The fractured brilliance of Alexander Cockburn | Jack Shafer:
“He is a talented, despicable writer who enjoys vicious teasing as a kind of journalistic blood sport,” film critic David Denby wrote in 1983, which I think shrinks the Cockburn method to its essence. Cockburn delighted in extracting pain from his adversaries, in searching the horizon for new enemies to attack, and in routinely converting friends into foes. But when I interviewed him in 1995, he disavowed the presence of bile in his work.
“Bile is something eating at you all the time,” Cockburn said. “Bilious people hate. I don’t hate.”
“I think I’m funnier than I am billier, if that’s a word,” he added. “After column after column of careful analytic work, you take a few swings and all that people remember are the vivid slaggings, and all the careful theory goes for naught.”