[Marxism] A New York Observer Article Brings a Spat in Trump’s Orbit

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Feb 27 06:32:04 MST 2014

The NY Times reports on how a rich asshole named Jared Kushner bought a 
liberal newspaper from Arthur Carter, the former publisher of the Nation 
Magazine and much better than vanden Heuvel, to turn it into something 
analogous to Murdoch's NY Post--an outlet for his personal agenda. Now 
maybe anti-Chavista NYT reporter William Neuman will now stop ranting 
about how pro-Chavez businessmen bought up newspapers or television 
stations. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

NY Times, Feb. 27 2014
A New York Observer Article Brings a Spat in Trump’s Orbit

Bill Gifford was managing an ice cream shop in Maplewood, N.J., last 
summer when a customer, Ken Kurson, the editor of The New York Observer, 
came in with an unorthodox request. He wanted Mr. Gifford, a 28-year-old 
political science major who was seeking a new job but had almost no 
journalistic experience, to write an article about the New York attorney 
general, Eric T. Schneiderman.

Mr. Kurson described Mr. Schneiderman as a “bad guy” and a “phony,” and 
hired Mr. Gifford for the writing assignment, Mr. Gifford said. But 
after several weeks, and after being sent negative articles about Mr. 
Schneiderman, Mr. Gifford said on Wednesday, he became convinced that 
the article “was supposed to be basically a smear piece” and he quit the 

The Observer was not deterred. It hired another freelance reporter to 
keep working on the piece, and on Tuesday it published the finished 
product — a searing, 7,000-word indictment of Mr. Schneiderman, 
portraying him as vindictive and politically opportunistic. The article 
also included a robust defense of Donald J. Trump, whose education 
business was being sued by Mr. Schneiderman’s office, seeking $40 
million in restitution. More materially to the critics, Mr. Trump is the 
father-in-law of The Observer’s owner, Jared Kushner, and an 
acquaintance of Mr. Kurson.

In an interview, Mr. Kurson disputed the idea that he tried to use Mr. 
Gifford to smear Mr. Schneiderman, and did not recall being negative 
about the attorney general. An Observer spokesman said, “This is just an 
obvious attempt to distract attention from a substantive, well-written 
article whose facts have not been materially disputed.”

But the tangle of personal connections and the dueling accusations of 
impropriety have prompted a high-level spat involving politics, the law, 
the media and the ubiquitous Mr. Trump.

Mr. Schneiderman’s office said in a statement Wednesday, “It’s a shame 
that a once-great newspaper chose to use its front page to regurgitate a 
discredited complaint filed by the father-in-law of the paper’s publisher.”

Mr. Trump fired back. “Schneiderman is a crook who uses the system 
dishonestly to his own advantage,” he said in an email.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gifford said he had a good idea of his role in the arc of 
the story since his role was first revealed by BuzzFeed. He criticized 
Mr. Kurson reluctantly.

“He does come to my shop, he did want to give me this opportunity,” he 
said, “but I do feel like he might have been using me. To even call me a 
journalist is a reach, and to write such an important piece on an 
important person,” he said, tailing off.

The Observer, bought by Mr. Kushner in 2006 when he was just 25, has 
long traded on its coverage of New York’s boldface names, or those who 
aspired to be among them. It gazed at the rich while skewering them on 
its distinctive pink pages, and nurtured a generation of writers, 
including Candace Bushnell, the author of the Sex and the City column, 
who went on to bigger things.

The paper’s previous editors include Graydon Carter, now the editor of 
Vanity Fair, and Susan Morrison, an editor at The New Yorker. The editor 
perhaps most associated with the paper, Peter W. Kaplan, died of cancer 
last year. He was appointed in 1994 and left the Observer in 2009, as 
Mr. Kushner transformed the paper and cut staff. It has now had six 
editors in eight years.

With the article about Mr. Schneiderman, the paper is caught up in just 
the kind of high-society contretemps it usually relishes. Mr. Trump, a 
real estate developer, is a reality TV star. Mr. Kushner is the son of a 
wealthy New Jersey property developer, Charles Kushner, and is seeking 
to make his mark in the New York media world. He is married to Mr. 
Trump’s daughter Ivanka, an entrepreneur and socialite.
Continue reading the main story

Mr. Kurson is a Kushner family friend and former political consultant 
who has worked closely with Rudolph W. Giuliani. He donated $1,900 to 
the campaign of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey in late 2012, before 
he became the editor of The Observer, according to State of New Jersey 

Mr. Schneiderman’s office said that Mr. Gifford began emailing the 
office and requesting information last summer, as a lengthy 
investigation of Mr. Trump’s for-profit investment school was drawing to 
a close and litigation seemed imminent. Days after Mr. Schneiderman’s 
office announced a lawsuit, accusing Mr. Trump and others involved with 
the school of running it as an unlicensed educational institution and 
making false claims about its classes, the volume of inquiries 
increased, Mr. Schneiderman’s office said.

Suspicions that the article was ordered up as retribution on Mr. 
Schneiderman were fueled in part by a message Mr. Trump had posted on 
Twitter in December, after Vanity Fair published a long article on the 
investigation. He mentioned that there was another publication 
“currently doing a story on me to get even, that I’ll soon discuss!”

Asked about that Twitter comment, Mr. Kurson, who took over as editor 
just over a year ago, said by telephone, “I can’t control what Mr. Trump 
says any more than he can control what goes in The Observer.” He said in 
a later email that he could not recall sending negative stories to Mr. 
Gifford, as Mr. Gifford claimed, or being negative about Mr. 
Schneiderman and “was not trying to get Bill to report anything to suit 
a particular agenda.” Mr. Gifford, he said, had worked for Democratic 
officials in the past.

“The idea that I ‘used Bill’s inexperience’ is an ugly thing to say and 
it’s also wrong,” Mr. Kurson said. “I take seriously The Observer’s long 
history of molding young people into great writers and giving them their 
first opportunities.”

David Granger, the editor in chief of Esquire, where Mr. Kurson had long 
written, spoke warmly of him. “Anybody would have been surprised that 
Ken was named editor of The Observer,” he said, “but he tends to 
engender trust in the people he both works for and is friends with.”

Mr. Kurson is, he said, “one of the most loyal and straightforward 
people I’ve ever met.”

Mr. Kurson denied that Mr. Kushner has any editorial influence. Mr. 
Kushner did not respond to an email seeking comment, and other efforts 
to reach him were unsuccessful.

Through a spokesman, Mr. Trump denied any influence over the story about 
Mr. Schneiderman, and any prior knowledge of its contents beyond being 
interviewed for it.

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