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Scarborough: Publisher's suit against News Corp. bogus

David Edwards and Jason Rhyne

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An allegation that the media giant News Corp. directed a former New York publisher to lie in order to protect Rudy Giuliani just doesn't hold water, according to MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

Judith Regan, who was fired by a News Corp. publishing house last year after reportedly making anti-semitic remarks, filed a defamation lawsuit Tuesday alleging that a top executive with the company had encouraged her to deny a romantic affair with embattled New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik. Regan says she was asked to lie to help preserve the reputation of Giuliani, who had originally appointed Kerik and later recommended him to head the US Department of Homeland Security.

But Scarborough said Regan's "defaming" was her own doing -- a result of her involvement in promoting OJ Simpson's "hypothetical" account of the double murder for which he was famously acquitted.

"I would say Judith Regan defamed her character by herself when she pushed this OJ Simpson If I Did It book," said Scarborough. "For people that followed this story in the media, it was fairly obvious why they shoved her overboard. It didn't seem to have a lot to do with Rudy Giuliani or Bernie Kerick. It had to do with the fact that she tried to publish...one of the sleaziest books in modern American publishing history."

The host said he couldn't conceive of an orchestrated plan within News Corp. to help boost Giuliani's presidential chances.

"Is there a possibility that somebody in News Corp. who knew Rudy Giuliani because New York is a very small town in certain circles? Yeah. Maybe somebody said 'Hey, you know what, let's lay off of it, don't talk about that,'" conceded Scarborough. "But I doubt that anybody was ever going to put a gun to her head and say,'You can't talk badly about Rudy Giuliani or Bernie Kerik.'"

According to the New York Times, Regan's civil complaint states that News Corp. "has long sought to promote Mr. Giulianiís ambitions. But the lawsuit does not elaborate on that charge, identify the executive who she says pressured her to mislead investigators, or offer details to support her claim."

Notably, the New York Post, which is owned by News Corp., did not feature Kerik's recent 16-count corruption indictment on its cover, as did other New York City newspapers. But the Post did break a story in October about Marc Mukasey, the son of Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who reportedly worked to help distance Giuliani from Kerik's criminal probe. That story, critical of the former mayor, would seem to partially undercut Regan's charges of favoritism.

Asked by MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski if Kerik's indictment would hurt Giuliani politically, Scarborough said he didn't foresee it happening.

"It's not hurting him at all and I tell you what: Bernie Kerik, people aren't really following a lot of this because Bernie Kerik is a second-tier player," said Scarborough. "They care about Rudy Giuliani...I just don't think in the long run it will have much of an impact."

Prosecutors contend that Kerik accepted $255,000 in apartment renovations from a company seeking New York business opportunities. He then allegedly concealed that income from the IRS. Also included in the indictment are charges that Kerik made false statements to the White House.

The following video is from MSNBC's News Live, broadcast on November 14, 2007.

Originally published on Wednesday November 14, 2007.