A two-front battle between 'New York' magazine and the 'New York Post'
Writer Andrew Goldman has asked for a retraction from the New York Post after the paper printed an unsigned item accusing him of "collaborating" with billionaire oil magnates and Tea Party funders David and Charles Koch.
The New York Post's latest Media City column, a weekly roundup and rating of magazines, was ostensibly about New York columnist Frank Rich's essay on G.O.P. "sugar daddies" like the Koch brothers. But the column suggested that Rich's piece didn't "have more impact" in part because "this magazine shamefully collaborated with the Koch brothers to publish a softball profile to help them blunt the impact of a hard-hitting exposé that was coming from the New Yorker."
The Post was referring to Goldman's July 2010 New York profile of David Koch, which characterized him as "New York’s second-richest man, a celebrated patron of the arts, and the tea party’s wallet." It ran just a month ahead of Jane Mayer's more aggressive Koch Bros. treatment in The New Yorker, which billed the duo as the "billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama."
In an email to Post business editor Richard Wilner, Goldman called the item "absurd on so many levels" and said it "served to disparage both my ethics as a journalist and the ethics of New York Magazine as a publication. ... I hope that you'll print a speedy retraction."
Wilner did not respond to a request for comment, but he replied to Goldman in an email: "Media City, as you are aware, is a column, an opinion piece. As such, a retraction is not in order. "
Goldman argued that the column had posited a set of facts about his article, even if it only offered its "opinion" about the merits of Rich's.
"It’s unbelievable how full of shit the Post is to label what they wrote ‘opinion,’” he told Capital.
Goldman is a veteran reporter whose current freelance gigs include The New York Times Magazine's "Talk" column. This was nothing new for him. He'd already weathered previous claims (publicly and privately) that his article was an example of carefully brokered positive press.
There was a charge by Center for Public Integrity Founder Charles Lewis, a major source in Mayer's Koch piece, that "the Koch brothers essentially planted a very fawning profile of the Koch brothers in New York magazine ... as a way of preempting the New Yorker article.”
After speaking with Goldman, who explained that he'd been working on the David Koch profile for two years and that he first interviewed his subject in 2008, Lewis retracted the statement and apologized for talking out of turn.
But the claim that New York and Goldman were somehow pawns in a plot to sabotage The New Yorker resurfaced last April, when Mayer was up for a 2011 National Magazine Award, and a rep for Koch Industries was urging the judges not to give her one. She told Post media columnist Keith Kelly at the time: "I called and/or e-mailed every week or so, asking for a chance to talk with the brothers for about five months. The press person at Koch made it sound almost until the end like they might grant an interview with David. Instead, David gave an interview to New York magazine just as we were fact-checking the piece."
“I am so sick of being labeled a Koch brothers shill," said Goldman. "I did nothing sleazy. I interviewed the guy, wrote a warts-and-all piece about him, and since then have been tarred as some sort of right-wing dupe."
A spokeswoman for the Post did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon or early Wednesday morning.
A spokeswoman for New York, meanwhile, would not confirm whether the magazine also had requested a retraction from the Post. But she did have this to say:
Without getting into communications between us and the Post, I can say that their claim is preposterous. Our story on the Koch brothers was in the works for a year before it ran, and was anything but softball. The only way we “collaborated” with them was by running an interview with David Koch, one that, in our opinion, did not serve him well (he says, for example, that global warming is good news since it will make more land available to produce food). [The Post] didn’t make any effort to report [its item] out to back up their claim.
The Koch brothers dust-up isn't the only friction between New York and the Post at the moment.
One story on which Media City did not opine this week was New York's profile of Daily News editor Colin Myler, which addressed the perennial tabloid battle between the News and the Post. In it, writer Steve Fishman attributes through an anonymous source several quotes about Myler to Post editor Col Allan. (In the mid-2000s, Myler was Allan's no. 2 at the Post.)
That prompted an angry letter from Allan to the magazine, which published the missive on its Daily Intel blog on Monday.
"In my view, the only purpose of such invention is mischief," Allan said in the letter, claiming the quotes were fabricated.
Fishman replied, also via Daily Intel: "The source of this quote has been a friend and ally of Col Allan's for years—and invention has never been his/her forte, no matter how much fun mischief may be."