Yesterday, website The Smoking Gun posted a suit filed by Ms. Pauley against the New York Times Co. alleging that she was duped into participating in a special advertising supplement by an employee of an outside company -- a person who, the complaint claims, pretended to be a reporter for the Times.
The disputed ad supplement appeared in October 2005 with a big photo of Ms. Pauley and the disclaimer that it "did not involve the reporting or editing staff of The New York Times." Now her suit alleges fraud, false advertising and trademark infringement.
Of course, advertorials are about as rare as Paris Hilton sightings. Last March the Times ran an eight-page ad supplement -- clearly and properly marked as such -- promoting Sudan and arguing that everyone is too focused on Darfur.
But normally the clients themselves provide the sound bites.
The Times said in a brief statement that it believes the case has no merit. "Ms. Pauley's assistant was told that the article for which Ms. Pauley was to be interviewed would appear in a special advertising supplement, and Ms. Pauley agreed to participate," it said. (It is soooo hard to find good help these days.)
Neither Ms. Pauley nor her assistant could be reached this morning. Ms. Pauley's attorneys could not be reached either -- an assistant at Lackenbach Siegel said they were in court until the afternoon.