Scoopable Litter

How Rudy's campaign helped the Post snatch the news from the News

Rudy Giuliani's fundraising may not be presidential yet, but his campaign's seat-of-the-pants media manipulation—another requirement for contenders—is looking pretty good. The result: Giuliani grabbed the front pages of two New York City tabloids on the same day by giving one paper's scoop to the other.

On March 23, both the Post and Daily News splashed on their front pages a revelation about Rudy's wife No. 2, the former Judi Nathan. Her revelation? Rudy is not her husband No. 2 but is really her third. Such news would likely hurt Giuliani only among religious conservatives, and they don't like his gay-people-accepting, abortion-tolerating ways anyway.

So when you're finished gasping at the shocker that Rudy's wife had another prior husband in addition to the one we all knew about and didn't care about, share a smirk at the expense of the Daily News, which thought it had scooped the Post.

"This is clearly our story," grumbles Daily News national editor Mark Mooney. "We got it, and they dumped it on the Post."

Mooney's lament is understandable: The News had done weeks of gumshoe reporting—only its story contained a copy of a marriage certificate unearthed in Las Vegas and divorce papers from Florida.

The Post's Andrea Peyser even admitted in her column that Judi's bombshell was dropped in her lap "like a hand grenade." So why did the Post not only have the story up on its website first, but also get credited by the Times the next day for the scoop?

It was quick thinking by Giuliani spokesman Michael McKeon. He had scheduled interviews with the ex-mayor for the News and the Post—in that order—for Thursday, March 22.

"I had no clue what the Daily News had," McKeon swears. "We made them no promises, and they asked for no promises." Not exactly. There actually had been promises made between the Giuliani campaign and reporters from both the Post and News on the day that Judi shared her little secret. Daily News reporter Heidi Evans went into the 2 p.m. interview with Judi agreeing that the profile would be embargoed until Sunday, according to Mooney and Giuliani campaign officials.

"She asked, 'Well, what if she makes news?' " Mooney recalls his reporter saying, to which McKeon replied, " 'Oh, she's not making any news.' He had no intention of releasing that that day."

But during the interview, the News' Evans pressed the issue. "She did not admit that she had been married another time, despite several questions that gave her an opening, until she was asked straight out whether Bruce Nathan was her first husband," Mooney says. "She said, 'No, my first husband was Jeffrey Ross.' "

McKeon, who says the campaign was in control of this info all along, did some quick thinking. So right after that interview, Judi went ahead and spilled the same beans to the Post. And there went the News' exclusive.

Judi showed she's hip to such maneuvers when she told Barbara Walters, on a 20/20 segment that aired at the end of that week, why she had kept the fact hidden from the public.

"So it wasn't that you were keeping it hidden. It's that nobody brought it up?" Walters asked.

"That's correct," Judi replied, blinking nervously. "That's absolutely correct. And, when I was asked, we discussed it. That was my decision."

 
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