This is an old one, but I have acquired new readers since. It's worth the telling.
I have once taken part in an exchange with Professor Chomsky. I wrote an article for Prospect magazine in November 2005 taking issue with the proposition, which was the magazine's cover story, that Chomsky was "the world's top public intellectual". Among my reasons for dissent was his dishonest handling of source material. I also noted, in my account of his political thinking:
Chomsky's first book on politics, American Power and the New Mandarins (1969) grew from protest against the Vietnam war. But Chomsky went beyond the standard left critique of US imperialism to the belief that "what is needed [in the US] is a kind of denazification."
Chomsky replied in the magazine's issue for January 2006. Wedged among flattering charges of my "tacit acquiescence to horrendous crimes", Chomsky wrote:
Proceeding further to demonstrate my "central" doctrine, Kamm misquotes my statement that "We have to ask ourselves whether what is needed in the United States is dissent - or denazification."
The full passage from American Power runs as follows (p. 17, emphasis added):
We have to ask ourselves whether what is needed in the United States is dissent – or denazification. The question is a debatable one. Reasonable people may differ. The fact that the question is even debatable is a terrifying thing. To me it seems that what is needed is a kind of denazification.
So in his article for Prospect, Chomsky quoted just the first sentence of this passage, to imply he had thought it an open question whether the US needed "denazification". He ignored the sentence 20-odd words later that expressed exactly the sentiment, in exactly the words, that I attributed to him. He then had the gall to complain that I had misquoted his statement.
Note that the quotation Chomsky gives is accurate, so far as it goes - it's just the wrong sentence. The wording (including spelling out "United States" instead of abbreviating it) and the punctuation are as he wrote them nearly 40 years earlier. It is a reasonable inference that he must have had the book open in front of him when he composed his reply to me. What the man can possibly have been thinking is a mystery. Perhaps he thought I wouldn't have the book, or that he'd have the last word and no one would check it. As it was, the editor of Prospect graciously allowed me to conclude the exchange with a 250-word letter in the next issue to state my central objection to Chomsky's reply. My central objection was, naturally, that in responding to a piece charging him with dishonesty in citing source material, it was singular for Chomsky to prove my point by distorting source material that he had himself written.