The news of Jack Valenti’s death reminds me of a column I wrote about him a few years ago. I wished, I said, that he’d been on our side in the copyright wars — that is, the side of those who wanted a fairer balance of interests. Valenti worked for the Hollywood cartel, however, and a balanced position was not in the cards.
But he was, plain and simple, a gentleman of the old school. He and I had some powerful disagreements, but he was always generous in his time and manner.
Once, after a pair of columns in which I first laid out — as faithfully as I could — what he’d told me in a long interview, followed by a piece in which I explained why I differed, he sent me a handwritten note of thanks. He wasn’t thanking me for my views, with which he took strong issue, but for fairly reflecting his.
He offered civility in an uncivil world. I will miss him.