By: Joe Strupp
Billionaire businessman Ron Burkle, who has accused Page Six contributor Jared Paul Stern of trying to extort money from him in exchange for positive coverage in the New York Post gossip page, countered Stern’s recent accusation that Burkle set him up to try to discredit him and his paper.
In a statement released Monday by Burkle’s spokesman, Michael Sitrick, Burkle contends that taped evidence of Stern allegedly discussing a potential $200,000 in payoffs from Burkle is accurate. He claims the tape shows that Stern knew that an agreement to keep negative press about Burkle out of the Post was being discussed.
“Regarding what occurred in the meetings between Messrs. Burkle and Stern, the tapes are very clear as to what Mr. Stern said and what he didn’t say,” the statement said. “They are also clear with respect to what Mr. Stern meant.
“As has been correctly reported, two FBI agents and a US Attorney were present in Mr. Burkle’s apartment during the March 31 meeting. Mr. Burkle’s end of the conversation was directed by his attorneys, FBI agents and an assistant U.S. Attorney,” the statement continues. “After both the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office viewed tapes of both meetings and all of the emails in their entirety (including wire transfer instructions), the U.S. Attorney’s Office contacted the NY Post and requested a meeting to ask for The Post’s cooperation in its probe and help in preserving evidence. We believe these actions speak for themselves.”
The statement comes just a day after Stern accused Burkle of trying to set him up and claimed he never sought a payoff, just a possible investment by Burkle into his clothing line. “He set it up through a middle man,” Stern told the Associated Press on Sunday. “He initiated discussions in a potential investment in my clothing company. That’s where the whole money issue originated. He was the first one to bring up any question of payment for press coverage.”
Burkle’s statement countered that argument specifically, saying, “The tapes show that Mr. Burkle made it very clear he had no interest in investing in Mr. Stern’s clothing company. They also show that Mr. Burkle never had any interest in Mr. Stern serving as a so-called media or any other consultant. Mr. Stern’s re-characterization of events are just that.”