TUESDAY’S LETTERS: Jayson Blair’s Rep on ‘Page Six’ Scandal, Cheney’s Cover-Up, and Unclear ‘WaPo’ Edit

By: E&P Staff

In today’s edition, Jayson Blair’s PR rep responds to Strupp’s Page Six column, a Dick Cheney conspiracy theory, and more on the Washington Post’s inconsistent editorial.


Jayson Blair’s Flack on the ‘Page Six’ Scandal

I just finished reading your column on the Page Six business. Brother!

As a flack for three decades, I can say this:

1. I did not do business with Jared Paul Stern. Not because I did not want to do business with him, but because our paths did not cross.

2. I have worked with Richard Johnson for 25 years. I am not one of the inner circle, but Richard has been nothing but straight with me.

3. Page Six has its idiosyncrasies just like any other gossip column. You have to know how to work with it if you are a flack or employ a flack.

4. All gossip columnists are showered with favors. Most of them are grounded enough not to fall for the blandishments. As Liz Smith once wrote (I paraphrase), I drink the champagne, eat the caviar, and write what I want.

That said, the allegations against Stern are beyond anything I have ever run across. Good enough for a feature film, I think. If they are true, I think he is looking at prison.

I also think that Richard knew nothing about what Stern was allegedly up to. Not that I have proof. It’s just a gut instinct. This saga suggests a personnel problem at Page Six. A couple of years ago, Ian Spiegelman walked the plank after sending some (self) incriminating email. Now, Stern is the focus of attention. Perhaps the ship could have been run tighter.

In my additional role as press rep for Jayson Blair, I need to make a point. While it is almost impossible to write about breach of journalisti ethics today without mentioning Jayson, one should remember that Jayson was not playing with a full deck in his last six months at The Times. He was an undiagnosed manic-depressive going through a breakdown that he was trying to hide from his bosses. He couldn’t keep up with the job as he melted down. That is why he resorted to plagiarism and fabrication. He was not extorting anything from anyone.

Being nuts is no excuse, as the medicated Jayson will tell you. But in fairness to him, it should be remembered that he was never accused of anything of the sort that has come up in the Stern saga.

Ted Faraone
New York, NY


Journos in the Crosshairs

It is pointless to talk of better training, clearer rules of engagement, etc for the safety of journalists. They are being deliberately targeted and I believe you all know it.

Melissa Shutta


Was There a Cheney Shooting Cover-Up?

I noticed that the report about Cheney being “pelted” by shotgun pellets in the late 1990s was an Associated Press release. Now, compare the two incidents, Cheney’s being “pelted” and Whittington’s being “peppered,” as the AP article claims.

Cheney gets “pelted” and gets miffed, Whittington gets “peppered,” falls immediately to the ground, bleeding profusely (per an Italian newspaper quote), Cheney’s on-hand medical team rushes to cover Whittington up so he doesn’t go into shock, an ambulance is called which arrives thirty minutes later, Whittington is rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital from which he is later transported by a medi-vac helicopter to the major trauma unit in South Texas, located in Corpus Christi.

Notice any difference? Someone who is “pelted” or “peppered” gets miffed, but doesn’t end up being rushed to the hospital like Whittington was.

My friends, the cover-up of what really happened that day continues.

And what are they covering up? That Dick Cheney almost killed someone, probably through extreme negligence on his part. Probably because he didn’t have the safety engaged on his shotgun when he should have had it engaged. Probably as they were walking into the field to hunt quail. Probably after they’d all had a few drinks. …

Paul Sorrells
Austin TX


Washington Post Edit Inconsistency Makes It Tough to Be a Reader

I just ran across [Greg Mitchell’s] very well written essay and am moved to send this note of praise. [Mitchell’s] piece was an enlightening pleasure to read. I wish your work, and more like it, was more easily found by the average reader. It has become difficult, frustrating, and time consuming for those of us who want to be informed to actually find out what is going on. The subject Washington Post Op-ed piece is the latest good example.

One can’t help but wonder if the editors at the Wash. Post and newspaper owners understand they are slowly shooting themselves in the foot by converting their newspapers into conveyances of falsehoods. I should think we all want honest government whether its from the right or left and can not understand the thought processes behind a newspaper that, regardless of its editor’s and owner’s political orientation, defend or excuse unethical behavior by those elected to represent us. Right, left, or centrist I don’t care but give me honest facts in honest context. I can take it from their.

I am off now to read some of your earlier articles. I see one about David Brooks. Thanks again and I will be checking E&P on a regular basis looking for your contributions.

Ralph Adams
Westport, CT


Thanks, Mr. Mitchell, for keeping the WaPo editorial staff’s feet to the fire. You’re really helping America stay reality-based.

Joan Panzella
Erie, CO


The error in [Washington Post writers Gellman and Linzer’s] account — and in [Greg Mitchell’s] comment — is as follows:

There were multiple reports of Iraq seeking uranium in Africa. Among these were an October 2002 assertion by the British Government that it had evidence that Iraq sought “significant “amounts” of uranium in AFrica, where there are at least four suppliers (Gabon, South Africa, Namibia and Niger). In addition, there was, according to Amb. Joseph Wilson in his July 6, 2003 NYT op-ed,, a questionable “memorandum of agreement” for the purchase of uranium from Niger by Iraq — a document later proved to be false.

Gellman and Linzer also mention a British parliamentary report as having knocked down the “seeking uranium” story. That report came out July 7 (not in June as they report) and, contrary to the assertion in Gellman and Linzer, only raised questions about the credibility of the British government’s claim, based on two sources. One was Amb. Wilson’s incomplete account, and the other was Andrew Gilligan, a subsequently dismissed BBC reporter whose characterization of remarks made to him by David Kelly, a British intelligence official, was later put in doubt by the Hutton inquiry into Kelly’s suicide. The parliamentary report quotes Britian’s Foreign Secretary and other officials as affirming the existence of reliable intelligence behind the “seeking uranium” claim. The British to this day stand by this story. Far from being “disproved,” the British “seeking uranium ” story line has never been contradicted by solid evidence. It is independent of the evidence that has been discredited, and may for all anyone knows be related to reports concerning countries other than Niger.

With this background clearly in mind, I find the Post’s editorial page account to be accurate, and the Post’s reporting to be unreliable.

Andrew Hamilton
Washington, D.C.

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