Then this. OK. Now we’re all up to speed. Great.
Yasha Levine did the right thing, in terms of tactics and truth-seeking. Gladwell was trying to prompt him into a Socratic interchange where Gladwell would make some brilliant counter-intuitive argument to exonerate himself. Levine was correct to not engage. Gladwell was fixated on one small piece of a large argument. Also, Gladwell would have an advantage by focusing on slippery abstractions. Levine responded with a list of hard-nosed, reportorial questions that Gladwell ignored.
Levine was right to dismiss this as “playing verbal footsie.” I’m fairly certain Gladwell was never going to talk openly about his cigarette company ties anyway, and the end result is that he looks like a patrician dickhead. But Levine could have argued with Gladwell about that article and won. What he did was better, but he could have won that argument.