Is Socialite Reporter Isaiah Wilner Dumb, Or Dumb Like A Fox?

Model-heiress Lydia Hearst seems slightly peeved that the controversial New York magazine article Isaiah Wilner's working on won't actually be, as promised, all about her: "They contacted my managers and set up an interview saying it was supposed to be about my career as a model and entrepreneur and success and my handbag, and then when I sat down they said the whole story was about Olivia and that's it. Nothing wrong with that, but it's just interesting that a story would be pitched so inaccurately," she sniped to Socialite Rank. As discussed, she's not the only social-lady who has a bone to pick with Isaiah. What's up with this guy, anyway? Is he just sensibly refining his angle from the general to the specific as he works on his socialite story—hey, like Lydia said, nothing wrong with that!—or is he preying on these girls' gullibility unfairly? Does he have a history of ethically questionable behavior? Let's turn back the clock to the heady late 90s....

In 1999, Wilner's Yale roommate Asit Gosar campaigned for city alderman and won, but his victory was marred by allegations of voting fraud. And then, as the Times reported, "The editor of The Yale Daily News, Isaiah Wilner, a senior and Mr. Gosar's roommate, has stepped down after allegations of conflict of interest. Mr. Wilner campaigned for Mr. Gosar, and some students have said that Mr. Wilner urged them to enter Ward 7 addresses, though they lived in Ward 1." In the wake of the scandal, Wilner defended his right to campaign for his roommate, denying any wrongdoing and saying that he'd stepped down in order to avoid the "appearance" of a conflict of interest.

In that situation, as in the current socialite kerfluffle, it's unclear whether Wilner was tripped up by cluelessness or deviousness. As is our wont, of course, we're hoping it's the latter.

Update: As pals of Mr. Wilner have pointed out to us, he didn't really resign so much as temporarily back away from the YDN. Indeed, shortly after the initial article, the Times ran this correction: "Mr. Wilner, who had campaigned for the winning candidate, has removed himself from the daily operation of the newspaper pending the resolution of a legal challenge of the election result. But he has not resigned as editor; he is continuing his administrative duties at The News, and retaining editorial control over its other publications."

Allegations of Fraud Taint The Election of a Yale Student [NYT]
[PHOTO: Carrie Elston]