The NYT 's Deb Solomon Goes Easy On Ron Burkle

This coming weekend, the NYT Magazine will run a Q&A with Ron Burkle, who in MediaLand is best known for pulling off an elaborate sting operation last year which culminated with an allegation of extortion levied at Page Six's Jared Paul Stern. The investigation into the allegations was dropped in Janaury 2007 with the announcement that no charges would be filed against Stern. You'd think that might come up with Solomon, who is known for cutting through spin and asking good, tough questions (former Massachussetts governor Bill Weld hung up on her during their interview). Instead, Burkle comes off looking pretty, well, sparkling. After letting us know that Hillary Clinton is really " nice, warm, thoughtful, [and] caring," neatly sidestepping a question about her potential rival (and his CurrentTV partner) Al Gore, mentioning how he started out humbly with no college degree as a box boy, and lives a Spartan life alone, Burkle finally has to deal with a question about his messy, messy divorce and the Page Six all of two questions:

[Y]our life as a divorcee was chronicled by a New York Post gossip columnist whom you accused of trying to extort $220,000 from you in exchange for favorable coverage.

At first when you read articles that suggest you're buying a modeling agency for the president to run the first reaction is disbelief. I think what happened at The Post was pretty clear. They had an agenda.

Do you mean a political agenda?

I think it could have just as easily been an agenda by some people at the paper to make money.

That's it. Nothing about what drove him to outfit his apartment with hidden cameras, nothing about his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, wherein he laid out all the information handed over to authorities that they found insufficient to charge, nothing even picking up on his own mention of the modeling agencies, or his well-known clubbing. Nothing on being sued by his wife's boyfriend, or being sued by his daughter, or his relationship with Anthony Pellicano. And nothing at all about his hotly-reputed silent partnership in Radar. However we do learn that he cares about hockey fans, didn't care that he only got namechecked once in Clinton's autobiography, and that he houses the Clintons in the same guest bedroom as his mom. Aw. Oh, and also, that being rich has its burdens:

At last count, you were ranked as No. 117 on Forbes magazine's 400 richest Americans list. Is that a good place to be?

You certainly have a higher quality of life when you are not on the Forbes list. It just means that your security changes, and you're known for the wrong things.

Good things there are interviews like this to help set that record straight!

Friend of Bill & Hill

Grand Inquisitor [GOOD Magazine]
Bad Day For Burkle: Jared Paul Stern Will Not Be Charged [ETP]
Ron Burkle's Annus Horribilus [Gawker]