Friday, February 04, 2005

More on Partygate: The Merlot Conspiracy!

Briefly over the telephone earlier today, Beth Solomon, the landlord who filed the lawsuit against Jennifer 8. Lee, told me that she blamed to some degree the New York Times for her plight:

"I trusted her because of her credentials: The New York Times and Harvard," Ms. Solomon said, "I would have checked her out more except for the fact that she worked for the Times."

Further lolling her into complacency, she said, was the fact that the Times paid Lee's rent on the apartment for several months. Indeed, in her complaint against Lee, Solomon alleged: "The New York Times Co. paid the rent and the security deposit for the first three months of the lease."

Catherine Mathis, a spokesperson for the New York Times, said that she could not determine whether or not the apartment was indeed paid for by the newspaper, but would have an answer for me on Monday.

Other portions of the complaint, which was just filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, regarding the Times, read like they could have written by Lyndon Larouche. Here is, in part, what Solomon's complaint further alleges:

"On information and belief, guests [at the infamous parties] included high-level placed sources in the government, particularly at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) n which Lee reported... Other guests included high-level congressional staffers, top aides to Democratic party presidential candidates such as Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. John Edwards, and other influential "newsmakers" in Washington. Among the guests to have been present were Grover Norquist, Zach Exley, Director of, Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson, and columnist Harold Myerson. Lee would use the parties to take [individuals whom] she considered to sources into a back room for merlot where she would conduct informal interviews in order to gain information to be used for the Times."

A couple of observations: First, that Lee offered merlot to her guests at the wild parties in question undercuts that they were, indeed, wild parties. Merlot is not exactly malt liquor.

As for myself, as a long-time investigative reporter, I have never extracted any information of consequence from a recalitrant source by offering a glass of merlot. Any self-respecting journalist knows that the only way to get sources to talk is offering up malt liquor beverages. Most effective for me has been the old reliable Colt 45. (They don't teach this stuff in journalism schools, but here it is for any aspiring investigative reporter: On the Internet.. and for free.)

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