Friday, November 16, 2007

Media Mafia: Corruption in the Cable Industry (Case File #11) - Murdoch's News Corp., Rudy Giuliani, Roger Ailes and New York's Time Warner Deal

FLASHBACK: News Corp And Fox News Have A Long, Chummy Relationship With Rudy Giuliani

In a new lawsuit, former book publisher Judith Regan, who ran HarperCollins, claims that an unnamed executive at her parent-company, News Corporation, “encouraged her to lie to federal investigators about her past affair with Bernard B. Kerik.” Regan says the “executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of Rudolph W. Giuliani.”

Though a News Corp. spokesperson dismissed the lawsuit as having “no merit,” Giuliani and the company — specifically its subsidiary Fox News — have a long-history of friendship and preferential treatment. In fact, Fox’s start was directly aided by Giuliani when, as mayor of New York City, he “intervened” after the company was “blocked from securing a cable station in the city”:

In 1996, when Mr. Ailes and Rupert Murdoch started Fox News, Mr. Giuliani intervened as mayor after Time Warner cable refused to carry the new station in the city. Time Warner, which had 1.1 million subscribers in the city, said it had room for only one more news station, which it had just awarded to MSNBC.

Fox accused Time Warner of trying to protect CNN, which Time Warner was buying. On Sept. 20, 1996, Mr. Ailes called Mr. Giuliani to ask for help. A flurry of meetings followed, but Time Warner did not budge. Three weeks later, the Giuliani administration said it would broadcast Fox News on a municipal-run station, citing the benefits of offering diverse news sources and protecting the 600 jobs Fox had created. […]

But a federal judge blocked his plan, calling it “special advocacy” to “reward a friend and to further a particular viewpoint.” The companies came to terms the next year.

As the New York Times noted in August, that friendly relationship has resulted in lopsided, favorable coverage by the cable news channel of Giuliani’s presidential campaign:

So far this year, one political journal found, Mr. Giuliani has logged more time on Fox interview programs than any other candidate. Most of the time has been spent with Sean Hannity, an acknowledged admirer of the former mayor, according to the data compiled by the journal, known as The Hotline. […]

Mr. Giuliani’s on-air time on Fox was 25 percent greater than that of his Republican competitor Mitt Romney, and nearly double that of Senator John McCain of Arizona. Fred D. Thompson, who has yet to formally announce his candidacy, came in second to Mr. Giuliani with 101 minutes of Fox interviews.

Fox’s Hannity, who has a prime-time show Monday through Friday and an hour-long show on Sunday nights, is such a big Giuliani booster that he has even taken to helping the former mayor raise money by introducing him at a fundraiser in Ohio.

Most recently, Fox’s Neil Cavuto hosted Giuliani for an “exclusive” interview in which Cavuto endearingly referred to Giuliani as “America’s Mayor.”

UPDATE: In July, the New York Daily News reported that Regan has “secret tapes of phone calls” between herself and News Corp. executives.
Giuliani And Fox: The Romance Continues
Unctuous politician finds love with unctuous network

The Judith Regan lawsuit conjured up some disturbing mental images of the former editrix and Bernard Kerik. But less unsettling was the allegation that News Corp. was trying to protect “America’s Mayor,” Rudy Giuliani.

Indeed the two have long ties. Roger Ailes and Giuliani go way back to his first failed run for mayor in 1989. In 1994, for a reception honoring Ailes, Giuliani prepared a speech where he wrote, “Roger has played an important role in my own career.” Aw, thanks Rog.

When Fox News first started, it was Giuliani who made the calls (and allegedly threats) to get the network on Time Warner. Now that he’s running for President, Giuliani has also been on Fox News more than any other presidential candidate.

Well, it’s the same people who find Fox News “Fair & Balanced” who buy that Giuliani really has always supported the NRA. The two deserve each other.
Nov 15, 2007
November 14, 2007

Ex-Publisher’s Suit Plays a Giuliani-Kerik Angle

Judith Regan, the former book publisher, says in a lawsuit filed yesterday protesting her dismissal by the News Corporation, the media conglomerate, that a senior executive there encouraged her to lie to federal investigators about her past affair with Bernard B. Kerik after he had been nominated to become homeland security secretary in late 2004.

The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik’s mentor, who had appointed him New York City police commissioner and had recommended him for the federal post.

Ms. Regan makes the charge at the start of a 70-page filing that seeks $100 million in damages for what she says was a campaign to smear and discredit her by her bosses at HarperCollins and its parent company, News Corporation, after her project to publish a book with O. J. Simpson was abandoned amid a storm of protest.

In the civil complaint filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Ms. Regan says the company has long sought to promote Mr. Giuliani’s ambitions. But the lawsuit does not elaborate on that charge, identify the executive who she says pressured her to mislead investigators, or offer details to support her claim.

In fact, the allegation about the executive makes up a small part of a much broader array of claims about what she says was her improper removal from a job atop one of the more commercially successful book publishing operations.

A News Corporation spokeswoman who declined to be named said that the company saw no merit in the filing. A spokeswoman for Mr. Giuliani declined to comment.

Ms. Regan had an affair with Mr. Kerik, who is married, beginning in the spring of 2001, when her imprint, ReganBooks, began work on his memoir, “The Lost Son.” In December 2004, after the relationship had ended and shortly after Mr. Kerik’s homeland security nomination fell apart, newspapers reported that the two had carried on the affair at an apartment near ground zero that had been donated as a haven for rescue and recovery workers.

Mr. Kerik claimed in 2004 that he had withdrawn his nomination because of problems with the hiring of a nanny. He was indicted last week on federal tax fraud and other charges.

