With its tawdry plot lines involving corporate skullduggery, a steamy extramarital affair and presidential politics, the legal battle between former publishing doyenne Judith Regan and her ex-employer, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., seems straight out of a potboiler. Now the tale has taken another intriguing and potentially explosive twist with the sudden emergence of a mysterious tape recording.
Long a controversial figure in the publishing industry, Regan had run her own imprint at News Corp.'s book publishing arm, HarperCollins, for 13 years before she was fired for allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks not long after controversy erupted over O. J. Simpson's book, "If I Did It." Regan had spearheaded the book, which she billed as a confession to the double murder by the disgraced gridiron star. In November, Regan filed a $100 million lawsuit against News Corp., accusing the company of, among other things, making her a scapegoat in the Simpson controversy, targeting her with a "deliberate smear campaign" and illegally firing her.
But what seemed like a parochial flap within the publishing industry over O. J. Simpson veered off in a sharply different direction with the lawsuit. The latest bombshell: according to media executives familiar with the situation, Regan has a tape recording that presumably helps to buttress her allegations in her suit. The exact contents of the tape remain unknown, as does its origins. No one approached by NEWSWEEK seemed to know of its provenance--or was willing to discuss it.
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