'Mr. Right, R.I.P.': Readers said they would miss William F. Buckley Jr.'s gentility, keen mind and incomparable way with words while recalling his wrong calls on historic issues. One wrote, "When partisanship is an outstanding characteristic of our political time, we can all learn a lot from William Buckley." One cited Buckley's "cordiality of debate reminiscent of 18th-century French salons," in contrast to today's shrill commentators. Another viewed the father of modern conservatism as a "personable, arrogant elitist" who tragically erred "on segregation and McCarthyism."
On 'Extinction Trade': "Thanks for stating that people who consume tiger bones and rhinoceros horns do so for 'supposed medicinal purposes.' Only when the users are discouraged and discredited will the demand for illegal wildlife trade go down."
Gary Kern, Las Cruces, N.M.
The Towering Figure of the Right
I was thrilled to receive the March 10 issue with William F. Buckley Jr. on the cover ("Mr. Right, R.I.P."). Richard Avedon's portrait perfectly captures Buckley: the rumpled suit, club tie slightly askew and the always-present clipboard and pen that seemed to be extensions of his very body. As with many boomers who were inspired by his ideas and his style in our youth, my politics have since evolved away from the right. As a gay man who lived through the worst years of the AIDS crisis, I was decidedly unhappy with his suggestion that HIV-positive men be forced to wear a tattoo identifying them as such. But aside from the occasional outrageous notion, Buckley never ceased being the charming, witty and overwhelmingly decent man whom I, and many others, had come to admire so many years ago. There will never be his like again.
Los Angeles, Calif.
When I picked up NEWSWEEK and saw that Evan Thomas had written the cover story on William F. Buckley, I almost didn't read it. I did not expect such an evenhanded, generous presentation. But I admired Buckley so much that I am glad I changed my mind and read the article. Thomas said what those who cared about William F. Buckley wanted to be said. Buckley wasn't perfect, but he was a champion. I look forward to the publication of Buckley's last book, a personal memoir of Barry Goldwater to be published this spring. Thank you very much for this inspiring tribute.
I read your cover story on the life and times of William F. Buckley with interest, noting what an alternate view of him might include: that he was a silver spooner with a golden tongue, a national spokesman for a losing ideology, and far off the mark on political reality. Buckley was a true spokesman for a stone-age group of politically affluent partisans, dedicated to the elevation of the wealthy and the destruction of the middle class. May he rest in peace.
I am a bleeding-heart liberal who will miss William F. Buckley. I was fascinated by his witty verbiage as early as elementary school. It often sent me to the dictionary, much to the delight of my mother, our family's resident wordaholic. His TV tirade against Gore Vidal actually moved me to read a couple of Vidal's novels—and they proved beastly stuff. Furthermore, I admired the power of Buckley's words, especially against members of the John Birch Society and anti-Semites.
Ruth Anne Bryant
Mainstream Press, Biased?
Evan Thomas is correct that the mainstream media, for the most part, do not have an explicit bias ("The Myth of Objectivity," March 10). However, by relying heavily on former and current government officials, elite think tanks and partisan political-party strategists as sources, an implicit bias is created in the media's coverage that reflects an elite ideology and gives the reader a narrow spectrum of voices.
Evan Thomas stated that the national news media "are prejudiced, but not ideologically" and that the "press's real bias is for conflict." Research studies point to a different conclusion. For example, NEWSWEEK's partner MSNBC recently examined campaign contributions made by journalists from 2004 through the start of the 2008 election cycle. Out of 143 journalists from around the country, 125 gave to Democrats and liberal groups, just 16 gave to Republicans and conservative groups, and two gave to both parties. Evidence suggests that journalists' personal political leanings influence their reporting. A 2005 UCLA study scored 18 of 20 major news outlets to the left of the average American voter, while just two were scored to the right of the average voter. The American people deserve fair coverage of the major issues facing our country. Anything less is a threat to our democracy.
Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican
Secretly Financing Attack Ads
Freedom of speech allows a person or a group to voice opinions and, if they have the money, to buy ads ("Attack Ads on the Way," PERISCOPE, March 10). However, donors should not be able to hide behind the tax-exempt veil of a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. In other words, if you want to put your money where your mouth is, you'd better be ready to put your name there, too.
Cello vs. Bass
The gentleman in the large photo that accompanied "A Concert Aims for Perfect Harmony" (March 10) is carrying a bass, not—as was noted in the caption—a cello. A general rule for identification: once a stringed instrument of the violin/viola/cello/bass family nears the height of the player, it is a bass. Admittedly, the waters of popular knowledge have been murky ever since Jack Black equated cello to bass in the movie "School of Rock."