December 14, 2006


Cock and Bull (Michael Crowley, 12.14.06, New Republic)

Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a rape case involving the sexual assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers. Crowley was a wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate and heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. ...

It turned out Crowley's taste in love objects was well known in Washington, but [his lawyer]--as was his custom--tried the case vigorously in the press months before the trial, repeatedly characterizing Alex and the child's mother as "fantasizing feminist fundamentalists" who had made up the whole thing from "their sick, twisted imaginations." This, despite a well-documented hospital examination of the child. (Crowley's penis was small, but he had still caused significant tears to the toddler's rectum.)

The next page contains fleeting references to Crowley as a "weasel" and a "d***head," and, later, "that political reporter who likes little boys." But that's it--Crowley comes and goes without affecting the plot. He is not a character so much as a voodoo doll. Knowing that Crichton had used prior books to attack very real-seeming people, I was suspicious. Who was this Mick Crowley? A Google search turned up an Irish Workers Party politician in Knocknaheeny, Ireland. But Crowley's tireless advocacy for County Cork's disabled seemed to make him an unlikely target of Crichton's ire. And that's when it dawned on me: I happen to be a Washington political journalist. And, yes, I did attend Yale University. And, come to think of it, I had recently written a critical 3,700-word cover story about Crichton. In lieu of a letter to the editor, Crichton had fictionalized me as a child rapist. And, perhaps worse, falsely branded me a pharmaceutical-industry profiteer.

You can certainly understand a cipher at an almost unread intellectual journal wanting to ride to fame on Michael Crichton's coattails, but TNR's circulation is so low this remains a matter between the author and the reviewer. Each used the means and methods he had to hand.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 14, 2006 12:38 PM

Crichton had fictionalized me as a child rapist. And, perhaps worse, falsely branded me a pharmaceutical-industry profiteer.

The fact that the author thinks pharmaceutical companies are worse creeps than child molesters tells you quite a lot about where the Left is these days.

Posted by: Mike Morley at December 14, 2006 12:57 PM

A journalist googles a fictional character and, failing to find anyone, concludes he is the character because of a few properties in common. (I have to wonder whether infant rape or having a small penis were the specific properties that encouraged this self identification.) This is justified because the journalist had recently written a critical letter about the author, while said fictional book was undoubtedly written previously. The illogic is breath taking.

Posted by: jd watson at December 14, 2006 2:47 PM

Mike, I just want to make sure you understood that the pedophile and phramacy comment was sarcasm. You know that, right?

Posted by: Chris Durnell at December 15, 2006 10:48 AM

What makes it funny is that there's no empirical reason to believe it's a joke when said by someone on the Left.

Posted by: oj at December 15, 2006 11:26 AM