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David Cay Johnston, the New York Times tax reporter most recently heard calling Wesley Snipes a coward, is already upset about something else! Seems that his own paper published a less-than-loving review of his new book, and Johnston is desperate to correct the record. He does not love lawsuits! He does not hate corporations! He's a registered Republican, for chrissakes! Google it, why don't you? To be fair, we haven't read his book, so he may be making perfectly legitimate points. The thing is, Johnston does the "How could you possibly criticize a genius like me?" routine all the time. He got in an identical argument with the National Review over his last book, and then got one of the most hilarious reamings of the past decade from that magazine's media critic, Catherine Seipp, for being a sanctimonious ass. Even Dan Okrent, the NYT's first public editor, basically called Johnston an "asshole" (as commenter Seeräuber Jenny noted). Maybe he should learn to let some things slide. DCJ's full letter after the jump [via Editor & Publisher].

To the Editor:

Jonathan Chait's review of my book "Free Lunch" (Feb. 3) ignores its central thesis and neglects to disclose that he wrote a competing book.

He writes that I embrace litigiousness to solve societal problems. In fact, I describe litigation as "scary and nasty" and show ways to reduce lawsuits. My solution is for taxpayers to cover the full costs of Congress, ending legalized bribery.

Chait writes that I regard corporations as "inherently malevolent," which is ridiculous given that I am chairman of the board of a small corporation with big ambitions. He says I regard deregulation as "evil," when I wrote that deregulation is a fantasy and I show new regulations that thwart market capitalism, drive up prices and hinder competition. The only things I call "evil," citing the Bible, are policies that take from the many to give to the rich.

Chait twists words I use to describe the shared values of those Democrats and Republicans who favor people over corporations to make them appear as my views, not a description of theirs.

Chait misleadingly connects me to a faction of Democrats and calls me a left-wing populist, even though I am a registered Republican, a matter of public record that is posted all over the Internet, and without mentioning that classic conservative values drawn from Adam Smith, Andrew Mellon and the Bible are invoked throughout "Free Lunch."

"Free Lunch" is full of news, hard facts and plain English explanations of how market capitalism has been perverted. Chait did an excellent job of one thing — hiding what "Free Lunch" actually says from readers of The New York Times Book Review.

David Cay Johnston
Rochester, New York