Talking Litigation With Larry King and His Lawyer

By Jack Limpert

A look back at a 1994 Washington Post story by Howard Kurtz about Larry King threatening to sue the Washingtonian: To settle things, we had a long, surprisingly friendly discussion with Larry and his lawyer at the magazine’s offices. And as as things tend to go in Washington, once we settled and shook hands there were no hard feelings when we’d later run into each other. The Post story:

The Washingtonian magazine agreed yesterday to publish its “regrets” for a harsh article on Larry King in exchange for the talk show host’s agreement not to file a libel suit.

“In retrospect, I thought the story was too rough on King,” Editor Jack Limpert said. “It did create a meaner impression than I would’ve liked. … I regret any mistakes or misunderstandings. This balances the scales and it’s fair to everyone.”

King, who had threatened to sue in a five-page letter from his attorney, said: “I’m happy to see they’re making amends for shoddy journalism. I think it’s important that people take action. Too often people in the public eye just keep quiet while other people trample on the truth.”

In the King article, Limpert said the magazine had relied on “people close to” Julie Alexander, King’s fifth ex-wife, and Rama Fox, his recent ex-fiancee.

King’s lawyer, Mark A. Barondess, said the retraction “will demonstrate to readers that the Washingtonian piece was flawed, with many errors.” Among the points to be corrected or clarified:

That court papers in a suit involving King and Alexander contain references to sexually transmitted disease treatment. “The Washingtonian did not intend to suggest that King or Alexander had or has any sexually transmitted disease, and regrets any misunderstanding.”

That King’s suit against Alexander was rejected in court. The magazine now says King withdrew the suit before settlement and that it “regrets the error.”

That King is paying Alexander only a third of the $57,000 a month in alimony he owes. “The Washingtonian admits that at this writing a figure of $57,000 cannot be confirmed.”

That comedian Mark Russell, at the funeral of sportswriter Morris Siegel, told a story that ended with Siegel saying “screw Larry King.” “The Washingtonian agrees that Russell’s remarks were more humorous and upbeat than the impression created by the story.”

“The Washingtonian acknowledges that neither King nor Barondess had input into the story.”

Barondess said he returned two calls by a Washingtonian reporter but failed to reach her.

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