'Post' Gossip Jared Paul Stern Suspended for Extorting Ron Burkle

Consider our jaws agape, because even we are near-speechless by what hit the wires at 11:30 last night. New York Post fixture Jared Paul Stern — who freelances for Page Six, edited the Page Six magazine, and as of two days ago was still handling the Post's Sunday book reviews — has been suspended from the paper pending an investigation by the FBI for extortion.

Law enforcement videotaped two meetings between Stern and supermarket billionaire (and rumored Radar 3.0 investor) Ron Burkle, who is known as a ladies' man, in which Stern asked for $100,000 up front to keep Richard Johnson and Page Six's coverage of Burkle fluffy and favorable, plus $10,000 per month for maintenance. While the price is high, you get more than just the good graces of Stern and Johnson — that fee also includes the protection of Page Sixers Chris Wilson and Fernando Gil, plus some helpful PR work from Johnson's fiancee, Sessa von Richthofen. Interestingly, Richard and Sessa are getting married tomorrow, making this story the most amazing wedding present ever.

We're not incredibly surprised — that column ain't gonna write itself, after all — and yet we're totally shocked. Pants-shittingly so. We had no idea that Page Six whored itself for so much money; we always assumed you could buy 'em off with an 8-ball or a well-timed blow job.

The Billionaire, the Post and the $220G Shakedown [NYDN]