Jim Leff and the Chowhound-Newton Sandy Hook Massacre Connection


[The picture that previously appeared in this space misidentified the figure as Jim Leff. We are sorry for the mistake, and have removed the photo.]

Jazz trombonist and Chowhound co-founder Jim Leff – who long ago sold the website to CBS Interactive – apparently knew the Sandy Hook Elementary gunman’s first victim: Adam Lanza’s own mother.

In a piece put online Saturday, the New York Times interviewed Leff on the subject of Nancy Lanza. He described her as a generous woman he’d sometimes see at a bar in Newton, CT, while visiting other friends in the neighborhood. He’d frequently sat next to her on a bar stool. “She was really kind and warm…but she always seemed a little bit high-strung,” the Times quoted him as saying.

Later, on his website Jim Leff’s Slog, which he has filled mainly with political content ever since he gave up Chowhound, Leff complains bitterly about the Times interview with him on the subject of Nancy Lanza: “The [NY Times] reporter was the first who contacted me, and I made the mistake of returning the call to say, essentially, ‘no comment’ to all his questions, which gave him leeway to claim an interview with me and to lift quotes from the blog piece.”

The day before, he’d put up a piece on the blog called “Personal Thoughts on Newton”, in which he describes the place as “pretty much the Platonic ideal of a small town.”

The essence of his observations about Lanza and her son appear in one paragraph: “I never really befriended Nancy, though we exchanged greetings whenever we crossed paths. What held me back was my impression that she was a little high-strung. But now that I’ve been filled in by friends about how difficult her troubled son (the shooter) was making things for her, I understand that it wasn’t that Nancy was overwrought about the trivialities of everyday life, but that she was handling a very difficult situation with uncommon grace. Plus, she was a big fan of my trombone playing. My next jazz solo’s for you, Nancy.”