I don’t know about you, but I find this story hilarious. Even the headline is funny: The billionaire, the Post and the $220G shakedown; Page Six writer wanted $$$ to stop inaccurate coverage.
Read on, and learn about Jared Paul Stern, a petty-tyrant gossip columnist who put the screws to one Ron Burkle, managing partner of Yucaipa Cos., leveraging $220K — pocket change for a billionaire, I’m sure the columnist figured — against a pledge to stop writing lies about him.
You start reading a story like this, and you expect to learn that Burkle was a closet case of some sort, that the writer had the goods on him — compromising photos, a recorded phone call involving falafels and a Shower Massage, whatever. But no:
The false items included a Jan. 1 report that Burkle flew Tobey Maguire, girlfriend Jen Meyer and blonde actress Sarah Foster in his private jet to Aspen, Colo., where they “vacationed at Burkle’s mansion.” Burkle does not own a mansion in Aspen, did not fly his private jet to Aspen, and didn’t vacation with Foster, Maguire or Meyer.
Gossip journalism must be a strange world, sort of a parallel universe where people look roughly the same as you, but cut them and their blood is green and the world has two suns. Get this: Burkle and his lawyers have repeatedly written and or told The Post’s attorneys, editors and management that the articles and items about him on Page Six are inaccurate but to no avail.
I love this. You can open the paper to learn you have been credited with an Aspen mansion you don’t own, have your lawyer call the paper’s lawyer to say so, and still — no dice.
You can probably guess what happened here. Burkle went to the feds, they wired up his apartment and a meeting was called with the ink-stained extortionist, who apparently never saw an episode of “The Sopranos” and doesn’t know how to phrase a shakedown delicately:
An exasperated Burkle finally said, “How much do you want?” after Stern said he could control coverage by Richard Johnson, the column’s chief writer, and his staff. “Um, $100,000 to get going and then you could get it to me on a month-to-month, maybe like $10,000,” replied Stern. “Okay, that’s a great deal,” said Burkle.”
It goes on, and every word is fabulous. There’s even a minor character appearing in the third-to last graf named “Sessa von Richthofen.” Too, too funny.
I once had a brief acquaintance with a dog breeder; I think her specialty was Australian shepherds. We hadn’t known each other long before I learned something pretty important about her: She took breeding absolutely seriously. She would neuter, spay and, if necessary, euthanize any animal she believed was not a credit to the breed. She had elaborate tests she did on her young dogs, taking away their food when they were eating and other provocations. If any reacted in what she considered an aggressive or dangerous manner, it had a date with the vet. If it was lucky it would only lose its fertility.
As the owner of a 20-pound juvenile delinquent, I was a little taken aback, but she explained it quite reasonably: You do no one any favors by keeping bad dogs in the gene pool, and in fact much of the damage done by bad dogs is directly due to human unwillingness to make the tough call. The day one of her Aussies knocked her down and growled in her face, she calmly got up, leashed the offender and took him away for a lethal shot of night-night medicine. It was, in the long run, the humane solution.
So I was a little surprised to read that Oakland County is jumping on the no-kill bandwagon. I mean, it’s a sweet idea, but is it realistic? Many dogs come to shelters because they’re problem children — yes, due to idiot owners, but problems just the same. Maybe it’s better to turn out the lights in a painless way.
A Free Press columnist points out the obvious:
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, the tough-talking ex-prosecutor who spent decades trying to legalize capital punishment in Michigan, now says he wants to abolish the death penalty outright. For puppies, at least.
…I’ve no idea whether this is a realistic goal, and I doubt that Patterson does, either. But I’m certain he’s doing the right thing, because if you’re offered a policy choice between killing puppies and saving puppies and you have to think about it for more than, say, 0.5 seconds, you have no business in elective politics.
And finally, the good people of Indiana continue to entertain the nation on the subject of DST. In case you wondered, yes, the whole idea of clock-tinkering started and ended with high-falutin’ east coast snobs:
It is now April. At 6 a.m. it is still dark. In June, it might still be light outside at 11 p.m. Children have always asked, “Can’t we please stay out until dark?�? This June, if your answer is yes, it might be near midnight before they come home.
