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Newsies go nuclear over Zahn

Anchor skirmish brings Fox to legal launch

The war between Fox News Channel and CNN heated up last week, with Paula Zahn in the center of an increasingly hostile battlefield. And an insurgent force — the N.S. Bienstock agency — is drawing Fox fire.

Once Fox News learned that Zahn was entertaining offers from arch-rival CNN, it promptly showed her the door. CNN was more than happy to welcome her, offering $2 million to host a new ayemcast.

It’s all part of a larger conspiracy to poach talent, claims Fox News. The news net promptly filed suit in the New York Supreme Court against N.S. Bienstock, Inc., Zahn’s agency, accusing it of inducing Zahn to breach her contract with Fox News.

The lawsuit went so far as to accuse Bienstock — which represents news luminaries including Diane Sawyer, Dan Rather and Fox News’ own Bill O’Reilly — of being part of “CNN’s larger scheme over the last several months to entice other networks’ talent to CNN in their bid to raise CNN’s lagging ratings.”

The document claims CNN hasn’t been able to recruit other nets’ employees on its own and has enlisted Bienstock to do its dirty work.

Over the last several months, Bienstock has, in fact, brokered deals between a number of anchors, correspondents and producers and CNN. Foremost among them is former ABC News’ Aaron Brown, who will anchor a primetime newscast at CNN.

Bienstock also represents Jack Ford, the ABC News anchor who is a possible contender for Zahn’s co-anchor spot.

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