A Bumpy Subway Series Has Newspaper Editors Reaching for Maalox

There seems to be no limit–other than what the presses can handle each night–to the number of pages, column inches

There seems to be no limit–other than what the presses can handle each night–to the number of pages, column inches and words that the New York newspapers are willing to publish each day on the Subway Series.

“I’m having the best time of my life,” said New York Post editor in chief Ken Chandler. “It doesn’t get much better than this for a paper like the Post .” He conceded, however, that he isn’t among those who have to stay past midnight to close the paper after each marathon game. That unenviable task is in the hands of Post editor Xana Antunes and the special Subway Series task force the Post has put in place, led by sports editor Greg Gallo. “We’re working like dogs,” Mr. Gallo said.

Game 1 on Saturday night, Oct. 21, was an extra-inning affair that ended after 1 a.m. That was nearly the worst-case scenario for nervous circulation managers worried about getting papers to the newsstands on time. “Managing the deadlines was almost as exciting as the games themselves,” said Daily News president Les Goodstein. Though Sunday print-runs are the largest of the week, at least Mr. Goodstein and his colleagues at the Post and The Times don’t have to worry about the early commuter rush.

“On Saturday night, when the game seemed like it would go on all weekend, we essentially held up the presses until the game ended, with the amazing results that more than 800,000 papers had game results,” said Bill Keller, the managing editor of The New York Times . “Twelve innings on a weeknight would blow our Maa-lox budget for life.”

The Time s has had some problems. The front page and the sports section on Monday, Oct. 23, had no color pictures. That nostalgic version of The Times, Mr. Keller said, was due to a glitch in the “image servers” that popped up late Sunday night. The problem was eventually fixed.

The Series definitely has been good for the news business. Mr. Goodstein said the News had increased its print-run by 70,000 to 80,000 copies a day. During the week leading up to Game 1 on Saturday, when all the papers were in full-hype mode, Mr. Chandler said the Post’s circulation in the city was up, on average, by 60,000 copies a day.

Just how big a story is the Subway Series? The Times, which isn’t known to goose its front page with sports scores, has been publishing a “skyline”–an italic headline above the banner–with game results. Mr. Keller said the skyline allows The Times to acknowledge the Series result without squeezing hard news. “They let a reader passing a newsstand know that we’re treating the series as a very big deal, without crowding the Presidential campaign or conflict in the Middle East below the fold,” he said.

Beyond deadline problems, the Subway Series presented editors with the issue of who would write the lead game story each day. After all, each paper has separate beat reporters for the Yankees and the Mets. The Times and the Post are following might be called the designated-writer rule: If it’s a Yankees’ home game, the Yankee beat reporter gets the lead story. So the Post’s George King and The Times ‘ Buster Olney had the big assignments for Games 1 and 2.

Last spring, writer John Connolly lost his contract to write a book about the private lives of the legal team in Kenneth Starr’s Office of the Independent Counsel. The deal with Talk Miramax Books fell through after Matt Drudge reported in June that Mr. Connolly’s book would identify “no less than six gays” involved in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and that Mr. Connolly, a former cop, had hired a private investigator.

Mr. Connolly responded in July by filing a lawsuit against Hariette Surovell, an assistant he had hired to work on the book, alleging that Ms. Surovell gave Mr. Drudge copies of the manuscript. (She claimed she was still owed $500 for her work.) The suit asks for $2.25 million, though it is unlikely Ms. Surovell, a freelance writer living in the East Village, has that kind of money.

According to e-mail messages between Ms. Surovell and Mr. Drudge obtained by Off the Record, it appears that Ms. Surovell had been discussing Mr. Connolly’s book with Mr. Drudge since last spring. Ms. Surovell wrote Mr. Drudge on April 26 to warn him of Mr. Connolly’s work. “Matt,” she wrote, “I know a so-called ‘writer’ here in NYC who is trying to publish some very evil shit about you … he may just do it. I recommend a pre-emptive strike, which I can easily machinate.”

Minutes later, Mr. Drudge responded, “What is it? Who is it? John Connolly? Details! Details!” Ms. Surovell replied in part: “I have the originals of everything he is ‘trying’ to get published.”

Ms. Surovell later e-mailed what appears to be an introduction to The Insane Clown Posse , in which Lucianne Goldberg is referred to as an “aging fag hag” and Linda Tripp a “middle-aged and disgruntled divorced mother of two.” These references were later included in the June 5 Drudge Report story about Mr. Connolly’s book.

On May 13, Ms. Surovell wrote, “Are you receiving every insane e-mail in its insane entirety?”–an apparent reference to the title of Mr. Connolly’s book. Mr. Drudge responded, “I got 3 e-mails.”

