Media | Science

November 14, 2007

James Watson's Disastrous Interview

The DNA co-discoverer questioned blacks' intelligence in an interview. The editor of the piece speaks about handling the explosive comments.

Michael Gluckstadt

The Sunday Times of London recently ran an article about physicist James Watson, in which the Nobel laureate created controversy by making racist comments. "He says that he is 'inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa' because 'all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours—whereas all the testing says not really', and I know that this 'hot potato' is going to be difficult to address," interviewer and fellow scientist Charlotte Hunt-Grubbe wrote. "His hope is that everyone is equal, but he counters that 'people who have to deal with black employees find this not true'."

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- Media
- posted on Nov 15, 07


I really enjoyed your interview. However, I couldn't help but notice what may be viewed as hypocrisy on your part with respect to checking quotes. You say that journalists who do read-backs with interviewees should "[stray] out of journalism and into PR", and yet the editor of this piece makes it sound as though you yourself required that Gelf run quotes by you for your own interview. As a fellow journalist, I wonder if you could clarify your stance on this issue...

- Media
- posted on Nov 16, 07


I'd like to clarify on Cathy's behalf. The piece grew out of an informal series of emails in which Cathy answered my questions both directly and indirectly. When we made the decision to turn the piece into a Q and A, we were wary of taking her words out of context, especially in light of the recent controversy of a certain New York Times interviewer. We agreed that Cathy would see a draft of the interview (without the editor's comments), and when she did she raised no objections, nor did she add anything. I hope that clarifies things.


- Media
- posted on Nov 29, 07
Moe Moe

what about Jimmy the Greek?

- Media
- posted on Oct 10, 12

The TRUTH hurts. Tough. Thank you for your utmost honesty Mr Watson, it is refreshing.

- Media
- posted on Jul 11, 13

About the "Follow up" in "GM: The reporter, both in her piece and the follow-up, seems very sympathetic towards Watson" - I clicked it, showing a general page of the Times. Can you provide actual title of the follow up or a detailed address? Thanks.

Article by Michael Gluckstadt

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