Newsweek weighs in on December 4 with a story headlined “No More Free Rein for Regan.” It says:

… Regan only had to present a general concept of the Simpson book to HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman to get the budget approved for the project, according to one person close to Friedman who doesn’t want to be identified because he’s not authorized to speak to the company.

The Audit to Person-Close-to-Friedman: nice try.

In her suit, Regan accuses Friedman of planting the leak, but The Audit, without better evidence, refuses to believe it. (Among the weirder turns that Regan notes, Publisher’s Weekly named Friedman “Publishing Person of the Year” on Dec. 11, three weeks into this mess, citing her as a “visionary pragmatist,” [the best kind!] who, among other things, led her company “through the O.J. scandal.” Wow. And I thought academia was weird.)

This entire summary of media leaks is spelled out in Regan’s complaint. But what can I say? They ran.

There’s more, of course. My fellow hobbits may remember this ended with Regan screaming at Jackson, the in-house counsel, that a “Jewish cabal” was out to get her. I won’t parse the remarks, but it was nothing News Corp. executives hadn’t heard from her before. No one believes she was fired for being an anti-Semite.

The dismissal, appropriately, is leaked by “senior News Corp. executives,” to the Los Angeles Times on December 17:

’It was an accumulation of her behavior,’ said one of those executives, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the legal sensitivity of the issue.

In the interview with Business Week last February, Murdoch provides some kind of limited half-apology—“It’s my fault; I should have been closer to it”—that actually makes no sense. Why should he have been closer to it?

Murdoch also summarizes her career in way I find ungenerous—to say the least. “She was very good at Simon & Schuster. She had a great sort of pop feel and did some very good best sellers to start with and then went sort of downhill.”

As Regan notes, seven of her books hit the best-seller list after she was fired. Murdoch here could have shown more class.

So, how did the Journal do covering this suit, with the merger closing in weeks? It short-armed the story,
particularly when it comes to Regan’s affair with Kerik, the newly indicted former New York City police commissioner, and its impact on his friend, Rudy Giuliani, who is running for president of the United States of America.

Talking Points Memo
rightly zinged the Journal for giving the story short shrift. Me, I hate to see the paper even exposed to that kind of suggestion, but here we are.

This is not about sympathy for Regan, who deserves and apparently asks for none. But can you imagine covering this company. From the inside?

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Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014). Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.