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Tabloid loses fight to stop rival from publishing Gifford affair story

The Associated Press

01.04.99

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LOS ANGELES — A federal judge has refused to block publication of a National Enquirer story that alleges its competitor, the Globe, paid a former flight attendant $250,000 to set up a tryst with sportscaster Frank Gifford.

The Globe sought to stop the National Enquirer story on the grounds that it violated the Globe's copyright and infringed on its trade secrets. The Globe claimed to have exclusive rights to the flight attendant's story.

But U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder rejected the argument on Dec. 31, saying halting publication of the Enquirer would violate the First Amendment.

"This is a remarkable day (when) one newspaper is trying to enjoin another newspaper from publishing," Enquirer lawyer Bruce Wessel said during the hearing.

The Enquirer story is scheduled to appear in this week's editions.

The Globe first published a story about Gifford's affair with former TWA flight attendant Suzen Johnson in its May 20, 1997, edition. Gifford is married to television personality Kathie Lee Gifford.

The Enquirer report, headlined "Kathie Lee Shocker: Frank's Lover Tells All," reportedly quotes Johnson as saying she regretted the affair ever took place.

In court, Globe lawyers denied paying Johnson $250,000 to lure Gifford into a wired Manhattan hotel room. But they also argued that the Enquirer's report reveals a trade secret — how much it pays sources.

"This is a commercial effort to harm a competitor," said Globe lawyer Amy Hogue.

"I have grave doubts as to whether the amount paid is a 'trade secret,'" Snyder said in rejecting the Globe's request.

David Perel, executive editor of the Enquirer, said the ruling was a victory for the First Amendment. "We will show America what they were trying to hide," Perel said.

The Globe also tried unsuccessfully to try to keep news reporters out of the hearing.

"I'm very disinclined to do that," Snyder said. "I think the press has a right to be here."

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