How To Spend $75,000 Trying To Embarrass A Times Reporter
Mike Ovitz just testified about how he hired private eye Anthony Pellicano, on trial on federal racketeering and wiretap charges, to obtain "embarrassing or otherwise useful information about the New York Times journalists and their sources," according to the Times. The former Hollywood mogul said he paid Pellicano $75,000, which did not get him information about the reporters, but did net him a fetching nickname, "Gaspar," some dirt on his rivals and, if reporter Anita Busch's hotly-contested testimony is any indication, some serious cloak and dagger directed at the reporters:
She related the June 2002 threat that prompted the Pellicano investigation: a fish and a rose left on her car, next to a note saying "Stop" and a bulletlike hole in her windshield. She told of phone trouble beginning that month, of learning that her D.S.L. service had been canceled without her knowledge and that large chunks of e-mail had been stolen, and of finding a virus on her computer.
On an August morning, she testified, two men in a Mercedes nearly ran her down. One put a finger to his lips, as if warning her to keep quiet, and then motioned with two fingers as if saying goodbye, before the driver sped off.
That November, she finally got the phone company to check her phones, and learned there had been a wiretap on her lines since June. "I was stunned," she said.
Ovitz said he did not direct Pellicano to intimidate Busch, and Pellicano's cross-examination implied the threats came from other subjects of her writing.