Claudio Gatti, an Italian investigative journalist, over the weekend published a plausible case that the Italian translator Anita Raja is the real Ferrante. Gatti’s piece was roundly criticized as an unwarranted invasion of privacy, given Ferrante’s decades-long insistence that anonymity was central to her work. Gatti’s own justification for doxing Ferrante—that by publishing a supposed autobiography that contained untruths she was demanding to be outed—was also criticized for being insufficient. Finally, the spectacle of a man flouting a woman’s will for no particularly good reason was also seen by many readers as sexist.
But Gatti is sticking to his guns. In an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review, Gatti insisted that he was right to expose Ferrante. In his defense, he argued that Ferrante’s publisher used Ferrante’s anonymity to drum up interest in her work; that Ferrante published a supposed autobiography that is actually full of lies; and that readers were curious about Ferrante’s real identity. He, the hapless journalist, was simply reacting to these forces.
It’s not a very convincing interview—at one point, for instance, Gatti insisted that he cannot be a sexist because when he began his investigation he did not know if Ferrante was a man or a woman. (The idea that Ferrante could have been a man was always pretty sexist.) But it is notable for its defensive overtones. Here, for instance, is Gatti’s response to being asked if he has any regrets about the story:
Absolutely not. None whatsoever. All the people that hate me for what I wrote are bad people, and I don’t mind the fact that they hate me. If Elena Ferrante ends up hating me, I would be sad because I respect her. I like her. I like her work. That’s the sad part, but I don’t regret anything.
I only wish that as much attention had been paid in social media to some of my other investigative pieces, like the one about the extraordinary rendition of an Italian citizen, or about the dominant players in the multibillion-dollar business of smuggling human beings from Africa, or the bribes and kickbacks paid by multinational corporations, or about the possible role of a CIA contractor in arming Islamists in Libya and Syria. But the people who criticize me for wasting my energy investigating a writer never paid any attention to these stories. Now they go crazy because I applied investigative journalism to a more popular issue.
Gatti clearly hasn’t internalized any of the criticism he’s received. Still, “All the people that hate me for what I wrote are bad people, and I don’t mind the fact that they hate me” is a hall of fame answer.