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DRUDGE REPORT 2004®

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XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX MON MAY 03, 2004 10:25:38 ET XXXXX

FIRESTORM: GE JACK WELCH THREATENS LAWSUIT OVER BOOK; AUTHOR VOWS TO FIGHT

NEW YORK POST business writer and bestselling author Christopher Byron is standing tough behind his new book TESTOSTERONE INC.: TALES OF CEOS GONE WILD -- despite a serious threat of legal action by one of the world's top mediapower players!

In TESTOSTERONE, Byron, author of the trailblazing 2002 expose on Martha Stewart, MARTHA INC, jumps on the third rail with an investigation of GENERAL ELECTRIC chairman and chief executive Jack Welch.

"Welch is doing a damn good job of trying to squelch the book," a top source close to Byron tells the DRUDGE REPORT.

MORE

Welch's lawyer, Dan Webb, is warning media editors to stay clear of any and all promotion, claiming there are "over 60 factual statements that are completely false" in the book.

Webb is preparing a legal action.

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Last week, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned, Byron was unexpectedly contacted by one of his sources with an unusual and awkward request to immediately be given back certain documents, highly unflattering to Welch, that had been provided to Byron without conditions, during the course of his research.

"Welch can not sue with these documents out there," an insider explains. "He'll be laughed out of court!"

Despite every effort to stop its publication, TESTOSTERONE hit the streets last week.

In the book, Byron claims Welch, who for 15 years held the title of chairman of NBC, tried to shape the news time and again -- to his own personal and financial advantage.

One allegation: Welch ordered the President of NBC News, Lawrence Grossman, to stop reporting stories that would negatively impact GE’s stock price.

MORE

Welch first tried to halt the book by claiming the dust jacket features an illegally used photograph of his then-fiance, Suzy Welaufer.

(The photograph is of a model, reprinted with credit from photographic reprint agency and bears no resemblance whatsoever to Wetlaufer.)

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Insiders close to Byron claim Welch, through media intermediaries at HARPERCOLLINS, tried to obtain a copy of the manuscript from both the WILLIAM MORRIS agency and Byron directly, by subterfuges, without disclosing that HARPERCOLLINS was in talks with Welch regarding a new $4 million book deal for himself and Wetlaufer!

Efforts to obtain the manuscript prior to publication also have involved the PR spokesman for New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who refused to disclose why she wanted a copy of the manuscript. (Welch holds a consulting contract with the New York City Board of Education.)

Efforts to obtain the manuscript have also involved the executive producer of the CHARLIE ROSE SHOW, who falsely claimed to the publisher, beginning more than a month before the book’s publication, that Rose wanted to feature Byron as a guest on his show. In reality, the approach, which was insistent and continued for weeks, ended only after Welch himself appeared as Rose’s guest on the show instead.

Developing...

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