…When one hobnobs with East Coast snobs and then becomes the governor of Indiana, he might have to do things to prove that he is still a blue-blood elitist. “Hey, look, we in (fly-over) Indiana change our clocks, too! Now we’re just like you. … Will you still invite me to Martha’s Vineyard this summer? Can I still go duck hunting with you in Connecticut? … Please?�?
Can I still go duck hunting with you? I stand agog.
Have a swell weekend.
colleen said on April 7, 2006 at 10:33 am
I wondered if you saw that letter!! So full of hyperbole and hysteria. No. It won’t be dark at 11. But I love the connection to east cost hoity toity people…that’s a new conspiracy theory, or at least one I haven’t seen yet. Do so many people REALLY have so little contact with people outside the state that the whole “what time is it there?” issue never posed a problem for time? Because from setting up interviews to visiting family in *gasp* OTHER STATES, it was a summer long pain in the butt for me, and I would assume for others as well.
I liked the letter above it. Basically “shut up and go play golf.”
colleen said on April 7, 2006 at 10:34 am
Gah. Problem for “THEM”.
Kim said on April 7, 2006 at 10:58 am
I must say that DST snippet got me all excited to read another column by the apple jelly guy (or whatever it was he so craved). But to see it’s a letter to the editor is almost better. I’d post more, but here in Virginia it’s time to go duck huntin’.
MichaelG said on April 7, 2006 at 11:29 am
Wow! When I was in college I knew a woman named Jared Paul. She would be old enough to be this guy’s mother. After all, Jared is a kind of unisex name. I wonder . . .
People in Indiana don’t go duck hunting?
brian stouder said on April 7, 2006 at 11:31 am
My beef about the great clock crack-up is the way our Governor handled the issue. Very like his old boss, he manfully picked up an issue (in this case, DST) – and then seemingly lost his way. His leadership on this thing was akin to the fellow in the old joke who traps a bear in his own cabin, and then tells his buddy “I did MY part; now you go in there and finish the job!”
Leaving that aside, I have been IMMENSELY enjoying Sean Wilentz’s immense book about the developement of American democracy (called, appropriately enough, The Rise of American Democracy; Jefferson to Lincoln).
The sentence “…When one hobnobs with East Coast snobs and then becomes the governor of Indiana, he might have to do things to prove that he is still a blue-blood elitist.” could have come almost directly from a republican attack on any particular Federalist (such as Hamilton, for example) in 1800.
The Federlists WERE (in many cases) crypto-monocrats and genuine elitists (advocating suffrage ONLY for white men who owned 50 acres of land, for example); and even Jefferson and his coalition of democrats could only stand just so much ‘democracy’ and enfranchisement.
A wonderful book – which I highly recommend. It provides a solid context within which to view today’s political clashes
mtk said on April 7, 2006 at 3:09 pm
Isn’t Yucaipa Cos. in the bidding for the 12 orphaned K-R papers? If it gets them, won’t Ron Burkle, as managing partner, be in charge of hundreds of journalists? How odd this would happen as the K-R/McClatchy thing was going down. I’m not implying anything — just commenting on an unusual coincidence.
Laura said on April 7, 2006 at 3:38 pm
Indiana comedian (and SNL/Conan writer) Hugh Fink used to do this bit about his parents calling him in NY:
“It’s 9 o’clock here, what time is it there? It’s April here, what month is it there?” And so on.
I used to find it amusing–now, it’s hillarious!
brian stouder said on April 7, 2006 at 9:57 pm
By the way, and for the record, here is a regional thing at which I stand agog
Here’s the lead –
“Updated: 5:33 p.m. ET April 7, 2006
DETROIT – A 5-year-old boy called 911 to report that his mother had collapsed in their apartment, but an operator told him he should not be playing on the phone, and she died before help arrived.”
