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Pissing War Over Frey Expose

WWW- MANIACAL Moscow-based newspaper The eXile is crying foul over the Smoking Gun Web site’s scoop that unmasked former Oprah Winfrey pet James Frey as a literary laughingstock.

The eXile – which longtime PAGE SIX readers will recall was behind a putrid prank that involved hitting New York Times Moscow bureau chief Michael Wines in the face with a pie filled with horse sperm – claims that Smoking Gun got the idea to launch its probe into Frey’s blockbuster rehab memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” from a story in the eXile.

A September 2005 editorial said, “We at the eXile have a strong suspicion that Frey never did time in the can . . . He claims to have done time in an Ohio County jail, although elsewhere it’s suggested that he did time in North Carolina.

“The alleged crime was a low-speed collision with a cop car while under the influence, for which he was sentenced first to mandatory time in the country’s top celeb rehab clinic, followed by three months in prison. Given his parents’ wealth and power, it would have been one of those minimum security prisons with putting greens. Your task: Either confirm, or debunk, the James Frey ex-con con job.”

The editor/founder of eXile, Mark Ames, who’s currently flogging his own book of essays, “Going Postal: Rage Murder and Rebellion – From Reagan’s Workplace to Clinton’s Columbine,” claims his paper’s editorial was picked up all over the blogosphere and spurred the Smoking Gun investigation that debunked many of Frey’s claims.

“There’s no way the Smoking Gun did not see what the eXile did,” Ames told PAGE SIX by telephone from Moscow.

But Smoking Gun founder Bill Bastone said that while he did read the eXile’s “fabulous” 2003 review of Frey’s book in the course of researching his story, he was “not tipped off” by the 2005 eXile editorial.

“I don’t know what the [bleep] he’s talking about,” Bastone told us. “We’ve always said how we got the story: We got an e-mail on Nov. 21 of last year from a guy who said, ‘You should find James Frey’s mug shot.’ We have a large collection of mug shots and we thought it would be pretty funny. That’s how we got onto the story.”

Ames said he plans to publish letters from Frey’s outraged fans that poured in after last year’s eXile editorial. “People were writing us, saying, ‘How dare you call him a liar! James has been through real suffering.’ So it’s really kind of fun reading them now.”

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