John Edwards' attorneys have threatened litigation against local news website DNAinfo after the site published a report Thursday about the former senator and presidential candidate, according to the site's managing editor.
Crime and investigative reporter Murray Weiss reported that a prostitute working with soccer-mom Madam Anna Gristina told investigators probing Gristina's operation that the former senator and presidential candidate engaged her services during a fund-raising visit to New York in 2007.
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“Mr. Edwards categorically denies that he was involved with any prostitute or service," one of his attorneys said in a statement yesterday. "These allegations are false, defamatory, and he puts those who would publish or repeat them on notice that they are acting with actual malice by reporting or repeating them.”
But Weiss told Capital Friday afternoon that he "stands a thousand percent behind the story" and still welcomes an official response from the Edwards camp.
Likewise, Michael Ventura, DNAinfo's managing editor said: "We've invited them to provide us with additional information, if they have any, but to this point we haven't heard back from them. We stand by our story."
Weiss said he contacted the legal team for Edwards, who already has one high-profile sex scandal under his belt, three separate times on Wednesday and outlined what would be in his story.
Their interactions were pleasant, he said, but the lawyers did not have any comment about the allegations.
"They never got back to me with a statement of any kind," he said. "I told them what my story was and gave them a rundown and every ample opportunity to comment. I'm open to this moment to any information his attorneys can share with me that would shed any light on this story."
As for life at DNAinfo, a nascent local news startup that has been keeping the tabloids (and the rest of the city's metro desks) in a sweat on the Gristina story and other coverage, Weiss, who previouly logged more than three decades of combined service at the Daily News and the New York Post, said he's been having a blast.
"I spent a lot of time at the two tabloids, and no matter how you look at it, when you work in a city newspaper, there's always a bigger city newspaper, so in some ways, you're always a bit of an underdog," he said. "For me, that's always been a great motivating force. So I'm enjoying the same kind of David versus Goliath underdog spirit here."
Plus: "It's nice to be a part of something new," he said.