RIP John Leonard. Lots of appreciations elsewhere to which I have nothing useful to add, except to direct you to this Nation essay from 2000, which ought to be read by all working critics and reporters and the people who edit them:
I like to think of myself as having published in the New York Review, The New Statesman, the Yale Review and Tikkun. But there was also TV Guide.
This sounds less careerist than sluttish. It is, however, a sluttishness probably to be expected of someone who had to make a living after he discovered that the novels he reviewed were a lot better than the novels he wrote. We may belong to what the poet Paul ValÃ©ry called “the delirious professions”–by which ValÃ©ry meant “all those trades whose main tool is one’s opinion of one’s self, and whose raw material is the opinion others have of you”–but reporters, critics and “cultural journalists,” no less than publicists, are caged birds in a corporate canary-cage. Looking back, I see what I required of my employers was that they cherish my every word and leave me alone. If I understand what Warren Beatty was trying to tell us in the movie Reds, it is that John Reed only soured on the Russian Revolution after they fucked with his copy.