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Editor Pete Hamill Back on Job as Battle Over Tabloid Continues With AM-Post-Outrageous Abe,

March 17, 1993

Editor Pete Hamill Back on Job as Battle Over Tabloid Continues With AM-Post-Outrageous Abe, Bjt

NEW YORK (AP) _ Pete Hamill, the New York Post’s editor-icon, returned to work at the tabloid Tuesday, grinning at the cheers of his newsroom colleagues and declaring that he intended to get out a paper.

″Pete 3/8 Pete 3/8 Pete 3/8″ chanted dozens of Post reporters and editors as Hamill returned to his office.

″Let’s go,″ he told the assembled staffers.

Hamill, 57, had been fired Friday by Abe J. Hirschfeld, just minutes after a bankruptcy court awarded Hirschfeld the paper - triggering the latest crisis for the 192-year-old daily, the nation’s oldest.

In two days of turmoil, Hirschfeld fired 70 Post workers, then reinstated 50 of them - all reporters and editors. After missing Monday’s edition, the staff turned out a Tuesday paper that sharply attacked Hirschfeld and his newly named ″co-publisher″ and editor in chief, Wilbert Tatum.

Behind a front page showing founder Alexander Hamilton with a tear running down his face, the paper devoted 16 pages to attacks on Hirschfeld and Tatum, the owner of a black-oriented weekly newspaper.

″Who is this nut who’s taken the Post hostage?″ asked a headline over one story describing the eccentric behavior of Hirschfeld, a 74-year-old, self- made real estate millionaire.

In an interview in his office as Hamill’s return was celebrated two floors below, Hirschfeld insisted he wasn’t dismayed by his own newspaper’s personal attacks. ″I think it’s great, I think it’s excellent,″ he said. ″All I know is that people were standing in line to buy the Post.″

Hirschfeld said he had no interest in meeting with Hamill.

″Steve Hoffenberg gave him a contract for about three-quarters of a million dollars, so let Steve Hoffenberg keep paying him,″ Hirschfeld said. ″Hamill is not the Post. If Hamill steps out, the Post will go on.″

Hoffenberg, the would-be rescuer who lost the paper to Hirschfeld in bankruptcy court, said Tuesday that he and real estate magnate Leon Charney had joined forces to regain control.

Hamill said he decided to return to work because the masthead in Tuesday’s paper still listed him as the editor in chief.

″I’m taking the position that I have a contract with the New York Post, and we’re going to put out the New York Post,″ he said.

As for Hirschfeld, Hamill said, ″I think he’s nuts.″

Hamill’s return was worthy of Hollywood - the beloved editor rolling up his sleeves to get out the paper - and it came New York style, with a catered lunch of corned beef and champagne.

When a staffer offered champagne to Hamill, he demurred: ″I gave it up, 20 years. I retired with the title.″

Amid the celebration, a severe crisis over money continued.

The Post has been beset by financial problems for more than a decade. Circulation is about 438,000 daily, down from a peak of just under 1 million in the late 1970s. Real estate developer Peter Kalikow had put the paper up for sale after entering personal bankruptcy.

Kalikow’s lawyer, Ronald Orr, said Kalikow and Hirschfeld had jointly filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the paper to keep Hoffenberg from seizing assets to recoup the money he had already put into the Post.

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