BOSTON -- An independent Boston publisher said Wednesday it would not yield to legal threats by a major publishing house in a dispute over a forthcoming book criticizing the American media.
Beacon Press, publishing branch of the Unitarian-Universalist Association, is accusing Simon & Schuster of New York of attempting to censor a new book written by media critic Ben H. Bagdikian, entitled 'Media Monopoly.'
Rev. Robert C. Salles, acting director of Beacon Press, said Wednesday the firm will 'not be intimidated by threats of legal action or the financial resources of Simon & Schuster.'
He was referring to a letter signed by Alexander Gigante, general counsel of Simon & Schuster, that demanded that 'defamatory passages be deleted from the book before its release' and also asked that the manuscript be inspected by Simon & Schuster before publication.
At issue is an incident mentioned in the second chapter of Bagdikian's book, which, according to Publisher's Weekly, seeks to demonstrate how 50 giant corporations exercise control of the U.S. print and electronic media. The incident, as outlined in the book, involved Nan Talese, a former editor for Simon & Schuster, and two authors who proposed to write a book tracing the history of corporate decisions involving equipment safety.
Talese was quoted as asking the authors, 'Is Gulf & Western (Simon & Schuster's parent company) one of the corporations?' The proposed book, tentatively titled, 'Corporate Murder,' was later rejected by the publishing firm's editorial board, Bagdikian reported in his book.
Gigante charged in his letter to Beacon Press that 'that story is false. No such incident ever occurred.' But Bagdikian Wednesday told the Boston Globe his book is 'fully documented and has all been reviewed by lawyers.'
'I've been in this business long enough to know what's libelous and what's fuzzy ... I'm not sure exactly what they're unhappy about,' Bagdikian said from his home in Berkeley, Calif.
Bagdikian, an award-winning journalist and author and a former editor of the Washington Post, said he chose Beacon Press because he feared a conglomerate-owned publishing house would be unwilling to give the book wide distribution.
Beacon Press, which published the Pentagon Papers in 1971, is scheduled to publish 'Media Monopoly' in May.