Lee, in a striped grey-and-black hoodie and a mop of dirty blonde hair that matched his five o’clock shadow, was participating in a panel discussion convened by the longform journalism aggregator Longreads. Sitting on a riser beside fellow New York writers Jessica Pressler and Wesley Yang, as well as the magazine’s editor in chief, Adam Moss (Lee’s story editor, David Haskell, was sipping a beer on the sidelines), the former newspaper reporter gave the hundred or so assembled Longreaders the story behind the story of “Travis the Menace.”
It began when Lee saw the Nov. 11, 2009 episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” during which Nash revealed her disfigured face for the first time.
Even though the story had already been widely covered in the press, “I felt like there was still something else there,” he said. “It was the most compelling thing I had ever seen in my entire life.”