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Gay Talese: New York Times Was Drunker Than Mad Men

gay-taleseWe’ve noticed the parallels between Mad Men and journalism before, and took the opportunity to compare our favorite characters from the AMC drama to the personalities on Morning Joe. But according to Gay Talese — the “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold” writer and one of the founding fathers of New Journalism — when it came to “smoking, drinking, writing, womanizing, smoking, drinking…,” as the Times described Mad Men, the glory days Gray Lady had ’em beat.

In a new video from Big Think, aptly titled “Getting Drunk at The New York Times,” Talese acknowledges that the old stereotype is true: many great writers were also very heavy drinkers. There was “a celebration of alcoholism almost within the creative arts, even in journalism,” he explains in the clip. The spirited old-timer goes on to describe his first time in the City Room at the Times, and watching a man “whose head fell on his typewriter” from a few too many midday trips to the cabinet.

He also remembers his time on assignment as a sportswriter, in which one reporter would file two stories after a baseball game — one for himself and another for his friend at a rival paper because the friend was too drunk to make it to the game. That show Mad Men, Talese says, was nothing: “The drinking that went on in journalism was beyond that.”

Check out the entire clip below:

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