New York Post Reporter Burns Source to Protect Her Boss

Pushing back against the New York Observer's report yesterday that New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allan was named in federal wiretaps as a close pal of Manhattan Madam Anna Gristina, Post reporter Jeane MacIntosh has written an extremely unusual story claiming that she—and not her boss—was the madam's pal.

According to the Observer's Foster Kamer, who cited "multiple sources familiar with the situation," Gristina was heard on wiretaps using Allan's name and boasting that he was a "very, very good friend." She also, Kamer wrote, boasted of having been a source for many Post stories. Shortly after the Observer's story was published yesterday, Allan issued a categorical denial, claiming never to have met Gristina.

Today, MacIntosh says that she's the one who was pals with Gristina. And she publicly confirmed Gristina as a source in order to back it up. "Gristina has been a source on several stories I've written for the paper," MacIntosh wrote, "most notably on Page Six." MacIntosh's attempt to clear her boss' name took her to Riker's Island, where she interviewed Gristina in order to nail down the precise wiretapped conversation she believes the Observer story was referring to:

"I don't know who Col Allan is," she said. "I have never met him. I have never heard his name until today."

She recalled having a 2008 conversation with a friend, Rebecca Woodard, a woman who was allegedly working as an escort for madam Kristin Davis.

"She was very upset, and was being questioned in the Kristin Davis case, and was upset that bad things would be said about her if it got into the papers," Gristina said....

"I told her I had a relationship with someone at the Post [meaning me, Jeane MacIntosh] who was a good friend, and that I had provided information to the Post in the past."

Allan's lawyer has delivered a formal demand for a retraction to the Observer. Editor Elizabeth Spiers told Capital that "it doesn't make much sense to retract."

Kamer's story claims specifically that Allan was mentioned by name on the wiretaps. So if Gristina and Allan are telling the truth—and they very well may not be, since one's an accused pimp and the other is a loathsome racist—he's obviously wrong. It's easy to see how a reference by Gristina to "an editor" at the New York Post in her conversations may have been misinterpreted by later listeners as a reference to the editor. It's also quite possible that Gristina was lying on the tapes about being pals with Allan.

One exceedingly odd detail in MacIntosh's story: Gristina identifies the taped conversation with "a friend, Rebecca Woodard, a woman who was allegedly working as an escort for madam Kristin Davis." I can find no public source associating Woodard with Davis or calling her an escort. So if she was "allegedly working as an escort," it seems like the only person making the allegation is MacIntosh. Generally, when a newspaper calls someone a hooker, they substantiate it somehow. Even the Post.

UPDATE: Interesting. The Post has updated the story, replacing Rebecca Woodard's name with "Ashley" and eliminating the allegation that she worked as an escort. The current text reads, "She recalled having a 2008 conversation with a friend, Ashley, a woman who was involved in the prosecution against madam Kristin Davis." Aside from the weirdness of a wholesale change of name, the decision to call her simply "Ashley" in the revise is doubly odd considering the fact that the most famous hooker who worked for Kristin Davis is one Ashley Dupre. Weird.