Lies and the Lying Arabs Who Tell Them

MEDIA
The New Republic pulled back on its long-embattled "Baghdad Diarist" series, admitting they could no longer stand behind the author, an army private serving in Iraq. Meanwhile, The National Review suffered its own Middle Eastern credibility scandal and struck back in a novel way: "As one of our sources put it: 'The Arab tendency to lie and exaggerate about enemies is alive and well among pro-American Lebanese Christians as much as it is with the likes of Hamas.'" Yikes. [NYT Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Big layoffs ahead at NBC News? "There are going to be firings very soon — everybody is terrified," according to a "former network insider," who claims tens of millions in cuts will happen in the next two weeks. [Jossip]
• New NBC programming honcho Ben Silverman is looking to clear up a conflict of interest and cash in on his old production company, which Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter to Rupe, is buying for around $200 million. Not bad for a guy who built his career on stealing foreign shows like The Office and Ugly Betty and then repackaging them for the U.S. [NYP]

FINANCE
• Wall Street staff is up 10 percent on the year — even with the already announced layoffs, there's still plenty more fat left to cut. John Thain may be especially busy at Merrill Lynch, considering his self-declared goal of making the brokerage more like Goldman. On average, Merrill is the least profitable top bank per employee, each peon hauling in a mere $43,000. Goldman's take is almost ten times that at $420,000 per employee. [Deal Journal/WSJ]
• Bankers at ABN Amro, the Dutch firm bought out by RBS earlier this year in a record-setting financial takeover, are threatening to strike if they don't get their promised $1.1 billion in bonuses. Between this and the screenwriters' strike, you'd almost might think the labor movement isn't dead. [DealBook/NYT]
• The Oracle of Omaha will have to testify in the AIG fraud case. Poor Warren Buffett. Oh wait, scratch that. [CNN, NYT]

LAW
• Mark Bronson, a 44-year-old Skadden partner based out of Tokyo, died last week in Australia after custom officials stopped him to check for drugs. Bronson then threw up, and his vomit allegedly contained plastic and tested positive for cocaine. [Legal Times]
• Tough times in big-law-firm land: According to the chair of one firm, resources are stretched so thin that "we can't beat the donkeys any harder." Now who's the ass in that quote? [Above the Law]
• Turns out Giuliani's law firm lobbied on behalf of a bill that the Bush administration considers a threat to anti-terrorism efforts in Africa. [NYT]

FASHION
• McDreamy is the face of Versace's menswear for the next two seasons. [FWD]
Project Runway contestants are like Nina Garcia's children. That she gets rid of each week. [Fashionista]
• Swatch and Tiffany's, together at last? [DNR]