Hendrik Hertzberg, April 2012
New York City, New York, USA
|Spouse(s)||Virginia Cannon (m. 1998)|
Hendrik Hertzberg (born 1943) is an American liberal journalist, best known as the principal political commentator for The New Yorker magazine. He has also been a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter and editor of The New Republic, and is the author of ¡Obámanos! The Rise of a New Political Era and Politics: Observations & Arguments. On January 22, 2009, Forbes named Hertzberg one of the "25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media", placing him at number seventeen.
Background and education
Hertzberg was born in New York City, New York, the son of Hazel Manross (née Whitman), a professor of history and education at Columbia University, and Sidney Hertzberg, a journalist and political activist. His father was Jewish (and had become an atheist); his mother was a Quaker with a Congregationalist background, and of English descent. Hertzberg was educated in the public schools of Rockland County, New York, and Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1965.
He began his writing career at The Harvard Crimson and eventually served as managing editor including writing on local and national politics. In addition, he was president of the Liberal Union, had a jazz program on WHRB, and belonged to the Signet Society. Consumed by his Crimson duties, Hertzberg landed on academic probation for a semester, which required him to withdraw from all extracurricular activities. He managed to continue to write Crimson pieces anyway, under the pseudonym Sidney Hart.
William Shawn, the editor of the New Yorker, invited Hertzberg to talk about writing for the magazine. Shawn was familiar with Hertzberg's writing because his son — the actor Wallace Shawn — was a classmate of Hertzberg's at Harvard., Harvard Magazine Hertzberg declined the invitation and after graduating from Harvard in 1965 he took a draft-deferred position as editorial director for the U.S. National Student Association. The following year he joined the San Francisco bureau of Newsweek as a reporter. Hertzberg covered the rise of the hippies, the emergence of rock groups such as the Grateful Dead, Ronald Reagan's successful campaign for governor of California, and The Beatles' last concert.
In 1967 he enlisted in the United States Navy and became an officer posted in New York City. By late 1968 due to his growing opposition to the Vietnam War he requested conscientious-objector status, which was denied. He was discharged at the end of his commitment in 1969.
During the 1976 election, Hertzberg wrote speeches for Governor Hugh Carey of New York. After the election, he was recruited to join Carter's speech writing team by James Fallows. After Fallows departed in 1979, Hertzberg became Carter's chief speechwriter. Hertzberg was an author of President Jimmy Carter's July 15, 1979, speech on energy conservation, widely known as the "Malaise Speech"  and considered by numerous commentators as one of the most ineffective pieces of political rhetoric in American history. The reaction by some Americans, who were suffering from high unemployment and an American industrial economy in severe recession, was that President Carter blamed them for the economic problems they were facing when they believed that Carter himself was ineffective in alleviating the recession. Others, however, point out that calls and letters to the White House were overwhelmingly positive, and that Carter's approval rating in polls climbed 11 points. Vice President Walter Mondale predicted that the speech would not be well received. Hertzberg's personal favorite speech is Carter's farewell address of January 14, 1981. It opens with Carter declaring that he leaves the White House "to take up once more the only title in our democracy superior to that of President, the title of citizen."
Hertzberg was twice editor of The New Republic, from 1981 to 1985 and then from 1989 to 1992, alternating in that job with Michael Kinsley. In between his stints as editor he wrote for that and other magazines and was a fellow at two institutes at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government: the Institute of Politics and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. Under his editorship The New Republic twice won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence, the magazine world’s highest honor.
In 1992, when Tina Brown became editor of The New Yorker, she recruited Hertzberg as her executive editor, and he helped her redesign and revitalize the magazine. Under Brown's successor, David Remnick, Hertzberg is a senior editor and staff writer and is a main contributor to "Comment," the weekly essay on politics and society in "The Talk of the Town." In 2006, his articles won The New Yorker a National Magazine Award for Columns and Commentary.