On June 2, Ms. Surovell asked Mr. Drudge when he was going to publish his story about the book. Mr. Drudge replied, “Moving into action early next week.” Two days later, Ms. Surovell wrote, “Matt, promise me that soon the ‘ex-cop’ will be lucky to land a gig as a security guard for Wal-Mart.”

Mr. Drudge’s first article was posted on June 5, and Mr. Connolly’s book contract was canceled on June 9. Talk officials said that Mr. Drudge’s reports had nothing to do with the cancellation.

Ms. Surovell’s lawyer, Mark Smith, said he wouldn’t discuss the specifics of the case, saying, “Ms. Surovell denies all allegations of wrongdoing and believes this lawsuit to be nothing more than a meritless nuisance suit.” Mr. Smith said Mr. Connolly is the only one to blame for losing his book contract. “Mr. Connolly is trying to convince the public that Hariette destroyed his book deal when the reality appears to be that Talk Miramax decided not to publish the book for reasons that had nothing to do with any alleged leak, Matt Drudge or my client,” Mr. Smith said. “If Mr. Connolly wants to blame someone for deep-sixing his book deal with Talk Miramax, then perhaps he should talk to Tina Brown or look at himself in the mirror.”

Mr. Drudge told Off the Record he would not reveal his sources. When he was read quotations from his e-mail exchanges, he said he “could not recall” the messages. He added, “I would have paid cash for John Connolly’s manuscript because I believe the White House advised and helped on this project, and if that’s the case, it would have been one hell of a story.”

There has been no progress in the litigation between Mr. Connolly and Ms. Surovell. Mr. Connolly’s attorney said he expects to begin the deposition process shortly.

Esquire writer Scott Raab thinks Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo has the right stuff to be President one day, and in the magazine’s November issue he explains why. He and the Secretary were together on a plane ride from Albany to Massena, N.Y., as the weather started getting rough. Mr. Raab was growing mighty uneasy as the six-seater plane bounced around. Mr. Cuomo, however, was the model of self-control. ” What? ” Mr. Raab quotes him as saying. “You wanna live forever?”

Mr. Raab calls it a “sort of fuck-it dash” that shows Mr. Cuomo has sprezzatura , a 15th-century Italian word which is defined as the characteristic of “the perfect prince,” “natural and flowering esprit–transparent and spontaneous.” ( Attaboy, Dan Klores! The publicist is a close friend of Mr. Cuomo and the flack for Esquire . He also represents The New York Observer .)

It’s a pretty good anecdote. Astute observers of New York politics were struck by the similarities to a famous story about Mr. Cuomo’s father, former Governor Mario Cuomo. Back in 1987, the elder Cuomo was flying from Albany to Traverse City, Mich. in his state plane along with reporters Adam Nagourney, then of the Daily News and now at The New York Times , and Paul Taylor of The Washington Post . “We were way up in the air, about 20 miles outside of Albany when, all of a sudden, the starboard engine just stops,” Mr. Nagourney told Off the Record. “I’m watching as the propeller just slowly spins to a stop.” The Governor, however, showed no sign of concern and continued yammering to the reporters. But Mr. Cuomo did notice that Mr. Nagourney was pale with fear.

Asked the Governor: “What’s the matter, Adam? Aren’t you in a state of grace?”

The plane was forced to make an emergency landing back in Albany.

We gave Mr. Raab the benefit of the doubt and assumed he was making an artful allusion between Cuomo padre e figlio . “It’s not intentional at all,” he said. “I knew nothing about it.”

The junior Mr. Cuomo, whose speaking style can sound awfully familiar to a certain former Governor, also didn’t recall the long-ago display of nonchalance in the skies. “He is not similiar with the quote about his dad,” said a spokeswoman for the Housing Secretary.

Noting that Mr. Cuomo is married to Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, Mr. Raab added, “I was more thinking, he sure does have a devil-may-care attitude in a small plane for a guy married into the Kennedy family.”

It was no surprise when The New Republic endorsed Al Gore for President in its Oct. 30 issue. The magazine’s owner and editor in chief, Marty Peretz, has ties to Mr. Gore going back to when he taught the future Vice President as an undergraduate at Harvard.

What was surprising, however, was the tepid tone of the unsigned 1,900-word editorial, which was written by New Republic editor Peter Beinart. The first substantive reference to Mr. Gore comes 715 words deep, and it describes the Vice President’s positions on taxes and entitlements as “not flawless.”

The editorial spends nearly 1,000 words bashing Mr. Bush. Just 450 are devoted to praise for Mr. Gore. Mr. Beinart thought the endorsement had it right. “To some degree it’s important to spend a fair amount of time in the editorial detailing Bush’s plans,” he said. “They really represent a serious attempt to put into play some of the more radical ideas the Republican has had in recent years, and that Al Gore essentially represents continuity with the fiscal conservatism we feel has served the country very well.” A Bumpy Subway Series Has Newspaper Editors Reaching for Maalox