The lawsuit against the New York Post and five of its reporters (Laura Italiano, Brad Hamilton, Larry Celona, Cathy Burke, and Gary Buiso) for reporting that Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser worked as a prostitute has a distinctly humorous edge to it. If the reports published from July 2 through yesterday are untrue, as the Sofitel Hotel housekeeper claims, then they're woefully libelous. But in bringing the suit, lawyers Kenneth Thompson and Douglas Wigdor have unintentionally written one of the funnier legal complaints to come before the Bronx County civil court in a while. That's because this one is about the New York Post doing what it does best -- writing clever, trashy headlines -- and when you put those page one screamers in among the sober legalese of a lawsuit, well, it just makes for some funny juxtapositions. Take this for example:
The lawsuit, not by coincidence, seems to zero in on the lines that probably brought smiles to the faces of the reporters and editors that produced them in the newsroom. Of course, these are also some of the most inflammatory lines in the coverage, so it makes sense that the plaintiff would take issue with them. In its preliminary statement the suit includes a particularly descriptive quote (the last line of the passage below):
Such quotes just come with the territory when you sue the New York Post. And if the nation's oldest continuously published paper hasn't sobered up by this time, it's not going to. But it is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is very rich, so if there's a settlement or payoff to be made here, the plaintiff will likely get a sum that could make repeating such statements about her worth it.
For the record, here's a list of the headlines and stories singled out in the suit:
July 2, 2011:
Online: Maid cleaning up as 'hooker'
July 3, 2011:
July 4, 2011: "Laid low" story appears in print, but not on the front page.