If New York Post editor Col Allan is indeed contemplating "retirement" at the ripe old age of 57, as New York's Gabriel Sherman reports, his departure would cap off a decade of colossal editorial and business embarrassments for the paper.
How Allan has retained his job for this long has been an enduring mystery for anyone who follows the rather substantial and ongoing parade of evidence that he is a dick of epic proportions. You could chalk it up to Rupert Murdoch's loyalty, but everyone knows that Murdoch is loyal only to money—indeed, here's how Allan described his boss' thinking to Lloyd Grove in a 2007 profile:
I'll get fired not because Rupert doesn't like the stories I put in the paper. I'll get fired because we don't sell newspapers. And that judgment is made not by Rupert, but by the market, and by the audience. And I think that's pretty democratic. I like that deal.
If Sherman's sources are right—Allan, through a spokesman, calls the retirement rumor "wishful thinking at the Daily News," which is odd because it's not coming from the Daily News—then it appears that his abject failure to contribute one dime to Murdoch's coffers in decade may have finally caught up with him. The Post's annual loss has been estimated at anywhere from $10 million to $50 million over the past decade, but Sherman reports that the paper is expected to finish out 2010 a whopping $70 million in the red. That number is one reason Murdoch took the extraordinary step of reaching out to his archrival, Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman, to discuss a joint operating agreement under which both papers would share back-end resources and a printing plant. The talks fizzled several months ago, Sherman reports.
Money aside, the argument for Allan's ouster is, as they say in psychiatric circles, overdetermined. Here is the bill of particulars:
He Hates Black People and Women
A flurry of lawsuits from all the nonwhite editorial staffers Allan fired in recent months contain allegations that he "rubbed his penis up against" a female employee at an office party, dismissed protesters against Sean Delonas' racist cartoon depicting Barack Obama as a dead chimpanzee because "most of them are minorities," and likes to show female staffers pornography for kicks.
He Published This Cartoon
He Published This Front Page
He Takes Foreign Dignitaries to Strip Clubs, Where He Looks at Boobies For Free
In 2003, Allan showed Australian MP Kevin Rudd around New York by taking him to Scores to see some naked ladies gyrate. Revelation of the trip caused something of a scandal in Australia when Rudd, who fancies himself a good Christan, ran successfully for prime minister in 2007. According to bitter former Page Six staffer (and, for that matter, bitter former Gawker writer) Ian Spiegelman, Allan managed to parlay his status as editor of the city's most powerful tabloid into free, um, services at the strip club.
He Let His Gossip Columnists Shake Down Just About Anybody They Wanted To
Page Six writer Jared Paul Stern lost his job over his attempt to extort Ron Burkle out of a quarter-million dollars, but Allan let top Page Sixer Richard Johnson stick around even though he admitted accepting a $1,000 cash "Christmas present" from restaurateur Nello Balan in 1997. (That was before the Col era at the Post, but the bribe came to light in 2007.)
He Threatened to "Take a Blunt Axe" to the Central Park Jogger
According to Grove, after the Daily News scooped the Post with the identity of Trisha Meili—the previously anonymous "Central Park Jogger" who was raped and nearly beaten to death in 1989 and revealed herself in a 2003 memoir—Allan sent an e-mail to Meili's agent threatening to either destroy Meili's reputation or ignore the book in retaliation: "After seeing today's daily news I am contemplating two courses of action: taking a blunt axe to the jogger—we know a lot about her—or taking the view this book was never written. not a sentence, not a word shared with our 2.2 million readers. Which of these two options would you recommend?"
He Royally Screwed Up the Post's Attempt to Raise Its Cover Price
Allan was cocky enough with the Post's rising circulation in 2007 to double its cover price from 25 cents to 50 cents. But the Daily News got tipped to the change and cut its cover price in half on the same day, resulting in a humiliating fiasco—the Post had to reverse itself 10 days later and now trails the Daily News in circulation by 36,000 weekday copies.
That last bit is, according to Allan, what Murdoch cares about more than anything. It's our sincere hope that after a decade of Bushesque hubris, incompetence, and fratboy carousing, Allan has finally found something to get fired over. Lord knows he's tried.