Well, that’s one way of looking at it.

One could argue that Judith Regan was fired because she was a “more or less powerful woman who deserved [her] comeuppance for having achieved unnatural success.”

Or one could argue that Judith Regan was fired because she pushed a how-to book about the violent murder of a woman by her estranged husband despite the fact that it was in consummate bad taste.

We won’t even mention what she got up to with Bernie Friggin’ Kerik overlooking a gravesite.


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34 Responses to Well, that’s one way of looking at it.

  1. Why was Judith Regan so sure that the book O.J. Simpson was going to write, was an actual confession. Only he and his consciencce know what happened the night Nicole Brown Simpson and friend, Ron Goldman were brutally murdered, including Bruno Magli shoes that Simpson had apparently wanted a pair of.

  2. cooper says:

    Sorry if this is not evocative enough of a label, but maybe, just maybe, she was just too tasteless of a human being for even the Rupert empire.

    Why was Judith Regan so sure that the book O.J. Simpson was going to write, was an actual confession.

    I think this misses it. He was *so sure* the book would sell a bajillion copies. I don’t think anything else mattered here.

    If there is a point here about women vs. men, the question shouldn’t be about whether she was right or wrong on any particular point, it is whether a man who published a complete bullshit, yet massively successful book — or was about to do so — would have suffered the same fate. I am not sure the answers are different. The problem Regan faced is she made herself the “brand”. Therefore, to kill the line Rupert had to kill the brand.

  3. cooper says:

    Edit: He was/She was

  4. Twisty says:

    It is misleading to suggest that I “argue” that Judith Regan was fired for “comeuppance” purposes. I mentioned her in my post only because her name was one of five top headlines at the Daily News — all stories of bad shit happening to women — and that her situation fits the template of a popular misogynist narrative.

  5. zuzu says:

    It fits the narrative only on the most superficial level. But once you get beyond that, the narrative doesn’t work anymore. She committed a glaring error in taste and judgment, and utterly misjudged the reception this book would get. Someone was going to have to fall on their own sword, and it wasn’t going to be Murdoch.

  6. ginmar says:

    Huh. So where are all the stories of male comeuppance? On the one hand, you have a teen beauty queen, getting taken to task for her uppityness, Yoke Ono getting taken to task for daring to be stalked, a couple women who died as a result of accidents–see what happens, ladies, when you get uppity and leave the home?—-and a female publisher getting nailed in much the same gleeful way that Martha Stewart was, while rapacious male financial offenders simply disappear till their rehabilitation. All that’s missing from the Regan case is her nasty nickname, granted by the mostly male press. Remember Leona Helmsley? Remember Susan Smith, while male child murderers simply disappear? Male offenders are always unique individuals, while women are just part of a vast herd of those damned women. Men get the benefit of the doubt. Women don’t—especially when they’re not cute docile women.

    What would a guy have to do to arouse such venom? (If he doesn’t fit the paper’s pre concieved biases, then he won’t be subjected to the same standard as uppity women.) When men slam other men, it’s always cartoonish and superheroish: “He ought to be tossed off a cliff! I’d kill a rapist! I’d torture a—” Except if it’s his buddy or brother of friend.

    The story you cite, Zuzu, is appallingly sexist. Are you really citing slut bashing as a defense of your standards? “Frisky.” “Catnip to the ladies.” This is your idea of—-what, exactly?

  7. ginmar says:

    And—Hyena? Gee, a dog-like animal. Hm, what could this be a synonym for?

  8. kate says:

    I see both points, of zuzu’s and of Twisty’s. Regan was careless and got ahead of herself, seems she lost her ability for objectivity somewhere along the way of her success. Which is a tragic thing to see occur to any person who allows the elixer of their own success dull their sense of parameters.

    But, and I say BUT zuzu, I don’t appreciate the seething, judgemental article you linked to in the Daily News, that harps incessantly on Regan’s affair with the police commissioner. Yes, its immoral, yes its bad judgement. But if I had a dollar for every assbag man I’ve seen trumpeted as a hero, or a Great Success worthy of Emulation while his slippery zipper is ignored, I’d be rich by now.

    That’s the mysoginy that I see.

