Screenwriter and journalist Bruce Feirstein -- a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and columnist from L.A. for The New York Observer, writing at the website DuckSeason.org -- applies his political filter to this LAT Magazine restaurant feature by Martin Booe and declares it a case of Times liberal bias. The crime? This passage on the fading of maitre d's who looked the other way at customers' vices and mistresses: "Then along came Clinton special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who maybe did as much to change American dining culture as Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower. Cuddle with a cutie in a darkened back booth? Sounds like a subpoena waiting to happen."
Feirstein objects, and quibbles as well with the whole premise of the piece.
He argues that the all-powerful maitre d' still reigns in power dining rooms all over the country: "Just in Los Angeles alone, the writer should have known about the Palm, the Grill, the Ivy, Ago, Musso and Franks, Toscana, Valentino's, Morton's, and no less than fifty or sixty other joints that are either the hot-hip-young-Hollywood restaurant of the moment (where the maitre d' still determines the pecking order, and paying him off may well be the only way to get a table at all) or an old school white tablecloth establishment where the maitre' d still coddles his clients and treats them like old friends."
But he wraps his critique in the context of the John Carroll memo on liberal bias at the paper, and asks: "Did anybody inside the paper read it?"
Based on a quick read of recent pieces, the only political views that seem to trouble the stable of writers (a few of them ex-Time veterans) at DuckSeason.org are liberal ones, despite this claim: "Our targets are political and social cant, deceit and hypocrisy, whether on the left or the right, whether in academia, on the pages of newspapers and the screens of the nightly news, or at cocktail parties..."