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But it will take more than rhetoric to prevail against the Murdoch machine. Shortly before O'Donnell filed the suit, he says, a Post lawyer proposed that they begin settlement talks. O'Donnell sent a letter summarizing the complaintonly to see the Post use the information to sue Finke, just days before she sued the paper.
The Post's complaint argues that Finke never had an "enforceable agreement" with the paper. It also states that the paper "was notified, post-publication, of serious objections to statements" contained in some of her articles. After investigating the complaints and deciding they had merit, the Post published follow-ups "to correct those errors and the lack of fair reporting" in her work.
Disney has not responded in court. But in a written statement, the company claims that it did nothing wrong and accuses Finke of threatening freedom of speech for those who are covered by the press.
"Finke's truthful and timely reporting is the quintessence of the core values of the First Amendment," counters O'Donnell. "Silencing her by firing her is clearly a violation of the public's right to know, especially Disney shareholders." Of the Post, he says, "First they fire her, then they defame herand then they have the gall to sue her. Desperate people do desperate things, and the Post and Disney are scurrying to cover their tracks, but they've left some indelible footprints."
Post lawyer Slade Metcalf declined to comment. Steven Rubenstein of Rubenstein Associates said the firm had no contact with Ovitz, Miramax, or Disney in regard to Finke's stories, adding, "Ms. Finke's claims about our firm are fiction."