The New York Times interview with ex-Hollywood reporter/editor Anita Busch is such a non-story that it’s embarrassing not only in its hype but also in its omissions. For one thing, I wrote this identical story three years ago with much less info about the case than is available today. (See Requiem For Anita Busch.) For another, the NYT doesn’t detail Busch’s behind-the-scenes efforts to convey info and spin to journalists covering the longstanding Pellicano case (including to reporters for the NYT) which would disprove the article’s claim that she’s been silent until now.
Way more inexplicably, the NYT article today omits the primary reason why journalists at first didn’t believe Busch’s June 2002 account of threats against her: because she was claiming they were prompted by her then investigation of actor Steven Seagal’s alleged mob ties. At the time, she wasn’t the first to look into that story. In fact other media beat her to the punch. Yet even seasoned Mafia beat reporters had never experienced a threat to their person or property. So that’s why Busch wasn’t believed. (The incident in which a man threatened Vanity Fair writer Ned Zeman with a gun in August 2002 remains just a footnote even though Zeman, too, was working on a Seagal-mob story…)
Actually, the press was right to be skeptical: because now even Busch’s own civil lawsuit and the feds in their criminal lawsuit don’t finger Steven Seagal or the mob. The FBI’s November 2002 warrant to search then Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano’s office had linked the threats against Busch to her nosing around about Seagal, but there’s nothing about any of that in the U.S. Attorney’s recently issued trial memo. Instead, the NYT inexplicably didn’t ask Busch why she amended her civil lawsuit to include Michael Ovitz, or why the feds’ trial memo focuses instead on the series of articles about Ovitz that she wrote as a freelancer with then NYT staffer Bernie Weinraub. Now that’s the stuff of an interview.