Reading the New York Post's coverage of the Mommy Madam case, one might've been tempted to say that the editors of that paper are in her camp. For one, the paper landed an exclusive interview with the Mommy Madam, née Anna Gristina, in Rikers, while she has not said terribly much to any other media outlet. They kindly describe her as an animal lover, soccer/hockey mom, and, perhaps less kindly, an Uggs-wearer. They've devoted numerous pages, and several covers, to her story, sharing intimate details of the alleged brothel as well as information about Gristina herself. Yet in no instance since the news broke have they shamed or censured Gristina they way they did, for instance, with the woman who accused Greg Kelly of rape. The New York Observer's Foster Kamer has suggested an explanation: Col Allan, editor of the New York Post, is friends with the Mommy Madam herself. Taking it a step further, Kamer also offers an explanation for why he's the first to float this story: Allan is friends with Daily News editor Colin Myler, who used to be Allan's deputy at the Post.
Kamer writes, "According to multiple sources familiar with the situation—none of whom were willing to speak on-record, for fear of retribution—among the names of various powerful men found in transcripts of the surveillance audio from the five-year-long investigation is one prominent media figure: Col Allan, the editor of the New York Post."
Even more sensationally, editors at the Daily News apparently knew about this, and didn't publish it. On March 8, the paper included mentions of “several conversations" they had obtained revealing that Gristina had boasted about having insider informants in positions with the NYPD, DEA, FBI, and ICE. These conversations also, according to Kamer, revealed Gristina's connection to Allan—she described him as a 'very, very good friend'—but no mention of an Allan link appeared in the News' story. At the time, members of the media were poised to jump upon any mention of a possible client-9 or powerful figure related to the case. And yet, despite that...nothing.
Further, the excuse for which it appears the News lost out on what would have been a pretty massive scoop does seem odd. Kamer writes,
"Multiple sources familiar with the situation told The Observer that when presented with the information regarding Mr. Allan, newly installed New York Daily News editor Colin Myler shrugged off its importance, and tabled the item, ostensibly for more in-depth consideration in the immediate future. That didn’t happen. “Colin got whisked away to London. When he got back, the story was dead,” one source explained.
Since when does an editor's vacation prevent news from being broken? Unless...
“Why do you think it didn’t run?” one former Post reported laughed. “Colin was a former right-hand to Col.”'
All this is fodder for more speculation (and "freaking out" at the Post following Kamer's story) but keep in mind nothing has confirmed except by unnamed sources. Kamer writes that the DA's office, for their part, has neither confirmed nor denied that Gristina named Allan, nor would they say whether he'd be deposed in an investigation. So we'll engage in a little speculation ourselves: Could these alleged friendships be why the Post has been so uncharacteristically nice to Gristina? Or is it just that Post editors appreciate the pun-worthiness and sordid trappings of a madam story more than the employees of any other tabloid in town? In any event, there is some sort of tabloid perfection in seeing the New York Post get swept up in a story that was made for the New York Post.
Update: A spokesperson from the New York Post has emailed a response from Allan to The Observer. Unsurprisingly, it's a denial of any connection between Allan and Gristina: “This story is outrageous. I have never met Anna Gristina, I have no relationship with her and I have no relationship with her business. Had the reporter from the NY Observer called me, I would have told him as much.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.