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Judith Regan: If She Did It

The New York Times has a story today quoting two unnamed “top executives at HarperCollins” who say that editor Judith Regan was “investigated and reprimanded three years ago for making an antisemitic remark at work.” According to the Times, the executives and someone else involved in the incident said that an editor complained that Regan “had boasted of removing the scrolls from her neighbors’ mezuzas and replacing them with torn pieces from dollar bills.” Also today, the New York Daily News has this gem: Ex-staffers claim Regan compared Jews to rats.

So was the Forward’s arts editor, Alana Newhouse, off the mark in her piece this week challenging the notion of Regan as antisemite and the idea that prejudice is what got her fired?

Gawker started off the day with a post suggesting that the NYT report put a dent in Newhouse’s thesis, but then appeared to shift gears.

The view here is that the new revelations serve to underscore Newhouse’s point: Regan’s ability to offend is quite well known throughout the publishing industry — and was certainly no secret to Rupert Murdoch and the higherups at HarperCollins. So why fire Regan now? If the company believed that she was a bigot, why did it take them this long to fire her? Insulting remarks are OK, as long as they aren’t directed at top executives? Or, as some suspect, powerful people at HarperCollins wanted out for other reasons and the “antisemite” charge provided an effective way to take Regan down?

P.S. One Forward editor argues that due to the special measures required to attach mezuzahs to the metal door frames in many Manhattan apartment buildings, it is difficult to image that Regan could have actually carried out the alleged prank. That said, if Regan did tamper with the mezuzahs, does anyone doubt that she would take similar measures against the Christmas wreaths of neighbors who wound up on her enemies list?


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