For months, former New York Post scribe Jared Paul Stern was at the center of unseemly accusations that he tried to shake down billionaire Ronald Burkle in exchange for good press in the newspaper’s gossip pages.
Now, Stern has fired back, looking to generate his own headlines and put a little heat on his nemesis, Burkle.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Manhattan’s State Supreme Court, he claims Burkle and others used him in an attempt to damage the Post, which publishes the sensational but hugely popular Page Six.
The lawsuit also names the Daily News and the reporter who broke the story last year, setting off a tabloid war that received attention around the world.
Stern alleges Burkle, the Daily News and others defamed and inflicted emotional distress on him and wrecked his job as a contributor at the Post, among other charges. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
Burkle spokesman Frank Quintero, Daily News spokeswoman Jennifer Mauer and the reporter, William Sherman, all declined immediate comment because they had not seen the lawsuit.
Stern no longer works for the Post and has been camped out at his house in upstate New York, plotting his comeback ever since the allegations first surfaced.
“Like I said from day one, I was set up and I was used as a pawn to attack the Post and Page Six,” Stern said. “And like I said from day one, I would sue them. This should come as no surprise.”
Federal authorities investigated whether Stern, 36, tried to extort money from Burkle, a California billionaire and supermarket mogul who has given millions of dollars to political causes.
Burkle said Stern demanded $100,000 and a $10,000 monthly stipend to make negative stories about him stop appearing in the paper’s Page Six gossip column — something Stern has repeatedly denied.
In January, federal authorities declined to file charges against Stern, giving him cause to sue, said Stern’s attorney, Larry Klayman.
“The truth will win,” Klayman said. “This is not a difficult case. This is a simple case. Jared did not commit extortion. He did not conduct a shakedown. The bottom line is that Burkle is in deep, hot water.”
While Stern’s primary beef deals with Burkle and the Daily News, he spares no one in his lawsuit.
The lawsuit names another Burkle spokesman, his head of security, even former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Clintons are friends with Burkle, and Stern says they were all part of a vast conspiracy against him and the paper.
Phone messages left for Bill Clinton’s spokesman, Jay Carson, were not immediately returned.
Burkle has previously spoken out on the case by expressing dismay with columns like Page Six, denouncing what he called the “shoddy standards of gossip reporting.”
Klayman said he has “a very strong case” and “punitive damage will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars given the net worth of the defendants.”
Klayman said this was an attack on the media and the “only way this type of abhorrent conduct can be prevented in the future is to make them pay.”
Larry Klayman is the founder of the conservative legal group Judicial Watch. He’s best known for lawsuits he pursued while running the Washington-based conservative watchdog group.
He pursued ethics claims against the Clintons throughout the 1990s and represented Gennifer Flowers, who claimed she had an affair with Bill Clinton, in a defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton.