Last Friday, The Wrap reported that The New Yorker was being pressured by billionaire Hollywood power broker and Clinton pal Haim Saban to remove politically (and economically) sensitive portions of a massive new profile of Saban. It didn't work.
The Wrap reported that the section of Connie Bruck's mammoth profile that Saban and his lawyers were pressuring The New Yorker to cut was related to Saban's use of "political influence to help complete his sale of the Fox Family Channel to the Walt Disney Company." Specifically, The Wrap reported that "an anecdote from [Haim Saban's former tax lawyer] involving a call to Bill Clinton to speed approval of the Fox Family sale was no longer in the article."
There's no way to tell how the piece was edited as a result of Saban's entreaties, if at all, but that section most surely is still present in Bruck's profile. Here is the section in question, in which Saban—who donated millions to the Democratic National Committee, to Bill Clinton's Presidential library, and to the Clinton Foundation—helps smooth a path for Disney's $5.3 billion purchase of Fox Family in 2001, a deal which netted Saban more than a billion dollars.
Saban continued to lead the negotiations, and his high-level relationships proved invaluable. Because Disney and Fox Family operated internationally, the deal required regulatory approvals from many countries. "Brazil could have been a deal-breaker," Chernin recalled. In a confidential memorandum written on October 1st, Fox Family's attorneys in Brazil explained that the deal would have to be reviewed successively by three government bodies; from past experience, the attorneys estimated that the process would take between six and eight months, which would push the deal past the deadline, at the end of October. Disney refused to close without Brazilian approval. Both sides retained counsel for the anticipated litigation.
"Haim said, ‘Let me make a phone call-maybe I can get something done here,' " Chernin told me. "He was extremely helpful in getting Clinton to help. Clinton called the President of Brazil." [Saban's former tax attorney] Matt Krane recalled how Saban described to him what had happened: "Saban had called the Fox Family attorney in Brazil and asked, ‘How long will it take?' It was months. He said he asked the lawyer, ‘Who is your finance minister?' The attorney understood, and he said, ‘There is no political pull available in this process.' Saban called Bill Clinton and asked, ‘Can you help me?' " Soon afterward, the approval came through.
Just months later, Saban donated $7 million to the DNC. David Remnick scoffs at your legal threats, Haim.