  9. ginmar says:

    You mean you don’t like her being called poorly-disguised new versions of old slut shaming terms? That article is vile. She’s being criticized for her ability to fuck whom she wants.

  10. AndyS says:

    “… if I had a dollar for every assbag man I’ve seen trumpeted as a hero, or a Great Success worthy of Emulation while his slippery zipper is ignored …” Like Rudy Giuliani or Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich or JFK? Yep, there a lot of them.

    If the Daily News just said Regan was sleeping around you’d have a good point, Kate. But I think that in this case it was who she was associating with — another, high profile asshole — that makes it fair game.

  11. zuzu says:

    She’s not being criticized for fucking who she wants, but the fact that she was fucking the then-Police Commissioner *in an apartment overlooking Ground Zero that had been set aside for the use of rescue workers.* Where he also fucked his other mistress, a prison guard.

    This also all came out when Kerik was up for Secretary of Homeland Security, so it was really his zipper that was being scrutinized. And his use of the apartment, and his mobbed-up contractor, and his suspicioulsy lavish apartment, and his possibly fictitious illegal-alien nanny.

  12. zuzu says:

    The story you cite, Zuzu, is appallingly sexist. Are you really citing slut bashing as a defense of your standards? “Frisky.” “Catnip to the ladies.” This is your idea of—-what, exactly?

    If I had any idea what you were citing as my “standards,” I might know how to answer that.

    This is, I suppose, my idea of linking to a tabloid story that references the revelation of Kerik’s carrying on with Regan in an apartment meant for the use of rescue workers. Citation isn’t endorsement of every last word in it.

  13. Mnemosyne says:

    According to today’s Los Angeles Times, Regan was fired after making an “offensive” phone call to one of the Harper/Collins lawyers: http://tinyurl.com/ydpycg

    Just in case anyone wants to add any, y’know, facts to the debate.

  14. adkay says:

    Judith Regan is condemned for sluttiness–yetle Kerik’s buddy Guiliani, whose horrible behavior to both his family and to a succession of girlfriends is well documented, is a serious contender for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

  15. zuzu says:

    Maybe because of a) 9/11; and b) the people talking about Giuliani for President weren’t keeping track of the coverage of his affairs in the New York tabs — the same ones going after Regan for her graveside afternoon delight with Kerik.

    Look, I cite that article because it shows that she’s a scumbag and has been for a long time. The woman who sought to make millions of dollars off the exploitation of another woman’s brutal murder is the same one who thought it was a great idea to meet her Police Commissioner boyfriend for trysts in an apartment that someone had donated so that the people who were digging through the rubble for bodies at the World Trade Center could rest. That the tabs used sexualized and misogynist language to describe her does not weigh against her being a scumbag.

  16. Esme says:

    zuzu: The point that they’re all trying to make isn’t that she was a bad person; it seems indisputable that she lacked quite a bit of moral fiber. The point isn’t that she deserved to lose her job or reputation. The point is that she in particular is singled out, that her fall is so well publicized, that the attacks on her are so linked to her sex and sexual history, when her actions seem remarkably similar to those of many men whose falls either never happen, or are not publicized.

    It’s remarkably similar to the Martha Stewart situation. Stewart got nailed for something similar to Bill Clinton: not the act herself which is found to be morally repugnant, but for lies told to cover up the act (with the act not actually being illegal). And yet, her trial came after a seemingly endless stream of revelations about company leadership which bilked millions of people out of pensions, savings, and investments (all of which involved male leadership). But how many cameras did CourtTV have poised outside their trials? Did they even have trials? We don’t know. But all of us know that Martha Stewart went to jail. All of us had to change the channel repeatedly to escape the endless coverage. And all of us seem to think she had it coming for being mean in her personal and professional life.

    That is the point with Judith Regan. It was Murdoch who was all set to publish the book until public outcry led him to the conclusion that financially speaking it was better to kill the book. But whose name is being dragged through the mud? Whose sex life are we digging into and obsessing over?

  17. zuzu says:

    Oh, Esme, not the Martha Stewart vs. Ken Lay thing again.

    Martha Stewart lied to the FBI, which is what she got nailed for. Because it’s a crime, even if she did not actually engage in insider trading, which is what the FBI was investigating. One or two phone calls, one or two lies. Easy peasy.

