Media Catfight: Rachel Sklar vs. Jeff Jarvis

Former Huffington Post media reporter and Dan Abrams' henchwoman Rachel Sklar is pissed at her friend, blogger-journalist Jeff Jarvis. Jarvis posted a now-infamous email of hers to his blog and absolutely lit her up in the process. Sklar fired back.

To recap: Sklar sent New York's media set abuzz after going wide with an email soliciting writers for a new "Drudge Meets Huffington Post" media blog she's running called Mediaite, which will be funded by former MSNBC journalist Dan Abrams. Abrams also owns a much kvetched-over corporate consulting company, Abrams Research, that aims to employ journalists and bloggers in advising Abrams clients how the media will react to issues clients are involved in. In case you didn't notice, that premise could be perceived as more than a little conflict-of-interest-y and scandalous.

Media Catfight: Rachel Sklar vs. Jeff JarvisS

Sklar's email was a request for submissions with a 12-point list of somewhat patronizing and legalese-heavy guidelines. One of the email's more interesting points was that payment and "compensation issues are still being hammered out." She sent out the email at about 4PM on Thursday. By 6:06 PM, Jarvis had a full-scale retort to Sklar's email posted to his blog. Some of the juicer parts:

This is the same Dan Abrams - lawyer, thus the legalese, and failed MSNBC host and executive - who is starting a PR company - oh, excuse me, media strategy firm - to advise companies on media while promising access to media people - the same media people, one imagines, he is getting to write about media for his media site. Gawd, it's positive hermaphroditic: A bunch of worms who can't figure out who's fucking whom how. I think I'll stay away. Don't want any of that on me...I don't need any lawyers-turned-flacks-turned-media-commentators-turned-publishers. I can publish on my own...If [Dan Abrams] had just started a blog or a group blog about media, cool. But announcing that he's also starting a PR company offering access to media people makes it stink. And then trying to throw on the cloak of legalese does nothing to relieve the stench.

Media Catfight: Rachel Sklar vs. Jeff Jarvis

Burn. The rest of it's mostly crunchy media arguing. But Sklar - an notoriously cheeky, ubiquitous New York media character - had been laid into on a very public forum by someone she counted as a friend. So she emailed Jarvis her retort, and then posted the email to her blog after Jarvis provoked her again. And now, folks, we've got a ballgame.

First, Sklar asks why her friend Jarvis didn't just email her with his issues before going live with them:

You know exactly who sent you that email - me, not Dan - and you know how easy it is to get it touch with me.

Then she goes on her toes to defend her credentials:

...don't call me a "fellow lawyer turned media person" like it's a pejorative (I'm going to ignore the imprecise "lawyers-turned-flacks-turned-media-commentators-turned-publishers"). I graduated in the top 5% of the top law school in Canada, was Valedictorian, and got the top public service award. When I bring my legal training to bear on my work it is to be precise and nuanced and detailed and meticulously fair.

After which she gets in the shotgun formation to attack Jarvis as a writer, noting that she wouldn't pay nothin' for his work:

I wouldn't recommend paying you for your contributions to HuffPo over the past year - for example, this one was over 1700 words - I definitely would have sent it back to you with a deep edit. This one was a repurpose from your blog, which is fine, but I [sic] there are a few holes...In this one, I would have pointed out that "Craigslist" needs to be capitalized...The one berating newspaper-people for losing their jobs was maybe a tad unkind; at the very least, I would have asked you to move your semi-mea-culpa up a bit...

She makes a spirited - if somewhat insubstantial - defense of her employer...

I couldn't help but notice that you totally don't seem to get the difference between Abrams Research and Mediate, and you didn't really care to check, either. "But announcing that he's also starting a PR company offering access to media people…" - um, Abrams Research launched in November. Mediaite is a separate site, and Dan won't have any editorial role. They are two separate concerns.

And closes it out with a solid kicker, like any good journalist blogger media consultant would:

You can write what you want - you're Jeff Jarvis! Who cares if it's not your best work - or even if it's not the best work it could be? That's fine for those sites, it's part of the process. Mediaite has a different process: we want to address the stuff above before we publish. (And also it shouldn't be racist of sexist or homophobic! I know, how inconvenient!) But anyway, all of the above - all of it! - is beside the point: That blog post was easily one of the biggest dick moves I've ever seen.

Best,
Rachel

As crunchy, old, and kvetchy as Jarvis comes off, we're going to have to award this round to him. Sklar stooped to his level, took this thing personally (which, maybe she should have, but still!), and also, made a weak, roundabout argument regarding Abrams' conflict-of-interest issues without actually addressing them, though if Sklar does count old media fogey Jarvis as a friend, she's right: he was being kind of a dick. But hopefully, like two other friends-turned-foes, neither party in this "violent" "battle" of "epic" proportions won't turn to violence.

Meanwhile, while Mediaite clearly still has yet to launch, their Twitter is up and running, and one of the crew decided to launch a little fire Jarvis's way:

Media Catfight: Rachel Sklar vs. Jeff JarvisS

Except they forgot to disclose within that 140-character limit that they're as "independent" in so much as Mediaite and Abrams Research ("AR") are owned by the same guy. They're gonna have this problem a lot, aren't they?

No Thanks [Buzz Machine]
Bloggers Do It In Public [Chartini]

*Full Abrams Research-esque disclosure: I know Sklar socially/personally - like everyone in New York media - and have emailed with her over her responsibilities at Abrams Research. "Dan Abrams' Henchwoman" is not her official title.