Jason has now signed up with a new publisher, Process Books/Feral House,
who also published
published Jerry Stahl's book "Permanent Midnight".
Jason’s book has also been retitled News Junkie: A
Media-Centric Memoir and publications is now planned
for April 2006, just as the Enron trial against Lay and Skilling
scheduled to start. For background on the previous publisher’s
handling of the book read below.
book gets the chop
the machine as publishers pull the plug
March 10, 2005 11:50 PM
error in ‘hatchet job piece’ confirms analysis
in withdrawn book that most well known journalists
are lazy” — Jason
that lays bare the backbones of its author's journey through
crime, drug addiction, power politics in the newsroom and
government and corporate scandal has brought its author head on against
the very power politics about which he wrote.
Former LA Times reporter and Dow Jones bureau chief
Jason Leopold said he was extremely disappointed when legal threats
by a former
California Governor’s spokesman rattled his publishers
into pulling the plug on his new book, Off The Record,
just days before it was due to go into print.
Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz penned what
Leopold described as a ‘mean and nasty’ story in
the Post on 9 March. Almost as soon as the story was in print,
Kurtz agreed to print
a correction after admitting getting his facts wrong in writing
that Leopold had ‘served time’ for grand larceny.
In the book Leopold—who as a reporter covered the California
energy crisis in depth—recounts how he used devious journalistic
tactics to get a scoop on a finance scandal concerning energy
share purchases by the California Governor’s office at
the height of the state’s energy crisis. Leopold wrote
that press secretary of the time Steven Maviglio had confided
to him that he “confided in me that he might have broken
the law by investing in energy companies using inside information."
Although the book is more about the dirty shenanigans
of high finance power politics seen through the eyes of a hack
constantly straining for a better scoop, Maviglio—who Jason also writes
of as ‘a friend’— was enraged and fired off
letters warning of a lawsuit after reading what he said were ‘defamatory’ comments
in the publicity material for the book, which had been scheduled
for publication in March.
The press release opened: Off the Record is the story of the
cutthroat worlds of journalism, politics, and high finance told
by Jason Leopold, who survived a life of drug abuse and petty
crime and went on to become one of the most highly regarded investigative
reporters of the last few years, uncovering some of the biggest
scandals of corporate America, the office of the governor of
California, the Enron scandal and even the White House.
Leopold is himself no stranger to controversy and
attack and being on the receiving end of the flack he writes
about. He said
he was dragged through the mud by other newshounds when it
was discovered that he had a criminal record going back to his
younger days. In his book, Leopold admits to ‘lying, cheating and
backstabbing, [being] a former cocaine addict, serving time for
grand larceny, repeatedly trying to kill himself and to battling
mental illness his whole life’ according to a news
report in the Washington Post on 9 March.
When he learned that his publisher Rowman & Littlefield
canceled "Off the Record" days before it was to go
to press, despite having sent out the news releases and listing
the book on Amazon.com, Leopold told the Post: "I'm devastated," Leopold
"I worked really hard these past two years
to restore my credibility after the Salon fiasco.
. . . I have a checkered
past, and I was hoping that by coming clean
about my own past, it would allow me to move forward."
In e-mails sent to associates, he said he never wrote the offending
language about Maviglio in his book. Instead, Leopold says, the
company's publicist took that and other material from his book
proposal and not the finished manuscript.
"If news of this controversy leaks out to the media, it
will virtually destroy my writing career, both as a journalist
and author, in my opinion," Leopold wrote in a Feb. 28 e-mail. "I
am already a lightning rod and the media will quickly eat this
up and brand me as an untrustworthy writer." He told The
Post that “the publisher should take full responsibility
for this fiasco" since the book had been "vetted" by
In The Post article, staff writer Howard Kurtz
wrote that the book’s press release fleshed out Leopold’s
trouble career—from a grand larceny conviction in 1996
for stealing compact discs from his employer, a New York music
reselling them to record stores; being fired by the Los Angeles
Times "for threatening to rip a reporter's head off” in
a fit of "deadline madness"; quitting his job as
Dow Jones Newswire bureau chief in a dispute over his beat
learning the news service was planning to fire him because
of a correction
to one of his Enron stories.
"Seems I got all of the facts wrong," said
The press release paints how Leopold used his own criminal
past to ingratiate himself with Enron executives, a move that
led to him snatching the first interview with former chief executive
Jeffrey Skilling after the energy giant declared bankruptcy.
Refering to a news story he broke, he writes on
page 224 of Off the Record: “The Times story was contagious. On Monday,
October 7, 2002, my thirty-second birthday, Howard Kurtz of the
Washington Post put another nail in my coffin. He, too, called
my credibility into question. He didn’t even bother to
snoop around and get the truth, I thought; he just jumped on
the bandwagon. After I read Kurtz’s story, I returned
my copies of his books Spin Cycle and The Fortune Tellers
local Borders bookstore.”
He said Kurtz was taking a swipe back at him for
the comments in the book and that in his eagerness to do so had
Leopold was released from jail after “serving time” without
checking the accuracy of his facts.
“The truth is I was held for three days after being charged
with grand larceny and then released. I didn’t ‘serve
Leopold says he was "brutally honest" in the book
and admits to making "many mistakes. . . . I was hoping
it would allow me to find some sort of redemption."
But he said that Kurtz’s report backed up the validity
of the book’s content.
The Press Release Jason
on the web