    The comparison of her case to Dennis Kozlowski or Ken Lay makes my teeth hurt (and yes, Kozlowski had two trials, in which the details of the ice sculpture for his wife’s birthday party on Sardinia paid for with corporate funds as well as the exorbitant cost of his umbrella stand and his shower curtain were breathlessly detailed).

    I worked on an Enron document review for one of the civil cases. There were 12 MILLION pages of documents, and hundreds of thousands of transactions, some of which were legal, some not. It was hard to pin anything on Lay until Skilling and some of the other guys flipped.

    As far as a prosecution, Martha Stewart’s was way the fuck easier. And for a tabloid narrative, also easier, because the issues were easy to understand. But the fact that she got her name dragged through the mud and it was over-covered and overly-gleefully-covered doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have been prosecuted. The fact that her case went to trial way before Ken Lay’s doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have been prosecuted.

    And OF COURSE Regan’s name is being dragged through the mud. It’s the name of the imprint. She’s the one who interviewed him on camera for a special to air on Fox as part of the package. She’s the one who defended the utterly tasteless and exploitative book by referring to her own domestic abuse. She’s the celebrity publisher responsible for the content and the promotion of the book — which, I again remind you, was an attempt to generate huge profits from a description of the brutal murder of a woman by her husband, the celebrity author OJ Simpson, represented by one Judith Regan.

    And, seriously, are we surprised that Murdoch isn’t going down over this? That’s why he has underlings. Even still, as the story Mnemosyne links makes clear, she wasn’t actually fired until she abused one of the Harper Collins attorneys over another one of her projects that was shaping up to be a PR nightmare.

    Lupica’s column is less obsessed about her “sex life” as her bottom feeding — and the fact that her affair with Kerik was carried out WHERE it was and WHEN it was goes to her bottom-feeding. Nobody would care much beyond gossiping a bit if she and Kerik had met up in midtown in a friend’s place. It’s the fact that he commandeered an apartment that had been donated for rescue workers to use — and that she knew that and went along with that — that’s so offensive about this story.

  18. Dana says:

    But if you excuse sexist language in “bringing down a scumbag” simply *because* it is “bringing down a scumbag,” you’re saying it’s worth it to bring down the entire gender for the sake of pointing out that one member of it is a scumbag. Why the hell do I have to be lumped in with this idiot? I don’t even know her. So why is getting on her case about her gender in any way acceptable?

    Is the tabloid press completely incapable of pointing out a person’s shortcomings without attempting to implicate everyone else in that person’s demographic group?

    Why are YOU endorsing such implication?

  19. ginmar says:

    You’re not endorsing every word in it, Zuzu, but which ones are your endorsing, and how are we supposed to tell? The article is appallingly sexist, which was kind of Twisty’s point. And Martha Stewart and all the rest got nailed for being Female While Uppity, no matter what you think. Their treatment in the press is markedly different from the treatment that men recieve. So where’s the eternal press damnation for Charles Rothenberg, who set fire to his young son when he didn’t get custody of the kid? Nope, it’s all Andrea Yates, all the time. Where’s the coverage of men who kill their kids to hurt their wives? The press is too busy demonizing Yates or Smith.

  20. zuzu says:

    But if you excuse sexist language in “bringing down a scumbag” simply *because* it is “bringing down a scumbag,” you’re saying it’s worth it to bring down the entire gender for the sake of pointing out that one member of it is a scumbag.

    Where did I say that? Where did I excuse sexist language, specifically? Where did I say that it was okay to do that in “bringing down a scumbag”?

    I said that she’s a scumbag, and remains a scumbag despite the misogynist language used to describe her. Kind of like the way I can think that Ann Coulter is a scumbag and that that doesn’t change if someone calls her a cunt.

    Ginmar, when you’re saying Martha Stewart and all the rest (by which I presume you mean Leona Helmsley) got nailed for being Female While Uppity, are you talking about their prosecution or their treatment in the media? Because if you’re limiting that to treatment in the media, I will agree with you up to a point, particularly wrt the different ways that mothers who kill their children and fathers who do so are treated. But if you’re going to argue that the only reason Stewart and Helmsley got prosecuted is that they’re uppity, then that’s just bullshit. Stewart got caught lying to the FBI during an investigation into insider trading, and Helmsley had a little problem with tax fraud and tax evasion.

