As the trial grows closer, and time for settlement becomes precious, several national outlets have cast their gaze back toward the McCourts. Through Business Week's Richard Siklos comes a detailed, engaging profile of Jamie. Visiting the office much more willing McCourt, Siklos describes a trip to Jamie Enterprises:
She pulls out a tribute video from happier days, before her husband of 30 years, Frank McCourt, fired her as chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team: Vin Scully, the team's legendary announcer, praises her "brains and energy"; Tommy Lasorda says "she does a wonderful job"; and the dean of UCLA's business school gushes that she is a role model for women who is a "gorgeous, energetic, smart, brilliant person." Jamie is shown hugging players and her sons, and swimming her morning laps at the McCourts' Beverly Hills mansion. At the end, the petite, now 56-year-old blonde says to the camera: "There's that myth about having it all at one time. I don't think that's true, but you can have a lot."That's pretty much Jamie McCourt, isn't it? Self-promotion is a wonderful tool, and it has served Jamie--and countless other extraordinarily successful people--quite well. But there's something just a bit off about showing a reporter a promotional video. Trying to play the media is one thing; trying to sell yourself to it is another.
Siklos' excellent piece offers another glimpse into the differences between the McCourts when it came to finances. He writes:
Unlike her husband, Jamie is a self-described "big worrier" when it comes to money. She was horrified, she says, when, early in the marriage, a sheriff appeared at their door to collect a debt related to her husband's business and when a lien was later taken out against their house. Because of this, the McCourts decided that their residences would be put solely in Jamie's name.
They were also dogged by money woes. A May 2003 internal memo to Frank and Jamie from a senior McCourt lieutenant entitled "here we go again" warned of a looming business and personal liquidity crisis if they didn't watch their spending.Nothing all too surprising here, is there? This fits with everything we've seen to this point. Jamie, for all her salesmanship and aggressive self-promotion, certainly seems a bit wiser when it comes to spending--relatively speaking anyway. That May 2003 memo is a bit disconcerting; as you'll recall, the McCourts purchased the Dodgers several months later.
But then again, the McCourts personal liquidity had little to do with their acquisition of the Dodgers. Though Siklos' piece again supports Frank's point that separating the assets was Jamie's idea, he also relates, through a source, that Jamie was often sharper and more pointed when it came to negotiations for the club. From the beginning, Jamie has painted the picture that she had a role something greater than ornamental. At least in the preliminary stages of McCourt ownership, that looks to have been accurate.
Siklos' reporting also reveals an interesting interplay between the attorney who drafted the MPA, Larry Silverstein, and the attorney the McCourts engaged to review it, Leah Bishop:
In one e-mail exchange between Bishop and Silverstein, the Boston lawyer who wrote the original MPA, Silverstein told Bishop that there hadn't been a mistake in the original MPA, writing, "I recall [Jamie] saying in those days she didn't care about the business assets so long as she had her separate pool." In response to Silverstein's e-mail, Jamie angrily wrote that this was "preposterous....Don't forget, I was a divorce lawyer there and I am really clear on what the intended distributions were to be...my fault, I guess, for not having read the post marital document and believing that you were preserving the status quo."
That's sort of what we've been saying all along, isn't it? "My fault, I guess, for not having read the post marital document and believing you were reporting the status quo." As a lawyer, Jamie is held to a higher standard in negotiations like this. She is presumed to have knowledge greater than a non-lawyer, and failure to mind her p's and q's, as it were, is a glaring misstep.
But that's not all there is to the picture. Is it fair to hold her to that standard when dealing with her husband of more than two decades? While the McCourts' marital relationship had always seemed contentious--they have been portrayed as arguing all the time--that's just how it works for some couples. Countless couples. The existence of conflict does not necessarily mean the absence of love, and I believe it entirely possible Jamie did trust Frank not to put her in this position.
Which raises a difficult question: who should suffer for their mistake? Frank for his alleged deceit? Or Jamie for her alleged naivete?
As the trial looms, Jamie knows firsthand how intractable Frank can be. "I'm disappointed, not surprised," she says. Neither, presumably, is Frank. In better days, he once said of their four-decade partnership: "It's been one long argument, actually."While the bitterness and animosity might not fade, the long argument, at least, is soon to conclude.