New York Post's Page Six Is Still Scandalous

What Everyone Is Talking About Today

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- For anyone outside of New York City, the hubaloo over Jared Paul Stern must seem odd. National readers of The New York Times may have been puzzled by front page stories on both Saturday and Sunday detailing the thwarted extortion scandal, as well as three other stories and an info graphic sprinkled throughout the paper. The Daily News also did not let up. Neither did Gawker.com, nor did MediaFishbowl New York, the New Yorker's Talk of the Town, or the humble staff here at Watercooler. We still can't stop talking about it.
Jared Paul Stern
Jared Paul Stern Credit: AP


Here's why. You haven't made in it New York as a true player unless you've shown up on Page Six. It's the place where rich people mingle with celebrities and politicians, and getting to be a boldface name there means you've arrived. You're someone so important that your showing up at a nightclub is worth a mention in the paper. But Mr. Stern's behavior has pulled back the curtain definitively on how certain people draw that attention or deflect it. Maybe they don't outright pay for it, but they do manage to manipulate it through a series of favors, quasi-friendships, winks, nods, ratting out other acquaintances and hiring aggressive PR agents who know how to game the system.

This is something savvy readers of Page Six have long understood. Those who like to believe they are in the know read Page Six with an extra level of scrutiny and specialized knowledge, sort of like reading a coded message, and thus have a high success rate in guessing correctly the subjects of blind items. Forget sudoku, real players solve Page Six every day, reading it to determine who's winning and who's losing favor with the fickle spotlight.

So for billionaire Ron Burkle to get Page Six to stop reporting blatantly erroneous sightings and items about him, it seems he had to dive deep into this web of relationships until he found Mr. Stern willing to help him. Mr. Stern's mistake was to make it overt, to ask outright for the cash. For someone who's played the game as long as he has, it's an incredibly stupid mistake. That's why Page Six aficionados and media hounds can't stop talking about it. What a faux pas! What fun is it if anyone can just buy their way in or out of the game? It's like giving away the secret handshake. That's why he must be kicked out of the club. All this coverage? That's the public notice of his ouster.
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