My dog is the love of my life, and like many canine owners I tend to regard him as humanlike. I don’t make a decision without discussing it with him first, and I respect Ben Jr.’s refusal to fetch a ball despite being a golden “retriever.” When I see Ben Jr. lying on his doggie bed seemingly deep in thought, I imagine he’s contemplating the meaning of life.

Admittedly, Ben Jr. makes good faith efforts to remind me that he really is just a dog. One example is when he eats discarded food on the street. Another is when we go on hikes and he disappears into the woods, only to return covered in human excrement. Human excrement provides Ben with the olfactory pleasures of eau de toilette, and it still hasn’t registered with him why I become livid when he covers himself with the stuff.

Reading the New York Post last night, I came to appreciate what Ben Jr. and the publication have in common. There is much I like about the Post: It does an admirable job reporting on Hollywood and popular culture, its reporters diligently scour Twitter so I don’t have to wade through the social media sewer, and I quite like columnists Michael Goodwin, Maureen Callahan, and Karol Markowicz. The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop expose proved correct, so the publication can punch above its weight when it wants to.

Fundamentally a Tabloid

But the Post is still fundamentally a tabloid, a detail I too often forget. The publication is willing to sensationalize gossip and innuendo in its pursuit of clickbait. Yet another reminder was this story about “PR guru” David Shane, who was recently brought on to amplify actress Amber Heard’s claims in a defamation suit launched by her former husband Johnny Depp. I’m a big believer that companies and individuals should be judged by the PR company they keep, but the timing and likely sourcing of the Shane hit job is bothersome.

Shane possibly has a drug or alcohol problem, as the Post reported he’s been arrested multiple times for driving under the influence. The Post also said Shane is “an alleged sex pest,” but some of the allegations against him to back up the claim are flimsy and unfair.

Shane might not be what was once described as a “gentleman” (is the PC-correct term now gentle non-binary person?), but a man who supposedly became angry when model Hollie Doker rejected his sexual advances and said, “I’ll call you a f—ing Uber,” doesn’t strike me as a dangerous sexual predator.

As for Shane’s supposedly aggressive dating pursuits, I know of several men who wouldn’t take no for an answer when they were initially rejected by women they were attracted to and ultimately won them over. They’ve been happily married for decades. I’ve previously written about one of these couples.

Sexual Overtures?

The Post claims that Shane hit on its reporter in her “early thirties” and offered the scribe an exclusive sit-down with Heard – but told her to first meet him at this hotel. When she refused, the interview didn’t materialize, suggesting there was a quid pro quo.

If the Post’s allegation that Shane behaved inappropriately with its reporter is true, it’s a wonder he managed to attain “PR guru” status and can attract big name Hollywood clients. Shane’s lawyer denied the Post’s allegations saying, “(Shane) looks forward to clearing his name by sharing screen shots of his full text exchange with the reporter, who was hoping to get an exclusive interview.”

Hollie Doker/Twitter

I hope Shane’s lawyer makes public the full text exchange, as it would provide an instructive lesson on how Post reporters conduct themselves trying to land exclusives. Shane’s lawyer also claimed that model Hollie Docker’s latest allegation about Shane “dramatically conflicts with Ms. Doker’s original account that she posted over three years ago.”

I haven’t been following Depp’s lawsuit trial, but its newsworthy enough that SNL satirized it this past weekend. Maureen Callahan, one of the Post columnists I cited, argued that Heard has been unfairly vilified; given that Callahan isn’t a predictable knee-jerk feminist who maintains that women are always above reproach and criticism, her insights carry considerable sway with me.

That’s why I find the timing of the Post’s takedown of Shane so disturbing. If I had to guess, it was leaked by PR people close to Depp or possibly one of Shane’s competitors. One notable Post omission was the other clients Shane represents. If his behavior is so newsworthy, the Post should disclose all Shane’s clients who are proud to have his representation.

Yours truly was once “high powered”

Admittedly, I’m a tad biased here. In my day, I was frequently described as a “high powered” flack and I was often unpopular with the corporate business press because of my zealous representation of former NYSE Chairman and CEO Dick Grasso, forever one of my proudest accomplishments.  

One Sunday I came across an item in the Post asking what high-powered PR person’s dating profile says he’s often told he looks like Warren Beatty? They were referring to my profile, and while I appreciated not being named, I was still angry by the blind reference. The Post was mocking me.

I knew the identity of the Post reporter responsible for the item, and a few weeks later I agreed to have lunch with a Wall Street Journal reporter who was close to that journalist. A couple of my colleagues volunteered to show up at the restaurant and approach my table with great excitement saying how much I looked like Warren Beatty. Their performance was worthy of an Oscar. The look on the Journal reporter’s face was priceless.

Let’s just say that when pulling the wool over reporters’ eyes became exceedingly easy, I knew it was time to exit the PR business. For the record, in my younger days, particularly after Beatty’s movie Shampoo was released and we had the same hair styles, people really did stop me in the streets to say how much I looked like Warren Beatty.

I’ve long wondered if anyone ever stopped Warren Beatty to say how much he looked like Eric Starkman.

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