So we hoosiers may indeed be too stupid to properly adjust our clocks – but you Michiganders look pretty stoopid, too
Dave said on April 8, 2006 at 6:00 am
Speaking of DST, my brother once worked at a dairy farm and was against the time change because “the cows didn’t like it”. No time is an illusion rants by me ever did anything to change this view.
nancy said on April 8, 2006 at 8:48 am
Yup, Brian, that’s a pretty bad one. It’s all over the news here. The 911 calls are up on the Freep site — this is the damning one. The kid doesn’t sound panicked or upset, but having sat by the scanner in FW for many nights, I know they dispatch at least a cop car to every 911 call that they can’t resolve, even hangups.
So you win this one.
brian stouder said on April 8, 2006 at 10:46 am
Have you seen Crash yet? I just watched it last night; a marvelous movie.
Sorta touches on people’s knee-jerk ignorance (and knee-jerk sensitivities) as life proceeds across two days in Los Angeles
A nephew of mine is a freshman at IPFW, and one of his professors assigned them to watch the movie and then write a report on it, and my my knee-jerk reaction to that was puzzlement.
But now, I see why. If I was a teacher at the junior high level or higher (and in any subject), I’d assign a paper on that movie, too.
Dorothy said on April 8, 2006 at 3:14 pm
Brian I agree strongly with you. I felt, after seeing both Crash and Brokeback, that there was no comparison – not be a longshot. Crash is a powerful film and stays with you for a long time after viewing.
We rented Capote for tonight and I can’t wait to watch it after dinner! Now I have to stop playing on the computer and get back to my chores. My mom arrives tomorrow for a nine day stay! YAY!!
brian stouder said on April 8, 2006 at 5:31 pm
“Crash is a powerful film and stays with you for a long time after viewing.”
I am a ‘lump in the throat’ guy if the movie is good; there is a scene in Crash (I bet you could guess which one) which sent tears down my face – which no movie has done since I can’t remember when.
The movie is like an elaborate recipe – a teaspoon of this, a dash of that; you may not immediately recognize what is causing this or that flavor or undertone in the movie, but looking back over it you see that there were no throw-away elements.
jeff said on April 10, 2006 at 5:55 pm
The following is from gawker.com:
Payola Six: Let’s Talk About Burkle, Shall We?
The latest: According to ABC news, the FBI was prepared to arrest Jared Paul Stern at the time of his infamous meeting with billionaire Ron Burkle, but they lacked sufficient evidence. Since then, the bureau is in the early stages of launching an investigation “to determine whether there ever will be enough to bring to a federal grand jury and win an indictment.�? And, of course, there might not be.
Combined with Stern’s adamant rebuttal that he was set up, the lack of evidence against Stern casts a harsh light on Burkle. The fact that he was even meeting with Stern to discuss controlling negative coverage suggests that Burkle, who’s going through a nasty divorce, has something to hide. But what? For starters, Burkle’s a known modelizer — no big whoop, though, amongst the rich and powerful. Unless, that is, the models were of a certain age. From a Page Six blind item that ran on January 26:
“Which babe-loving billionaire has started checking IDs of the young models he invites on his private jet? The randy retail king is nervous that his high-altitude hookups with underage playthings will draw unwanted attention from his more respectable friends.”
Uh-huh. And Burkle certainly has respectable friends, including President Clinton, who would hate to be associated with that sort of thing. Plus, as many have noted, the Daily News’ coverage of the Page Six scandal certainly works to their benefit in New York’s tabloid wars. Maybe we’re just pipedreaming, but wouldn’t it be interesting to know what sort of contact there’s been between Burkle and Mort Zuckerman? Surely they must have at least met through the Billionaire’s Club or Democratic party connections or the Meetup.org Group for Possible Radar Investors.
Not that any of this changes the fact that Page Six often works on a favor-based system. The suggestion that Burkle was actively seeking to fuck the system, however, certainly makes one rethink Stern — who has admitted to some sort of wrongdoing, though to what extent remains unclear — and his role in the larger situation. Deep, right?