Larry David's Boston Marathon Op-Ed Called "Unfunny" by New York Times' Public Editor

Margaret Sullivan agrees with readers who were offended by the Curb Your Enthusiasm star's Sunday piece

By Natalie Finn May 01, 2013 9:30 PMTags
Larry David Jeff Vespa/Getty Images

Consider the New York Times' enthusiasm curbed.

The newspaper's public editor has agreed with readers who slammed Larry David's satirical op-ed piece in last Sunday's edition—a spoof of a Q&A between a reporter and a suspected terrorist's mother, playing off the news conference given by the mother of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects—as offensive.

Comparing it to similar questions of taste in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Times' Margaret Sullivan deemed David's piece a misfire.

"Humor is hard to gauge, of course," Sullivan wrote yesterday on the Times' Public Editor's Journal. "What works for some people doesn't work for others. (And Mr. David's material often cracks me up.) Some people have much more stomach than others for jokes that are in questionable or plain old bad taste. And the question of timing is tricky."

She posted snippets of a few readers' reactions, including one saying David "should be ashamed of himself" and another (from The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin author Joe McGinniss) who said the piece made his "skin crawl."

Editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal stood by David's op-ed, saying it "in no way mocked or belittled the victims of the bombing or the seriousness of terrorist attacks."

But Sullivan said that, unlike a humorous Times column written in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by Clyde Haberman and a standup routine given by Colin Quinn at a 9-11 benefit that, in her opinion, totally worked, David's humor fell flat this time around.

"The Larry David piece doesn't [work]—not only because it was insensitive, but also because it was unfunny," she concluded.