With the launch of Radar 3.0 right around the corner—like, Tuesday! OMG!—we thought it was time to revisit the murky question of what the real story was behind its rise from the ashes of Mort Zuckerman and Jeffrey Epstein's $5-million each. What was Jesse Jackson's son, of all people, doing getting involved with a twice-failed pop culture magazine? Oh, right, he owned a beer distributorship and tried to buy the Chicago Sun-Times. Duh, makes total sense now!
But what was whispered since the deal was announced was that Yusef Jackson was actually being funded by much bigger money—as in Ron Burkle billionaire money. At first, this, too, seems to make no sense whatsoever. What is Ron Burkle, of all people, getting involved with Jesse Jackson's son, whose track record as an entrepreneur is a bit scattershot, to say the least? Now a source close to Radar's backers has explained things to us—including the cash.
Burkle and Jackson first met through Yusef Jackson's father; Burkle is a longtime contributor to Democratic politics. In the late 1990s, Burkle's Yucaipa Companies, a private-equity firm, invested in a company called OneNetNow, a kind of early Friendster; both Yusef and Jesse Jackson sat on OneNetNow's board. At Jesse Jackson's urging, Burkle also funded Jackson's purchase of the RiverNorth beer distributor in Chicago in 1998, which took over the Anheuser-Busch distribution for the region.
According to the source close to Yusef Jackson, Burkle sees Jackson as a prot g and has long been willing to fund projects that Jackson is interested in—including the failed attempts to buy the Chicago Sun-Times and the Washington Nationals baseball team.
This source also claims that when Jackson indicated an interest in reviving Radar, all he had to do was turn to his friend Burkle, once again, for funding. This source claims Radar's current investment commitments to be in the neighborhood of $10 million, with around $8 million coming from Burkle and $2 million from Jackson.
A spokesperson for Yucaipa said that he did not wish to comment on whether Burkle had invested in Radar.
Burkle continues to deny being involved in Radar's funding—if, in fact, he is! Setting aside the possibility that Burkle actually isn't involved, could his denials have something to do with one of Radar's previous backers, massage-lover Jeffrey Epstein, with whom Burkle was reportedly friends? (Before Epstein's arrest, of course.) Could it have something to do with Burkle wanting to manipulate the media coverage of himself, especially in the wake of his particularly nasty divorce? Could it be that Burkle's Yucaipa company isn't funding Radar, but Burkle himself is, personally?