The Players

Jason Leopold
Jason Leopold

The Book
The Original Book cover

 Steve Maviglio
Steve Maviglio


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 is scheduled to start. For background on the previous publisher’s handling of the book read below.


Leopold book gets the chop
corporate scandal book maddens the machine as publishers pull the plug
Thursday, March 10, 2005 11:50 PM
by Keith Harris

   “Reporter’s error in ‘hatchet job piece’ confirms analysis
    in withdrawn book that most well known journalists are lazy”
  — Jason Leopold

A book 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, Leopold told the Post: "I'm devastated," Leopold said yesterday.

"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 lawyers.

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 company, and 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 but later 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 Leopold.

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 to my 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 reported that 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 time’.”

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

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