On Thursday The Observer's Foster Kamer offered up a delicious media scoop, even if sourced only to anonymous tipsters: That is, that the New York Post's Col Allan had been called a "very, very good friend" by Anna Gristina, the alleged "Mommy Madam" currently being held in Rikers on a charge of promoting prostitution. (Allan has denied any friendship or acquaintanceship, calling the story "outrageous.") And now the New York Post's Jeane MacIntosh has come forward to admit that "Anna Gristina, the notorious soccer mom madam, does have a relationship with someone at the New York Post. It's me."
That relationship appears to be nothing more or less exciting, however, than one between a source and a journalist, and in fact, that's exactly what it is, according to MacIntosh: "Gristina has been a source on several stories I've written for the paper, most notably on Page Six." What stories were they? MacIntosh doesn't say, but that might shed some light into the question of who these alleged, powerful clients actually were. Further, if Gristina is a source of MacIntosh, does that mean she's been getting favorable treatment from the Post throughout the course of this story? Certainly, the Post has seemed to treat her pretty well.
MacIntosh's piece doesn't get into these questions, though, essentially functioning as another denial that Allan has any relationship with Gristina. MacIntosh uses Kamer's story as a reason to check back in with Gristina, whom she visited in Rikers, and ask her about The Observer's story. The PR nature of the MacIntosh story can be underscored by the fact that Rubenstein Communications, which represents the New York Post, alerted us to the fact of its publication. What does Gristina have to say?
“I don’t know who Col Allan is,” she said. “I have never met him. I have never heard his name until today.”
MacIntosh's story includes another denial from Allan, and this quote:
“My attorneys are today filing a formal demand of retraction from the Observer and its publisher," Allan said. “The Observer’s report is nothing but a smear and a lie.”
For such an "outrageous" story, as Allan called it, it sure is involving quite a few people, what with the PR reps, the lawyers, and the New York Post writers working to defend Allan's good name. It's not clear they'll get what they want: The Observer's Elizabeth Spiers told Capital New York's Joe Pompeo that "It doesn't make much sense to retract," and "If [Gristina's] saying now that she doesn't know Col, that's all well and good, but that's not what she said on the surveillance audio according to our sources. It's certainly possible that she could have been lying on the audio." Spiers further clarifies that Kamer didn't report that Gristina was in fact a friend of Allan's, only that she said she was.
That brings us to Former Daily News editor Martin Dunn, who has his own thoughts on The Observer story. Dunn focuses on the second part of Kamer's scoop, that Daily News editors had the surveillance audio revealing a connection between Allan and Gristina but declined to publish a story about it. Dunn, who edited the News back in the good old days of calling people knuckleheads and delivering truckloads of peanuts to rival editors' offices, wonders if all that tabloid-on-tabloid fun is now a thing of the past, replaced with "bores of words" and pun-offs. He suggests that the tabloids have lost their nerve, and that this would have at the very least been a fun battle in earlier days.
We'll have to wait and see. There's always the chance that the information just wasn't there in the first place for the News to publish. On the other hand, if Allan is going for a formal retraction against The Observer for smears and lies, perhaps this "bore of words" is between the Post and The Observer, actually, and doesn't really involve the Daily News at all. Or maybe this is just a good way to get the Madam back in the headlines instead of languishing as she has been at Rikers without a drop of media attention. After all, we've missed her, and this really is the kind of story the tabloids do so well.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.