In the U.S., however, there is the interview known as a hatchet job: a familiar hazard show business that...

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