Hertzberg is the author of the book, Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004 ISBN 1-59420-018-1, a collection of essays and reports on four decades of American political debates, campaigns, and ideological clashes; culture, counterculture, and pop culture; and presidents from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush, with excursions into neoconservatives, the religious right, and wars from Vietnam to the war on terror. As a liberal author, he also expostulates on the necessity of humanism and secularism in democratic societies and critiques the Conservative Revolution. Hertzberg believes that America’s system of winner-take-all elections, federalism, and separation of powers is out of date and damaging to political responsibility and democratic accountability. He is a supporter of such reforms as instant runoff voting, proportional representation, and election of the president by National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
- Hertzberg, Hendrik (3 November 2008). "The Talk of the Town: Comment: Like, Socialism". The New Yorker 84 (35): 45–46. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
- Hertzberg, Hendrik (17 November 2008). "The Talk of the Town: Comment: Obama wins". The New Yorker 84 (37): 39–40. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- Hertzberg, Hendrik (1 December 2008). "The Talk of the Town: Comment: Eight is Enough". The New Yorker 84 (39): 27–28. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
- Hertzberg, Hendrik (22 June 2009). "The Talk of the Town: Comment: The Obama Effect". The New Yorker 85 (18): 25–26. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
- Hertzberg, Hendrik (21 September 2009). "The Talk of the Town: Comment: Lies". The New Yorker 85 (29): 33, 36. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
- Hertzberg, Hendrik (1 November 2010). "The Talk of the Town: Comment: Recession Election". The New Yorker 86 (34): 35–36. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
- Hertzberg, Hendrik (15 November 2010). "The Talk of the Town: Comment: Electoral Dissonance". The New Yorker 86 (36): 31–?. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- Hertzberg, Hendrik (19&26 December 2011). "The Talk of the Town: Comment: Alt-Newt". The New Yorker 87 (41): 37–38. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
Hertzberg is married to Virginia Cannon, a former Vanity Fair editor and a current New Yorker editor. They have a son, Wolf.
- Granick, Jennifer and Sprigman, Christopher (2013-06-27) The Criminal N.S.A., The New York Times
- Tunku Varadarajan; Elisabeth Eaves; Hana R. Alberts (January 22, 2009). "25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media". Forbes. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
- Hertzberg of the New Yorker
- New Yorker bio of Hendrik Hertzberg
- Conant, Jannett (September 1989). "Slaves of The New Yorker". Spy Magazine: 112.
- "CNN.com". CNN.
- "The worst speech of all time" by Daniel Dale, The Star.com http://www.thestar.com/article/668498 "This is a speech I consider one of the worst speeches in the history of the presidency," says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "There are many pedestrian speeches. You can say, `Well, they're just bad speeches.' No, they're pedestrian speeches; they're not bad, they're just ordinary. This speech actually has serious inherent rhetorical failures. Usually speechwriters protect a president from that."
- "Malaise or Maligned? Jimmy Carter’s Address to the Nation on July 15, 1979 " by Elvin T. Lim Department of Political Science University of Tulsa Prepared for delivery at the 2005 Meeting of the Western Political Science Association, March 16 – 19, Oakland, California. "President Jimmy Carter’s “Energy and National Goals Address to the Nation” on July 15, 1979, better known as his “malaise” speech, has been singled out as the most damaging event to the Carter presidency and the nadir of presidential eloquence p.2"
-  Others in the administration, led by Vice President Walter Mondale, strongly disagreed. "I argued that there were real problems in America that were not mysterious, that were not rooted in some kind of national psychosis or breakdown, that there were real gas lines, there was real inflation, that people were worried in their real lives about keeping their jobs," Mondale said. "We could engage the nation by addressing those problems and asking for a new level of public support... I also argued that if, having gotten elected on the grounds that we needed a government as good as the people, we now were heard to argue that we needed a people as good as the government, that we would be destroyed."
- President Jimmy Carter's Farewell Address, January 14, 1981
- "As Two Leaders of the Jewish Defense League Are Arrested for Plotting to Bomb a Los Angelesmosque and An Arsonist Hits the Arab American Action Network, a Debate On Media Coverage of the Middle East". 2010-09-21.
- Dedman, Bill (15 July 2007). "The list: Journalists who wrote political checks". MSNBC. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
- Hendrik Hertzberg
- Archive of Hertzberg contributions to The New Yorker
- Morton, Paul (April 2007). "An Interview with Hendrik Hertzberg". Bookslut. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- Hertzberg of the New Yorker, Harvard Magazine, January-February 2003
- Booknotes interview with Hertzberg on Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004, October 10, 2004.