McGreevey: Blame 'Oprah' Spot, Not Me, for Book Sales

The gloves in the McGreevey divorce saga came off long ago.

Now, it's just plain ugly.

Former Garden State Gov. Jim McGreevey responded sharply this week to claims by estranged wife Dina Matos McGreevey that his calculated libeling of her as a homophobe polarized prospective gay readers, undercutting the sales of her recently released tell all, "Silent Partner: A Memoir of My Marriage."

"Instead of blaming the failure of her book on her awful appearance on the 'Oprah' show, where she wore an inappropriate and ill fitting ball gown with a plunging neckline," McGreevey's attorney wrote in newly filed court documents, "or blaming the continual rolling of her eyes indicating a strange affect, or blaming the fact that her book is poorly written or dull … she blames [McGreevey]."

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McGreevey's attorney, Matthew Piermatti, who in the filing also invoked Shakespeare and argued that, if anything, the media controversy tied to the high-profile divorce would only drive book sales, disputed Matos McGreevey's legal claim that she deserves compensatory damages from the former governor.

Not only does McGreevey dispute that he libeled his estranged wife a homophobe, but his attorney says it would be impossible to put a dollar figure on how the libel would affect book sales if the court ever acknowledged Matos McGreevey's claim.

"To believe her assertion, you have to believe that [Matos McGreevey] has control of the reading public," Piermatti wrote.

The latest play by McGreevey came as no big surprise to Tobe Berkovitz, dean of Boston University's College of Communications, who described Matos McGreevey as an easy target.

"James McGreevey always was a media-savvy politician and his wife is just coming out like a media rube," Berkovitz said. "When you have two unsympathetic characters and you have one who knows how to play the press and one doesn't, you put your money on the one who does."

Berkovitz also predicted, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that these two ultimately would reunite.

"In another year, when both of them are D-list celebrities, it will not surprise me when they write a tell-all book together," he said. "The question then is will they appear first on 'Dr. Phil' or 'Oprah'?"

McGreevey's filing is a response to Matos McGreevey's latest legal arguments, in which she "alleges her reputation was harmed in the eyes of community, and that third persons were deterred from associating with her."

"[McGreevey's] defamatory allegations -— that [Matos McGreevey] is homophobic and that she was aware of his sexual orientation(s) when the parties married — negatively affect book sales by deterring purchases by members of the gay community," her court filing reads.

Matos McGreevey's book was released May 1 to much fanfare — including an exclusive kick-off interview with Oprah Winfrey — but has since lagged in sales.

Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, a gay and lesbian news Web site, dismissed Matos McGreevey's legal argument — and the couple's private lives entirely — earlier this week.

"I think Dina and Jim McGreevey [and their publishers] greatly overestimated the gay community's interest in their marital problems," he wrote in an e-mail to ABC News, describing McGreevey as "an unethical and unsavory character."

Regarding possible lost books sales, he said, "I just don't think that gays generally are so enamored of Jim McGreevey that they would boycott en masse Dina's book."

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