He was surprisingly blasé about it. Didn't really champion it. Didn't really criticize it.
But one thing he said was very interesting and I have never forgotten it.
He said that when the Sullivan case came out, the journalism professors were ecstatic. They were running up and down the halls screaming for joy. They told the students that journalists could now say virtually anything they wanted to. Didn't have to worry about liability. Didn't have to verify facts. Just Heaven!
Some years ago the New York Times put together a hit piece on U.S. Inc. founder John Tanton researched and written by DeParle.(Pictured right.)
DeParle, right, called me at my office and left a message that he worked for the New York Times and wanted to interview me.
So, I called him.
We spoke for a long time…about 45 minutes.
He revealed that he was calling me about John Tanton.
He was evasive in the early part of the interview. I guess he was trying to draw me out to see what I had to say about Tanton.
I told him the truth. That I didn't really have any information to give him about Tanton.
DeParle was contemptuous at this statement and seemed pleased to be playing a cat-and-mouse game with me.
He asked questions demanding that I tell him about my "work" with Tanton.
I told him I had never worked with Tanton at all. That I hardly even knew Tanton. That I had only met Tanton one time in my life years ago and that briefly.
DeParle said he knew better.
Finally, I told him that, since he seemed to believe he had information about Tanton and myself that I didn't have or that he thought I was concealing, he should just tell me what this information was.
The interview then became more focused.
DeParle told me he knew about my "correspondence" with Tanton. He said that he was positive that I did in fact "work with" Tanton.
I told him that I didn't recall having had any "correspondence" with Tanton.
He said that he knew better and triumphantly confronted me with my "correspondence" with Tanton by reading out a letter Tanton had sent me.
I had been visiting a leftist relative who taught at Michigan State University. I took a break from this visit (visits with this particular relative are mutually stressful and tense) by renting a car and driving around Michigan for a couple of days driving around the coast of the Great Lakes.
This took me through Petoskey and I dropped in (unannounced) at Tanton's office.
He was in. We ate lunch. The whole thing lasted about 1.5 hours. In the course of the visit I gave Tanton my business card.
The "correspondence" that DeParle had discovered came from Tanton's papers that he had turned over to some university archive.
It was a typical kind of "thank you" letter that a congressman, for instance, might have sent. He thanked me for dropping by and expressed the hope of meeting up again in the future.
The letter ran on for 3 or 5 sentences.
It was utterly bland. The only personal thing in it was a remark that if he ever came to Atlanta he would take me up on my "bigot's tour." This was an un-PC joking reference I used to make about taking people to sights in Atlanta that were worth seeing (like the mass grave of Confederate soldiers at Oakland Cemetery who fell in defense of our city) but that weren't on Chamber of Commerce approved tours.
I told DeParle that this one letter (really only a note) was clearly a "Thank You" letter. The words themselves, to a sensible reader, did not indicate any working relationship but the opposite...that Tanton had only met up with me and really didn't know anything about me.
But DeParle was not to be put off.
He kept demanding to know about my "work" with Tanton. I kept telling him that I had never worked with Tanton at all and repeating that I had met him one time over one meal.
He was contemptuously dismissive of my denial of Tanton's and my "work" together.
I told him that my contact with Tanton was so long ago and so brief that if he passed me on the street or in the grocery store, I wouldn't even recognize Tanton.
DeParle was not be put off. He made it clear without directly saying so that he was certain and knowledgeable about my "work" and that I was being untruthful.
He closed in for the kill!
I told him I didn't really remember but that it certainly would have been about immigration.
DeParle insisted that we must have talked about other issues...race, Jews.
I told him that while I did not remember the conversation, I would not have spoken with Tanton about such controversial subjects since I knew he would have been offended because he held conventional views on such subjects.
"Well, then, if you and Tanton aren't colleagues, how did you KNOW to look him up?!"
I answered this goofy question by the obvious: because I read things about the immigration issue and if someone reads widely about the subject, Tanton's name comes up as a prominent person in society who is concerned about immigration.
DeParle thought this claim was simply derisory, laughable. People who disagree with Open Borders could not possibly meet up innocently with each other. There had to be some kind of underlying conspiracy, apparently. (I run across this idea often in articles written by professional "monitors" of "hate." I think it must arise from projection of their own conspiratorial Marxist behavior onto others.)
Some weeks later the hatchet job on Tanton appeared on the front page of The Times bearing DeParle's by-line.
The article quoted Tanton as denying he was a "racist", etc. but that it was a matter of fact that he had "corresponded with Sam G. Dickson, a Georgia lawyer for the Ku Klux Klan". [The Anti-Immigration Crusader, by Jason DeParle, April 17, 2011]
The implication was that there is some kind of trove of Tanton-Dickson correspondence awaiting the touch of an editor along the lines of books on the correspondence of Evelyn Waugh.
I wrote a letter to the Times asking for a correction. I pointed out that DeParle knew that the "correspondence" consisted of one single "thank you" note not more than 5 sentences long and that the article was deliberately deceptive by turning a single note into a vague but seemingly expansive "correspondence."
The letter was not published.
The letter was not answered.
The falsehood was not corrected.
End of my dealings with Jason DeParle.
Sam Dickson (email him) is a lawyer and activist.