The Loneliest Number

Enough dirt. Don’t you just love New York Magazine’s new Daily Intelligencer column (Intel for the cognoscenti)? Editor and former Timesman Adam Moss was smart to grab Jesse Oxfeld who Nick Denton gave the boot from Gawker during the dog days of August.

Next to “Page Six” and my Scooper buddy (and former Intel doyenne) Jeannette Walls of MSNBC, Intelligencer has somehow managed to stay relevant in an age when gossip, and the purveyors of it, permeate our lives.

I remember years ago when Mike Hall, who made a business out of nothing but planting items in the columns, looked at me incredulously when I presented him with an expanded list that tripled his columnist mainstays of Liz, Earl, Suzy, Eugenia, Phil & Tom, Intel, and, of course Page Six (as edited by Brady, Cohen, Mulcahy, Stivers, DiGiacomo, Johnson, etc.) Today, of course, the choice of which gossipist with which to plant an item is dizzying when the bloggosphere is folded into the mix.

Anyway, not to digress, I got a kick out of the item in yesterday’s Intel column that had the famous NY-branded PR agency Howard J. Rubenstein (not to be confused with off-shoots Dan Klores Communications or Rubenstein PR) tooling with his company’s phone system to give the impression that his publicity-hungry pitchers hail from The New York Times.

Those who’ve toiled in the biz know very well (and even get a visceral charge) when the numbers 111-111-1111 suddenly pop on their telephone screens. That caller is from the newspaper-of-record. No longer exclusively. For whatever reason, Howard’s helpers have helped themselves to the loneliest number. Gee, I wonder if this phone-y tactic could be construed as astroturfing???