There’s one intriguing scoop in the ongoing saga of the Soccer Mom Madam, Anna Gristina, that you’re not likely to read about in the New York Post.
According to multiple sources familiar with the situation—none of whom were willing to be identified, 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. UPDATED.
More surprising, especially to newsroom sources at the Post’s bitter tabloid rival, the New York Daily News, which has been sitting on the explosive tidbit, is that the story hasn’t appeared in its pages either.
On March 8, 2012, the Daily News reported: “Upstate soccer mom Anna Gristina, in secretly recorded conversations, boasted about her insider informants throughout law enforcement: the NYPD, the DEA, the FBI and ICE,” the paper said, noting that the information came from “several conversations obtained by The News.”
Col Allan’s name, which was mentioned by Ms. Gristina in those conversations, did not appear in the story.
Ms. Gristina reportedly boasted of her years-long close association with the editor, whom she referred to as a “very, very good friend,” and explained that she had personally been responsible for tips leading to more than a few of the Post’s most memorable cover stories.
The Manhattan DA’s office would not confirm or deny Mr. Allan being named by Ms. Gristina in evidence, or whether or not Mr. Allan could be deposed for the investigation, explaining that they do not comment on ongoing cases.
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.
The notorious madam bragging of a bond with Col Allan is exactly the kind of story that one could reasonably expect to land on the front cover of the Daily News, replete with a glorious, wordplay-driven headline—COL GIRL, perhaps.
The idea of an editor of the News protecting his bitter opponent might seem odd to readers who have followed the papers’ longtime war. Indeed, many speculated after Mr. Myler was hired by New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman in January that the competition was about to heat up. For instance, Lloyd Grove at The Daily Beast called it ”[New York Daily News owner Mort] Zuckerman’s declaration of war on Murdoch’s News Corp.”
And Mr. Myler has some reasons to go after News Corp. His last job was as the editor of the recently-deceased News of the World, Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid that was one of the biggest casualties phone-hacking scandal. After Rupert and James Murdoch testified that they had no knowledge of the phone hacking going on at News of the World, and furthermore, that the Murdoch family had been let down by the paper’s brass, Mr. Myler asserted otherwise.
So what possible reason could Myler have to hold fire on such a potentially incendiary, classic tabloid cover story?
“Why do you think it didn’t run?” one former Post reported laughed. “Colin was a former right-hand to Col.” The source was referring to a period before Mr. Myler’s News of the World tenure, when he served as Mr. Allan’s top deputy at the Post from 2003 to 2007. A call to Mr. Myler was not returned, and a spokesperson for the Daily News declined comment on the story on behalf of the paper; repeated requests for comment from Col Allan and a New York Post spokesperson were not returned. [UPDATED: Mr. Allan has since denied ever meeting Ms. Gristina, having any connection to her, or having any connection to her business. More below.] When reached by phone, Joanna Molloy—the lead writer on the Daily News’ filings about the surveillance audio—declined to comment. Janon Fisher—another one of the writers on the story—referred us to the piece’s editor James Fanelli; a request for comment from Mr. Fanelli was not returned.
Interestingly, the Post has been slow off the mark on the Anna Gristina story from the beginning. It was broken by hyperlocal journalism startup DNAinfo, in particular plucky Columbia Journalism grad Shayna Jacobs and crack investigative reporter Murray Weiss (formerly of the Post). The day after DNAinfo broke the story, the Daily News put it on page one. The Post ran a short item on page 5.
The story did eventually land on the Post’s cover—with a shot of Ms. Gristina in a sensationally sexy pose and an exclusive interview with the alleged madam, from Rikers Island. Coverage of the Gristina case by the Post has been noted by others as “[seemingly] sympathetic” and “nice”.
Sources tell The Observer that since breaking the Anna Gristina story for DNAinfo, Shayna Jacobs has been hired by the New York Daily News. Ms. Jacobs declined to comment for the Observer.
At least one onlooker has noted the many, many favorable items about Ms. Gristina’s suspiciously Pro-Bono lawyer, Pete Gleason—who once represented a former Post writer in court as the plaintiff in a civil suit against ConEd, and who the Post called in a print headline a “Lawyer With a Heart of Gold”—that have appeared in the Page Six column and paper over the years.
What’s not yet known is how close Mr. Allan and Ms. Gristina were or what other boldfaced names her operation was reportedly intimately familiar with, beyond John Edwards.
Know anything more? Drop us a line.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for the New York Post emails in a response on behalf of Col Allan. The comment:
“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 spoken to me, I would have told him as much.”
As previously mentioned, The Observer reached out to Mr. Allan prior to publication for this story, as well as representatives for the Post.
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