    It’s entirely possible both that they’re guilty and that they’ve been treated unfairly by the media.

    Keep in mind, as well, that the Daily News is the rival to the Murdoch-owned New York Post, so of course they’re going to be extra gleeful in denouncing someone who’s part of the Murdoch media empire.

  21. zuzu says:

    Also, Ginmar, you haven’t addressed Regan’s exploitation of Nicole Brown Simpson’s brutal murder and her cozy business relationship with the murderer. Neither did Twisty, as far as I could tell. Seems to me that’s a little more serious than someone calling her frisky.

    I’d really like to know your stance on that.

  22. Esme says:

    Then we should feel free to discuss that. Perhaps a discussion of how women can still exploit other women and violence against them is merited. But that’s not what you’re arguing. You’re arguing ad hominem attacks about the woman’s sex life, when the point at issue isn’t Regan’s character, it’s how she is treated in the press as compared with men.

    NONE OF US are saying that Regan’s actions are excuseable (the exact same way I nowhere in my post said I thought Stewart’s actions were excuseable). What we’re discussing is the difference in the coverage.

    “Martha Stewart lied to the FBI, which is what she got nailed for. Because it’s a crime, even if she did not actually engage in insider trading, which is what the FBI was investigating. One or two phone calls, one or two lies. Easy peasy.”

    That’s my point. Martha Stewart got nailed for lying to the FBI. Not for insider trading. She got publicly crucified for lying to the FBI in an investigation into something where she more than likely did not actually commit a proveable crime. I’m not saying that lying to the FBI isn’t serious. I’m not saying that she didn’t do something to merit investigation, prosecution, or jail time. What I’m saying is that they AVIDLY persued the case against her, that it was publicized by the media as a ball busting bitch getting her comeuppance, and that even feminists or profeminist men didn’t object to the sexist language used against her because it was seen as merited because in her personal life, she wasn’t nice.

    None of us seem to care about how Kenneth Lay acted in his private life, and the media certainly never seems to cover it. I don’t know if he was an asshole to people who worked for him, or if he was a huge prick to everyone around him. People focused on his crime, not him. And it was only because of the sheer enormity of his crime and the huge pool of his victims that anyone really seemed to give a rat’s ass about Kenneth Lay.

    Rupert Murdoch is pretty much the textbook definition of immoral. He will change his stance to pro-totalitarianism if it would make him more money and get him more power. He uses his massive media influence to impress his political beliefs upon the millions who are exposed to his media empire, and has no problem with firing people from his media outlets for holding opposing political views. But the press doesn’t talk about who he’s had sex with or where. The press doesn’t call him a bitch. The press hasn’t spent the time since this book deal was announced calling him a hyena or an asshole or talking about his taste in women. They haven’t asked just how low his morals will allow him to go. They haven’t spent this interval digging into his personal life, calling him “frisky” or insulting him with ad hominem attacks.

    You linked to the NY Daily News article, and you did it in such a manner that indicated that you thought it had merit, that it somehow proved Twisty wrong. You’ve indicated that somehow, press treatment of women who have done bad things is not up for question, because they have it coming.

    Sexist language isn’t okay, no matter who it’s directed at. Twisty never said Regan was an angel, never said that the book deal wasn’t despicable. She was referring to the manner in which the press has treated her, as compared with how the press treats men.

  23. zuzu says:

    Then we should feel free to discuss that. Perhaps a discussion of how women can still exploit other women and violence against them is merited.

    That’s why I mentioned it in the post. You know, to show that Regan did something other than be female and successful to merit getting canned.

    But that’s not what you’re arguing. You’re arguing ad hominem attacks about the woman’s sex life, when the point at issue isn’t Regan’s character, it’s how she is treated in the press as compared with men.

