ADL Files Complaint with Ftc Against Publisher of Book on Lansky

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith said today it had filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against G.P. Putnam’s Sons over its advertisement for Hank Messick’s book “Lansky,” about Meyer Lansky. The ad, which appeared in the New York Times, was headed “Jews Control Crime in the United States.” The ADL charged that the ad was false, misleading and “in flagrant violation” of the FTC’s rule against unfair trade practices. Arnold Forster, the ADL’s general counsel, stressed that the headline’s implication was not borne out in the book. He added that “this blatant appeal to anti-Semitism, an affront to the entire Jewish community, is violative of the spirit of the law.” He said Messick himself had disavowed the ad in a newspaper interview. The ADL also reported today that Putnam’s subsidiary Berkley Publishing has agreed to drop the allegedly offensive “headline” from the cover of the paperback edition of “Lansky,” and to substitute “The Mob Runs America, and Lansky Runs the Mob.” A Berkley spokesman confirmed the cover change and said it had been effected even before the original ADL protest. He attributed the “Jews Control Crime” line to “an overzealous copywriter” who had based it on “a legitimate headline in an Israeli paper” (Haaretz, which used it to title a review of “Lansky”). The spokesman said he regretted the “error.”

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