Teen rejects checkbook journalism
A local teen-ager has turned down $12,500 from a national tabloid trying to publish her story.National Enquirer representative Michelle Caruso offered Lindsey McKinney a five-figure check for exclusive rights to her story. McKinney was quoted Sunday in a California newspaper, the Orange County Register, as saying the Eagle County woman accusing Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant ingested too many pills, lost consciousness and had to be taken to a hospital. The incident stemmed from a series of emotional upheavals including a tumultuous breakup with a former boyfriend and the death of her best friend in an automobile accident.McKinney said she regrets the story is out there at all, and that it’s out there with her name on it.”No amount of money is worth the harassment,” said McKinney. “Nothing is worth what (the victim) went through, and what she’s going to have to go through.”Nothing is worth losing a friend,” she added.The money, McKinney said, wouldn’t change her life. Losing a friend, she said, would.Reporting tricksMcKinney said she regrets the way the information came out. She said she was tricked by reporters Heather Louring and Marcia C. Smith of the Orange County Register into answering questions for their story.She was sick, she said, and was awakened by a ringing telephone; when she picked it up, it was Louring on the line.”They told me they’d already talked to a bunch of kids and that they had all the information, and that they only wanted to nail down a few facts,” said McKinney. “I wasn’t even awake yet.”McKinney said they also told her they’d call her Saturday night if the story was running in the Register’s Sunday edition. No call came, she said.McKinney also said a quote in the Register’s story was taken out of context. McKinney is quoted as saying: “I think the things that happened in the past had a lot to do with what happened that night.” The Register linked the quote to the night of the alleged assault by Bryant. McKinney said she was talking about the night the alleged victim took the pills.By the time her mother figured out what was going on with the Register’s questioning, the Q&A was over, her mother said.When the story hit Sunday, with her named as the primary source, they were deluged with reporters from all over the country.”We’re almost afraid to answer the phone,” McKinney said.The Orange County Register did not provide a statement to the Vail Daily by press time.Enquiring minds want to payOn Caruso’s third trip to the house that Sunday, the National Enquirer’s offer had increased from $200 to $10,000 on the third trip. By the time she rang the doorbell the fourth time around after 7 p.m. Sunday, the National Enquirer’s offer was upped to $12,500.Here’s a transcript of that Sunday-night conversation:- NE: “Jerry upped the offer to $12,500, but the interview has to be tonight or tomorrow. For that we need exclusivity. You can’t talk to anyone else in the media.”We’ll want a picture, preferably a picture with the victim.”- Dad: “What is it you’re looking for?”- NE: “We want the whole truth, and what she knows to the best of her knowledge. But we must move tonight. We think the story has about a 24-hour shelf life.”- Dad: “Haven’t you talked to any other kids?”- NE: “We’ve talked to several other kids, but none with her level of knowledge.”- Dad: “We’ll need to talk about this, but I don’t believe we’re interested.”- NE: “Call me before you go to bed tonight. Does that amount of money make a dent to you at all?”- Dad: “No, not really.”- NE: “It’s more than I’ve ever seen them pay for anything. Stories on Julia Roberts only pay five grand. Are lawyers from the case calling you?- Dad: “No.”- NE: “You’ve got my card, don’t you?”- Dad: “Yes, we still have it.”- NE: “Tomorrow morning early is the cut-off.The National Enquirer did not show up Monday morning, Lindsey McKinney’s mother said.