    Show me where I’m arguing that in my brief three-paragraph post. I took issue with Twisty’s assertion that Regan was fired for being uppity, suggested that another reason had to do with her utter bungling of a book and media event exploiting another woman’s brutal murder, and for good measure, threw in a reference to her misuse of city resources with Bernie Kerik. And I have explained in detail in comments what I thought was objectionable about her affair with Kerik — not that she fucked him, because she was an adult and single at the time — but where she did it and when. Which is also what Lupica is arguing, even if he uses words like “frisky” and “catnip.” He’s arguing that her involvement in the OJ book shows the same kind of lack of a moral compass that her carrying on an affair with Kerik in a misappropriated apartment meant for rescue workers did.

    Keep in mind as well that all of this information came out because the tabs were following Kerik and released all this when he was nominated to a Cabinet post. They also wrote about the other mistress he took there, who was a corrections officer for whom he’d secured favors while he headed the Department of Corrections. And the tabs also had a field day with his boss Giuliani and his peccadilloes before he became America’s Mayor.
    Or don’t you remember the breathless coverage of the goings-on at Gracie Mansion?

    That’s my point. Martha Stewart got nailed for lying to the FBI. Not for insider trading. She got publicly crucified for lying to the FBI in an investigation into something where she more than likely did not actually commit a proveable crime. I’m not saying that lying to the FBI isn’t serious. I’m not saying that she didn’t do something to merit investigation, prosecution, or jail time. What I’m saying is that they AVIDLY persued the case against her, that it was publicized by the media as a ball busting bitch getting her comeuppance, and that even feminists or profeminist men didn’t object to the sexist language used against her because it was seen as merited because in her personal life, she wasn’t nice.

    You know, that’s what Scooter Libby got nailed for, too. And there were an awful lot of people cheering on Patrick Fitzgerald. Does that mean that either one of them shouldn’t have to pay for their crimes?

  24. Thomas says:

    Actually, what Martha did that really got her in trouble was that she walked into a prosecutor’s office and tried to talk her way out of it, and she lied. Federal prosecutors, IME, take their jobs seriously and listen seriously when someone says, “it’s really not what it looks like. I’ll tell you what really happened, and I didn’t do anything wrong.” Capable criminal defense attorneys will not let their clients have that conversation unless what their client intends to say is true (or at least matches all the evidence the Feds are likely to have) — not only because the actual lie to the prosecutors is a felony, but also because it blows any goodwill and really convinces them that the defendant deserves to be prosecuted. If she had kept her mouth shut, she would have walked.

    Judith Regan apparently got fired in part for being an anti-semite. I’m really okay with firing someone for making anti-semitic remarks to coworkers. Also, she undermined her own parent company in the media and embarassed Rupert Murdoch (that egomaniac right-wing piece of shit). Either of those things is a firing offense in most of the corporate world.

    If someone is looking for an example of a powerful woman taken down for being a powerful woman, Carly Fiorina is a better case. Her business decisions are arguable, but it seems clear to me that the knives were out for her.

  25. Thomas says:

    BTW, I am neither taking issue with what Twisty wrote nor with the article Zuzu linked, neither of which I have read. I do think that the media portrayal of failures of prominent women follow a misogynist don’t-get-above-your-station model; they are often openly gleeful in slamming women for behavior regularly viewed as innocuous or even desirable in men. I’m only speaking to the actual causes of the events, as opposed to how the media chooses to portray them.

  26. raging red says:

    I’d just like to point out that the article zuzu linked to is not the same article that Twisty linked to. Zuzu’s link is to an article that was written in November, before Regan was fired. I think some people are conflating the two articles and making it seem like zuzu linked to an article about Regan’s firing that also contains irrelevant salacious details about her sex life. The article that is about Regan’s firing mentioned the affair with Kerik once, at the bottom of the page, as part of a timeline of Regan’s career. The article that contains details of the affair is not part of the coverage of Regan’s firing, since it was written before that even happened.

  27. It’s important to separate the media coverage from the story. Yes, the New York tabloid press is using a sexist narrative to describe Reagan’s downfall. Yet, as we all know, the NYDN narrative is more or less independent of the facts.

    In this case, Reagan richly deserved to get fired. We’ll never know whether a male executive who fucked up exactly the way she did would have gotten canned. The point is she deserved to be fired for her role in the whole OJ saga.