“Defendants were well aware that Regan had a personal relationship with Kerik,” the complaint says. “In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”

One of Ms. Regan’s lawyers, Brian C. Kerr of the firm of Dreier L.L.P., said she had evidence to support her claim that she had been advised to lie to federal investigators who were vetting Mr. Kerik and who might have sought to question her about their romantic involvement. But Mr. Kerr declined to discuss the nature of the evidence.

The lawsuit does not say whether Ms. Regan was, in fact, interviewed as part of the inquiry into Mr. Kerik’s fitness for the federal post, and if she was what she told investigators.

The News Corporation controls many media outlets worldwide, including Twentieth Century Fox, The New York Post and the Fox News Channel, where Ms. Regan was once host of a talk show.

The Fox News Channel’s coverage of the presidential race has been a topic of some discussion within rival campaigns because the channel is directed by Mr. Giuliani’s friend of 20 years, Roger Ailes. But the network has strongly defended the balance of its coverage under Mr. Ailes, who served as media consultant to Mr. Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign in 1989. Mr. Giuliani, as mayor, later officiated at Mr. Ailes’s wedding.

Ms. Regan was fired on Dec. 15, 2006, after a month of withering publicity surrounding her plan to publish a hypothetical confession of O. J. Simpson to the murders of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald L. Goldman. The release of the book, “If I Did It,” was to be tied to the broadcasting of Ms. Regan’s interview of Mr. Simpson on Fox.

A second book, a novel that imagined drunken and lascivious escapades by Mickey Mantle, drew another round of outrage.

At the time, Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corporation, called the Simpson book “ill considered.” Ms. Regan was fired and her imprint shut down after a HarperCollins lawyer, Mark Jackson, claimed she had used an anti-Semitic remark in describing the internal campaign to fire her as a “Jewish cabal.”

It was a tremendous fall for a woman who had, over a dozen years, built her own imprint into a best-seller juggernaut. It captured headlines by printing memoirs and other books by popular figures like Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, and the porn star Jenna Jameson that were often overlooked by old-line publishing houses, as well as more traditional offerings, like “The Zero,” a novel set in the aftermath of 9/11, which was a finalist for a National Book Award in 2006.

Ms. Regan asserts in her lawsuit that she never used the term “Jewish cabal” and that both the Mantle book and the Simpson project were approved by a range of HarperCollins executives.

Mr. Murdoch himself, the suit says, signed off on the Simpson book during a dinner with Ms. Regan on Feb. 14, 2006.

Most of the complaint explores what Ms. Regan says was an effort to discredit and defame her starting in November 2006, including the release of what she calls false and defamatory statements by company executives to The New York Post, which is owned by the News Corporation, and to The New York Times.

“We are fully confident that the evidence will show that Judith Regan was the victim of a vicious smear campaign engineered by News Corporation and HarperCollins,” Mr. Kerr said.

The assertion that the News Corporation has sought to protect Mr. Giuliani appears in the opening page of the filing. The document later revisits aspects of the assertion without providing a full account of what is alleged to have occurred or how it might be substantiated in court.

Ms. Regan says in the suit, though, that when she realized the company had been assembling material with which to justify firing her she called a company lawyer. She says she wanted to confirm that accusations she had made about executives’ creating a hostile workplace had been included in her personnel file. One of those accusations was that an executive had advised her to lie about Mr. Kerik to protect Mr. Giuliani.

“This smear campaign was necessary to advance News Corp.’s political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giuliani’s presidential ambitions,” the court papers say.

In 2004, Mr. Giuliani was being discussed as a potential presidential contender in 2008 but was more than two years away from openly talking about a run.

The complaint asserts that a second unnamed executive advised her “not to produce clearly relevant documents in connection with the government’s investigation of Kerik.”

“Thus, because of the damaging information that defendants believed Regan possessed, defendants knew they would be protecting Giuliani if they could pre-emptively discredit her,” the lawsuit says.

Nate Schweber contributed reporting.
Regan opens Fox's can of worms
Guardian Unlimited, UK - Nov 15, 2007

OJ Simpson in a TV interview with Judith Regan about how the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman would have taken place had he actually ...

Regan: I was asked to protect Giuliani
Seattle Times, United States - Nov 15, 2007
By Los Angeles Times and AP

Judith Regan was fired from her job at harpercollins, which is owned by News Corp. NEW YORK — Former publisher Judith Regan ...

Publisher says she was told to lie
CNN - Nov 14, 2007

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Senior executives at News Corp. urged publisher Judith Regan to lie to investigators about ex-New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik ...

The Buzz: Judith Regan files $100 million suit against Murdoch empire
Kansas City Star, MO - Nov 14, 2007

Remember Judith Regan, canned by News Corp.’s harpercollins last year after she championed OJ Simpson’s alleged tell-all If I Did It? ...

harpercollins sued over OJ book fallout
Guardian Unlimited, UK - Nov 14, 2007

Stir up Rupert Murdoch, OJ Simpson, Rudy Giuliani, add a pinch of antisemitism, throw in a porn star and voilà, you have the lawsuit filed in New York by ...

Should Bernard Kerik's problem be Rudy Giuliani's problem?

Poll active NOVEMBER 09TH, 2007 - NOVEMBER 14TH, 2007

NY1 News has launched our "Snap Poll" feature, which allows Time Warner Digital Cable subscribers in New York City to use their remote control to answer poll questions that appear on their TV screen. If you don't have Time Warner Digital Cable - or you just prefer to use the web - cast your vote in today's poll here:

Should Bernard Kerik's problem be Rudy Giuliani's problem?

Results since NOVEMBER 9TH, 2007

Yes 75.0%
No 8.0%
Undecided 16.0%

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