Opinion: The Letters Top Five

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No big surprise: Reaction to AIG’s retention bonuses topped the Letters Top Five last week. But three pieces about Israel, in combination, actually generated more mail.

During the week ending March 21, The Times received 895 usable letters, 479 of which were in our Top Five Topics.


  • AIG: 192 letters, reacting to Times coverage of AIG’s bailout and bonuses;
  • Anti-Zionism: 159 letters, responding to this Op-Ed and this Op-Ed, both addressing the question, ‘Is anti-Zionism hate?’;
  • Charles Freeman: 66 letters, reacting to our editorial about Charles W. Freeman, Jr., a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia who recently withdrew his name from consideration as chairman of the National Intelligence Council in part because, he said, of the ‘tactics of the Israel lobby’;
  • Dick Cheney: 31 letters, commenting on Dick Cheney’s Sunday morning television attack on President Obama and his policies; and
  • Stewart vs. Cramer: 31 letters, most reacting to this story about the showdown between ‘The Daily Show’’s Jon Stewart and ‘Mad Money’’s Jim Cramer.

How the Top Five is tabulated: Each week, your letters maven receives thousands of e-mails, dozens of letters through the good old U.S. Postal Service, and even a few faxes here and there.

After she cuts out spam, obscene mail, letters addressed to more than one recipient, letters that seem to be the fruit of letter-writing campaigns and letters with attachments (which gum up our computer systems,) she is usually left with several hundred eligible items, represented in the Letters Top Five tally. From these, she selects the somewhere around 100 that get published in the newspaper. Faxes and snail mail are not reflected in the chart.