    Of course, there’s a confound because she got fired in part because she was getting so much bad media attention. There might have been a sexist vicious cycle: The media freak out for partly sexist reasons, Reagan’s PR backfires for partly sexist reasons, the company takes a bath on the book because there’s a public outcry. So in one sense, Reagan’s gender-neutrally responsible. She brought on the whole debacle. On the other hand, the fact that the project failed may have had something to do with sexism. (Not that the project deserved to succeed.)

  28. This is totally unrelated to Judith Regan but it certainly deserves to be filed under Assholes. Just read the most ridiculous and offensive reponse to the Suffolk Strangler murders, in which people have been publicly outraged about the killings of five prostitutes. But this guy reminds us that there’s no use crying over dead hookers.

  29. bmc90 says:

    Over at Atrios this week was a post detaling all of Judith’s interviews with Fox slamming Clinton over the Lewinsky affair, and REALLY laying it on thick (bad example for children, my family is Catholic and we don’t cheat – on and on – different occasions). Her hypocracy if nothing else is a one way ticket to major vilification in my book. People like her led the drum beat for impeachment when they should have at least kept their mouths shut with a there, but for the grace of god . . . . mouthed wordlessly from time to time. I don’t judge her because of sex; I judge her judgement of others given her own conduct.

  30. Garuda says:

    On the women get treated worse than men thing:
    six months for Martha Stewart.
    30 years for Jeff Skilling.

  31. Esme says:

    That’s why I mentioned it in the post. You know, to show that Regan did something other than be female and successful to merit getting canned.

    But then why is the comment about Kerik necessary? It doesn’t seem to have been a factor in her firing. The bit I take offense to is the last line of your post

    We won’t even mention what she got up to with Bernie Friggin’ Kerik overlooking a gravesite

    “We won’t even mention.” But you did mention. Regan wasn’t in control of city funds, Kerik was. Her sex life is useless to the discussion, except insofar as we as a society spend far too much time obsessing over the personal lives of prominent women.

    The article you linked is disgusting.

    Once, Judith Regan’s taste in men was Bernard Kerik. Now her taste in authors is O.J. Simpson.

    Her “taste in men” has nothing to do with her publishing, but the article is a salacious dig into her sex life, despite the fact that Kerik, not Regan, was the one who abused his power. Near the end, the author casually mentions, as a side note, some of her other low quality, exploitative publishings, and that point is well taken since the topic of discussion is supposed to be her publishing OJ’s book.

    I am upset to find you linking to such trash which slut shames Regan. Regan isn’t morally upstanding, none of us are saying she is, but digging into her sex life for ammunition against her perpetuates patriarchal obsessions with women’s sex lives. I normally admire your writing.

  32. Jill says:

    On the women get treated worse than men thing:
    six months for Martha Stewart.
    30 years for Jeff Skilling.

    Oh Garuda, you’re pretty.

    The crimes that Stewart and Skilling were convicted of were very, very different — Skilling’s were a hell of a lot worse. That’s like saying “Nicole Richie got three days in jail. Charles Manson got life. Totally unfair!”

    Stewart was convicted on four counts of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice. Skilling was convicted on “19 out of 28 counts against him, including one count of conspiracy, one count of insider trading (although he was acquitted of the other nine counts of this particular charge), five counts of making false statements to auditors, and twelve counts of securities fraud. Each conviction carries a maximum sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison.”

    Slightly different, huh?

  33. zuzu says:

    I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree, Esme.

    On the women get treated worse than men thing:
    six months for Martha Stewart.
    30 years for Jeff Skilling.

    Different charges, genius.

  34. cooper says:

    Lindsay said:

    In this case, Reagan richly deserved to get fired. We’ll never know whether a male executive who fucked up exactly the way she did would have gotten canned. The point is she deserved to be fired for her role in the whole OJ saga.

    I think if the publishing label wasn’t ReganBooks, she could have kept her job. Again, maybe she wouldn’t have gotten to the top of the business unless she was selling herself as the brand, but once the brand went south, there was no option but to kill her. It could have been UpdikeBooks and he still would have been fired. If it was “WidgetBooks” though, I suspect Regan would still be working there and some aqusitions editor would have fallen on their swond for a job in another Rupert busness.

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