Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone attempted to bribe Daily Beast reporter Peter Lauria to give up his source on a negative story Lauria wrote about Redstone last month.
Lauria, one of the leading reporters on the media beat who joined The Daily Beast from the New York Post, wrote in June that Redstone was "forcing MTV to produce a show about a sexy but talentless all-girl band" called the Electric Barbarellas.
Monday, Redstone phoned Lauria and left a message offering money and protection in exchange for the name of his source.
"I know you may be reluctant...we have to have the name of the person who gave you that story," Redstone said on the message. "We're not going to kill him. We just want to talk to him. We're not going to fire him. We just want to talk to him."
Redstone appealed to Lauria by assuring him that there are "several people" who could tell him the name of the source and thus Lauria would never be found out. But he also offered money.
"You will be thoroughly protected," he said. "We're not going to hurt this guy. We want to sit him down and find out why he did....You will not in any way be revealed....We want you to please give us the name and you will be well-rewarded and well-protected."
UPDATE: "There is no investigation taking place at Viacom," Carl Folta, the company's Executive Vice President for Corporate Communication, said in an e-mail.
Lauria insists he would never give up his source.
"That, of course, will never happen," he wrote. "Sorry, Sumner, but happy hunting."
Redstone isn't the first mogul that Lauria has gotten to: Harvey Weinstein once said the following of the former New York Post reporter:
"Peter Lauria. He's the inspiration for 'Inglourious Basterds' . . . we were thinking who were the bastards that we know, and he was the No. 1 bastard."
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