New York Sun columnist Pranay Gupte has informed Mediabistro's Revolving Door department that he will no longer be writing his "Lunch at the Four Seasons" column, leaving many a high-profile individual crushed with the knowledge that they may never be the subject of Gupte's signature sycophantism. In the third person, Gupte tells the 'bistro that he could no longer work pro bono and the Sun still could not afford to pay him (though comping his $38 crab cakes really should be payment enough), but there may be a little something more there. According to an email Gupte sent out last week, there may be some subcontinental tension souring the Sun:
From: Pranay Gupte
To: Seth Lipsky, Ira Stoll
CC: August Fields, Maggie Shnayerson, Michael Elias, Raluca Serban
Subj: Re: About these disgusting notes to me from the business department
Dear Seth and Ira:
For a guy who works 24/7 for The New York Sun without pay — out of friendship toward you and a commitment to the Sun's success — I think I deserve better than these disgusting notes that your general manager and other wet-behind-the-ears toddlers in the business staff have been sending to me.
Not only am I dismayed, I am also perplexed that you would allow these idiots to continue their attacks on me. What seems to be their problem? Are they resentful of the efforts I make on behalf of the Sun? Do they have a color issue? Do these white boys and girls believe that a person of Indian origin — however accomplished in journalism, and however well known — doesn't really belong at a newspaper such as the Sun?
I would ordinarily be amused by such notes, characterized as they are by poor spelling, shallow thought and reckless hostility. But coming from within the Sun's organization, they are surprising and distressing. They not only demonstrate a lack of respect toward my own efforts to help the Sun through my pro bono writing and sustained ambassadorship, I submit these in-house correspondents also display a disregard of your own sensibilities. The writers clearly don't seem to be as invested in the Sun's success as the two of you are.
Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said that when a donkey kicks you, consider the source of the injury. There just seem to be too many donkeys in the Sun's business department. I wish these characters spent as much time and energy doing their job as they do in drafting foolish notes. They seem to consistently miss important marketing and public relations opportunities, they still cannot get their act together regarding the paper's electronic infrastructure, and their competence in business practices isn't terribly obvious. They seem to be clueless about the media scene in New York. Maybe their youth and inexperience explain such poor performance. I wonder if they would have lasted as long at any other journalistic institution.
Be that as it may, my concern — and the main reason that I'm writing this to you — is that there's no percentage in alienating me. I think I have proven my loyalty and friendship by writing free of charge for you for the last 20 months. You have told me — and others such as Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jim Michaels, and the Sun's investors — that my daily column, "Lunch at The Four Seasons," is the Sun's most popular feature. I enjoy writing these columns for you, and opinion pieces as well — and while I don't demand loud gratitude, I certainly don't expect vicious animosity against someone who bears good will toward the Sun and supports your stalwart efforts to keep it going against great odds in New York City.
There's also the the question of judgment. The fact that the general manager, his PR chief, and others working under him actually put down their bitter thoughts about me in e-mails is appalling. They have created, shall we say, an interesting body of work — but one that I suspect the Sun is unlikely to be proud of.
I hope you will ask these people to cease and desist. I am not their enemy. But it's hard not to wonder if they are the Sun's enemy within.
As always, with best wishes,