For New Book, Halperin Latches On To A Less Relevant But Still Provocative Judith Regan

(L-R) Executive producer "The Circus" Mark Halperin, executive producer "The Circus" Mark McKinnon, director "Weiner" Josh Kriegman and director "Weiner" Elyse Steinberg speak onstage at '"The Circus" of Politics' panel discussion during the Showtime portion of the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 11, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 11: Executive producer "The Circus" Mark Halperin speaks onstage at '"The Circus" of Politics' panel discussion during the Showtime portion of the 2016 Television Critics Association Summe... BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 11: Executive producer "The Circus" Mark Halperin speaks onstage at '"The Circus" of Politics' panel discussion during the Showtime portion of the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 11, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) MORE LESS
August 19, 2019 6:52 p.m.

Disgraced pundit Mark Halperin has turned to a somewhat-faded but once-explosive name for his new book: Judith Regan.

The book, “How To Beat Trump,” is slated for release in November by Regan’s company, Regan Arts. On the book’s cover, Regan Arts promises that the volume will offer insights from “America’s top political strategists on WHAT IT WILL TAKE” to beat President Trump in 2020.

News of the book first surfaced in Politico Playbook over the weekend, prompting controversy. Halperin was fired from his role as a leading journalist at NBC and Showtime after multiple women accused him of sexual assault and of using his position to threaten the women’s careers after being rebuffed.

But the book is only the latest scandal for Regan, who was a fixture of media coverage from the 1990s through the late 2000s for her bombastic personality and the controversial projects she took on, including books by Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, and the abortive but famous “If I Did It” by O.J. Simpson.

Regan did not reply to repeated emailed requests for comment.

“I do not in any way, shape, or form condone any harm done by one human being to another,” Regan said in a statement to Politico. “I have also lived long enough to believe in the power of forgiveness, second chances, and offering a human being a path to redemption.”

But the controversy around the Halperin book echoes other projects that Regan has undertaken.

Regan exploded onto the media scene in the early 1990s after publishing Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, and, as she added to multiple interviewers at the time, a book “by” the cartoon characters Beavis & Butthead.

“Howard is a tongue-down-your-throat kind of guy; Rush is more sensual and romantic,” Regan told the New York Times Magazine in a 1994 profile.

The profile described Regan’s projects as “as widely read as they are despised” — an iconoclasm that Regan cultivated in pursuit of fame, a quality not often associated with literary editors.

From Limbaugh, Regan upgraded to smut, reportedly giving Madonna the idea for her coffee table book “Sex,” while also publishing a host of erotic novels.

By the mid-1990s, Regan boasted a friendship with Australian archconservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Regan was given her own imprint at HarperCollins, a NewsCorp subsidiary, describing herself as a “facilitator” in a 1994 interview with Charlie Rose while proclaiming her “iron will.”

The Long Island-raised editor essentially continued in that mode for years, cashing in on raising hell while staying firmly planted in the worlds of sex and politics. She published a book by adult film star Jenna Jameson called “How To Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale.”

Michael Wolff, a self-described college buddy of Regan’s, called her “the most successful editor in the book business” in a column. Wolff was addressing a book Regan was pushing called “Monica’s Untold Story,” an anonymous, insider-y account of Monica Lewinsky’s affair with President Bill Clinton.

Wolff wrote that Regan had started promoting the book after losing out on a supposed book deal with Lewinsky herself. “Indeed, it seems reasonably likely that Anonymous is Judith Regan herself,” Wolff wrote.

Regan began to stumble in the mid-2000s, after a whiplash-inducing series of events stemming from an affair with former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik.

Kerik had used a secret lower Manhattan apartment to have an affair with Regan, as well as with an official with the city’s Department of Corrections. But Kerik got burned after it emerged that the apartment had been donated to the city as a place for workers involved in the 9/11 cleanup to rest, but had been diverted for illicit liaisons with Regan.

The allegations were damaging, and wound up being compounded by another scandal engulfing Regan — her attempt to publish O.J. Simpson’s “If I Did It,” a hypothetical account of how The Juice would have murdered his wife and friend, had he done it.

“This is a historic case, and I consider this his confession,” Regan said at the time.

The case sparked a massive controversy, spurring HarperCollins to rescind publication of the book and fire Regan.

Regan reportedly claimed that the controversies surrounding her work were because she had been targeted by a Jewish cabal. Regan denied that those reports were true, and responded to her firing with a $100 million lawsuit, in which she made her own accusations, including claiming that NewsCorp executive Roger Ailes told her to lie to federal investigators about her relationship with Kerik in a bid to protect the presidential aspirations of the mayor who appointed Kerik, Rudy Giuliani.

NewsCorp reportedly settled the case for $10 million, while Regan found another benefactor — Apollo Global Management founder Leon Black — to bankroll her current imprint, Regan Arts, through Phaidon Press. Regan Arts’s relationship with Phaidon has now, reportedly, ended, and Halperin’s book will be distributed by Simon & Schuster.

Since her fall from the Murdoch empyrean, Regan appears to have failed to garner the attention that she once did. Vice ran a story in 2014 about a VR project she was engaged in, while Publishers Weekly reported last year that her imprint was “sputtering” amid declining sales.

In that context, Halperin’s book — and the outrage it has generated — is a return to the old days.

But for one of Halperin’s alleged victims, PR guru Eleanor McManus, the book’s publication, and Regan’s role in it, is an insult.

“That a woman is behind this book deal only adds insult to injury,” McManus told TPM, reached by phone. “Rather than promoting sexual predators, women in executive roles need to stand united.”

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