TABLOIDS IN REHAB?: It looks like the media tide may be turning for Kate Moss now that she’s checked herself into The Meadows rehabilitation clinic near Phoenix. The Daily Mirror, which broke the story of Moss’ drug problem last month, still refers to her as the “cocaine-snorting model,” although even it has tempered its tone. On Monday, the paper told a heartwarming story of Moss’ reunion with daughter Lila Grace at the clinic, and now it takes pains to point out that Moss is undergoing a “tough regime” there. Its sister paper, The Sunday Mirror, meanwhile, has been flattering Moss, quoting friends who say she’s “cuddly and loving with her little girl.”
The tabloids’ about-face (just last month they were running racy headlines about Moss’ alleged lesbian orgies and louche lifestyle) should come as no surprise. There’s nothing a London tabloid editor likes better than to tear down stars only to build them back up again.
Over the past few weeks, the British broadsheet papers have been more sympathetic. Not long after the scandal, the Independent ran “The Crucifixion of Kate,” naming all the people who “wielded the knife” against her. Sunday Times columnist India Knight lashed out at the fashion industry, saying “[Moss] deserves our pity, not our manufactured moral indignation or condemnation. She’s like a slutty out-of-it child, and slutty out-of-it children only get that way because they’ve been abused in one way or another.” Even the Moss special on Sky One on Monday night took a sympathetic tone, with journalists and others commenting on the model in gentle tones.
So how long will the love-in last? Moss won substantial, but undisclosed, libel damages earlier this year over claims by the Sunday Mirror that she had collapsed into a cocaine-induced coma in Barcelona in June 2001. But the Daily Mirror pooh-poohs the notion its pursuit of the model is payback for her victory. “It was just a good, old-fashioned tabloid scoop,” said a Mirror group spokeswoman of the front-page photos showing Moss allegedly taking cocaine.
And there’s certainly more where that came from.
— Samantha Conti
CONFIDENTIALLY SPEAKING: Time Inc. editor in chief Norman Pearlstine angered First Amendment purists when he ordered a reporter at Time to reveal the identity of a confidential source. Now he’s writing a book about the ins and outs of confidential sources. The book, “Off The Record: The Use and Misuse of Anonymous Sources,” will be published in 2007 by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. “The experience of the last few months just sort of set me thinking about the broader subject,” Pearlstine said Monday. Facing a grand jury subpoena with backing from the Supreme Court, he instructed Matt Cooper to turn over his notes regarding the Valerie Plame leak to a federal prosecutor. “I wouldn’t have called it the most difficult decision I ever had to make if I didn’t believe that a number of journalists and others whom I respect would take violent exception to what I did,” he said, insisting the book is no mere apologia. “I don’t plan to duck the criticisms. Will I explain my decision? Yes. But I will fail the reader if I don’t also explain why some of my closest friends in the business disagreed with it.”
— Jeff Bercovici
LAST LAUGH: The magazine industry loves a good joke — just not at its own expense. Four days after Jon Stewart laid a comic smackdown on four top editors during an event hosted by the Magazine Publishers of America, many industry voices were still grumbling that MPA had shelled out a quarter of a million dollars ($150,000 for Stewart, another $100,000 for the event, according to a source) only to have “The Daily Show” host question the relevance of print in front of a roomful of advertisers.
And then there were the shots he took at the panelists: Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter, Cosmopolitan’s Kate White, Time’s Jim Kelly and Men’s Health’s David Zinczenko. “I think it’s safe to say we probably all felt a little ambushed,” said White afterward. “We were led to believe it was going to be not a roast or anything of that nature, but a dialogue. The biggest frustration was how poorly prepared he was. He didn’t know where to go, and the only thing to do was get nasty or toss it to the audience.”
Unlike White, Kelly was not surprised since he’d been a guest on “The Daily Show.” “I knew exactly what it would be,” he said. “There’s only one funny person. Do not try to be as funny as he is. Do not try to get as many laughs as he gets.” Kelly acknowledged, however, that he was bothered by Stewart’s characterization of magazines as irrelevant. “It is to me so transparently obvious that for busy people magazines are a necessity, not a luxury. My regret is I didn’t jump in right away and make that point.”
No one took more abuse than Zinczenko, who tried to rattle off some zingers of his own. Stewart responded by calling Men’s Health “so gay,” accusing Zinczenko of “trying to sell me a time-share,” and threatening to wrestle him. “I did what anyone being roasted would do: You grin and bear it, make some attempts at humor to lighten the awkwardness and hope the beating ends soon,” Zinczenko said later.
While the beating is over, the fallout may not be. According to sources, when MPA hired Stewart for the event, it did so with an explicit understanding the comic — and personality on that print rival, television — would not disparage the magazine industry excessively. Some were even suggesting Monday that Stewart’s apparent violation of the agreement could be grounds for withholding part of his fee. But Kelly, at least, thought MPA had no cause for complaint. “If you hire a fire-eater to come to your party, the curtains are going to get singed,” he said.