I find this story fascinating in a Chinatown/Citizen Kane kind of way: a senile Sumner Redstone (head of Viacom and CBS) called reporter Peter Lauria and left a rambling voice message about trying to figure out who was bad-mouthing Redstone’s girl-band project the “Electric Barbarellas”. The reporter goes public with the call — along with a subsequent interview of Redstone — and is trashed by CNBC “journalist” Dennis Kneale for doing so. (It goes without saying that Kneale is a toady and an embarrassment to his so-called profession.)
What I really like is the content of Redstone’s voicemail message:
“You may be reluctant, but we have to have [for the lawsuit] the name of the person who gave you that story,” Redstone says in the voicemail, the “we” being himself and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman. “We’re not going to kill him. We just want to talk to him. We’re not going to fire him. We just want to talk to him.” (As Frank Biondi, Mel Karmazin, Tom Freston, and even Tom Cruise can attest, Redstone is famous for such tolerance about opposing viewpoints, and would surely never fire someone just on a whim.)
Redstone went on to say: “You will be thoroughly protected. We’re not going to hurt this guy. We just want to sit him down and find out why he did what he did. You will not in any way be revealed. You will be well-rewarded and well-protected.”
There’s something about the story that is perfect: crazy old billionaire falls in love with an all-girl band, launches scorched-earth campaign to find the person who has been bad-mouthing said band, then has his minions in the media trash the reporter who writes about the campaign. It’s a timeless American story of greed, cowardice, lust, and lunacy.
And the good guy in the story is named Peter Lauria! You can’t make this stuff up.