LA Weekly news features editor Marc Cooper didn't care at all for Weekly columnist Nikki Finke's launch-day blast at the Huffington Post. On his blog, Cooper calls his colleague a "gutter-raker" and trashes her piece as "a gaseous attack column" — and insinuates she conspired with the rival Drudge Report to undermine Arianna on her first day. Then things get more heated. Who knows what internal politics came into play, but under the Finke column on the newspaper's main page, the LA Weekly posted a "Marc Cooper responds" link to the needling over on his personal blog. [* Thursday update: The Weekly took down its Cooper link.] In the comments there, readers are mostly piling on Finke, with somebody observing "the Weekly's Xmas party must be a real hoot!"
Then it gets more interesting. Finke posted a ten-point rejoinder in Cooper's comments questioning his ethics, credentials, spelling and the facts of a 1987 column he wrote about her:
8. That you never bothered to tell me what you were going to atack [sic] me personally shows what a spineless coward you really are.
9. As a columnist, you're lazy and boring.
10. Your professional jealousy is showing. You might want to get help for that.
Cooper, in turn, responds tonight with a new post that reads in part:
This sort of fit doesn't deserve much of a response. I don't feel compelled to whip out my "bona fides" and start comparing them with hers. Unfortunately, this sort of crud is pervasive in a profession where so much ego is invested. I do find it rather staggering, however, that someone like Finke who makes her living reporting Hollywood dirt acts like, well, to use her words, such an online ass.
For a little background, Cooper is a longtime staffer at the Weekly. Finke writes the "Deadline Hollywood" column as a freelancer. Either way, I'll make a point of attending the next Weekly party.
* Wait, there's more: Finke responds this morning (Wednesday) in the comments of Cooper's second post...and he responds to her...and she retorts. Then I think he went to bed. Here are samples:
Nikki, 1:12 a.m.: First, you might try being truthful in your blogging, a novel concept for you, I know...Your rants impugn not only my journalistic integrity and not only attack me personally, but you also impugn the journalistic integrity of the very paper you write for and I write for, as well as all its editors...Gee, Cooper, how do your current comments track with your telling me on April 8th on the phone how much you enjoy my columns and my writing and reporting and what a terrific addition to LA Weekly I have been. What? You forget you said that to me? You also expressed your own pre-launch opinions to me about Arianna's blog, and they weren't exactly flattering.
Marc, 1:29 a.m.: Nikki, put a lid on it and go to bed. I think you've said quite enough tonite. The conversation we had on the phone a month ago at ur request was a mutually agreed upon privileged conversation between a reporter and a source. If it makes you feel better to pull ur pants all the way down and start claiming what I said and I didnt say would merely expose your own miserable ethical code. I have to say, I have not met a single person who works with you or knows you who actually likes you or can even stand you. I am getting to understand the reasons why.
Nikki, 1:46 a.m.: My, how you're starting to sweat, Cooper. I can see you don't like the truth being hurled back in your face. I just went back and re-read those raw notes from that April 9 conversation and they're not pretty, believe me. Oh, and only a few sentences from you were off the record and clearly marked as such. Or did you forget that, too? Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for you to get one fact about all this correct. Or, at least, to state one fact. Oh, and have you read that email from the LA Weekly tonight yet? Have a sweaty night's sleep. You'll need it.