When in doubt, blame the help

By Published on .

As if The New York Times didn't have enough battles to fight, in court and in the media marketplace, now Jane Pauley is royally ticked at it too. Perhaps the most sympathy, though, should be directed at Ms. Pauley's assistant, whom The Times now blames for the mess.

Last week, 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, which included ads for psychotherapeutic drugs sold by Eli Lilly and other pharmaceutical firms, 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, theTimes even 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." Sigh. It is sooo hard to find good help these days.
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