Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Sumner Redstone's Many Gigs: Viacom Chairman, Girl-Band Promoter, Leak Plugger!

Maybe Sumner Redstone has too much time on his hands.

Last month we learned, from the Daily Beast’s Peter Lauria, that the Viacom (VIA) chairman was moonlighting as a talent promoter: Redstone was reportedly trying to get his MTV channel to run an unwatchable reality TV show about the Electric Barbarellas–a “scantily clad new all-girl group” the octogenarian was supposedly “smitten with.”

Now we learn, from Lauria as well, that Redstone is working on a new project: Trying to figure out which Viacom employee leaked last month’s story to Lauria.

Redstone, a lawyer by training, isn’t beating around the bush here–he just called up Lauria and told him to give up the name. “You will be well-rewarded and well-protected,” he promised. Here’s the astounding voicemail he left:

For the record, Lauria isn’t giving up the name of his source.

UPDATE: I’ll admit I’m a bit surprised to hear from Viacom at all on this one. But PR boss Carl Folta wants us to know that Redstone’s call was a freelance affair, and not a reflection of Viacom policy. “There is no investigation under way at Viacom,” he says.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald