- Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images
- A photo of David Carr taken yesterday evening
Earlier in his career, David Carr, the New York Times media columnist who died suddenly Thursday, was editor of Washington’s City Paper, an alt-weekly owned by the Reader. At the time, CNN’s Jake Tapper was a writer there. Tom Yoder, the Reader owner who oversaw Washington remembers:
He was editor of Washington City Paper when the Monica Lewinsky scandal started to break. All of Washington was going nuts over the news. Jake Tapper, now a big network TV guy, was a City Paper staffer on vacation some place like the Virgin Islands. He let Carr know that he had once gone out with Lewinsky. Carr insisted that he immediately write a piece about the date. The story was finished probably on a Tuesday. Carr threw out the planned cover story and had the art director design an over the top tabloid cover that ran with a huge headline: I Dated Monica Lewinsky.
Here’s that story.
Here’s the Times‘s report of Carr’s death.
And here’s the story Chicago will remember him by. It’s his 2010 account of Sam Zell’s Tribune Company that began with an anecdote: Randy Michaels, Zell’s soon-to-be CEO, joining senior executives at the Bar of the InterContinental Hotel next to Tribune Tower. It was 2008; Zell had just taken over.
“After Mr. Michaels arrived, according to two people at the bar that night,” wrote Carr, “he sat down and said, ‘watch this,’ and offered the waitress $100 to show him her breasts. The group sat dumbfounded.”
Carr didn’t write a perfect article, as I pointed out at the time. But the kid who said the emperor had no clothes might have missed that he was wearing socks. Carr got the job done. The company was in agony, and in a matter of days Michaels was asked to resign.
Postscript: Yoder remembers Carr as “a joy to work with . . . incredibly witty, amazingly smart. A wonderful guy.” One time Carr visited Yoder’s place in Maine:
Looking at my bookcase, he immediately zeroed in on a fascinating 30 year old book by a sociologist call The Lobster Gangs of Maine. I think he read the whole thing during his stay. That same week he got fascinated by a local phenomenon in which lower class characters lay down long tire tracks on the roads. Turned out there was a documentary on this that had just come out. He of course wrote it up for the Times.