This morning, media critic Michael Wolff posted a piece on his newser.com blog claiming that NYU professor Tony Judt "made up" his son's portion of their Father's Day dialogue published on yesterday's NYT op-ed page.
Contacted this morning by The NYTPicker, Judt -- a widely respected Euopean historian who is paralyzed from the neck down as a result of a 2009 ALS diagnosis -- flat-out denied Wolff's accusation, and attacked the columnist for failing to contact him first.
"Who is this clown Wolff - I've never heard of him," Judt told The NYTPicker via email. "What sort of media commentator doesn't check his facts first? He could have written to Daniel or me and we could have set him right. Since, as he kindly points out, I have advanced ALS and use a secretary for dictation, he could have checked with him too. But then he would not have had a story."
Judt went on to defend his son, Daniel, against the specifics of Wolff's charge -- unsupported by anything aside from the columnist's supposition -- that his portion of the dialogue was in fact written by his father.
"He could also have made the perfectly reasonable assumption that an intelligent 15 year old (not 16, another mistake) was capable of writing good prose drawing on his own views," Judt wrote. "But perhaps Mr Wolff is not acquainted with any intelligent 15 year olds." Daniel Judt is currently a ninth-grader at the Dalton School.
Wolff -- a famously provocative columnist who often posts his theories and arguments without reporting -- presented his position today as fact.
"[Judt]’s made up his son’s part," Wolff wrote. "How the New York Times could not have been wise to this is preposterous (figuring, no doubt, that if the parties in question were in agreement on their respective authorship, who could say otherwise)."
We've contacted Wolff for comment on Judt's statement, and will update when we hear from him.
UPDATE: Wolff has replied via email to our request for comment on Judt's statement. Here it is, in full:
What else would he say? You expected a confession? I stand by the obvious: No 15--or 16 year old--writes like that. None, Never.