Jared Paul Stern, A Manhattan Media TragedyI never thought the day would come when I might feel sympathy for Jared Paul Stern. When he was busted for trying to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from Ron "I'm a billionaire, baby" Burkle back in '06, I wrote a dismissive piece about how Stern was such a scumbag in a scumbag industry that nobody should really be surprised. I would sum up my appraisal of him at the time with this word: "Scumbag." But times change! Stern's dogged pursuit of doomed lawsuits against the chuckling billionaire and a painful sex scandal have softened my heart. I may have been too harsh on poor JPS, after all. Consider the man's history. Starting out as nothing more than a dude with a ridiculous hat, he worked his way up through the gossip muck to the top ranks of the New York Post. He had his own column called "Nightcrawler" for a time, and was a regular contributor to Page Six. He was living the life that the young man who first put on the stupid hat dreamed of living. Then, of course, he tried to extort Burkle, and got publicly scandalized and tossed aside by the Post. He's quietly made his way back into the media with various projects, but nothing as high-profile since. And then last week some random guy decided to publicly release a (purported) tape of him having sex with JPS' wife. Damn. People can bounce back from most scandals. In time, even the "Payola Six" affair-sensational though it was-would have receded into history. But JPS has never been able to bounce back, because his ongoing lawsuits and, now, alleged cuckolding cause the original damage to his reputation to keep getting rehashed. So here's our gentle advice, JPS: the sympathy of the world has now, excruciatingly, returned to your side. Use it. Drop all of your various lawsuits against everyone involved in the Burkle mess-they'll ultimately do nothing but drain your bank account. Hold your head high, admit some wrongdoing in the past, and forge ahead. Disgrace is almost a foreign concept in the gossip world; schadenfreude does not run deep enough for people to say you deserved all of this. With an extended moment of grotesquely poor judgment and a run of very, very bad luck, most anyone in the New York media could be in your shoes right now. So get out there and make it, JPS-for all of us!