Monday, January 9, 2017

NAT HENTOFF: I’ve lost a hero. So has anyone who dares to write. |

NAT HENTOFF: I’ve lost a hero. So has anyone who dares to write. |:

NAT HENTOFF: I’ve lost a hero. So has anyone who dares to write.

Image result for “Teachers and Power: The Story of the American Federation of Teachers.”

In 1972, when I was 25 years old, I wrote a book published by Simon and Schuster entitled “Teachers and Power: The Story of the American Federation of Teachers.” It was critical of the AFT, primarily because of the union’s efforts to destroy community control of public education in New York City.
I was sued for libel by the AFT and a number of its leaders, most prominently David Selden, then the union president.  Simon and Schuster ducked for cover and canceled the publication of the paperback edition. Selig J. Levitan, a white shoe law firm with an office atop Rockefeller Center, called me in and its associates reminded me that, under the terms of the contract I had signed with Simon and Schuster, I would have to indemnify the publisher for all of its legal fees defending the law suit. Of course, I’d have to pay for my own defense–but also that of Simon and Schuster as well.
Even if we won the case.
And then the lawyer handed me a letter and asked me to sign it. Selig J. Levitan would defend me–at its going Rockefeller Center rate–until such time as Simon and Schuster or its law firm decided a conflict existed between me and the publisher. At that point, the law firm would dump me and defend only Simon and Schuster. And I would still have to pay for it.
That was especially galling because one of the most serious counts against me in the lawsuit had nothing to do with what I wrote but  rather with a mistake on the dust cover made by the publisher after the book left my hands for the last time before publication.
I had an infant daughter and a new house with a sizable mortgage–and the AFT, in its lawsuit against me, wanted $17 million in damages. But, even if I won the lawsuit–and I knew what I wrote was true, an absolute defense against libel–Selig J. Levitan could charge me for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees that should have been paid by Simon and Schuster.
The law firm also wanted me to agree to withdrawing unsold hard cover copies of the book–which had received great reviews, especially in The New York Times (page three, Sunday Book section)–and to cancel the paperback edition.
I remember my wife Lynda, brave through it all, reminding me I didn’t have much that could be attached by liens–a mortgaged up house, a loping, drooling St. NAT HENTOFF: I’ve lost a hero. So has anyone who dares to write. |:


LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION

LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION
EduBloggers

Latest News and Comment from Education