When Johann Hari, the subject of my July 30th column "When Does a Journalist Deserve a Second Chance?," sat for an interview with Decca Aitkenhead, a questioner and individual controversial in her own right, he spoke of the liberation of no longer being a columnist: "Funnily enough, one of the good things about not being a columnist is that I don't have to have an opinion on things like [the tone of public debate]." Freed from being "in a state of mania any more, ripped up into a frenzy of constant opinionating and polemicizing in my room," he was finally able to take his time and also a step away from Joseph Epstein's description of Dwight MacDonald and columnists more broadly: that "Macdonald was the intellectual par excellence, which is to say without any specialized knowledge he was prepared to comment on everything, boisterously and always with what seemed an unwavering confidence."
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