Zooey Deschanel is angry. Specifically, she’s really angry about an opinion piece that Patt Morrison wrote for the L.A. Times.
In the post, Morrison cites a comment that Deschanel made to a USA Today reporter at the royal BAFTA gala on Saturday. “I just don’t want them to see the worst of L.A.,” she allegedly told reporter and critic Claudia Puig.
Morrison — a veteran columnist who also hosts a public affairs program on L.A.’s KCET-TV and has contributed to two Pulitzer Prize-winning team efforts at the Times — took that quote and ran with it, penning a piece that accuses Deschanel of being “a snobby cow”who is ashamed of her city because parts of it, in Morrison’s words, “do not smell like Jo Malone candles.”
“Maybe spending a little time at the inner-city arts school, or at the downtown women’s shelter, might do her even more good than it could do to help out those laudable places,” Morrison concluded of Deschanel. “I mean, if it’s not too hard for her to set foot once again in ‘the worst of L.A.’”
Deschanel — who says she has not spoken to Morrison and also claims the quote that appeared in USA Today was taken out of context — is not happy. And she’s responded by writing an open letter of her own, on her Web site HelloGiggles. (Note: Although the name HelloGiggles may undermine the notion that Deschanel is legitimately steamed, she indeed has a serious point to make here.)
Paragraph one of that open letter states:
“I feel compelled to respond to your recent blog post regarding comments I ‘allegedly’ made outside the BAFTA dinner on Saturday night. I never spoke to you at this event; in fact, you weren’t even there. I am completely and utterly shocked that a professional journalist, whom I have never met, would take a partial quote out of context and use it as the basis for a misguided personal attack. Further, I find it appalling that you would resort to name-calling to get your point across. In a court of law this would be called hearsay, and in journalism, I believe this should be the beginning of an investigation, not the end of one.”
The “(500) Days of Summer” star goes on to note that her comment was made in an attempt at humor, in reference to a less than sparkling clean parking lot near the Belasco Theater, where the BAFTA dinner was held. Deschanel also points out that she does not live on the Westside of L.A. as Morrison alleged.
She closes by saying:
“It’s hard for me to comprehend why you launched such a vile and toxic blow in my direction over a sentence fragment that you did not even hear for yourself. I do hope that in the future when writing about something, especially a human being, you will consider both the facts and context before publishing your opinion.”
I sent an e-mail to Morrison and asked if she has a response to that open letter. No reply yet, but I will update this post once she writes back. (Update: Morrison has responded, via e-mail and an open letter of her own.)
Who’s right and who is wrong here?
It’s not uncommon for a journalist to write an opinion piece based on reporting that she has read elsewhere. On that score, especially in the blogosphere, I think Morrison is on safe ground. But to Deschanel’s point, the language seemed unnecessarily inflammatory. And the piece also made a number of assumptions about Deschanel’s background and character that seemed more than a little unfair.
What do you think? Post a comment below. Because if you weigh in yourself, you can be sure I will not take your quote out of context.